U.S. Congress approves bill allowing extension of government surveillance

Nathan Andrada – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. approved a bill on Friday extending the authority of the government for expansive surveillance for another five years, beating objections from senators who believe the measure does not protect privacy of Americans.

The Senate voted 73-23 in favor of the bill, sending it for approval by President Barack Obama, who has expressed support for the measure. U.S. intelligence agencies have strongly pushed for the passing of the the bill in Congress.

The Senate vote practically authorized government agencies to eavesdrop on communications within the country involving foreign citizens even with the lack of a warrant for each case. Despite drawing criticism from advocates of civil liberties, the expanded surveillance has been credited for the discovery of several attempts of terrorists against U.S. targets.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, urged members of the Senate to pass the bill with no amendment to ensure that it would not be returned and voted in the House.

Feinstein explains that authorities have made over a hundred arrests for terrorism-related plots since 2008 and added that electronic surveillance played a major part in the apprehension of suspects. In the past year alone, law enforcement has made 16 arrests.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), critics of the measure, said that they are concerned that electronic surveillance of noncitizens will inevitably lead to bugging of communications among Americans.

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