The Senate voted Friday to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, after rejecting amendments that would have required more disclosure of how the warrantless wiretapping program is used.
The Senate adopted the House-passed version of the reauthorization by a 73-23 vote. It was the top legislative priority of the U.S. Department of Justice as a tool for collecting foreign intelligence, but drew criticism from privacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union.
During debate on the bill Thursday, senators had rejected an amendment from Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that would have boosted Fourth Amendment protections for Americans by requiring specific warrants for electronic surveillance to be granted through FISA court, a secret court that oversees the DOJ's actions.
The Senate also rejected an amendment from Senator Jeff Merkley (D- Ore.), which would have required the U.S. attorney general to disclose each decision, order, or opinion of the FISA court that included a significant legal interpretation of Section 501 or 702 of FISA (and did not threaten national security).
The FISA program was expanded during the Bush administration in 2008 to include the interception of digital communications. The law is set to expire in 2013.