Sunday, 23 September, 2018

US passes spy program after initial confusion

Pool  Getty Images North America Pool Getty Images North America
Ellis Copeland | 13 January, 2018, 06:43

There are no obvious links between the dossier Trump spoke of, which includes salacious but unsubstantiated allegations against him, and the reauthorization of the spying program, or between the program and Trump's oft-repeated claims that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower during the presidential campaign. "I am gratified with this strong, bipartisan vote and look forward to the bill's swift passage in the Senate", Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. The meeting -televised to ward off continuing speculation surrounding Trump's mental faculties - ultimately revealed Trump's limited understanding of terms relevant to the debate. I've never voted for a flawless bill in this House.

Because of the confusion, Chief of Staff John Kelly was dispatched to the Hill to save legislation the White House supported.

At 9:14 a.m. ET on Thursday, Trump tweeted, "With that being said, I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office and today's vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land". Within two hours (and after a conversation with Ryan) the president urged Congress to pass a bill to renew the authorization: "We need it!".

"This morning he put out two tweets that were so undermining of what we were trying to do of the floor in terms of FISA", she said. Members in the White House and law enforcement officials advised House lawmakers before the vote.

When Trump later issued his second tweet, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., alerted the GOP conference to it, calming lawmakers' nerves.

The vote came just hours after the House voted 256 to 164 to approve the legislation and is a sign that lawmakers intend to move swiftly to pass the measure before the program's statutory authority expires on January 19.

The House voted 256-164 on Thursday to reauthorize a surveillance law critical to America's security for another six years.

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But what exactly is FISA, and what is Congress set to decide about the law?

Trump initially said on Twitter that the surveillance program, first created in secret after the September 11, 2001, attacks and later legally authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, had been used against him but later said it was needed.

In effect, the "foreign" surveillance program - after all, FISA stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - became a domestic spying program.

After the excesses of the Watergate era, during which the Nixon administration used the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the CIA unlawfully to spy without warrants on the president's real and imagined domestic political opponents, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Napolitano's Fox commentary was not the only opposition that Trump was exposed to. Rand Paul announced he will filibuster because of a lack of protections for citizens. "So we wanted to make sure you knew the White House position", Sanders said.

"We don't think there was a conflict at all", Sanders told reporters at the daily briefing.

Finally, Trump's top spokeswoman's omission of what White House officials late last year wanted to be a top legislative goal for their second year signaled the president and his team now believe midterm election year politics make it too hard. He described the bill that passed as reaching a "very sensible balance".

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