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12 January 2018, 12:26 | Darnell Patrick
House OKs foreign surveillance program
As Matthew Gertz of Media Matters pointed out, Trump's decision to denounce FISA was tweeted at the same time that "Fox & Friends" was connecting the act to Trump's ongoing woes over accusations that his presidential campaign colluded with Russian government officials. "The administration urges the House to reject this amendment and preserve the useful role FISA's Section 702 authority plays in protecting American lives".
The six-year renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act program, letting spy agencies conduct surveillance on foreign targets overseas, passed the House 256-164. That means that if an American is communicating with a foreign target, those communications could be collected.
They said that would put the US back where it was before the 2001 terrorist attacks, when "walls" prevented information sharing that authorities say might have helped stop the airplane attacks. "We need it! Get smart!" By design, this dragnet includes intimate and private communications with individuals in the US, and very likely disproportionately impacts immigrants, journalists, and global businesses that more frequently engage in overseas communications.
Republicans made up 191 affirmative votes, with 65 Democrats chipping in. They were not issued based on probable cause of crime but issued based on the government's wish to invade the privacy of all Americans living in the Colonies to find the more rebellious among them.
President Donald Trump confounded his advisers and has appeared to directly contradict the official White House stance in three distinct policy arenas, generating widespread confusion among political allies and enemies alike. Later, Pelosi said during remarks on the House floor that she would vote for it.
The US House of Representatives passed a crucial surveillance law Thursday that reinforced the ability of the country's spy agencies to intercept and make use of Americans' private communications.
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The bill passed 256 to 164 in the lower chamber and now moves on to the Senate.
Since so much of the debate is about secret operations and complex legal issues, it's tough to get a firm grasp on the full contours of the program and its collection. In a tweet, the president quoted verbatim the Fox headline from Napolitano's appearance and suggested that the FISA law had been used to "so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign".
His posts spoke to an earlier chapter in this saga in which Washington took a detour about "wiretapping" and "unmasking", following Trump tweets from March 2017. The administration has lobbied Congress to reauthorize the law, and it opposes any efforts to water it down to protect the privacy of American citizens.
Senate leaders should refuse to buckle under pressure from the Trump administration and intelligence committees, and instead vote to reform these government powers, which could too easily be deployed to spy on immigrant communities, minorities, government critics - and everyone else.
"It's well-known that he has concerns about the domestic FISA law", the speaker said. He walked back a tweet roughly two hours later after speaking with House Speaker Paul Ryan, drawing a distinction between "unmasking" - a term used to denote the practice of revealing the identity of Americans who communicate with foreign surveillance targets - and the surveillance of "foreign bad guys".
Chief of staff John Kelly has tried to calm reactions from White House staffers to such incidents, telling reporters in November, after Trump provoked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, that he has instructed staffers to avoid reacting to Trump's Twitter account.
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