McConnell Defends Spying Tool, Criticizes GOP Warrant Demands

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke out against those trying to block the renewal of the government’s main spying tool. Mr. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, criticized his fellow GOP members who have requested a warrant requirement, calling their actions “misguided” and stating that they have forgotten the lessons of 9/11.

Mr. McConnell emphasized that the data collected under Section 702 is done so lawfully and is entirely reasonable under the constitution. He argued that any incidental collection of communications involving U.S. persons is also reasonable. Section 702, which permits warrantless electronic surveillance of foreigners abroad, is set to expire on Friday. A bill extending FISA spying until 2026 was passed by the House last week, despite objections from hard-line conservatives, civil liberties groups, and former President Donald Trump.

The Senate is expected to address the legislation this week. Section 702 targets capturing emails, texts, phone calls, and other electronic communications of foreigners abroad, but sometimes intercepts Americans’ data when they communicate with foreign targets.

Additionally, Mr. McConnell disputed Mr. Trump’s assertion that FISA was used to spy on his 2016 campaign, clarifying that it was conducted using a different FISA provision that allows surveillance of U.S. persons in America. In that instance, the FBI needed a warrant but deceived the secret FISA court.

Mr. McConnell stressed that America is currently facing significant national security challenges and expressed his refusal to be part of any effort to make it harder to address these challenges. He asserted that vital security authorities must not be allowed to go dark and jeopardize the nation’s security.

Written by Staff Reports

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