Surveillance act passed despite Trump 'abuse' tweet

12 January, 2018, 03:29 | Author: Katrina Soto
  • Thomas Massie Justin Amash Rand Paul

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 US 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.

Known as 702 for its section of the FISA Amendments Act, the warrantless authority has been controversial for years, with the government declining to publicly disclose how many Americans have been ensnared in what is supposed to be surveillance of foreigners.

NCAC has joined a bipartisan coalition of 44 organizations to urge members of the House of Representatives to vote "yes" on the USA RIGHTS amendment and "no" on the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act (S. 139) if the USA RIGHTS amendment does not pass.

Section 702 was set to expire at the end of 2017 and civil rights groups and privacy-minded lawmakers demanded reforms so that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Administration (NSA) would be required to get warrants before accessing or even querying these databases for information and communications from Americans. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has vowed to filibuster the legislation approved by the House. "The Administration urges the House to reject this amendment and preserve the useful role FISA's Section 702 authority plays in protecting American lives".

When he sent his early morning message on Thursday, he quoted directly a banner graphic that had appeared on Fox News minutes earlier: "House votes on controversial FISA ACT today".

By midmorning, in a followup tweet, the president appeared to step back from supporting the limits that his own administration has been encouraging lawmakers to reject.

Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the bill could allow the surveillance law to "improperly target minorities, government critics, and marginalized communities".

"All night long Republican and Democratic leadership have been twisting arms and trying to bribe people to change their votes".

Trump in his tweet suggested that the law might have been used to spy on his campaign.

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But Laperruque said it is possible that some Trump campaign staffers like foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos had their communications intercepted when they communicated with foreigners who were already under surveillance by the NSA. 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.

"It is well-known that he has concerns about the domestic FISA law". His tweets came shortly after a "Fox and Friends" segment that highlighted the FISA program. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Republican Sen.

Almost two hours after his first tweet, Trump backtracked.

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. We need it! Get smart!", he posted. Trump wrote on Twitter.

President Trump offered a series of confusing tweets about the bill Thursday morning, prompting Democrats to ask for a delay in the House vote.

Section 702 lets the feds conduct warrantless surveillance on communications of foreign intelligence targets, including when those targets talk to Americans. 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.

Trump, who continues to brood over special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible ties between Russian Federation and his associates, took less than an hour to link the FISA issue to his own disputes with United States law enforcement agencies.

They're pushing an alternative that would require the government to have a warrant before it snoops through the data to investigate Americans for ordinary crimes.

The American Civil Liberties Union is not thrilled.



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