NSA Surveillance Leaks Prompt Legislation
One of the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act — Section 215 — allows the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to authorize broad warrants for most any type of records, including those held by banks, doctors and phone companies. Lawmakers have repeatedly voted to prevent the act from expiring. The government only needs to show that the information pertains to an “authorized investigation.” No connection to a terrorist or spy is required. Under today’s proposal, the act would be amended to require “the government to show relevance to an authorized investigation and a link to one of three categories of a foreign agent, power, or group.” Another provision would demand the government “to provide a statement of the facts and circumstances” to the court to justify the surveillance, lawmakers said.
This is an trivial reduction in FISA court power and yet it is far from certain to pass. Undoing the damage of the patriot act will take a generation.