President Obama signed an extension to the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008 last night, a move that officially will extend wide-ranging warrantless surveillance of Americans for counter-terrorism purposes until 2017. The president has long been expected to sign the bill — he said earlier this year that that his administration "strongly" supported the House bill and its ability to "ensure the continued availability of this critical intelligence capability." This comes after a Senate vote this past Thursday that saw both Democrats and Republicans strongly back the extension — it passed by a vote of 73 to 23.
A number of proposed amendements that would have required greater government transparency and a quicker expiration of the program were shot down; it appears these wiretapping provisions will now be in place for the foreseeable future. While the bill does not allow the government to specifically target any individual American citizen, the longstanding problem of innocent individuals' communications being swept up and reviewed without a warrant continues to be a concern.