Earlier this month, I unsuccessfully attempted to ascertain congressional candidate Mary Jo Kilroy’s position regarding the FISA Amendments Act, the new law permitting unlimited warrantless searches, seizures and surveillance for periods of up to 67 days. Kilroy demurred from providing a specific response, indicating that she wasn’t sufficiently familiar with the details of the FISA Amendments Act. Coming away from that encounter I decided to write what I wished I’d had on the spot: a brief summary of the relevant provisions of the FISA Amendments Act with relevant citations included.
The results follow below: a one-page summary of the portions of the FISA Amendments Act that authorize 67 day limitless warrantless searches, seizures and surveillance. The summary is organized into four bold-type bullet points with citations to the text of the Act following each point. At the bottom of the page is text of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and Article Six of the Constitution.
I intend to personally provide this one-page summary to my congressional candidate, Mary Jo Kilroy, as soon as I can. That way, she won’t be able to defer an answer by saying that she’s somehow unaware of the Act. A few weeks from now, I’ll follow up with another request that she provide her position on the Act, and she should be able to provide an answer.
I encourage you to pursue this course with your congressional candidate as well. Print out the following documents (pdf format)…
… and present them to your congressional candidate at a campaign rally. If you arrive early, this shouldn’t be as hard as you might think; there sadly aren’t that many people interested in congressional campaigns. Ask your candidate what her or his position on the Act is, and what she or he intends to do about it if elected to Congress. If your candidate begs ignorance, you have your solution. Follow up and you will deserve an answer. If you get an answer, share it with others. If you don’t get an answer, let the people in your community know.
This is the point at which you and I, the little citizen people, have the greatest power to contact and influence future members of Congress. Let’s use that opportunity to promote the constitutional liberties that too many current members of Congress have sent through the shredder.
One-Page Summary of FISA Amendments Act search and surveillance provisions
67 Days Without A Warrant:
How the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 Enables Months-Long Warrantless Physical and Electronic Searches
? The FISA Amendments Act, passed in the summer of 2008, permits a presidential administration to engage in surveillance and search against any person or place without justification to or approval of a FISA court judge for as long as 7 days.
Citation: H.R. 6304 (attached), page 44 line 4 – page 45 line 16, page 55 line 11 – page 56 line 8, page 75 line 14 – page 76 line 10. See especially language: “Notwithstanding any other provision of this title,” indicating that emergency search privileges supercede limitations placed on search elsewhere in the Act.
? If a FISA court judge determines such search or surveillance violates protocols to protect Americans from domestic spying, a presidential administration may nevertheless continue for as long as 60 additional days if the administration files for an appeal of the judge’s decision.
Citation: H.R. 6304 (attached), page 24 line 18 – page 25 line 24
? Although most press reports have focused on warrantless electronic surveillance, warrantless physical searches and seizures are also authorized. Warrantless physical searches have been employed under the aegis of FISA law as far back as the Clinton administration.
Citation: H.R. 6304 (attached), page 73 line 18 – page 77 line 24; Executive Order 12949, Feb. 1995
? Information obtained in such search and surveillance can be kept by a presidential administration, even after a FISA court judge conclusively determines it was obtained inappropriately, if the administration asserts that keeping information is necessary for security.
Citation: H.R. 6304 (attached), page 46 lines 5-11, page 57 lines 10-17, page 77 lines 8-16
Constitution of the United States of America, Amendment IV:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Constitution of the United States of America, Article VI:
“…This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution.”