The House on Thursday passed a reauthorization of controversial government surveillance powers while also rejecting measures that would limit authorities' access to the information collected on Americans during foreign spying.
An amendment that would have required the Federal Bureau of Investigation to obtain a warrant to access information in the NSA's database failed in the House on Thursday. "By failing to close the backdoor search loophole in this bill, which exposes millions of innocent Americans to warrantless government surveillance, members of Congress have ceded incredible domestic spying powers to the executive branch", the organization said in a statement.
However, today's vote comes with the hope from some civil liberties-minded congressmen that they will be able to establish new guardrails on the program, which is up for an extension for the first time since whistleblower Edward Snowden released classified information about the scope of the National Security Agency's surveillance. The programs target people outside the USA, but do collect the communications of Americans who communicate with the targets of spies overseas.
Both Republicans and Democrats have pushed back against linking the controversy over unmasking to the FISA program the House is seeking to extend, known as Section 702. The Senate still must vote. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
Top Intelligence Committee Republicans and Democrats had been working with Trump administration officials on legislation renewing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) amendments - which allows for warrantless surveillance of foreigners and is set to expire. Those FISA warrants are at the heart of a deep-state conspiracy theory alleging that the Steele dossier was used as a pretext to spy on his campaign and undermine him. Still, the bill was expected to pass the House of Representatives today with a combination of Democratic and Republican votes.
Donald Trump suggested on Thursday that a key program to collect foreign intelligence could have been used by the Obama administration to "badly surveil and abuse" his campaign.
"We need it!" he said. The White House has issued statements this week and asked lawmakers to reauthorize it, even urging members late Wednesday night to reject a proposed amendment to the measure that would weaken the bill and likely kill its chances of passage in the Senate.
Pennsylvania heroin and opioid epidemic a disaster, governor says
See NBC10's national award-winning special report on the opioid crisis, Generation Addicted, right now by tapping here . The move is a first of its kind for Pennsylvania, which has one of the highest rates of drug overdoses in the country.
Codify the end of "about" collection, an invasive type of surveillance that was heavily criticized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for privacy violations. One of his tweets suggested that the foreign intelligence program was used to collect information that might have been used to taint his campaign. Such collection contains a reference to a target, such as an email address, in the body of a communication rather than in the "to" or "from" line.
It spooked some Republicans and it led to a phone call between the president and House Speaker Paul Ryan. But it's unclear whether the bill has enough support. 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.
The White House did not respond to emails requesting comment to fully clarify the president's position. Though they would not have the force of law, Nunes has said he would still support renewing the program.
"We call on Congress to protect Americans" 4th Amendment rights", said Computer & Communications Industry Association President Ed Black. Section 702 supporters say this would derail some of the important work being done.
The law also has been credited by intelligence officials with foiling terrorist plots to bomb the New York City subway system and the New York Stock Exchange.
US intelligence officials insist the program is a vital source of intercepting warning signs of potential attacks and information on terror suspects. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said.
Trump has said he will sign the bill, which would extend the program for six years.