Trump's grasp of policy questioned after contradictory tweets on surveillance

Trump's grasp of policy questioned after contradictory tweets on surveillance

Trump's grasp of policy questioned after contradictory tweets on surveillance

The House on Thursday approved legislation reauthorizing a powerful surveillance program, hours after President Trump weighed in on the controversial program.

Known as 702 for its section of the FISA Amendments Act, the warrantless authority has been controversial for years, with the government declining to publicly disclose how many Americans have been ensnared in what is supposed to be surveillance of foreigners.

And Sen. Rand Paul, a forceful advocate for privacy safeguards, received a phone call from Trump after his initial tweet to discuss the matter, according to a senior aide to the Kentucky Republican.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top-ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Trump's tweets were "inaccurate, conflicting and confusing".

"The House voted today to give President Trump and his administration more spying powers", Neema Singh Guliani, policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

The 256-154 vote to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act capped a wild day of debate that started when President Donald Trump tweeted misleadingly that the National Security Agency's program "may have been so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others".

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He said that "today's vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land". "Men aren't angels. We need to make sure somebody is watching and there are checks and balances". The bill does not meaningfully reform the government's practice of performing backdoor searches and would allow warrantless searches for U.S. citizen information for broad foreign intelligence purposes, which could include information about foreign affairs that are unrelated to national security. But the White House opposes that amendment and even put out a statement late Wednesday night reiterating its opposition.

" I will tell you this, the Bill of Rights is something worth filibustering over, and the idea we should have a judicial warrant before searching an American's records is worth filibustering for", Paul said. During a meeting on Tuesday to discuss immigration with a bipartisan group of legislators he initially voiced support when Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein suggested a "clean" bill to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

At Reason, Scott Shackford wrote that "it also codifies permission for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to access and use data secretly collected by Americans for a host of criminal cases that have nothing to do with protecting America from foreign threats". They are not using this data to prosecute Americans for tax evasion, they say - they are using it for terrorism cases. 55 Democrats voted against the amendment, where a swing of 26 votes would have meant its adoption and the protection of Americans' privacy.

Paul said he's spoken with Trump, and the president has indicated that he believes any reauthorization should have "significant reforms", meaning that a warrant should be required before looking at records involving Americans.

The House passed the bill to reauthorize FISA with an important tweak. "The Constitution really isn't guaranteed to everyone around the world, it's guaranteed to us here", he said. For example, it could be used to find evidence that an American citizen isn't paying his or her taxes or has committed a minor drug offense, according to the ACLU and other civil liberties groups. Mark Warner, D-Va., top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"A vote for this (Nunes) bill is a vote against the Fourth Amendment", said Jason Pye, FreedomWorks' vice president of legislative affairs.

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