Issue: H.R. 5949, To extend the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 for five years. Sponsor: Lamar Smith (R-TX).
Result: Passed in House 301 to 118, 10 not voting. Became Public Law 112-238 (signed by the President 12-30-12).
Bill Summary: Extends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008 from December 31, 2012 to December 31, 2017. The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 sets the rules for monitoring the electronic communications of suspected terrorists overseas who are talking with people in the United States.
Analysis: This authority has permitted the warrantless eavesdropping on the domestic phone calls and email of American citizens.
If the federal government really needed such overreaching authority for a determined effort to protect America from terrorism, it would be one thing. But there are several reasons why the ostensible motivations and the war on terror are suspect.
For one, the original Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was introduced in 1977 by Senator Ted Kennedy, an opponent of the many layers of domestic internal security at the time. (The following year, the Kennedy bill was signed into law by President Carter –—who was conducting an all out war on our national security.) See Read more, below.
With the Republicans willing to carry this measure against principled opposition within their own ranks, most big-government liberals among the House Democrats chose to posture as civil libertarians and join the principled opponents.
We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)
Several authoritative books document how proponents of Big Brother government made America vulnerable to a very real threat of terrorism, using the resulting catastrophes to advance totalitarian measures. In the 70s, for example, campaigns of the Left succeeded in stripping American of its multiple layers of decentralized internal security — state and congressional investigative committees, intelligence departments of major city police, and counter-intelligence departments of the various branches of the armed forces.
As a further reflection of the ulterior motives guiding those directing the war on terrorism, consider that the federal government has resisted using its constitutional authority to enforce our borders.
And, for decades, the Executive Branch bent over backwards to cover up the Soviet role in sponsoring the worldwide terrorist movement, while focusing exclusive public attention on the terrorist groups themselves. (See, for example, Claire Sterling, The Terror Network: The Secret War of International Terrorism (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston and Reader’s Digest Press, 1981.)