FISA and the Section 702 Fight — Surveillance State

FISA and the Section 702 Fight — Surveillance State

Trump initially said on Twitter that the surveillance program, first created in secret after the September 11, 2001, attacks and later legally authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, had been used against him but later said it was needed.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., seen here January 10, said before Thursday's vote that the FISA program is "our nation's most indispensable national security tool".

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) explains why he is a "Hell NO!" vote on the biggest thing the House of Representatives will be voting on today: the renewal of legislation that will allow federal law enforcement to gain access to a massive database of the emails, phone calls, text messages, and more of US citizens without a warrant.

The president's tweet appeared at odds with the official position of the White House, which has called for the provision to be reauthorized.

In a tweet, Trump linked the FISA program that his White House supports to the dossier that alleges his campaign had ties to Russian Federation, catching aides and Capitol Hill officials off guard.

Astoundingly, per NBC News, this awkward real-time pivot by Trump via his Twitter account has caused House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to request that Speaker Paul Ryan cancel the FISA vote today due to the president's clear misunderstanding of the situation.

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The White House supported the bill passed by the House on Thursday. They argued that restrictions on the use of Americans' data in the Nunes bill are so narrow and allow so many exceptions that they're virtually meaningless. They failed on Thursday to pass an amendment to include a warrant requirement before the NSA or other intelligence agencies could scrutinize communications belonging to Americans whose data is incidentally collected. Lawmakers have expressed concerns though that the government is also using the program to collect information on Americans who have been in touch with foreigners in a so-called 702 database.

"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", Trump tweeted. The bill now moves to the Senate, where Kentucky Republican Rand Paul has said he may attempt a filibuster unless the spy authority is weakened.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo - one of Trump's most trusted advisers who regularly administers the presidential daily briefing - was in touch with the White House to discuss the tweet, people familiar with the situation said. "We need it! Get smart!", he posted.

Thoughtful leaders on both sides of the aisle know FISA section 702 is a vital and carefully overseen tool to protect this country.

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. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday in an op-ed.

"The new warrant requirement in this bill, such as it is, is a fig leaf for reform and fails to address the vast majority of searches of 702 information - and we know this because the Federal Bureau of Investigation admitted as much to us", Nadler said.

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