May 22, 2024
President Joe Biden signed a law Saturday to extend Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the government to collect intelligence information about foreigners outside the United States. The bill, known as the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act, passed the House earlier this month, and the Senate had to race to […]

President Joe Biden signed a law Saturday to extend Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the government to collect intelligence information about foreigners outside the United States.

The bill, known as the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act, passed the House earlier this month, and the Senate had to race to pass it before midnight Saturday, when the program was set to expire. With Biden’s signature, it has been reauthorized for two years.

In a statement acknowledging the bill becoming law, White House officials thanked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), “and many others for their leadership.”

Before the president signed the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act, Biden administration officials had warned the lapse in the surveillance program would pose a danger to national security. Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, applauded the Senate’s vote to pass the bill Friday night in a statement early Saturday.

“The Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act will retain essential authority to understand and protect against a wide range of dangerous threats to Americans while enhancing safeguards for privacy and civil liberties through the most robust set of reforms ever included in legislation to reauthorize Section 702,” Sullivan said.

Attorney General Merrick Garland called FISA Section 702 “indispensable to the Justice Department’s work” to protect against various threats in a statement released Saturday by the Department of Justice.

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“In today’s heightened global threat environment, the Justice Department will continue to use Section 702 to ensure that our efforts to keep our country safe are informed by the most valuable and timely intelligence, as we continue to uphold our commitment to protect the rights of all Americans,” Garland said.

The two-year extension of the program has implications for the 2024 presidential election, as Biden and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump have differing views on it. In contrast with the current administration’s position, the former president had urged Congress to “kill FISA” because he claimed it was illegally used against him.

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