(The Washington Post)—Congress approved a measure Friday that would renew expansive U.S. surveillance authority for five more years, rejecting objections from senators who are concerned the legislation does not adequately protect Americans’ privacy.
The bill passed the Senate 73 to 23. The House approved it in September and President Obama is expected to sign it before the current authority expires on Monday.
The lopsided Senate vote authorized a continuation of the government’s ability to eavesdrop on communications involving foreign citizens inside the United States without obtaining a specific warrant for each case. The surveillance has been credited with exposing several plots against U.S. targets, but also drawn fire from civil liberties advocates.
“It produced and continues to produce significant information that is vital to defend the nation against international terrorism and other threats,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who urged her colleagues to approve the extension without amendment so it would not need to be sent back to the House for a vote.
Feinstein said there have been about 100 arrests in terrorism-related plots over the past four years — 16 in the last year — and that electronic surveillance played a role in some of them.
Members of the Senate devoted much of Thursday to debating proposed privacy amendments to the bill, which renews a key provision of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.
Read more on The Washington Post.