March 17, 2018

Trump just torpedoed his own administration's position on FISA

12 January 2018, 03:25 | Kara Nash

CC0Washington Abuses NSA Mass Surveillance Program to Maintain Global Power


The portion of law - known as the FISA Amendments Act - particularly allows the US intelligence community to collect emails, texts and other communications data about foreigners who are overseas. It would require the Federal Bureau of Investigation to obtain a court order before reviewing the content of queries for Americans' information in the database - though an order would not be required to search the database in the first place - and allow such an order only when investigators want to use the information in a criminal case. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has vowed to filibuster the legislation passed by the House, but the Senate is ultimately expected to approve the bill. A proposed amendment to Section 702 to require authorities to obtain court warrants failed 233-183 with support from libertarians and privacy advocates.

The revised law would restrict the use of data collected under Section 702 in some criminal prosecutions of USA citizens. "The Administration urges the House to reject this amendment and preserve the useful role FISA's Section 702 authority plays in protecting American lives", Sanders was quoted as saying by The Washington Times newspaper.

President Donald Trump threw a scheduled congressional vote on a surveillance bill into chaos Thursday morning when he unexpectedly tweeted criticism of it, apparently in response to a Fox News segment.

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. During a meeting on Tuesday to discuss immigration with a bipartisan group of legislators he initially voiced support when Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein suggested a "clean" bill to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

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Republicans seemed undeterred by Democrats' demands, going ahead with planned votes on the bill and a sole amendment to it on Thursday. Republicans have raised concerns that the names of Trump campaign officials were "unmasked" by the Obama administration in transcripts of conversations with Russian officials.

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.

FISA is basically the wiretapping law introduced in the wake of Watergate that allows electronic surveillance (and that means you, computer user) if you are a foreign power suspected of doing things that might hurt America, Americans or American interests. Mark Warner, D-Va., top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. "FISA is something the President should have known about long before he turned on Fox this morning.", Sen. Trump walked back the tweet roughly two hours later, drawing a distinction between "unmasking" - a term used to denote the practice of revealing the identity of Americans who communicate with foreign surveillance targets - and the surveillance of "foreign bad guys". "We need it! Get smart!" Trump wrote on Twitter. The problem, according to privacy advocates and civil liberties groups, is that the emails, photos, texts and other electronic communications of USA citizens and legal US residents are also collected while our government is spying on foreigners.

It is unclear what the dossier that alleges his campaign had ties to Russian Federation has to do with unmasking or reauthorizing the spying program, but Trump has repeatedly denounced it in recent days. "He does have some overall concern with the FISA program generally". "And our amendment stands for the simple proposition that when you want to spy on Americans, get a warrant", Amash said during a press conference Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

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