Congress Just Extended A Bush-Era Bill That Could Let The Feds Spy On You


The House approved a controversial bill Wednesday that allows the government to listen in on phone calls without a warrant.

If it passes the Senate, H.R. 5949 will extend a 2008 amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The amendments, passed under then-President George W. Bush to overhaul the 1978 FISA, allow U.S. intelligence agents to monitor individuals overseas.

Robert Litt, chief lawyer for the Office of Director of National Intelligence, said that if the law is left to expire at the end of 2012, U.S. intelligence agencies would lose access to a “very, very important source of valuable intelligence information,” according to Reuters.

Although the bill extending the law another five years passed the Republican-dominated House 301 to 118, it could face hurdles in the Senate. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has blocked Senate consideration since June, arguing the government has not produced a number of how many Americans have been spied on under the law, according to Reuters.

Wyden, along with Democratic Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, claim the bill contained a loophole allowing U.S. intelligence agencies to “circumvent traditional warrant protections and search for the communications of a potentially large number of Americans,” according to Reuters.

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