US lawmakers approve more government spying — RT World News

The Senate has passed a controversial bill that would allow the FBI to monitor Americans without warrants

The US Senate has passed legislation that renews and expands an expired law that enables the government to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans under the guise of protecting them from foreign threats.

The bill was approved by a vote of 60 to 34 in the early morning hours of Saturday, allowing a two-year extension of the so-called Section 702 FISA program. President Joe Biden is expected to quickly sign the legislation, which renews the spy tool after it expires at midnight Saturday.

Section 702 ostensibly relates to monitoring aliens' communications for intelligence purposes, including detecting potential terrorist plots against the United States. However, many of the phone calls and messages eavesdropped by Washington's spy service occur between foreigners and American citizens.

The FBI gained access to a database of 702 intercepted communications to investigate targeted Americans, such as Black Lives Matters activists, journalists, members of Congress, political donors, and potential participants in the January 2021 U.S. Capitol riot. These searches typically require Investigators may obtain a warrant, which means the court has found probable cause to suspect that the targeted person has committed a crime.

Critics of the program have called for reforms before Section 702 is renewed to protect American citizens from unconstitutional spying. A 2023 investigation by the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court concluded that the FBI illegally used its surveillance powers against US citizens more than 278,000 times during a 12-month period. Congress voted to reject an amendment that would have required court orders to investigate communications involving Americans.

“Section 702 has been abused under presidents of both political parties and has been used to illegally monitor the communications of Americans across the political spectrum.” said Kia Hamdanchi, senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. “By expanding government surveillance powers without adding a warrant requirement that would protect Americans, the House voted to allow intelligence agencies to violate the civil rights and liberties of Americans for years to come.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) applauded the fact that the FISA program was being reauthorized. “At the decisive moment,” Just as it was expiring. Senator Marco Rubio (Republican from Florida) said that failure to renew spying powers may prompt US officials to do so. 'I'm missing a key piece of intelligence' Such as a threat to US forces stationed abroad or a potential terrorist attack.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) He lamented the fact that lawmakers refused to pass his amendments to the FISA bill, which would have enabled the government to continue spying on aliens while protecting the civil liberties of Americans. His proposal was voted on 82-11.

“We could have ensured the protection of constitutional rights and national security.” Paul said. “Once again, the Senate was asked to consider the following question: Can freedom be exchanged for security? It is unfortunate that the majority of senators said: Yes, it is possible.

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