HomeTop StoriesMontana's congressional delegation is reluctant to reauthorize the surveillance law

Montana’s congressional delegation is reluctant to reauthorize the surveillance law

April 19 – Opponents of Congress’ reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act last week include representatives from Montana. Ryan Zinke And Matt Rosendale.

The provision, passed by Congress in 2008, allows the government to indirectly gather intelligence on U.S. citizens without a warrant while monitoring foreign actors abroad. Zinke and Rosendale were among 147 representatives who voted against reauthorization on April 12, although the measure ultimately passed with 273 supporters in the House.

The House legislation would extend the reauthorization for two years.

Technically, the section only authorizes the U.S. to surveil non-Americans abroad who are considered a threat. However, if these targets communicate with American citizens, they also become fair game.

“Where I stand… is that I’ve never had a problem with data collection, but if that data is based on an American citizen… at that point it’s a constitutional question about the Fourth Amendment and I believe you need a warrant,” Zinke told the Inter Lake.

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A group of Republicans proposed an amendment that would require arrest warrants to be issued before data on a U.S. citizen is analyzed, but that failed in a split vote.

Zinke and Rosendale’s opposition to Section 702 is reflected in the positions of Montana’s senators. While the House has made progress on the reauthorization, the Senate has a deadline of Friday to follow suit or the authorization will expire.

In November, Republican Senator Steve Daines co-sponsored the Government Surveillance Reform Act, which aims to reform Section 702 and provide protections for Montanans whose private information is collected. That bill has not disappeared from the Senate.

Democratic Senator. Jon Testersaid ahead of the Senate vote that he, like his Republican counterpart, also opposes the reauthorization.

“I do not support reauthorizing FISA Section 702 in its current form and call on the Senate to take action to end warrantless searches by government and law enforcement agencies to protect the freedom and privacy of Montanans,” said Tester in a statement.

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Reporter Kate Heston can be reached at kheston@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4459.

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