The Latest: House OKs foreign surveillance program

Posted at 11:31 AM, Jan 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-11 08:17:22-05

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on the House and reauthorization of a key foreign intelligence collection program (all times local):

11:57 a.m.

The U.S. intelligence services are enacting a mandate from President Donald Trump to establish guidelines on "unmasking" the identities of U.S. citizens in intelligence reports.

Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats on Thursday signed a measure that for the first time established guidance for the entire intelligence community. It directs civilian and military agencies to establish plans within 90 days in consultation with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

The measure aims to more tightly restrict how the names of Americans kept secret in intelligence reports can be revealed, particularly during presidential transitions. The move follows unsubstantiated charges by President Donald Trump that his predecessor's administration spied on his campaign and improperly "unmasked" the identities of his associates during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition.


11:50 a.m.

The House has passed a bill to reauthorize a key foreign intelligence collection program with an important tweak. It requires the FBI to get a warrant if it wants to view the contents of Americans' communications swept up in the process.

The House on Thursday passed what is known as Section 702 of a program that allows spy agencies to collect information on foreign targets abroad. The bill passed 256-164. The Senate must still pass the bill before it is sent to the White House for the president's signature.

Earlier, the House rejected a measure to impose stiffer restrictions on the FBI. It would have required the FBI to get a warrant to continue even querying the database when Americans are involved.


11:20 a.m.

The House is rejecting a measure to impose stiff restrictions on how the FBI uses information on Americans' communications inadvertently swept up in the collection of foreign intelligence.

The measure would have required the FBI to get a probable cause warrant to continue even querying the database of intelligence collected on foreign targets abroad.

Thursday's vote was 233-183 against the measure.

Those opposed said it would prevent U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies from uncovering potential threats to national security. Those who backed the measure argued that the FBI should not be able to query Americans' information in the database without a warrant.

The House is still scheduled to vote later on a bill that would reauthorize the program, set to expire Jan. 19. That bill would require the FBI to get a warrant only if it wants to actually view the contents of Americans' communications in the foreign intelligence database and use it to investigate domestic crimes.


8:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump is suggesting that a key program to collect foreign intelligence could have been used to "badly surveil and abuse" his campaign.

That's despite his administration expressing support for renewing the program.

Trump tweeted about the program Thursday. He was referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which lets spy agencies collect information on foreign targets abroad. The House is voting Thursday on possible changes, and the Senate must also act.

Trump says: "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?"

On Wednesday, the White House issued a statement opposing changes to the program.

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