House GOP Makes Major Decision On U.S. Spy Tool

Photo by Elijah Mears on Unsplash

( – During a private House GOP Conference meeting, Speaker Mike Johnson, representing Louisiana, challenged the preferences of conservative members advocating for privacy by advising against an amendment related to warrant requirements. This discussion occurred as the House of Representatives prepared to renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which permits the surveillance of non-Americans overseas linked to terrorism without a warrant, potentially also capturing data involving Americans.

Sources at the meeting shared with Fox News Digital that Johnson discussed the amendment, arguing that its exceptions for warrant requirements were overly restrictive and impractical. This amendment, spearheaded by Arizona Representative Andy Biggs, sought to prevent intelligence agencies from accessing information about U.S. citizens gathered under Section 702 without a warrant, except in emergencies involving serious threats.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Mike Turner of Ohio, supported Johnson’s stance, highlighting the necessity of Section 702 in combating foreign threats and safeguarding American civil liberties and national security.

Johnson suggested that the forthcoming vote on the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America (RISA) Act included adequate reforms to prevent the misuse of Section 702 powers. The act was introduced amid allegations of the government exploiting FISA’s Section 702 for unwarranted surveillance of Americans during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests and the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.

The RISA Act, resulting from negotiations between the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, aims to restrict data access and enhance oversight to prevent abuse. Despite this, some conservative members, known as privacy hawks, argued that the act does not sufficiently address privacy concerns, threatening its approval.

In this context, some Republicans, like Dan Bishop of North Carolina, expressed disappointment in Johnson’s shift toward supporting the intelligence perspective over a neutral stance. Meanwhile, Illinois Representative Darin LaHood, from the Intelligence Committee, warned that the amendment could significantly undermine Section 702. LaHood also emphasized that the proposed bill represents a significant overhaul of FBI practices, extending beyond Section 702 to address broader FISA reforms.

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