While US Republicans and Democrats conspire to stuff up the country’s economy arguing over paying the credit card bill, it seems that the nation’s spooks have decided it is a good time to sneak new spying rules past them.
The FISA Amendments Act (dubbed the FAA) was built in 2008 and was designed to make warrantless wiretapping officially legal and it gave telecom companies retroactive immunity for having helped the feds get such wiretaps.
However this law is set to expire in 2012, and the spooks want to keep their powers. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is meeting behind closed doors today in an effort to get the FAA extended.
It is thought that no one will notice, what with the US about to have the debt collectors around to the White House and the entire country going the way of Greece because the two political parties can’t agree.
According to Techdirt, Senators Wyden and Udall have been fighting a rear guard action to stop the federal government from secretly interpreting these laws and are trying to add an amendment to the law.
Of course it is doomed. The amendment says that in democratic societies, citizens rightly expect that their government will not arbitrarily keep information secret from the public but instead will act with secrecy only in certain limited circumstances.
The amendment will require the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence to explain “the problems posed by the reliance of government agencies and departments on interpretations of domestic surveillance authorities that are inconsistent with the understanding of such authorities by the public.”