Senate Votes To Reauthorize NSA Spying Program

While most Congressional observers are focused on the battle to avert a weekend government shutdown (an outcome that's looking increasingly likely), the Senate on Thursday quietly passed an extension of the NSA's spying surveillance program, sending the bill to the president's desk a week after the House voted to authorize the controversial plan.

Even President Trump voiced scepticism about reauthorizing the bill in a tweet earlier this year, where he claimed it had helped the Obama administration spy on the Trump campaign, although he infamously flip-flopped later.

As the Hill  pointed out, the vote comes after an (almost) tension-filled hour on the Senate floor earlier this week where opponents tried, but failed, to mount a filibuster to force additional debate on the legislation, with both sides spotted lobbying key holdouts. Opponents rallied against the bill ahead of Thursday's vote, arguing the legislation is being rushed through.

"The American people deserve better than the legislation before us. ...The American people deserve better than warrantless wiretapping," said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).

He added that senators should "consider the gravity of the issues at hand and to oppose reauthorization until we can have a real opportunity for debate and reform."

Critics of the controversial Section 702 of the FISA Act - the measure that was reauthorized by the Senate today and is expected to be signed into law despite Trump's reservations - said it allows the FBI to spy on Americans without first obtaining a warrant. Though some surveillance experts have disputed this.

As the Wall Street Journal  explained, Section 702 underpins a wide range of electronic collection against foreign targets overseas and has been referred to by officials as critical to national security. The law was set to expire Friday unless Congress voted to reauthorize it.

Opponents of the bill say the secrecy surrounding intelligence agency operations has made it prone to abuse. One of the most prominent critics of reauthorization is Thomas Drake, an NSA whistleblower who raised concerns about the domestic spying initiatives that were revealed by Edward Snowden - except he raised his concerns through official channels.

The vote passed in a 65 to 34 vote with bipartisan support, meaning quite a few members of the Democrats "resistance" ended up aligning with the hated Donald Trump.

Supporters only needed 51 votes on Thursday, giving them more breathing room, compared with the 60 votes needed on Tuesday's procedural hurdle.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell exhorted his colleagues to back extending the program ahead of Thursday's vote, calling it "one of the most important tools" for national security officials. By passing the bill, Congress rejected efforts by a coalition of conservative Republicans, civil libertarians and liberal Democrats to enact new privacy protections for Americans who are inadvertently caught up in surveillance by American intelligence agencies.

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Read the final roll-call below:

 

RollCall

Comments

house biscuit NidStyles Thu, 01/18/2018 - 14:23 Permalink

So long as you're not interfering with their smuggling rackets, drug running, human trafficking, or a personal enemy, or related to a personal enemy, or involved in the liberty movement, or a truther, or related to anyone in those groups, or post libertarian ideology on social media, or read the wrong websites, or smoke marijuana, or collect firearms, or go to protests.....or talk shit on ZH.....

.....you have nothing to worry about

In reply to by NidStyles

bankbob 38BWD22 Thu, 01/18/2018 - 13:48 Permalink

Notice they approved it before the 3 major congressional investigation committees began taking the FBI apart for abusing this access.

Look for all hell to break loose on the crooked FBI front in the next week.

In reply to by 38BWD22

itstippy Mr. Pain Thu, 01/18/2018 - 13:45 Permalink

Your comment has been duly recorded in the NSA data center in Utah.

I, however, love the NSA and would never question their authority or motives.  The NSA is keeping us all safe and prosperous.  The NSA is as GrrrEAT as Kellog's Frosted Flakes.  The NSA should have a much bigger budget.  The NSA should have wider powers.  The NSA should not have to answer to anyone.  Long Live the NSA!

In reply to by Mr. Pain

Abaco itstippy Thu, 01/18/2018 - 17:03 Permalink

I, however, hate the NSA and question the motives of every cocksucker that works for them.  Actually, I don't question them.  I know that the most benign of them care about nothing so much as their easy workday and generous pensions.  The rest care only about exercising power they couldn't exercise in person. They don't care about keeping us safe as they have obviously failed to prevent any of the FBI false flags. They don't care about keeping us prosperous as they have stood by while our wealthy is blown up in shit holes around the world. They should have not budget and no powers. They will have to answer someday - to all of us. Let them desicate in public as the buzzards pluck their eyeballs, strip their carcasses and shit them out to perform the single beneficial act of their liv es - fertilizing the surrounding area.  Fuck the NSA.  Fuck the CIA.  Fuck the FBI. Fuck the War Pigs in the Pentagon and State department.

In reply to by itstippy

Endgame Napoleon Mr. Pain Thu, 01/18/2018 - 13:49 Permalink

Many of us will not vote again for elected representatives who represent the interests of citizens of other countries, rather than American citizens, to the extreme of doubling the child-tax-credit welfare of even the welfare-supported illegal immigrants, vaulting it over $6,444, and helping them to undercut millions of underemployed Americans in the job-seeker pool. Congress hates-on the many underemployed American citizens, the citizens struggling to cover rent that takes more than half of their earned-only income. I guess they may as well make it symmetrical, taking away what little many Americans have,  even fundamental constitutional liberties. They are just doing it to accommodate the globalism that lines the pockets of a few elites. We would not need so much surveillance to prevent terrorism, were it not for their unfettered mass-immigration policies, and the surveillance is not preventing it, anyway. 

In reply to by Mr. Pain

AllTimeWhys Thu, 01/18/2018 - 13:32 Permalink

Always pay close attention to what get's 'bi-partisan' support.

 

Because it's always something that's NEVER in the real interest of anyone outside of the government and it's ALWAYS something that gives them more power.