Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

House renews surveillance law after Trump posts differing tweets

House renews surveillance law after Trump posts differing tweets

Wednesday night, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders urged the House to reject the alternate proposal and "preserve the useful role FISA's Section 702 authority plays in protecting American lives".

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said because of recent accusations of bias directed at the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation there needs to be "more oversight of the intelligence community" because "men are not angels", a reference to a quote from James Madison.

American firms, including Google and AT&T, are now required to turn over information to authorities without a warrant turn over private emails and other messages of Americans linked to foreigners' communications in counterterror and espionage cases.

Since the Snowden revelations in 2013, the public learned that Section 702 has been used unlawfully and in ways that was never intended.

Trump's top spokeswoman blamed Democrats for holding out on an immigration deal, signaled that overhauling entitlement programs is no longer a 2018 priority and contended a series of Trump tweets about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, minutes before the House was set to vote on reauthorizing the program, were just fine. Apparently inspired by the segment's characterization of the law as "controversial" and linked to the Trump-Russia dossier, Trump wrote that FISA had been used "to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign".

Republicans seemed undeterred by Democrats' demands, going ahead with planned votes on the bill and a sole amendment to it on Thursday.

"'House votes on controversial FISA ACT today, '" Trump tweeted early yesterday morning, citing a "Fox and Friends" headline. White House chief of staff John Kelly also directly intervened with Trump, reiterating the program's importance before traveling to the Capitol, where he parried questions from confused lawmakers.

"It's well-known that he has concerns about the domestic FISA law", the speaker said.

The tweet was posted shortly after Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano said, "Mr. President, this is not the way to go". Then Trump weighed in with a pair of tweets that upended things even more.

He later said "This vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land". He walked himself back two hours later, tweeting, "We need it!". In the time of President Donald Trump, that's extremely careless. The "unmasking" refers to senior government officials asking an intelligence agency to reveal the names of Americans or US entities in a piece of intelligence to better understand the information. Trump, and Nunes, accused the Obama administration of improperly revealing the identities of members of the president's transition team.

In addition, leaked transcripts of comments by Trump aides - unmasked under procedures that Coats sought to limit with his guidance on Thursday - lead to a series of unverified media reports of collusion between Trump associates and Russian intelligence.

The group of senators working together included Gardner and Durbin, along with Republicans Sens. Section 702, Snowden revealed, formed the legal basis of extensive worldwide monitoring that opened up almost every communication across American borders to monitoring of metadata - information about the message itself, like timestamps, sender and recipient - as well as message content.

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