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Matt Welch | Congress Has Enough Time to Keep Spying on You, Forever

Good morning, misgoverned nation! You will be utterly unsurprised to learn that the same United States Senate that hasn’t passed a (legally required) budget resolution since 2009, that legislates via perpetual self-made crises and lards nearly all laws with brazenly fictitious sunset provisions and distant spending cuts, has managed to fit into its busy schedule of anti-gun press conferences and drunk-driving arrests an "unusual special session" to reauthorize the FISA Amendments Act of 2008before the law turns into a pumpkin on Jan. 1.

The Act, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) had attempted to re-authorize without debate, allows for the federal government to spy on U.S. citizens without a warrant, without probable cause, and without even informing the allegedly relevant oversight bodies in Congress as to the number of Americans being spied on.

The Senate re-authorization debate yesterday lasted seven hours, and resulted in the shooting down of three sensible amendments. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) attempted to cut the proposed extension from five years to three; that lost 52-38. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) proposed requiring the attorney general to disclose "significant" FISA court interpretations of surveillance law; that lost 54-37. And Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) proposed extending Fourth Amendment protections to electronic communications. Paul’s amendment was routed:


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