House OKs Surveillance Renewal, Rejects Warrant Amendment

Adjust Comment Print

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement Wednesday night, saying the "administration urges the House ... to preserve the useful role FISA's Section 702 authority plays in protecting American lives". This law grants intelligence agencies the authority to snoop on foreign targets on foreign soil without warrants, overseen by a secretive FISA court.

The controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which authorized the US government to seek to monitor electronic communications of foreign persons suspected of terrorist activities, passed the House on Thursday in a 256-164 vote, but not before the president issued confusing statements via twitter that drew his support for the measure into question.

Like Thursday morning, when Trump heard someone on "Fox & Friends" raising questions about a government surveillance bill up for reauthorization, suggesting it was a bad idea.

The U.S. intelligence services are enacting a mandate from President Donald Trump to establish guidelines on "unmasking" the identities of U.S. citizens in intelligence reports.

The underlying bill originated in the Senate and is S.139; the House counterpart is H.R.4478.

The House of Representatives on Thursday will vote on whether to extend a controversial program of warrantless spying on internet and phone networks put in place by the National Security Agency that dates back to the September 11 attacks.

The Prism program collects communications from internet services directly. "The Constitution really isn't guaranteed to everyone around the world, it's guaranteed to us here", he said.

"Section 702 was written to go after terrorists, but it is being used to go after Americans", Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, said Thursday morning on the House floor.

More news: Americans love the economy - but most still don't like Trump
More news: Monster Hunter World Explores Coral Highlands in New Gameplay Trailer
More news: Kanye West & Kim Kardashian's Surrogate Due "Any Day Now"

But a coalition of 44 diverse groups from the liberal ACLU to the conservative FreedomWorks opposed Nunes' bill and supported the Amash-Lofgren legislation.

But the White House, in opposing those reforms, said the amendment would "re-establish the walls between intelligence and law enforcement that our country knocked down following the attacks of 9/11". They are not using this data to prosecute Americans for tax evasion, they say - they are using it for terrorism cases.

The debate over national security and civil liberties is coming to a head this week, as a bill backed by the heads of the House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) is expected on the House floor.

"The way I understand the president's position is that he wants some of the reforms, that he thinks that we ought to have a warrant to look at this, and that there's a possibility that people with bias in the intelligence community could use that bias to actually abuse the system", the Kentucky Republican said on MSNBC.

USA intelligence officials insist the program is a vital source of intercepting warning signs of potential attacks and information on terror suspects.

Critics of the law say that US intelligence agencies can still go after foreign terrorists while protecting Americans' basic rights.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler of NY, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said the Nunes bill is so "deeply flawed" that it jeopardizes the renewal of the anti-terrorism law altogether.

"What I'm not OK with is that millions of Americans are collected into this data system, and that maybe rogue people at the Federal Bureau of Investigation or at [the] Justice Department could look at this data without a judge's warrant", Paul said.