Rand Paul threatens to filibuster over FISA surveillance program

Saul Bowman
January 16, 2018

Senator Feinstein released Senate testimony of Fusion GPS co-founder.

Trump went against the GOP and his administration's talking points today when he bashed FISA and suggested that it allowed investigators to "badly surveil and abuse" his 2016 campaign over the Fusion GPS dossier. Warrantless surveillance of a suspected terrorist in the US who's not an American citizen could go on for a year before the Department of Justice (DOJ) and related watchdog agencies like the National Security Administration (NSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation were forced to obtain judicial authorization. The House is voting Thursday on possible changes.

In a narrow victory for the Trump administration, the House on Thursday voted down a bid to impose new limits on how authorities can use information on Americans collected in foreign spying. But less than two hours later, the president appeared to reverse himself, telling lawmakers to "Get smart!"

Before approving the extension of the law, the House voted 233-183 to reject an amendment that proposed a series of overhauls.

The issue centered on a law called Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

"This amendment would re-establish the walls between intelligence and law enforcement that our country knocked down following the attacks of 9/11 in order to increase information sharing and improve national security".

Trump initially wrote 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 (FISA), had been used against him but later said it was needed.

The vote on the bill sets up the measure for consideration in the Senate, where leaders have said they believe they can pass it before the programme's statutory authorisation expires on January 19. This isn't about politics. Even well-informed Republican members of Congress and congressional officials on both sides of the aisle ultimately acknowledged that there was nothing to Trump's allegations, but Trump kept scandal-mongering throughout the year anyway.

"His administration's position has been really clear from Day 1, which is: 702 is really important, it's got to be renewed", Mr. Ryan told reporters after the vote.

"First, this is not true".

The emergency meeting of the top national security officials and the House speaker was described by people familiar with the hasty conference.

Reauthorization is supported by most Republicans and Democrats in the lower chamber.

"FISA is something the President should have known about long before he turned on Fox this morning", Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted after Trump's post.

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