Action Alert! Urgent: Ask Reps to Oppose HR 5949, FISA Amendments Act of 2012

On Thursday, September 13th, the House will vote on HR 5949, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012. Please contact your representative in the House to ask them to oppose this bill, protect Americans’ privacy and constitutional rights and do not extend the FAA sunset until December 31, 2017. (Some reports state that the vote will actually be today, Wednesday, September 12th.)

You may contact Representatives by phone or using Capwiz (Click on the Take Action button below “Ask Your U.S. Rep to Oppose FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization.”) Read on for more background information. 

Note: Congressman Ruppersberger is a co-sponsor of this bill. It is important to respectfully point out the concerns with this bill.

Thank you in advance for your advocacy efforts!

Background from the American Library Association:

The House of Representatives appears ready to reauthorize the 2008 FAA law that legalized the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program and more.  The American public, including our library patrons, will continue to be exposed to needless surveillance under this reauthorization.

The FISA Amendments Act (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2012, H.R. 5949, (yes, this is the correct name of the bill and the law) would extend the provisions of the 2008 FAA to December 31, 2017, rather than letting the FISA sunset on December 31, 2012.  The government is allowed to get 12-month orders from the secret FISA court to conduct “dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international communications—including phone calls, emails, and internet records—for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence.” (From the ACLU Washington Legislative Office web site where additional details are available: ACLU’s Washington Markup.)

As in 2008, the American Library Association (ALA) continues to argue against the FISA Amendments Act because of the FAA’s lack of transparency and the potential for abuse of the system that has been created.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) is taking leadership in the House to oppose H.R. 5949 and to bring some rationality to the necessary balance between our constitutional rights and the needs of law enforcement.  Urge representatives to follow Polis’ lead and to vote against or amend H.R. 5949.

If passed, the bill, at the very least, should be amended to include:

  • Requirements that the government disclose more about the extent and the nature of the surveillance that has been conducted under the FAA;
  • Requirements for reporting about the number of U.S. citizens and individuals affected;
  • Amendments that prevent mass surveillance and prohibit use of collected information for any other government uses beyond national surveillance.

The current FAA law authorizes the government to conduct surveillance in the United States on people that are reasonably considered to be “non-U.S. persons.” That also means the government can monitor communications between U.S. citizens and these non-U.S. persons. This process is approved without any meaningful judicial authorization and without probable cause. The FISA Court only evaluates if the procedures used to conduct the surveillance are designed to target those people that are reasonably believed to be outside of the country. Information is now coming out from the government about the impact on U.S. persons under this law.

Again, please call or use Capwiz to ask House members to oppose H.R. 5949, the FISA Amendments Act  (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2012.

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