Luján Addresses Vote On FISA Surveillance Bill

Thomas Massie Justin Amash Rand Paul

The U.S. House on Thursday passed legislation reauthorizing a surveillance act after President Donald Trump first criticized the bill, and then backed it.

The dossier examines ties between Russian Federation and Trump and his aides.

The FISA vote was briefly cast into doubt this week after President Trump tweeted that he opposed the legislation, as he claimed it had been used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to spy on his campaign. After releasing an official statement supporting the bill, the president sent a tweet Thursday morning questioning whether the Trump campaign was surveilled under the program - an accusation made without evidence.

But the program also sweeps up Americans' communications.

Trump's tweet came soon after a Fox and Friends segment that highlighted the FISA programme, calling it "controversial".

The new version of Section 702 voted for in the House yesterday would also allow a restart of controversial "about" data collection, which was ended a year ago after criticism from the FISA court.

He first implied his displeasure with the bill by saying FISA might have been used to "surveil and abuse" his election campaign team. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) argued that the amendment would lead to the country "flying blind" in its search for terrorism suspects.

And a short time later, Trump changed his tune. In a later tweet, he said: "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!" he said in a post.

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Democrats pounced on his earlier criticism.

"This is irresponsible, untrue, and frankly it endangers our national security", Warner tweeted. Mark Warner of Virginia, the Senate intelligence committee's top Democrat, tweeted.

"FISA is something the President should have known about long before he turned on Fox this morning", Sen. The House also rejected an amendment offered by Congressman Amash (R-Mich.) - by a vote of 233 to 183 - which would have provided an overhaul of Section 702 with reforms meant to protect Americans' privacy rights.

Congress did, in 2015, vote to end and replace a programme that Snowden exposed under which the NSA, under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, had been secretly collecting logs of Americans' domestic phone calls in bulk. This bill also provides new, rigorous measures to protect Americans' privacy and to ensure the program is used properly to target foreign terrorists, weapons proliferators, and other threats to Americans' safety and security.

Senior government officials can ask spy agencies to unmask the names of Americans or US organizations if they think it will help them better understand the underlying intelligence. "But 256 members of the House think FBI agents should have warrantless access to Americans' calls and emails, even in investigations that have literally nothing to do with national security".

Exceptions would apply, such as for murder, kidnapping and other crimes specified in the bill.

After years of libertarians and privacy-minded Democrats pushing to change FISA, the House passed a six-year reauthorization with hardly any changes.

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