The version of the surveillance bill that came out of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday (and that was approved in a do-over vote
today) strips out the hotly-debated immunity provision for telecommunications companies. But several other proposals disliked by civil libertarians remain. For instance: like the Senate Select Intelligence Committee version that served as its template, there isn't a role for the FISA Court in approving surveillance of foreign-to-domestic communications. That power, formerly in the hands of an independent court -- to approve quaint things like "warrants" -- would reside with the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.
Comments Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies:
"Even with the substantial improvements made by the Committee yesterday, the bill still authorizes unconstitutional surveillance of Americans' international communications; the bill eliminates the prior judicial approval for such surveillance that was contained in FISA before the Protect America Act and is required by the Fourth Amendment."
So no matter what Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) brings to the floor, it looks like lights-out for the FISA Court here.