Senate Votes Down Surveillance Oversight Amendment

Next up on the Senate floor this morning was an amendment to provide more oversight of surveillance involving Americans, sponsored by Sens. Russ Feingold (D-WI), Jim Webb (D-VA), and Jon Tester (D-MO). See below the fold for Sen. Webb’s description of how the amendment would have worked.

A number of Democrats joined together to vote this one down, resulting in a resounding 35-63 defeat.

[Under this amendment], when the Government realizes that it has acquired a communication with one end in the United States, the Government must segregate that specific communication in a different database…

This amendment is really quite simple. Under this amendment, the Inspectors General for the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Justice would be given access to sequestered communications. These sequestered communications will allow the Inspectors General to see specifically which Americans the Government surveilled or which specific communications were diverted into Government hands for possible surveillance.

Using this information, the Inspectors General would be required to conduct audits of the implementation of this sequestration system and determine the extent of the surveillance. I note that the Inspectors General would employ staffs with appropriate security clearances. And at least once per year, the Inspectors General must report their findings to the Senate and House Committees on Judiciary and Intelligence.