US House votes to renew FISA warrantless surveillance program


Trump tweeted hours after White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders clarified the White House's opposition to increased privacy protections Wednesday night, telling reporters the amendment "would re-establish the walls between intelligence and law enforcement that our country knocked down following the attacks of 9/11 in order to increase information sharing and improve our national security".

Congress is rushing against a January 19 deadline to renew the powers under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is chiefly aimed at collection of the contents of phone calls, emails and other communications of foreign targets overseas.

The programs rest on the notion that they are "targeting" foreigners, but they also collect massive amounts of data on Americans, including wholly domestic communications.

A former Republican lawmaker who once declared that Trump's tweets "help" his agency, Pompeo had made a forceful case for reauthorizing the FISA program during a television interview five days ago.

"The Administration urges the House to reject this amendment and preserve the useful role FISA's Section 702 authority plays in protecting American lives", the White House said in a statement.

"We must ensure that our intelligence agencies have the tools they need to keep us safe while making sure individual liberty and privacy rights are protected". During the meeting, Trump said he would agree to sign a stand-alone bill extending legal protections to so-called Dreamers, 700,000 immigrants who came to the USA illegally as children.

A retired Marine general who has insisted that Trump's tweets don't have the potential to derail the administration's agenda, he denied again on Thursday that the President's dispatches were harmful. Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden immediately vowed to filibuster the measure, but it was unclear whether they could persuade enough colleagues to force changes.

"Searching through the communications of any American should require a warrant before the search takes place".

President Trump publicly contradicted a major policy position of his administration Thursday - the second time he did so in a week in which the White House has sought to beat back questions about his stability and grasp of policy details.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, a California Republican, called the House passage of the measure "a big step to ensure the continuation of one of the intelligence community's most vital tools for tracking foreign terrorists".

Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 to legalize a warrantless surveillance program that was created after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, according to The New York Times.

The legislation, which passed 256-164 and split party lines, is the culmination of a years-long debate in Congress on the proper scope of USA intelligence collection - one fueled by the 2013 disclosures of classified surveillance secrets by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"We've got to renew. The F means foreign", said Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Wisconsin Republican who wrote the original Patriot Act, who backed the Amash alternative.

I am surprised that President Donald Trump supports this.

Apparently, House Speaker Paul Ryan had a word with the president in between those two tweets.

But an hour-and-a-half-later, Trump tweeted his support, saying, it "is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land".

The Amash alternative would also have permanently prohibited "abouts" collection, and the bill's opponents said that Americans deserve better protections.

Under the new bill, FISA Section 702 will now allow the NSA to collect electronic communications of United States citizens if they mention certain terms, and not necessarily if they communicate with non-US citizens via email or an online chat.

Before that, however, he sent out a tweet suggesting the programme was used to collect information that might have been used to "badly surveil and abuse" his campaign.

The Trump administration had wanted the program to be reauthorized without change, but later said it was willing to back legislation that would impose moderate restrictions on the Federal Bureau of Investigation access to Americans' communications.

"It's well known that he has concerns about the domestic FISA law".