Republican hawks and centrist Democrats joined to push through a long-term extension of the government’s online surveillance tools, despite years of demands for major changes by privacy advocates on the left an.d libertarians on the right. President Trump will sign it Friday
Congressional passage of a long-fought surveillance bill is the first big legislative win in nearly five years for the national security community, which has faced restrictions since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details about the government’s most secret spying programs, reports Politico. Republican hawks and centrist Democrats joined to push through a long-term extension of the government’s online surveillance tools, despite years of demands for major changes by privacy advocates on the left and libertarians on the right. The win is remarkable given that less than a year ago, even the spying programs’ ardent supporters expected to swallow some undesirable revisions in exchange for keeping the snooping tools.
“The pendulum has actually swung,” Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), who chairs the House’s defense intelligence subcommittee, said after his chamber passed the bill that secured the renewal of the spying programs authorized under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The survived a series of baffling, 11th-hour tweets from President Trump that condemned then praised the GOP leadership’s preferred measure, sending Republican leaders scrambling to retain the support of on-the-fence colleagues. Trump is expected to sign the bill before Friday night. “If you look at the threat matrix today, it’s worse than it was six years ago,” said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC). “It’s more global, it’s more specific, it’s the reason that we need this program. I think more and more members realize that.” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) led an unsuccessful push in the Senate to offer amendments with language that privacy advocates preferred.