House Departs Without Vote to Extend Expired F.B.I. Spy Tools

The third expired provision permits eavesdropping on a so-called lone wolf terrorist who is not part of an established foreign terrorist group. That provision could be invoked now only if the F.B.I. can show that a newly identified target’s suspicious conduct included actions before March 15.

But that theoretical risk may not matter operationally either, Mr. Sanchez said, noting that as far as has been disclosed, the F.B.I. has never used the lone wolf provision.

A majority of lawmakers in both chambers support extending the expired provisions, but they have been caught up in a larger argument over whether and how strictly to impose new restrictions on the F.B.I.’s FISA powers after an inspector general’s damning report found numerous factual errors and omissions in applications to target the former Trump adviser Carter Page during the Russia investigation.

The House passed a bill, negotiated by Ms. Pelosi and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House Republican leader, this month before the provisions expired that would extend the expiring provisions while making changes to FISA.

The House bill, for example, would push the FISA court to appoint an outsider to critique the government’s arguments when a wiretap application raised serious issues about First Amendment activity, which could include political campaigns.

It would also make clear that the government cannot use a FISA business records order to collect information — like cellphone location data, which in a criminal investigation requires a search warrant — that has a higher legal standard.

But amid objections from libertarian-leaning senators of both parties that the House bill fell short in curtailing surveillance powers, the Senate did not take it up.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/us/politics/house-fisa-bill.html

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