Post by Admin on May 15, 2020 10:57:42 GMT
FISA reform bill passes Senate amid concerns about surveillance
[FBI can obtain our internet search history without warrant]
Fox News | May 14, 2020
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found multiple examples of FISA misuse to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page; congressional correspondent Chad Pergram reports from Capitol Hill.
A bill to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) passed the Senate comfortably on Thursday with bipartisan support, renewing some of its provisions but coupling that with some reforms to deal with concerns about surveillance abuse.
The bill, which has the backing of President Trump, Attorney General William Barr and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., both renews the authority of the FISA courts while also reforming it with new restrictions amid fears that surveillance authorities have been abused.
The bill passed 80-16 but because of changes made to it since the House passed the text, it will go back to the House in order to be synchronized, but it is unclear when that will happen.
“We appreciate the Senate’s reauthorization of three expired national security authorities,” Marc Raimondi, a national security spokesman at the Justice Department, said in a statement after the vote. “As amended, however, H.R. 6172 would unacceptably degrade our ability to conduct surveillance of terrorists, spies and other national security threats.”
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) was created for use by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to request surveillance warrants against foreign spies inside the U.S.
The vote extends provisions through to the end of 2023 after they lapsed in March. The expired FISA provisions to be renewed allow the FBI to get a court order for business records in national security investigations, to conduct surveillance on a subject without establishing that they’re acting on behalf of an international terrorism organization and to more easily continue eavesdropping on a subject who has switched cell phone providers to thwart detection.
The new legislation requires the attorney general to personally sign off on surveilling government officials. The bill will also expand when FISA judges should appoint an outsider to critique the government's position. Currently, judges are only to do so when addressing a novel and significant question of interpreting surveillance law.
The new legislation also allows obtaining business records to continue but bans using such records in order to collect information like cell phone data that in a criminal investigation requires a warrant, which has a higher legal standard.
The Senate amended the bill on Wednesday with a provision to allow for an outside “advocate” to consult on some FISA warrant requests, meaning that before it goes to Trump for signature it will need to be sent back to the House.
Some other potential reforms failed, however. On Wednesday, the Senate was a single vote short of approving an amendment that would have stopped federal law enforcement from obtaining Internet search history without a warrant. Another amendment failed Thursday by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that would have required the government to go to a federal court, rather than a FISA court, to get a warrant to surveil an American.
The vote comes amid continuing concerns over the use of FISA courts. A DOJ inspector general report criticized the FBI’s use of the FISA courts as it investigated allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election.
In particular, the report took issue with the applications submitted to monitor former Trump aide Carter Page.
A Justice Department assessment released by the FISC in January revealed that at least two of the FBI’s surveillance applications to secretly monitor Page lacked probable cause.
Horowitz’s FISA report revealed there were at least 17 "significant inaccuracies and omissions" in the Page FISA applications. The FBI has taken steps to reform the process in the wake of the damning report.