One Pager On S. 2248, The Rockefeller/Bush Administration FISA Bill

November 2, 2007

BASICS OF LEGISLATION AUTHORIZING WARRANTLESS WIRETAPPING

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S. 2248, THE ROCKEFELLER / ADMINISTRATION  BILL

S. 2248, the Administration / Rockefeller bill is pretty much the same monster Congress passed in August, the so-called Protect America Act.  The major difference is that it gives the Attorney General the sole discretion to provide retroactive and prospective immunity to any company that spies on its customers.  Some of the highlights of S. 2248:

  • Just like the Protect America Act, the Administration / Rockefeller bill allows the Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence to issue year long orders for surveillance without any prior court review, as long as one participant in the conversation is foreign.  As a result, the courts would not operate as a check on governmental access to our information.   
  • S. 2248 allows surveillance orders that do not even specify who is going to be listened to or what facilities the government is going to tap into, authorizing dragnets that can sweep up Americans’ communications just as long as a specific, known US person isn’t the “target.”
  • S. 2248 allows the government to keep, use and disseminate any US person’s information collected under this new warrantless dragnet.  The Administration / Rockefeller bill does not contain any statutory limit on how Americans’ phone calls and emails can be used, nor does it require that the information ever be destroyed, permitting the government to datamine or otherwise abuse it.       

  • S. 2248 permits the Attorney General to single handedly kill all pending and future consumer protection cases brought in either state or federal court that seek to hold the telecoms accountable for illegally handing our information over to the government.  This authority is unlimited and would even end states’ utility commission investigations or suits that only seek to stop the companies from spying on us in the future.
  • S. 2248 is subject to a six year sunset, on December 31, 2013, putting the next mandatory review of this law past two future elections. 

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