Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

The House just renewed a warrantless surveillance law without any privacy reform

The House just renewed a warrantless surveillance law without any privacy reform

The House bill extends the legality of the surveillance program for six years, allowing the NSA and other intelligence agencies to continue their warrantless surveillance practices without impediment. That bill would require the Federal Bureau of Investigation to get a warrant only if it wants to actually view the contents of Americans' communications in the foreign intelligence database and use it to investigate domestic crimes. Mike Lee (R-UT) tweeted there is an amendment in the House bill, written by MI libertarian Republican Rep. Justin Amash, that would add this unmasking protection Trump says he wants.

That amendment failed Thursday morning in a 183-233 vote.

Section 702 is slated to expire January 19, and Congress is rushing to renew it. GOP leaders have written a bill that renews the powers through 2023.

Amid doubts about President Donald Trump's opinions on the issue, Congress passed legislation on Thursday granting his administration continued use of a controversial governmental spying program - and that has many people anxious.

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.

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

The vote in the House largely split along party lines, with Democrats opposed.

Senior Democrats in the House had urged cancellation of the vote after Trump appeared to cast doubt on the merits of the program, but Republicans forged ahead.

- The White House ban on staffers using personal cellphones in the West Wing will go into effect next Tuesday, according to an internal memo sent Wednesday by chief of staff John Kelly.

" I will tell you this, the Bill of Rights is something worth filibustering over, and the idea we should have a judicial warrant before searching an American's records is worth filibustering for", Paul said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan delivered the closing argument against the amendment, repeating a common talking point from opponents saying that not allowing law enforcement to dig through the data without a warrant would be unsafe. They are not using this data to prosecute Americans for tax evasion, they say - they are using it for terrorism cases. Mark Warner of Virginia, the Senate intelligence committee's top Democrat, tweeted.

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"FISA is something the President should have known about long before he turned on Fox this morning", Sen.

"This vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land", Trump said in his second morning tweet on the matter.

He later reversed course, after reports that he spoke to House Speaker Paul Ryan, and tweeted support of the bill, telling lawmakers to "Get smart!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump, and Nunes, accused the Obama administration of improperly revealing the identities of members of the president's transition team.

The dossier to which Trump referred is an opposition research document that was compiled on him during the election, and it includes unverified allegations that the Russian government has compromising personal and financial information about the President. Opponents of the proposal, including House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said the proposed change would "disable" the 702 program.

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.

Civil liberties advocates said that's too late in the process, and said they feared investigators would avoid officially opening an investigation in order to avoid having to get a warrant.

Trump's tweets came shortly after a "Fox and Friends" segment that highlighted the FISA program, calling it "controversial".

"What this essentially means is every year, thousands of times you have the government search for the communications of Americans in [Section] 702 databases, and we think this is an end-run on the Constitution".

As the tweet buzzed in notifications from Capitol Hill to the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Trump's advisers hurried to draft a follow-up that might help preserve the administration's position in support of the act's reauthorization.

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