An alliance was almost formed between the Privacy-minded Senators on Tuesday to block the extension of the critical government surveillance program, allowing the NSA – National Security Agency to select and spy on any foreign communication without the need of a legal warrant.
A total of 8 Senate Republicans went on to meet around 2 dozen Democrats in their attempt to form a coalition to block the extension of the program but the efforts failed as they had one less vote, the final vote being 60 to 38.
The Senate Republicans voting against advancing the measure for renewing the spying agencies for the past 6 years were Senators Ted Cruz, Steve Daines, Cory Gardner, Dean Heller, Mike Lee, Jerry Moran, Lisa Murkowski, and Rand Paul.
The vote was focused on the re-authorization of Section 702 under Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – FISA. FISA authorizes the intelligence agencies in the U.S. to keep a secret eye out on the foreigners living abroad who are using American phones or internet services. As per the law, FBI can search the databases of related data on any American suspect without having to obtain a warrant.
Many of the Senators like Senator Paul and Ron Wyden have promised to delay the legislation for as long as they possibly could so that limits could be set to the program.
The Voting session had lasted for at least an hour as the lawmakers went on to attempt to get the voters from fence sitters on their side. Senator John Kennedy, Senator Claire McCaskill went on to approve the legislature later and went on to push the 60 vote limit that is required to pass any technical hurdle in the Senate to limit the Debate in the Senate. The legislation now is likely to get voted today or on Thursday for one last approval.
The bill passed the house last week and is on its way to land on the President’s desk for final signatures on Friday – exactly when the program would reach its expiry.
This law is also ready for the renewal for the very first time ever since the exposure of the high profile leaks from the NSA contractor Edward Snowden – which had exposed the government’ sweeping device for spying, inclusive of the programs authorized by section 702.
The Section 702 tools are considered and described to be the most critical ones to the counterterrorism efforts of the U.S. as per the Intelligence Chief and the Senior Law enforcement officials.
In a joint statement released last month by the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and the NSA Director Mike Rogers said that if the program is not re-authorized in time, it would cause the United States to be much ‘less secure’.