Could the U.S. be attacked this weekend? Critical ‘spy tool’ that stops terrorists will run out at MIDNIGHT as privacy-minded senators demand more safeguards against FBI’s ‘power grab’

A key intelligence tool used to surveil terrorists is set to expire after a Saturday midnight deadline. 

The Senate looks poised to blow through the April 19 deadline to pass legislation to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Authority (FISA), and now ‘America will go blind,’ according to Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner.  

On Thursday, in a 67-32 vote, the Senate invoked cloture, allowing debate to begin on the bill, but delay tactics from privacy advocates stalled quick passage. Senators are still going back and forth over amendments. 

A final vote on FISA could be kicked to Sunday or Monday. 

‘We will go blind on April 20,’ Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner told reporters last week, stressing the urgency of the national security surveillance tool. 

Sen. Rand Paul, a FISA critic, seemed unconcerned. 

‘I’m not concerned with the date,’ he said. 

Former national security officials warned in a letter to the Senate on Thursday that ‘even slight delays in surveillance and analysis could have grave consequences in particular for counterterrorism and cybersecurity efforts– fields in which adversaries arise and move quickly.’

A tool used to spy on foreign terrorists is set to expire at midnight 

‘A statutory lapse may well trigger judicial challenges to ongoing operations under the current certifications approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,’ the letter went on. 

‘The leaders of the Intelligence Community have been clear that we currently face imminent, complex and diverse threats. This is not the time to take risks with national security.’ 

Last week the House approved a two-year extension of a controversial foreign surveillance program that can help track foreign terrorists after a chaotic week of Republican infighting.

Bipartisan efforts to require a warrant for intelligence officials to pick up communications of those on U.S. soil with suspected terrorists failed in the House and are expected to fail in the Senate. 

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the majority whip

Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.

Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the majority whip, and Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., are trying to force a vote on an amendment that would require an amendment to pick up any communications that involve Americans

The Senate looks poised to blow through the April 19 deadline to pass legislation to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Authority (FISA), and now 'America will go blind,' according to Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner

The Senate looks poised to blow through the April 19 deadline to pass legislation to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Authority (FISA), and now ‘America will go blind,’ according to Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner

Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., are trying to force a vote on an amendment that would require an amendment to pick up any communications that involve Americans. 

Senate leadership does not want to amend the House-passed bill, because then the House would have to vote on the new Senate version and FISA would lapse until they did so. 

In a statement, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen called Durbin’s amendment a ‘flat-out prohibition on our ability to use U.S. person queries to disrupt threats and protect Americans.’

‘It is also not a ‘compromise.’ It’s an extreme proposal that cripples the value of Section 702, especially in protecting Americans from lethal plotting, hacking, recruitment as spies, and more,’ Olsen said.

Last week, after the House’s passage of FISA, Trump said he is ‘not a fan’ of FISA but did not try to whip members against voting for it. 

‘I’m not a big fan of FISA. But I told everybody I said do what you want,’ Trump said during a press conference at Mar-a-Lago standing next to Speaker Mike Johnson.

‘They put a lot of checks and balances on and I guess it’s down to two years now so that it would come due in the early part of my administration.’ 

‘I know [FISA] probably better than anybody,’ Trump claimed. ‘You know they spied on my campaign. You do know that right? And they did lots of other bad things.’ 

Trump had deflated chances of FISA’s passing the House ahead of a failed rule vote to advance it earlier this week with a scathing post to Truth Social.


But Johnson made an agreement with Trump and his allies to renew it only for two years instead of five, so they could hash out more reforms under a potential Trump administration.

Another part of the law that is not up for reauthorization – Title 1 – was used to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in 2016 when he was suspected of communications with the Russians. Trump reauthorized FISA in 2018. 

Trump’s comments at the Friday news conference were a more passive opposition. 

Section 702 specifically allows the U.S. government to surveil foreign nationals with suspected terror ties who are not on U.S. soil, even if the party on the other side of such communications is a U.S. national in America. 

A hotly contested amendment from Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., to require a warrant before picking up conversations of those on U.S. soil who communicate with suspected terrorists failed on a rare tie vote, 212-212.

Speaker Mike Johnson cast the final vote that tanked the amendment – a move that is sure to rankle hardliners. 

‘Being the vote that took down the warrant amendment certainly brought other members over to my side,’ said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Johnson, who she has filed a motion to oust from the speakership.

‘This is a sad day for America. The Speaker doesn’t always vote in the House, but he was the tie breaker today. He voted against warrants,’ Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., wrote on X. 

An amendment from Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, that would require the FBI to provide quarterly reports about how many Americans had been queried under 702 passed and was added to the bill. 

