Just before President Obama jetted off to Hawaii and the U.S. Congress broke up for its short Christmas recess on Thursday, Dec. 28, the U.S. Senate debated renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
It’s not for nothing the Chinese calendar calls 2013 the Year of the Snake.
FISA allows government spying on almost all our telecommunications. Several senators tried to attach amendments to the law, simply to provide some modest transparency and oversight to ensure that the government’s warrantless eavesdropping powers were constrained from abuse.
These senators were charged with “aiding terrorists” by the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Then in virtually identical 37-54 votes, Feinstein and her conservative Democrat comrades joined with virtually all Republicans (except for Senators Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Dean Heller) to reject each one of the proposed amendments and thus give Obama exactly what he demanded– he can continue to eavesdrop on Americans without any warrants, transparency or real oversight.
As columnist Glenn Greenwald pointed out: “Feinstein repeatedly argued that requiring even basic disclosure about the eavesdropping program – such as telling Americans how many of them are targeted by it – would, as she put it, “destroy the program”. But if “the program” is being conducted properly and lawfully, why would that kind of transparency kill the program?”