Rachel Blevins, Activist Post – As the United States Congress runs out of time to vote on a bill that would reauthorize one of the government’s most egregious warrantless spying programs, officials are claiming that those programs won’t end anytime soon—even if they are not reauthorized by the end of the year.
The USA Liberty Act will reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2017. While the bill’s proponents have claimed it will help ensure “security” in the United States, privacy advocates have warned that will provide additional loopholes for the government to continue conducting warrantless surveillance of innocent Americans.
The assumption may be that if the USA Liberty Act is not signed into law, then the provisions from Section 702 will no longer be legal and the U.S. government will stop collecting data from innocent Americans without warrants—but intelligence officials do not see it that way.
A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Brian Hale, told the New York Times that “the government believes it can keep the program going for months,” even if it is not reauthorized.
Hale’s reasoning stems from the fact that every year, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizes the program to operate for the next 12 months. Section 702 was last authorized by the court on April 26, 2017, leaving some lawmakers hopeful that even if the Liberty Act does not pass before the end of the year, Congress will find a way reauthorize Section 702 before it actually expires on April 26, 2018…