Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageHouse votes down amendment to ban warrantless spying on Americans

By Ken Hanly     Jun 20, 2019 in Politics
Washington - Tuesday evening an amendment to a bill designed to restrain domestic surveillance under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was defeated in the US House of Representatives by a vote of 175 to 252.
Both Democrats and Republicans voted down the amendment
The no vote was passed by many Republicans and Democrats. The amendment was put forward by Representative Justin Amash a MIchigan Republican and Zoe Lofgren a Democrat from California. However, more Democrats than Republicans actually voted against the amendment.
A recent article notes: "Digital rights group Fight for the Future in a statement after the vote pointed out that more Democrats had voted against the amendment than Republicans."It’s good to know that House Democrats like Adam Schiff are 'resisting' Trump by voting to ensure that he has limitless authority to conduct mass warrantless surveillance,” Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement. 'The Democrats who voted against this common sense amendment just threw immigrants, LGBTQ folks, activists, journalists, and political dissidents under the bus by voting to rubberstamp the Trump administration’s Orwellian domestic spying capabilities.'"
The nature of the amendment
The amendment was tacked on to a spending appropriations bill (HR2740). The amendment would have banned the use of any funds to submit a surveillance request under Section 702 guidelines unless the requesting organization certified that the surveillance is not "to acquire the communications of a particular, known person reasonably believed to be in the United States, any acquisition of a communication as to which no participant is a person who is targeted pursuant to the authorized acquisition, or any acquisition of a communication known to be entirely domestic."
Explanation
The purpose of Section 702 of the FISA is to authorize warrantless secret surveillance of foreign persons of interests who are in other countries who may be plotting against the US. However, in practice the National Security Agency (NSA) which makes the requests has been collecting significant amounts of information about American citizens without warrants in violation of the fourth amendment of the US constitution. This type of surveillance was exposed by Edward Snowden.
Trump complains and then expands US surveillance powers
Trump has complained loudly that both he and his aides were illegally surveilled by FISA when he was a candidate. However, he has done nothing to try to restrain FISA's powers. Quite the opposite, when Section 702 was up for renewal last year Trump and the US Congress expanded its authority to spy on Americans.
Amash and Lofgren vigorously defended their amendment
Since nothing was done last year, Amash and Lofgren have been trying to stop the NSA from secretly collecting data from the communications of US citizens without a warrant. Amash said: "The government can search and sweep in billions of communications, including communications of Americans, and then query that data," Amash said. "The Amash-Lofgren amendment puts in basic safeguards to allow the government to continue using Section 702 for its stated purpose of gathering foreign intelligence, while limiting the government’s warrantless collection of Americans’ communications under FISA."
So this year, Amash and Lofgren embarked on a new effort to stop the NSA from secretly collecting Americans' communications. Amash spoke passionately in defense of his amendment on the House floor last evening: "The government can search and sweep in billions of communications, including communications of Americans, and then query that data," Amash said. "The Amash-Lofgren amendment puts in basic safeguards to allow the government to continue using Section 702 for its stated purpose of gathering foreign intelligence, while limiting the government’s warrantless collection of Americans’ communications under FISA." Amash pointed out that Republicans had been saying for months that they were worried about FISA abuse and was out of control and yet many voted against the amendment. Amash said he was sick of going home to his constituency and telling people that neither Democrats nor Republicans would stand up for their rights.
The amendment was debated for only ten minutes before being defeated. Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio in spite of often being at odds with Amash supported his amendment. Notable Democrats supporting the amendment were Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex of New York. The roll call can be found here.
More about Warrantless spying, Fisa, Nsa
More news from
Latest News
Top News