Senate moves ahead on reauthorizing surveillance tool

Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Seema Verma listen at right as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. The Trump adm

However, earlier in a tweet, Trump had criticised the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) programme, saying that it was used to gather information about him and surveil his campaign.

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.

On Wednesday, the White House issued a statement opposing changes to the programme.

The major point of contention involved Section 702 of FISA, which allows the government to spy on the electronic communications of non-U.S. citizens who they have a reasonable belief are outside the United States.

Americans cannot be the subject of 702 surveillance, but can be picked up in the surveillance of foreign targets.

Trump's original tweet enraged Democrats who have been working with moderate Republicans to reauthorize the legislation. Section 702 supporters say this would derail some of the important work being done. "Men aren't angels. We need to make sure somebody is watching and there are checks and balances".

Critics argue that the 702 program vacuums up the information of millions of USA citizens who communicate with those individuals, and that the US government should not be allowed to specifically search for that USA person information or use it against Americans in court without a warrant.

It was a striking contradiction between Trump's dueling identities as a man, often guided by impulses, grievances and what he sees on television, and Trump the president, responsible for taking a broader view of government and security issues.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: At about 7:30 this morning on Fox News, a legal analyst argued that President Trump should go against a White House statement of support last night and oppose extending the surveillance measure the House was set to vote on today. "We think that is unconstitutional, hugely problematic, and we're here to defend the rights of the American people", added Amash.

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

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Senior Democrats in the House had urged cancellation of the vote after Trump appeared to cast doubt on the merits of the program, but Republicans forged ahead.

At the end of the day, I suspect we'll learn conclusively that unverified dossier information was indeed used to obtain the FISA warrant.

Trump's tweet mentioned an "unmasking process".

"Under this president, we had a 45-year low in illegal immigration on the border this year", Homan said.

He said that "today's vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land".

Now, hidden beneath the "Fire and Fury" controversy is the muffled sound of the Trump administration and Republican congressional leaders plotting the enactment of an addition to FISA that would permit the use of evidence of crimes in federal court even when it is discovered during mass surveillance authorized by general warrants. "The F means foreign", said Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Wisconsin Republican who wrote the original Patriot Act, who backed the Amash alternative.

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.

The approval of the legislation, backed by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and the panel's top Democrat Adam B. Schiff, both Californians, marks a defeat for a large bipartisan group of lawmakers who proposed an amendment that would have imposed tough warrant requirements before the Federal Bureau of Investigation could begin searching the surveillance database for information on Americans.

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

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