Scarecrow at FireDogLake gives us the rundown of what the Senate approved yesterday, just in case you missed it.
— The President can direct US spy agencies to intercept every e-mail, telephone or internet communication of every American and anyone legally in the US with only the most minimal safeguards. Although the bill was supposed to deal with exclusively “foreign” communications, the techniques it sanctions will in fact sweep up domestic and foreign combined.
— Acting without individual or particularized warrants from any court, spy agencies can sweep up millions of communications without differentiating between those warranting surveillance and those not. Procedures for separating out totally innocent persons or communications that have nothing to do with foreign intelligence or any security threat to the US are minimal to non-existent. Procedures allowing a secret court to review such procedures have been weakened, along with measures to correct violations of even these limited procedures.
— Persons spied upon have no ability to determine what information the government has collected, or to affect what the government does with the information. Americans will never know which persons or government agencies were shown private information about them, and if restrictions are placed on their activities or travel because of this secret information, it will be impossible for victims to determine why or to challenge the information.
— Telecommunication companies who participated in government’s illegal spying activities, and those who ordered this, would be forever immune from any consequences for their actions and cannot be required to disclose what they did.
— As bad as the Senate Bill is, the Senate rejected an effort to make the bill the exclusive means by which surveillance can be authorized. So the President arguably can conduct further spying on Americans even without the minimal protections left in the Bill.
Shorter US Senate: In the beginning the Senate was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.