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USA passes bill to renew surveillance power

12 January 2018, 03:26 | Myrtle Vega

Congress May Vote This Week to Expand Surveillance Under Section 702 of FISA

In the four years since Snowden blew the lid off U.S. surveillance overseas the number of targets the U.S. is monitoring around the globe has steadily increased. (Den

After an intense debate, the vote failed 183-233.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats calls this foreign intelligence the "holy grail" that provides insight into the thinking and actions of USA adversaries.

It's the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that was approved as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him MORE (R-Mich.), imposing restrictions created to protect Americans who are swept up in government spying on foreigners overseas will also get a vote.

The House is still scheduled to vote later on a bill that would reauthorize the program, set to expire January 19.

The Nunes-Schiff bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in the Senate and by Amash, Ted Poe (R-Texas), and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) in the House.

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 US soil.

Trump's reference to "abuse" that "the previous administration" allegedly inflicted upon him appears to be a reference to the baseless accusation he made last spring about the Obama administration "wire tapping" his phones at Trump Tower.

President Donald Trump appeared to contradict the official White House position Thursday morning, criticizing the program and suggesting it played a role in the surveillance of officials on his presidential campaign.

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

On Wednesday, the White House issued a statement opposing changes to the program.

The bill pushed by GOP leaders and the intelligence community would allow the government to re-start so-called "abouts" collection, where agencies can track communications that mention the target but aren't to or from him.

A growing group of lawmakers says before the group will vote to reauthorize FISA 702, the law must be reformed.

National Intelligence Director Dan Coats applauded the House action, saying it was a critical step in protecting Americans and US allies and "I have faith that my former colleagues in the Senate will follow the House's lead".

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The Trump administration wants the bill renewed. But it's unclear whether the bill has enough support.

One of the most contentious issues surrounding the Trump dossier is the question of whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation used unverified material from the dossier - a Clinton campaign opposition research product - to apply for permission to spy on Americans.

However, recently, bills in the Senate and the House have tried to resurrect and codify these powers to the NSA's benefit.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, said Mr. Amash, despite being an "important voice" from the libertarian side of the debate, got his amendment wrong.

The Prism program collects communications from internet services directly.

Critics contend that the extension will be used by government agencies to spy on Americans without warrants.

"We don't think there was a conflict at all".

Lawmakers had begun the day readying for two votes related to the program that intelligence officials call the "holy grail" because it provides insight into the thinking and actions of US adversaries.

"Section 702 is a critical tool that the intelligence community uses properly to target non-U.S. person outside of the United States that is vital to USA security", he said. The law must be changed to account for this, and future presidents.

"Politicians who support broad, unchecked government surveillance authorities are once again rushing to approve a sweeping program at the expense of Americans' personal liberty and constitutional rights", Sen.

The White House denied the contradictory nature of the President's competing statements.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler of NY, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said the Nunes bill is so "deeply flawed" that it jeopardizes the renewal of the anti-terrorism law altogether. It would require investigators to get a warrant to look at Americans' information, but only after the government has started an investigation.

These backdoor searches also require no individual Fourth Amendment-based warrant, as the FISA Court usually authorizes only whole surveillance programs for months at a time against entire classes of people.

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