Trump suggests surveillance law could have been used to 'abuse' his campaign
Trump suggests surveillance law could have been used to 'abuse' his campaign
Bill Clark CQ Roll Call Newscom
12 January, 2018, 00:38
The House faces a crucial choice Thursday over how to extend a program that is credited with disrupting terrorist plots but also has taken a toll on Americans' privacy. Justin Amash, R-Mich., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., failed by a vote of 183-233.
The House rejected the so called "USA Rights" amendment, which, among other things, prohibits intelligence services from using information collected incidentally on Americans absent a warrant. The Senate still must vote. Sen. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., spoke by phone with Trump, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was dispatched to the Hill. In one tweet, he linked the FISA program that his White House supports to a dossier that alleges his campaign had ties to Russian Federation.
The House is set to vote Thursday on renewing what's known as Section 702 of FISA, a law that allows the National Security Agency to collect texts and emails of foreigners overseas without an individualized warrant, even when they communicate with Americans in the U.S.
"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", Trump tweeted.
"We need it!" he said.
The White House has issued statements this week and asked lawmakers to reauthorise it, even urging members late Wednesday night to reject a proposed amendment to the measure that would weaken the bill and likely kill its chances of passage in the Senate.
Trump's tweet caused congressional Republicans a good deal of distress, and made them question whether conservative defections could sink the bill the president was criticizing. "The Constitution really isn't guaranteed to everyone around the world, it's guaranteed to us here", he said.
Nunes' bill was met with controversy from groups such as the ACLU and FreedomWorks that argued it allowed so many exceptions that it still violated the Fourth Amendment. Though they would not have the force of law, Nunes has said he would still support renewing the program. The program is used to collect electronic communications from American companies, but has repeatedly come under fire from privacy advocates for being invasive and without legal justification.
Civil libertarians fear investigators will just put off opening an official investigation so they can look at the data.
"We don't think there was a conflict at all".
Section 702 is due to expire next week, though intelligence officials say it could continue until April. "(S. 139) actually makes it easier for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to access Americans' communications collected under Section 702 when they have no suspicion of wrongdoing than if they have probable cause, flipping the Fourth Amendment upside down". Most famously, it established a secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to vet wiretaps and other monitoring of foreign agents within the United States. But she added, "The president doesn't believe Americans' rights or liberties should be abused, but he certainly believes Americans should be protected".
Already, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including 100 House Democrats and 100 House Republicans, have joined Paul's fight to amend the section, the authority of which was extended when the short-term spending bill passed in December.
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