A bipartisan coalition of five senators has announced their intention to filibuster the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017, a bill that expands warrantless surveillance of American citizens. Last week, the House passed a nearly identical bill. Led by Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, the group of 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans held a press conference Tuesday about their own version of the bill, the USA Rights Act, which would require intelligence agencies to get warrants to read the communications of U.S. citizens.
Elizabeth Warren, Steve Daines, and Patrick Leahy join Paul and Wyden.
“I think most of us agree the program has value and is useful, but we should not use the information that is collected without Constitutional protections for Americans.” Sen. Paul said. “At the very least there ought to be a warrant to search an American in the database.”
“The database is enormous, we think many millions of Americans are caught up in this database,” Paul added. “We would like to see to it that the Constitution is adhered to as intended.”
“A bill of this importance ought to be open to a real Senate debate, not blast through the Senate on the most extreme procedure with no amendments, no discussion, our way or the highway,” Wyden said during the press conference.
“702,” explained Wyden. “This law that we’re debating is a whole lot broader than ‘fighting terrorism.’ It allows warrantless government surveillance of foreigners thought to have foreign intelligence information… Frankly, everything about foreign countries relates to the United States foreign affairs. Let me give you an example of the kinds of ‘militants’ that can be swept up: Law abiding Americans in these 702 searches. Americans who talk to foreigners… And the government can conduct warrantless searches through your private communications. The bill that the House passed “