Jan. 19 (UPI) — U.S. President Donald Trump signed a six-year extension to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Friday.
The legislation allows continued warrantless searches of foreigners by the National Security Agency through Section 702 of FISA.
“Intelligence produced under this authority is vital to keeping the nation safe. As shown by the recent attacks in New York City and elsewhere around the globe, we face a constant threat from foreign terrorist networks and other foreign actors who would do us harm,” a statement from Trump said.
The Senate passed the bill Friday after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who said the bill “remains one the most important tools that our national security professionals use to combat terrorism and to keep Americans safe,” patched together Republicans and centrist Democrats to pass the legislation.
Twenty-one of 49 Democrats supported the bill and seven Republicans opposed it. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was absent.
Last week, Trump sent conflicting views on the bill on Twitter before the House vote. He first criticized the program after comments on Fox and Friends and then tweeted his support of the measure.
In March 2017, Trump claimed that then-President Barack Obama had spied on Trump Tower. His view has not been substantiated and curbs to 702 programs aren’t directly related.
In a tweet Friday, Trump said the bill he signed was different from the previous FISA law.
“Just signed 702 Bill to reauthorize foreign intelligence collection. This is NOT the same FISA law that was so wrongly abused during the election. I will always do the right thing for our country and put the safety of the American people first!” he said.
But as the bill made its way to Trump’s desk Friday, House Intelligence Committee Republicans produced a four-page memo that had some saying it was evidence the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to spy on Trump during the campaign. They say it may be evidence of wrongdoing, The Hill reported.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the memo should have been made public before the FISA Section 702 vote and had called on Trump to veto it. The ACLU said Trump’s tweet saying the law he signed was different from the one “so wrongly abused” before was not accurate.
“This is either a lie or @realDonaldTrump is confused again. The bill he just signed allows the government to violate Americans’ rights and makes the law worse in several ways,” the ACLU said in a tweet.
The final bill requires the FBI to seek a warrant to view the actual contents of communications. Officials from agencies can still check the massive database for information on Americans without a warrant.
Allen Cone contributed to this report.