Thursday, March 5, 2020

Uncertainty Mounts as Key Surveillance Powers Near Expiration

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg News
The Trump administration and lawmakers in both parties have failed so far to find a path forward to renew a set of key domestic surveillance powers due to lapse in 11 days, prompting heightened alarm among intelligence agencies that they will soon lose tools they consider vital to national security.
President Trump met with Attorney General William Barr and senior Republicans on Tuesday in an effort to hammer out a deal to address privacy concerns raised by Mr. Trump—who remains convinced spying tools were improperly used against him to fuel the Russia investigation—and a politically diverse range of surveillance skeptics, but the meeting yielded no clear agreement about how to address the expiring provisions.
Mr. Trump told lawmakers at the meeting that he will not sign an extension of the expiring surveillance powers without significant changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, according to people familiar with the matter.
“He pointed out that we’ve been talking about this for three years, and if we do a reauthorization without changes, we’re going to look weak,” one of the people said, summing up Mr. Trump’s remarks to the lawmakers.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly pointed to errors committed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in how it obtained a wiretap on a 2016 campaign adviser Carter Page—documented in a recent watchdog report—to justify his desire to curtail FISA’s powers. Mr. Trump has also vacillated in the past about whether to preserve spying authorities or limit them. FISA governs how the FBI, the National Security Agency and other agencies conduct national-security-related spying on domestic targets.
The fallout from the report on Mr. Page’s case continued on Wednesday, as the FISA court issued an order that essentially prohibited FBI personnel involved in obtaining a wiretap on Mr. Page from submitting surveillance applications in the future. The court also said it had mostly accepted proposed changes by the FBI intended to prevent errors in compiling wiretap applications in the future.
LINK: Trump Tells Republicans He Won’t Extend 
Surveillance Law Without Significant Reform
The person with knowledge of Tuesday’s meeting with lawmakers said the president might consider signing a short-term extension if congressional negotiators are making progress on a deal. The White House declined to comment.
But Republicans haven’t yet reached agreement on exactly what an overhaul might look like, and Mr. Trump encouraged the lawmakers in the room to reach a consensus. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) was largely silent during the meeting, one of the people with knowledge of the meeting said, but at one point he acknowledged Republicans needed to find common ground on changes that can win enough support to pass. A spokesman for Mr. McConnell declined to comment.
Read the rest from the WSJ HERE.

If you like what you see, please "Like" us on Facebook either here or here. Please follow us on Twitter here.

No comments: