House votes to reauthorize controversial FISA
- Author: Leroy Wright Jan 15, 2018,
Jan 15, 2018, 14:40
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to renew a key surveillance law the U.S. uses to thwart foreign terrorists plotting attacks against Americans.
Trump went against the GOP and his administration's talking points today when he bashed FISA and suggested that it allowed investigators to "badly surveil and abuse" his 2016 campaign over the Fusion GPS dossier.
Trump attempted to walk back the tweet about 90 minutes later, urging legislators to approve the reauthorization - but top Democrats seized on the confusion to demand the withdrawal of the controversial bill.
Although controversial, officials from Democratic and Republican administrations have argued the eavesdropping tool is vital to counterterrorism and counterespionage efforts and has saved lives - an argument echoed by Trump's own White House. In the past, some lawmakers had made attempts to put into place some privacy limitation in the program mainly because it looks through the private communications of Americans such as emails, texts and phone calls.
The reauthorization is potentially a politically fraught issue on Capitol Hill, and the House is expected to vote on the bill later Thursday.
After the vote Thursday, Ryan, asked about his conversation with the president, said Trump's concerns regarded other parts of the law. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also joined in by telephone.
On Twitter, former intelligence personnel and commentators described the President's second tweet as an embarrassing "walkback".
Trump later updated his stance through a tweet declaring that the country needs FISA. "Congress must reauthorize it", he tweeted. "We need it! Get smart!" he wrote. Paul said he is for spying on foreigners in foreign lands but wants to end the incidental collection of data on millions of Americans.
Trump, and Nunes, accused the Obama administration of improperly revealing the identities of members of the president's transition team. The authorization for the program is set to expire later this month, if not reauthorized.
When the Senate last renewed Section 702 in 2012, it, with 19 Democrats, 3 Republicans, and independent Bernie Sanders voting no.
"The president fully supports the 702 and is happy to see that it passed the House today", she said.
Opponents of FISA reform say changing the rules would give more rights to terrorists and criminals.
The night before the House vote, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement strongly opposing an amendment that would require the Federal Bureau of Investigation to get a court order before searching for and reading Americans' emails and messages swept up in surveillance of foreigners' communications.