One of the more obscure institutions to emerge from Edward Snowden’s NSA campaign is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (also known as the FISA court) which, operating in total secrecy, reviews and approves countless secret government orders to monitor and record the communications of Americans — often in tandem with publicly-traded telecommunications firms like AT&T and Verizon. Now that we know the extent to which the FISA courts rulings govern the behavior of telecommunications behemoths, we took a look at the extent to which the court’s judges are personally invested in those very same behemoths. The answer is a lot.
HR 6304, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, cleared the U.S. Senate in a 69-28 vote today, including retroactive immunity for AT&T, Sprint, and other telecom carriers that helped the U.S. spy on people for five years. Is the fight over? No. Who voted for or against it? See the tidy summary by Congressional Quarterly and our hard-charging intern Alaska Miller: