Trump suggests surveillance law could have been used to 'abuse' his campaign


The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week, before the program expires on January 19.

Amash garnered 58 GOP votes for his amendment (offered with several other Democratic and Republican House members), by far his best showing since his first attempt to rein in federal mass surveillance programs in the summer of 2013, in the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations.

The US House of Representatives gave a boost to the government's surveillance powers.

Prior to Congress voting to retain powers allowing the electronic surveillance of non-Americans, the United States president attacked the controversial FISA act.

It's the foreign intelligence surveillance act that was approved as a result of 9/11 created to help prevent terrorism.

So what's wrong with that? 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. Sometimes, though, their data are collected anyway - as a result of communicating with foreigners who are overseas, for example.

But the program also sweeps up Americans' communications.

Lieu's amendment to the law would have restored privacy protections that Americans are entitled to enjoy. But FISA can also issue out surveillance orders, authorized by the president, without a warrant from a FISA court, for up to one year. They must show probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime will be found. But Americans' communications - even those in the US - can be snared if they are part of conversations that the targets are having. The problem, critics say, is not simply that the information is collected but what is done with it after it is gathered.

"Politicians who support broad, unchecked government surveillance authorities are once again rushing to approve a sweeping program at the expense of Americans' personal liberty and constitutional rights", Sen.

"I have spoken with the President, but I don't think it's necessary that you understand this as switching his position", Paul said on "Morning Joe".

Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate have been counting on enough moderate Democrats and Republicans to stick together to extend the legal basis for the surveillance program with only minimal changes.

National Intelligence Director Dan Coats applauded the House action, saying it was a critical step in protecting Americans and USA allies and "I have faith that my former colleagues in the Senate will follow the House's lead".

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The House defeated an alternative bill by Reps.

But the White House, in opposing those reforms, said the amendment would "re-establish the walls between intelligence and law enforcement that our country knocked down following the attacks of 9/11".

Trump tweeted about the program Thursday.

Trump had spent the morning going back and forth on the legislation, at first chastising the FISA law in a tweet as being behind surveillance of the Trump campaign, before supporting its passage hours later. With Trump as president, however, many have expressed deeper fears of possible abuse, as Glenn Greenwald from the Intercept explains.

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

"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", Trump wrote. But less than two hours later, the president appeared to reverse himself, telling lawmakers to "Get smart!"

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.

The Nunes-Schiff bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have sponsored the Senate version of the USA RIGHTS Act.

The U.S. intelligence services are enacting a mandate from President Donald Trump to establish guidelines on "unmasking" the identities of U.S. citizens in intelligence reports.

Congress is unlikely to let the program just lapse, because the U.S. Intelligence Community has warned that doing so could prevent them from stopping a terrorist attack.

"You have to realize that all of us are caught up in this", he said.