Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Trump denounces FISA surveillance laws, then defends them

Trump denounces FISA surveillance laws, then defends them

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill to renew the National Security Agency's warrantless internet surveillance program, overcoming objections from privacy advocates and confusion prompted by morning tweets from President Donald Trump that initially questioned the spying tool.

Legislation to renew the program that allows spy agencies to conduct surveillance on foreign targets overseas passed the House 256-164 and now heads to the Senate.

Before approving the extension of the law, known as Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, the House voted 233 to 183 to reject an amendment that proposed a series of overhauls.

It is unclear how Trump "personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office", since the bill's author, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes of California, stripped the major changes to unmasking procedures from the measure before presenting it for a vote by the full House. "The Administration urges the House to reject this amendment and preserve the useful role FISA's Section 702 authority plays in protecting American lives", Sanders was quoted as saying by The Washington Times newspaper.

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On Thursday morning, the U.S. president tweeted that the programme had been used by the Obama administration to "so badly surveil and abuse the Trump campaign". Trump walked back the tweet roughly two hours later, drawing a distinction between "unmasking" - a term used to denote the practice of revealing the identity of Americans who communicate with foreign surveillance targets - and the surveillance of "foreign bad guys". "And I will do everything I can to fight to make sure that it does not pass, unless we get our reforms attached to the bill".

Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a motion to concur in the House amendment to the bill, and filed cloture on that motion. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., would have banned government officials from looking through Americans" data collected under FISA's "702 program' without a warrant.

The Administration strongly opposes the "USA Rights" amendment to the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act, which the House will consider tomorrow. Nevertheless, the House bill aiming to expand NSA surveillance is called S. 139, and it has nothing to do with an actual Senate bill with the same name. Several ranking Democrats openly supported increasing the powers of a surveillance state, even under a president they loathe.

"'House votes on controversial FISA ACT today, '" Trump tweeted hours before the House approved the measure.

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The bill pushed by GOP leaders and the intelligence community would allow the government to re-start so-called "abouts" collection, where agencies can track communications that mention the target but aren't to or from him. But the Federal Bureau of Investigation objects to this requirement, saying the data was lawfully collected and a warrant requirement would slow their agents down.

It's created to help prevent terrorism, but some lawmakers are concerned about government overreach, saying the laws are used to conduct warrantless searches of Americans.

"You have to realize that all of us are caught up in this", he said. These searches violate the Constitution and undermine Americans' privacy. But supporters of the amendment believe it is unlawful to collect information on Americans.

"It's a Democrat hoax that was brought up as an excuse, for losing an election", he said. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday in an op-ed. The USA Rights Act would require the government to get a warrant before performing this kind of backdoor search.

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