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Tags: fisa | authorization | senate | surveillance | warrantless | deadline

Senate Faces Deadline to Reauthorize FISA

By    |   Thursday, 18 April 2024 08:59 AM EDT

The U.S. Senate faces a fast approaching deadline to pass a key surveillance bill and avoid a lapse in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

That FISA section, set to expire Friday, authorizes warrantless spying on foreigners abroad.

The House last week passed a bill to reauthorize Section 702, though a separate provision ending warrantless surveillance of Americans failed to pass.

Although FISA prohibits targeting Americans, communications between U.S. citizens and foreign surveillance targets can be gathered.

Former President Donald Trump had urged House Republicans to "kill FISA," saying the provision helped the FBI spy in his 2016 campaign.

The Senate, which will take its first vote on the FISA legislation Thursday, will need to reduce time for debate and amendments to pass the bill and avoid a technical lapse of the program's warrantless surveillance authority, Politico reported.

Although Senate leaders on both sides are urging their colleagues to approve the legislation, some members of the chamber clearly don't like the bill.

"I do not support reauthorizing FISA Section 702 in its current form and call on the Senate to take action to stop warrantless searches by the government and law enforcement agencies to protect Montanans' freedom and privacy," Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., running for reelection, said in a statement Wednesday.

"Politicians who love freedom don't authorize warrantless surveillance of American citizens," Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, wrote on X on Monday. "Fix FISA 702. Or shut it down. #GetAWarrant," he added.

"We need to debate — we've had five years," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told reporters Tuesday, the Washington Examiner reported. "I would think we've got time to debate whether or not it's appropriate for our government to spy on its own citizens without a warrant."

The House bill added a provision to cover new types of data service providers, causing some critics to label the changes as a "vast expansion of surveillance authorities."

"If you have access to any communications, the government can force you to help it spy," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Tuesday, the Examiner reported. "That means anybody with access to a server, a wire, a cable box, a Wi-Fi router, a phone, or computer. This can all happen without any oversight whatsoever."

The Biden administration sent a memo to Senate offices arguing the bill "does not expand the scope" of who can be targeted for surveillance, Politico reported.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner, D-Va., said FISA must be passed because it is a critical tool in identifying terrorism threats.

"The notion that we would let … the crown jewel of our intelligence collection abilities to go dark as we simultaneously debate aid for Ukraine and Israel and humanitarian relief to the Palestinians in Gaza, to let it go dark at this moment in time would be the height of irresponsibility," Warner said during a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also pushed the House bill.

"All the House did was fix a dangerous loophole that would have allowed our foreign adversaries to escape the reach of our intelligence services," McConnell said on Wednesday, the Examiner reported.

Charlie McCarthy

Charlie McCarthy, a writer/editor at Newsmax, has nearly 40 years of experience covering news, sports, and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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The U.S. Senate faces a fast approaching deadline to pass a key surveillance bill and avoid a lapse in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
fisa, authorization, senate, surveillance, warrantless, deadline
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Thursday, 18 April 2024 08:59 AM
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