Heinrich On House FISA Reauthorization Vote

FISA allows US authorities to conduct mass surveillance on foreign targets

Schiff was referring to a tweet from President Donald Trump on Thursday morning that suggested the statute is what may have been used to "so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?"

Privacy experts are up in arms after the House of Representatives voted to renew a controversial surveillance law which could expand the government's powers to snoop on Americans.

The legislation must still pass the Senate, but the House was seen as the pivotal test, The New York Times says. The White House's statement - prior to Trump's tweets - strongly opposed the amendment.

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

Efforts by Democrats and some conservative and libertarian Republicans to ensure that the agencies be required to get specific warrants for exploiting USA citizens' data acquired through so-called "incidental collection" failed to gain support. It is unclear what the dossier has to do with unmasking or the reauthorization of the spying program, but Trump has been repeatedly denouncing it in recent days.

According to the EFF, the Senate will vote on the S. 139 bill next Tuesday, January 16. John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, was spotted in a House cloakroom talking to members before the vote in a last-minute lobbying push. Rather than demanding that the FBI and NSA get warrants before they access Americans' private data and communications, it does the opposite: It gives the feds formal permission to snoop on citizens for a list of federal crimes without getting a warrant first.

Those opposed said it would prevent US law enforcement and intelligence agencies from uncovering potential threats to national security.

The GCHQ listening post in Cheltenham
Image GCHQ's 'doughnut' headquarters in Cheltenham

The act's passage follows a year-long debate about the proper scope of U.S. electronic wiretapping after the 2013 leaks of surveillance secrets by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.

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

It was an apparent attempt to get back on the same page with his own administration, which backs the so-called 702 program up for renewal in a House vote Thursday.

However, it seems likely that the core House bill will have Democratic support as well without attaching reform language to it. Congress must preserve the ability to collect information that is actually necessary to guard against threats to our security, while also guarding the privacy of innocent Americans, which the framers understood was vital to American liberties.

The speaker also said lawmakers are making "good progress" on negotiations to raise budget caps - Congressional Republicans and Mr. Trump have asked for more money for defense spending. There is a reason that the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence called reauthorization of 702 their 'top legislative priority.' It is simple: this program saves American lives.

The President called Paul after he sent his first tweet, a senior Paul aide said. On Thursday, White House cyber coordinator Rob Joyce said there have "been no cases of 702 used improperly for political purposes".

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