The House of Representatives on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), amid revelations of egregious abuses under the Obama Administration. The vote also comes on the same day President Donald Trump sent mixed messages on Twitter about his support for the program that was misused to target him and his campaign.
“We don’t know what the terrorists are up to,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said on the floor of the House before of the vote. “We can’t send that information to our authorities to prevent terrorist attacks. The consequences are really high.”
His remarks represent typical scare tactics used by members of both parties on Capitol Hill, which warn of grave consequences if the program is not renewed. Supporters say it’s a critical program to ensure the intelligence community can prevent terrorist attacks, even though internal government reports have not attributed a single foiled terrorist plot to it.
Section 702 of FISA allows intelligence agencies to collect information on foreign targets abroad, though it has been misused to spy on domestic targets. In fact, the vote comes just one day after other news outlets have confirmed what sources told People’s Pundit Daily (PPD) weeks ago — that parts of the unverified, Kremlin-sourced anti-Trump Steele dossier was used by the Obama Administration to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on members of the Trump campaign and, later, the Trump transition team.
“(The dossier) certainly played a role in obtaining the warrant,” another senior U.S. official with knowledge of the dossier confirmed to Sara Carter. “Congress needs to look at the FBI officials who were handling this case and see what, if anything, was verified in the dossier. I think an important question is whether the FBI payed anything to the source for the dossier.”
Multiple sources confirmed Ms. Carter’s reporting, which warned that there will be more information in the coming week regarding “systemic ‘FISA abuse’.”
Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., last week sent a a criminal referral for Christopher Steele, the former MI6 British Intelligence Officer and research-gatherer for the so-called dossier. It cites potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, or making false statements to investigators particularly regarding the distribution of claims contained in the dossier.
After a year of denying the allegations, a bombshell report recently revealed the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) paid the shadowy smear firm Fusion GPS more than $10 million to fund the dossier. Congressional investigators have long suspected Mr. Obama’s appointees at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Justice Department (DOJ) used the unverified dossier as justification to spy on Team Trump.
Worth noting, the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging both the Clinton campaign and the DNC violated campaign finance law by failing to accurately disclose payments for the dossier.
As PPD also previously reported, the Obama Administration admitted at a FISA court hearing on October 26 (2016) that National Security Administration (NSA) intercept database searches “routinely” violated Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights.
Nevertheless, President Trump, himself a target of the abuses of power derived from Section 702, sent mixed signals Thursday morning before the vote.
“This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?” he tweeted.
His opposition lasted about 2 hours.
“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. We need it! Get smart!” he tweeted.
Also worth noting, the House rejected a bipartisan effort to reform Section 702, including a proposal introduced by libertarian-leaning Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., which would have imposed multiple restrictions on the intelligence community’s spying activities.
“I voted against it because of the idea you could actually look at Americans’ content without a warrant,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a member of the House Freedom Caucus said after the vote. “That’s not how the Fourth Amendment is supposed to operate.”
“If you’re going to query anything, if you’re going to search anything, then you’re supposed to get a probable cause warrant.”
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. – Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
It was approved on a 256-164 vote and now it heads to the U.S. Senate, where it is expected to pass.