The House of Representatives is set to vote on renewal of the controversial 702 section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Act. That section is what authorizes the U.S. intelligence community to collect conversations of non-U.S. citizens on foreign soil.
But the section has been the subject of much debate over the last year as the Russia investigation has come to dominate headlines, and questions about whether, and how, the conversations of American citizens, on American soil, have gotten caught up in the collection of intelligence.
There are two bills up for a vote today. One would leave the program basically unchanged. President Trump’s national security team has lobbied hard for months to get a version of a bill like this passed. They argue the authority granted in this program are vital to their terrorism and international-crime fighting efforts. This bill is heavily favored by Republican leadership, and, so it was believed, the White House.
Another bill, would curtail the government’s authority significantly. This bill is favored by grassroots and more libertarian-leaning Republicans, as well as some Democrats. They say that section 702 of FISA allows the government, albeit indirectly, to spy on Americans without a warrant, because some information on U.S. citizens is invariably collected during the foreign surveillance.
That version would have been introduced as an amendment that would have superseded and replaced the first version. The White House had indicated that it was in support of the first, version, the one favored by the IC and Republican leadership, and not the new amendment.
“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 our national security,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “The administration urges the House to reject this amendment and preserve the useful role FISA’s Section 702 authority plays in protecting American lives.”
But the president tweeted this morning that FISA was the cause of the surveillance of his campaign by the previous administration. It was seen as a signal that he was withdrawing support for the first version and supporting the second version instead.
House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.” This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?
That tweet was followed with another, about an hour later though, that seemed to clarify the president’s position.
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!
It didn’t stop some Democrats though, from criticizing the president on his apparent confusion over his which version of the bill he supports.
This is irresponsible, untrue, and frankly it endangers our national security. FISA is something the President should have known about long before he turned on Fox this morning. https://t.co/LQ9shut53k
It also caused some lawmakers, to use the president’s original tweet as an argument for the new, more restrictive version of the bill. Democratic Congressman, Ted Lieu, a frequent Trump critic wrote: “While I don’t agree with the specifics of what @realDonaldTrump said, I agree with the overall point: the FISA ACT & warrantless spying on Americans have gotten out of control. Republicans & Dems should vote NO on [House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’] harmful FISA Reauthorization bill.”