The national security surveillance bill includes new guardrails aimed at oversight and transparency, after a report found that intelligence agents had improperly queried Americans 278,000 times under the law. 

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a May 2023 report that details how the FBI improperly used Section 702 to ‘query’ – or search – names of individuals who were suspected of being on the Capitol grounds during the January 6, 2021 riot, Black Lives Matters protestors, victims of crime and their families and donors to one congressional campaign. 

FISA is set to expire on April 19, after which ‘America will go blind,’ Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner warned reporters. 

Ahead of the vote, Turner noted that FISA could have been used to spy on Al-Qaeda ahead of the 9/11 attack. 

‘The 9/11 perpetrators were in the United States and they were communicating with Al-Qaeda,’ he said on the House floor. 

‘At that time, we made a grave mistake and that we were not spying on al Qaeda and we didn’t see who they were communicating with United in the United States. we changed that and we began to spine al Qaeda and we got to see the extent to which they were recruiting people the United States to do us harm.’

Without Section 702, intelligence agents would not be able to get the full picture of conversations of suspected terrorists abroad who are communicating with people on American soil.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, tore into the right-wing House Freedom Caucus and its allies who want the FBI to have to get a warrant to pick up those conversations, which critics say would bog down the process of fighting terrorism.

‘Let’s be clear. Your position is aligned (and cosponsored) with the progressive caucus – Jerry Nadler, AOC, Rashida Tlaib, Pramila Jayapal – the list goes on and on. It is the far left socialists that want this same policy,’ he said. 

‘What the progressives want to do is much more than just fix the program, they want to kill it entirely. I’m not surprised when Rashida Tlaib wants to make it easier for terrorists to kill Americans, but I am VERY surprised that many Republicans agree with her.’

Crenshaw’s amendment to allow international drug traffickers to be queried under 702, in addition to terrorists, was adopted to the bill. 

Crenshaw likened it to a wire tap of criminal investigation. Police don’t have to get a warrant to probe conversations of suspects and the people they talk to. He noted that intelligence agents need to track would-be terrorists’ conversations with those in the U.S. at early stages, potentially before a judge would approve a warrant for ‘probable cause.’ 

‘This requirement – while perhaps well intentioned – would actually destroy our ability to detect domestic terror attacks (or drug trafficking, or espionage), because it prevents our investigators from moving past step 1 of the investigation process, which is simply connecting the dots with data we already legally have.’ 

Biggs, who sponsored the warrant requirement, shot back: ‘You’ve aligned yourself with the DC Cartel that insists on spying on Americans and violating the Bill of Rights.’ 

Crenshaw claimed the FBI ‘HATES’ the new reforms in the bill. ‘It severely degrades their access to the FISA database. It imposes criminal penalties for abusing it. It makes clear you can’t search anyone for any reason, but only for investigations related to foreign intelligence, WMD, or terrorism.’ 

While many of Section 702’s uses remain classified, intelligence officials leaked late last year that they had used the controversial tool to thwart weapons sales to Iran. 

The CIA and other intelligence agencies had used information gathered through monitoring the electronic communications of foreign weapons manufacturers and stopping several shipments of advanced weapons to Iran. 

On Thursday FBI Director Christopher Wray issued a dire warning to members of Congress about what could happen if FISA lapses. ‘It will massively increase the risk of missing crucial intelligence during a time of heightened national security threats across a whole multiple of fronts,’ Wray said. 

‘If we’re blinded from seeing what our adversaries are, who they’re working with, I can tell you that’s going to most definitely have consequences for our ability to protect the American people, because I can assure that none of our adversaries are tying their own hands. So now is not the time for us to hang up our gloves.’ 

The ODNI report states 13 people connected to January 6 were inappropriately queried in order to determine if they had ‘foreign ties.’

In addition, over 130 individuals were searched in the database who were linked to the social unrest and riots conducted by Black Lives Matter activists in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

The FISA search was conducted to gain information on whether they were connected to any counterterrorism plots – which DOJ wrote in the report was ‘reasonable,’ but the high level of redactions don’t allow for a fuller explanation.

There was also a ‘batched inquiry’ of over 19,000 donors to a congressional campaign, which was unnamed.

The FBI analyst who conducted the search said the campaign was a possible target of foreign influence.

However, the Department of Justice said there were only ‘eight identifiers’ used in the search in total that ‘had sufficient ties to foreign influence activities to comply with the querying standard.’

Additionally, FBI FISA searches were conducted on crime victims, including ‘individuals listed in police homicide reports, including victims, next-of-kin, witnesses, and suspects.’

DOJ said these queries were inappropriate because there was ‘no reasonable basis’ to expect the individuals would be linked to foreign intelligence through those searches.

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