US House passes crucial spying law

12 January, 2018, 00:37 | Author: Cecelia Webb
  • President Trump Tweeted Against His Own Bill. Now Congress May Delay the Vote

- While the House is schedule Thursday to vote on changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, President Trump tweeted the program may have been used to "badly surveil and abuse" his campaign.

"Section 702 has been instrumental in preventing attacks on the homeland and removing terrorists from the battlefield", the letter said. The move follows unsubstantiated charges by President Donald Trump that his predecessor's administration spied on his campaign and improperly "unmasked" the identities of his associates during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition.

The Senate must still vote on the matter although as The New York Times highlights, fewer lawmakers there seem to favor changes to spying laws.

The House rejected the so called "USA Rights" amendment, which, among other things, prohibits intelligence services from using information collected incidentally on Americans absent a warrant.

The White House, U.S. intelligence agencies and Republican leaders in Congress have said they consider the surveillance programme indispensable and in need of little or no revision. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Fox News ahead of the vote on Thursday.

President Donald Trump threw a scheduled congressional vote on a surveillance bill into chaos Thursday morning when he unexpectedly tweeted criticism of it, apparently in response to a Fox News segment. "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".

Wednesday night, Sanders made a statement supporting the legislation, writing, "The Administration urges the House to. preserve the useful role FISA's Section 702 authority plays in protecting American lives".

The White House issued a statement Wednesday evening signaling the president wants the House - then the Senate - to vote to keep the law on the books.




However, he later seemed to backtrack from his initial tweet: "With that being said, I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office and today's vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land".

The powers in question allow the government to target foreigners overseas, collecting their communications.

The House has passed a bill to reauthorize a key foreign intelligence collection program with an important tweak. He said Trump's "woes" began with surveillance.

The group is pushing back against legislation passed by the House Intelligence Committee that would require a warrant only if the information the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtains is to be used in a criminal proceeding - a bar that Amash, Lofgren and Nadler say is so low that it is meaningless. But the president's mixed messages sent shock waves through the House GOP, which was gathered for a regular conference meeting when the first of the president's tweets came out.

Nadler said the Intelligence Committee's warrant requirement "is a fig leaf for reform" and "fails to address the vast majority of searches" of the Section 702 databases.

"A vote for this (Nunes) bill is a vote against the Fourth Amendment", said Jason Pye, FreedomWorks' vice president of legislative affairs.

UPDATE: Trump responded to pleas from House Republicans and members of his own national security team seeking clarification of this morning's tweet.

Another major loophole of Section 702 of FISA is that the government collects broad information "about" a target.

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