Despite the having a commander-in-chief who had to have a half hour tutorial from the speaker of the House on what the difference between foreign and domestic surveillance is, the House voted to give that unstable ignoramus essentially unfettered rein to spy on Americans. They passed reauthorization of Section 702, part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that would have expired in coming weeks. This provision of the law is the basis for some of the NSA’s largest surveillance programs, allowing the intelligence agencies to intercept most electronic communications—email, chats, photos, documents, spreadsheets, videos—on U.S. territory, put it in databases, and allow domestic law enforcement to search those databases without warrants.
While technically the targets of all that collection are supposed to be foreign nationals, an untold number of Americans are swept in as well; literally untold—the NSA says it can’t count the number. The FBI admits to using the databases like Google for domestic law enforcement purposes. Without warrants. The bill the House passed Thursday, supporters say, fixes that. But it doesn’t. It still allows those warrantless searches, but makes law enforcement then get a warrant after the fact if they’ve found enough information to launch a formal criminal investigation.
So that’s what the House wants Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions—confirmed white supremacists who have demonstrated not just a willingness but a zeal to persecute and prosecute people of color—to be able to do.
It seems unlikely that the Senate is going to stop them. They kicked the process off immediately following the House passage with a procedural vote to proceed to consideration, 69-26 and a cloture vote is scheduled for next Tuesday afternoon and while it faces passionate opposition from a few members, McConnell will try to shove it through.