Under the cover of holiday weekend slumber, President Obama signed into law a five-year extension of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, successfully solidifying unchecked surveillance authority for the remainder of his presidency.
Known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law extends powers of the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance of Americans’ international emails and phone calls without obtaining a court order for each intercept.
The spying bill would have expired at the end of 2012 without the president's approval, the Associated Press reports.
According to a statement (PDF) by the ACLU, "the law's effect—and indeed the law's main purpose—is to give the government nearly unfettered access to Americans' international communications."
On Friday, the Senate voted overwhelming (73-23) to pass a renewal of the bill (H.R. 5949), voting down four separate oversight amendments that would have gone "a long-way in curbing the law’s worst abuses," writes the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Trevor Timm.
Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald remarked that passage of the law, ushered to the president's desk with broad Democratic support, represented one of the "defining attributes of the Obama legacy" in which a previously radical right-wing policy—in this case warrantless eavesdropping—is meekly accepted by empowered Democrats and then codified as law with "bipartisan consensus".
You can see a breakdown of how each Senator voted, here.