Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

House Reauthorizes FISA Despite Civil Liberties Concerns

House Reauthorizes FISA Despite Civil Liberties Concerns

On Thursday morning, the United States president tweeted that the programme had been used by the Obama administration to "so badly surveil and abuse the Trump campaign".

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks during a news conference on Thursday, where he denied any contradiction in White House policy based on President Donald Trump's tweets on FISA surveillance.

Despite confusion about Trump's stance, the House rejected an amendment to restrict access to information collected incidentally on Americans and then approved the six-year reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But less than two hours later, the president appeared to reverse himself, telling lawmakers to "Get smart!" 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.

Both House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke against the measure, which drew opposition and support from both Republicans and Democrats.

The Senate voted 69 to 26 Thursday afternoon to begin debate on the bill.

But the House rejected, on a 233-183 vote, more stringent restrictions on the Federal Bureau of Investigation that would have required it to get a warrant even when it started its search of the surveillance database when Americans might be involved.

"This 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 national security".


Some Democrats, including the ranking member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, California Congressman Adam Schiff, called for a delay in the Thursday vote because of what he called the "irresponsible and inherently contradictory messages" coming out of the White House.

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 president has said that his campaign and Trump Tower was spied on by the Obama administration, calling the former president a "bad (or sick) guy!"

"The key difference in USA Rights has to do with the collection and use of innocent Americans' data, not foreign intelligence". But she added, "The president doesn't believe Americans' rights or liberties should be abused, but he certainly believes Americans should be protected".

After the vote Thursday, Ryan, asked about his conversation with the president, said Trump's concerns regarded other parts of the law.

"My worry is that they also collect information on millions of Americans, and I don't want that database to be searched without a warrant", the Kentucky Republican said. "No president should have this power".

The provisions of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act carried the chamber by a vote of 256 to 164. A proposed amendment to Section 702 to require authorities to obtain court warrants failed 233-183 with support from libertarians and privacy advocates.

The tweets sent White House aides scrambling to explain the apparent about-face.

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