Power Wars Blog by Charlie Savage

Latest FISA Amendments Act 702 surveillance legislation: SSCI, HJC

Lots of legislative action on FISA Amendments Act Section 702 warrantless surveillance is happening with drafts that are not public even though they are not classifed. Here are some.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on October 24, 2017, will mark up – behind closed doors – a bill being pushed by its chairman, Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina. Burr isn’t showing his draft to the public, and not clear what it will look like when the hearing is done, but here is a copy of the draft legislation, with annotations, heading into that hearing.

Senators Ron Wyden and Rand Paul are developing their own bill, which I imagine Wyden will offer as a substitute amendment on Tuesday but will probably be voted down. (That’s what happened with Patriot Act 215 reform legislation.)

In the House, the bipartisan bloc of House Judiciary Committee leaders (incl Goodlatte and Sensenbrenner, along with Conyers) have produced a revised draft version of their “USA Liberty Act,” which I posted with annotations last week.

Burr’s bill would extend 702 without significant reforms through 2025. The House bill would extend it to 2023 and would do things like codify a ban on “abouts” collection and require judicial warrants for FBI searches for Americans’ information within the repository for criminal but not foreign intelligence purposes. We’ll see whether the Wyden-Paul bill would go further on closing the so-called backdoor search loophole for intelligence searches too; Wyden has been a huge critic of warrantless queries for Americans’ info.

[Update 10/24/2017: Here is a draft of the Wyden-Paul bill, along with a chart comparing major differences among the three rival pieces of legislation.]

So there’s a lot of disagreement heading toward that Dec. 31, 2017, sunset date.