As Congress nears an impending Jan. 19 vote on the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is threatening to do “everything he can” to ensure it doesn’t pass unless significant changes are made.
Section 702 allows the National Security Agency under court order to collect and analyze communications of foreigners living overseas. While the government agency cannot use the law to target the communications of any American, or any person located inside the U.S., without constitutional protection, it has conceded that Americans living overseas could be swept up by “incidental collection.”
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The Kentucky Republican insists the section needs to undergo two major changes: First, any government officials who wants to look at the information needs a judge’s warrant; and since the information was collected with a “less-than-constitutional standard”, he insists that it cannot be used to persecute any American who may have been accidentally caught violating the law.
“This is a big deal, it’s a bedrock constitutional principle,” Paul told FOX Business’ Kennedy during an interview. “And I will do everything I can to fight to make sure that it does not pass, unless we get our reforms attached to the bill.”
Already, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including 100 House Democrats and 100 House Republicans, have joined Paul’s fight to amend the section, the authority of which was extended when the short-term spending bill passed in December.
One of the major concerns regarding FISA is “parallel construction,” he said. That means government officials are alerted to illegal activity, but instead of divulging the fact that they received this information from a secret database, they tip off local officials.
Currently, there’s no protections to ward against that, except the promise of officials who say they “probably aren’t” doing it. “The secret database can be used in a nefarious way to get domestic officials snooping in your business,” Paul said.