In a secret meeting of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, an intelligence appropriations bill was approved by a vote of 14 to 1, after the legislation was amended through a markup process. The text of the altered legislation is not yet available, but a press release sent today from the offices of senators Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss announced that the legislation includes a provision to:
“Synchronize the various sunset dates included in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to June 1, 2015”
Among the provisions that are supposed to “sunset” (expire) in 2012 are the major provisions of the FISA Amendments Act. Those provisions allow the federal government to create immense electronic surveillance dragnets that gather and store records of huge numbers of private communications by Americans within the United States, and to do so without a search warrant.
The intelligence appropriations legislation now in the Senate authorizes the extension of these violations of the Fourth Amendment guarantee of protection from unreasonable search and seizure for three additional years.
Only one senator on the Select Committee on Intelligence had the courage to vote against this unconstitutional legislation – and we can have no idea who that senator was. Though the committee thinks that it’s a good idea for the federal government to snoop inside our personal emails and listen in on our private telephone calls without a search warrant, the committee also thinks that it’s none of the public’s business to know which of the senators on the committee has voted to approve this alarming intrusion.
The members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence are: Dianne Feinstein, Saxby Chambliss, John D. Rockefeller the Fourth, Olympia Snowe, Ron Wyden, Richard Burr, Barbara Mikulski, James Risch, Bill Nelson, Daniel Coats, Kent Conrad, Roy Blunt, Mark Udall, Marco Rubio, and Mark Warner.