Trump Slams Controversial Spying Program His White House Aggressively Supports

Trump Slams Controversial Spying Program His White House Aggressively Supports

Trump Slams Controversial Spying Program His White House Aggressively Supports

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 US House of Representatives gave a boost to the government's surveillance powers.

Meanwhile, another House bill based off last year's FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 4478) will extend NSA's mass surveillance to six years, as well as allow the backdoor searches to continue. But civil liberties groups are anxious about two controversial practices that could compromise the privacy of Americans.

A coalition of liberals and conservatives is increasingly optimistic they'll be able to curtail the government's chief foreign intelligence snooping law in a major showdown on the House floor Thursday.

So what's wrong with that?

Section 702 lets the feds conduct warrantless surveillance on communications of foreign intelligence targets, including when those targets talk to Americans.

That could happen if a citizen is communicating with a foreigner who is under surveillance, even if that foreigner isn't suspected of being a terrorist.

Some lawmakers are concerned the agencies are spying on Americans by gathering and saving our electronic communications. 55 Democrats voted against the amendment, where a swing of 26 votes would have meant its adoption and the protection of Americans' privacy. Law enforcement officials typically have to go to court and ask a judge to issue a search warrant. The Fourth Amendment states that individuals can not be subjected to "unreasonable searches and seizures" without a warrant, obtained "upon probable cause" that a crime is being committed.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats calls this foreign intelligence the "holy grail" that provides insight into the thinking and actions of US adversaries. And it would forbid "reverse targeting", where the feds snoop on foreign targets for the goal of accessing the communications of the Americans talking to them. The problem, critics say, is not simply that the information is collected but what is done with it after it is gathered. Americans' communications are inadvertently swept up in the process and privacy advocates and some lawyers want to require the Federal Bureau of Investigation to get a warrant if it wants to view information on Americans that is in the database to build domestic crime cases. "He knows that and he, I think, put out something that clarifies that".

Republicans have alleged that Obama administration officials improperly shared the identities of Trump presidential transition team members mentioned in intelligence reports.

What did Congress do Thursday?

The vote for the expiring Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was 256-164. That bill, by Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., would restrict the use of data collected under Section 702 in some criminal prosecutions of USA citizens. This is an alternative bill sponsored by Sens.

But the intelligence community and Trump administration balked at that proposal, saying it would impede their efforts to protect the country to require warrants to query information the government already possesses. Whatever your view on the decades-old law, it's clear the president has little understanding of it, proven by the fact he did a complete turnabout in under two hours when he ranted about it on Twitter.

But Trump's tweet Thursday morning plunged the debate into confusion once again.

In a Thursday morning tweet, President Trump called into question his own administration's position on the reauthorization of a program that allows the government to conduct foreign surveillance on USA soil.

Trump reacted. Of course, he'll be pushing for it not to be renewed.

But what exactly is FISA, and what is Congress set to decide about the law?

CNN's Jake Tapper tore into Donald Trump on Thursday after the president issued two contradictory tweets on the Foreign Surveillance Act (FISA) and the White House subsequently tried to insist doing so did not sow chaos in Washington, D.C.

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

"We need it! Get smart!" he demands.

On "Fox & Friends", host Steve Doocy remarked that "for the White House to be behind the part that will open more Americans up, that's surprising for the administration because it was the FISA - and essentially this whole program - that got Donald Trump in trouble with the Russian stuff". "The Senate must allow real debate and amendments, and not push this legislation through in the dark".

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