National Journal reported Tuesday that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court, or FISC) authorized the continuation of the NSA's bulk collection of American phone records, despite calls from members of the legislative branch to cease these activities immediately.
From the National Journal:
"The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved a government request to renew the dragnet collection of U.S. phone metadata for an additional five months—a timeframe allowed under the Freedom Act, a newly enacted surveillance reform law that calls for an eventual end to the mass spying program exposed by Edward Snowden two years ago. The Senate passed the Freedom Act days after allowing the June 1 expiration of the Patriot Act's three spying provisions, including Section 215, which the NSA uses to justify its bulk collection. The court order renews the surveillance until November 29, 2015—six months after enactment of the reform law. "This application presents the question whether the recently-enacted USA Freedom Act ... ended the bulk collection of telephone metadata," the order, issued Monday and obtained by National Journal, reads. "The short answer is yes. But in doing so, Congress deliberately carved out a 180-day period following the date of enactment in which such collection was specifically authorized. For this reason, the Court approves the application in this case."
While the debate over the constitutionality of the FISA Court is justified, it is the language in the USA Freedom Act that actually allows the bulk collection of phone records to continue. And the request to authorize the continuation of the program came from President Obama, who signed the USA Freedom Act into law.
"Acknowledging the unusual situation that finds the government again extending a controversial program Congress fought to dismantle, the Court began its opinion with a dose of French prose that translates to, 'the more things change, the more they stay the same,'" Dustin Volz of the National Journal reports.
It appears so...