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A measure to extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for three weeks failed to pass in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday. The failure is a setback for Democrats who had been hoping for the extra time to hammer out a solution to a politically explosive issue: that is, whether and how to extend retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that cooperated with the federal government's program of eavesdropping without warrants.
FISA is NOT about to expire. The Protect America Act (PAA) which modified FISA is about to expire. That expiration, if it happens, will have some impact on intelligence gathering, but for goodness sakes, the difference between those modifications expiring and FISA expiring is HUGE. If the PAA expires, we will be back to the version of FISA that was sufficient up until 6 months ago, and that's really not so horrible as the implication of not being able to spy on Al Qaeda.