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techkenyot.com December 12, 2018


US House votes to renew FISA warrantless surveillance program

13 January 2018, 06:03 | Glen Norman

President Donald Trump Joshua Roberts Reuters

President Donald Trump

The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Thursday to reauthorize controversial foreign spying authorities just hours after President Donald Trump sent a pair of confusing tweets on the program.

The bill reauthorizing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act goes next to the Senate, where additional privacy protections are expected to be rejected, report the New York Times and NPR.

It came less than 24 hours after the United States president's own press secretary issued a statement detailing how the administration opposed a change to FISA and called for its reauthorization.

CNN reported that a FISA warrant was used to surveil former Trump presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort in 2016.

Trump, though, has focused intently on the dossier in recent days, especially after a transcript was released of the congressional interview with the co-founder of the firm behind the document. He suggested that a vote on the bill should be delayed until the White House's position can be ascertained.

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Most lawmakers expect it to become law, although it still would require Senate approval and Trump's signature.

The amendment, proposed by Michigan Republican Justin Amash, would have required that the government get a warrant before looking through a surveillance database for information on Americans.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, White House chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser H.R. McMaster all convened in the Oval Office with the president to urge him to row back his criticism.

"Spying on foreigners without following the constitution, that is okay", Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu said during debate on the amendment.

The law can be used "as a loophole that provides for the surveillance of American citizens in the course of spying operations on foreign targets", according to TechCrunch. Asked about the president's conflicting tweets, Mr. Ryan said Mr. Trump has always been in support of foreign surveillance. Section 702 also permits federal law enforcement to search these communications, again without a warrant, in ordinary criminal inquiries.

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Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate have been counting on enough moderate Democrats and Republicans to stick together to extend the legal basis for the surveillance program with only minimal changes.

House Republican leaders and top administration officials believed early Thursday morning that they were in good shape to pass the plan, even though it faced opposition from the right and the left and is always a heavy legislative lift.

In his tweets, the president also threw in an attack on the investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible collusion with Trump associates.

Critics of the FISA bill have advocated for the USA Rights amendment to the FISA legislation, which would restrict intelligence agents to access information on American citizens.

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