How Rand Paul plans to overhaul FISA surveillance program

12 January, 2018, 06:25 | Author: Marjorie Miles
  • House Committee to vote on voiding Fourth Amendment rights

Known to insiders as Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, the law grants the government surveillance powers that are only supposed to be used on targets outside the United States.

The amendment ultimately didn't pass, but the House didvote to reauthorize the law for another six years by a 256 to 164 margin.

Senators Ron Wyden and Rand Paul agree the reforms are necessary. But privacy advocates oppose the law, arguing there are not enough limits on the government's ability to scour the database of collected information for the communications of Americans in touch with those foreign targets.

The House voted decisively Thursday to reauthorize a powerful government authority to conduct foreign surveillance on USA soil, overcoming opposition from privacy advocates and confusion sown by a series of contradictory and seemingly misinformed tweets from President Trump questioning his own administration's support for the program.

Donald Trump contradicted himself when he tweeted about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) today, and Bret Baier says this could create a bit of a complication for the midday vote on the policy's reauthorization.

But two hours before that, he sent out a tweet suggesting that the program was used to collect information that might have been used to "badly surveil and abuse" his campaign.

During a hectic morning of House votes and presidential tweets, Trump's national intelligence director also issued new guidance for how officials can find out the names of Americans whose identities are blacked out in classified intelligence reports. "This strikes the balance that we must have between honoring and protecting the privacy rights of citizens. and making sure we have the tools we need in this age of 21st century terrorism to keep our citizens safe".

More news: British Northern Ireland secretary Brokenshire resigns on health grounds

Lieu's amendment to the law would have restored privacy protections that Americans are entitled to enjoy.

The House is still scheduled to vote later on a bill that would reauthorize the program, set to expire January 19. In Congress, a fight this week over the Trump dossier, referenced in the president's tweet, exploded when Sen. It is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The president's chief of staff, John Kelly, scrambled to Capitol Hill, while panicked aides alerted Trump to the firestorm his tweets had caused. Section 702 lets agencies collect phone records, e-mails and other electronic communications from USA companies such as Facebook, Google and Verizon.

A number of Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also voted to reauthorize. On Wednesday evening, the White House put out a statement expressing the administration's opposition to the bipartisan effort.

White House officials would not say whether Napolitano's comment prompted Trump's tweet.

The problem here is that, as Jonathan Chait of NY magazine notes, most Republicans are not opposed to FISA.

There's no way to know for sure unless you are charged with a crime and prosecutors disclose that they have evidence obtained through Section 702. Though they were not allowed to target Americans, it was almost impossible for Section 702 to avoid incidentally catching communications made by Americans - and the program had quickly expanded to a variety of foreign intelligence actions, creeping beyond the strict anti-terror purposes first used to justify its existence. House Republican leaders called the White House requesting another statement to clarify the president's tweet.

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