The U.S. Senate voted on Friday morning, 73-23, in favor of extending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008 by another 5 years, to December 31, 2017. The new bill, originally introduced in the House by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and passed by the House in September, extends the 2008 measure that retroactively approved warrantless surveillance, or "wiretapping" of communication by overseas terror suspects by the National Security Agency (NSA).
President Bush secretly authorized the NSA surveillance measures is 2002 and they came to light in a New York Times story in 2005.
Critics in and outside of government noted that the 2008 measure just re-authorized allowed for surveillance of communication from U.S. citizens to and from those suspects. Intelligence agencies have not yet provided information on how many communicaitons from U.S. citizens they've monitored under this act.
The Senate on Thursday voted down an amendment to the extension bill introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), which would have required the Director of National Intelligence to report to Congress whether any communications from U.S. citizens was intercepted, as well as two other amendments for more disclosure and tighter limits on the types of surveillance that can be carried out, the Hill reported.
The bill now goes to President Obama to be signed into law, which he is expected to do soon.