House renews surveillance law after Trump posts differing tweets

12 January, 2018, 03:26 | Author: Irene Delgado
  • The House on Thursday agreed to reauthorize a controversial spying bill after President Trump — whose administration supports it — blasted the measure on Twitter

That bill, which had strong support from both liberal and conservative civil liberties groups, would have required federal agents to get warrants before searching through Americans' data that is collected when the US government spies on foreigners overseas.

It's the foreign intelligence surveillance act that was approved as a result of 9/11 created to help prevent terrorism.

But Americans can be spied on without a warrant also, if the original order from the executive branch had an original focus on surveillance from a foreign entity. For instance, the bills would codify into law that 17 law enforcement agencies would be able to access the raw mass surveillance data on both foreigners and Americans, without a warrant.

This week Congress is getting ready to vote to reauthorize FISA 702.

The legislation is now headed to the Senate, where the majority of lawmakers reportedly could vote in favor, too.

Senate leaders are planning to send to the president's desk next week a bill to reauthorize the government's authority to conduct foreign surveillance on USA soil, despite opposition from privacy advocates and mixed messages from President Donald Trump himself, who questioned his own administration's support for the program Thursday morning.

Trump reacted. Of course, he'll be pushing for it not to be renewed.

The GOP-led House renewed Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows the government to spy on foreigners overseas by a vote of 256 to 164.

He later said "This vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land".

"We have a real opportunity to get this passed in the House tomorrow", said Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican who's leading the coalition of liberals and conservatives.

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The issue centered on a law called Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

In November, House Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced the USA Liberty Act, which partially closes the "backdoor" loophole through which Americans' communications-if they are on the other end of that conversation with non-U.S. resident-can be viewed without a warrant.

"This bill is not reform by any stretch of the imagination", she said. In an unusual alignment, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi opposed the Amash-Lofgren amendment, saying that it would weaken intelligence agencies' ability to stop terror plots in a timely fashion. Exactly what he supports isn't completely clear.

House bills in 2014 and 2015 included restrictions, but the language was removed by the Senate.

The Prism program collects communications from internet services directly.

The law also has been credited by intelligence officials with foiling terrorist plots to bomb the New York City subway system and the New York Stock Exchange.

The legislation, which passed 256-164 and split party lines, is the culmination of a years-long debate in Congress on the proper scope of US intelligence collection - one fueled by the 2013 disclosures of classified surveillance secrets by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

But top Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees had already seized on the president's first tweet, excoriating it as "irresponsible" and "untrue".

"I do think we need more time to work on this bill and I think that was only underscored this morning by the contradictory statements coming out of the administration", he said, calling for "more time to discuss this with our members". "What Section 702 was designed and meant to do was to knock down those walls", Pompeo said at an event hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The FBI has acknowledged to lawmakers that it would rarely need court permission under the Nunes bill to search data collected on Americans.

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