The Senate is about to vote on an extension of the controversial FISA Amendments Act—the unconstitutional law that allows the NSA to warrantless spy on Americans speaking to people abroad. Yet you wouldn't know it by watching CSPAN because the Senate isn't debating it.
When Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act in 2008, despite deep privacy concerns by Americans across the political spectrum, they included an expiration date of December 31, 2012 to ensure that the law would get a thorough review. Yet Senate leaders have so far refused to schedule any time on the Senate floor for debate or consideration of vital privacy-protecting amendments. Worse, they won't even tell the American public when they're going to vote on it. It's possible they may vote on this bill—with no privacy protective changes—without any debate at all, and we won't know until it is happening.
Contact your Senators today to tell them how important this is.
The FISA Amendments Act continues to be controversial; key portions of it were challenged in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court this term. In brief, the law allows the government to get secret FISA court orders—orders that do not require probable cause like regular warrants—for any emails or phone calls going to and from overseas. The communications only have to deal with "foreign intelligence information," a broad term that can mean virtually anything. And one secret FISA order can be issued against groups or categories of people—potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of Americans at once.
Senate leaders, Democrat Harry Reid and Republican Mitch McConnell, owe the American public a debate about this law—including how many Americans have been scooped up in it, how many times it has been used in non-terrorism investigations and how much it has cost the American taxpayers.
Today, a host of civil liberties groups, including EFF, ACLU, Demand Progress, and Free Press, are urging concerned individuals to contact the Senate and make their voice heard. Tell the Senate you want a debate on how to fix the warrantless spying bill known as the FISA Amendments Act or that it should be voted down entirely.
Here's how you can help:
Senate communications staffers often see tweets throughout the day—unlike emails (which may not be reported for a day or more) or phone calls (which are tallied at the end of the day). So if you are on Twitter, please tweet at Senators McConnell and Reid:
Hey @McConnellPress and @SenatorReid: Don't ram through a 5-year extension on FISA Amendments Act. https://eff.org/r.2asn
Our friends at Free Press and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee are urging folks to call the Senate and voice concerns. Please use Free Press' call-in tool. You can also call Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid at (202) 224-3542 and Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at (202) 224-2541.
Use EFF's action center to email your Senators and tell them to demand a debate or vote no on warrantless domestic spying.
There are many common sense amendments that could provide oversight and transparency to the bill. The amendments have a good chance of passing if they are allowed to come up for a vote.
As with SOPA and CISPA, these Senators need to listen to their constituents, so let's show them we all oppose domestic warrantless spying, no matter which party we're in.