Senate Approves Controversial NDAA, Raising Concerns Over Warrantless Surveillance and Abuse of Power

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Despite Republicans’ persistent opposition to the $111 billion supplemental spending package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, the Senate achieved a significant milestone with the approval of the $886 billion 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

It passed on Wednesday, authorizing funding for the Department of Defense for this next year, in a vote of 87-13. Those voting against it included six Republicans, six Democrats, and an Independent. It now heads to the House where a vote is expected Thursday.

The no votes included GOP hardliners who “have been criticizing House Republicans … after the text of the compromise with the Democrat-controlled Senate removed a number of conservative policy goals on transgender surgeries and abortion, among others,” according to FOX.

Certain lesser-known, yet equally contentious aspects of the bill that drew criticism from some Democrats include a proposal to modify Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

THis controversially allows warrantless spying of foreign targets and Americans who have communications with those foreign subjects. The new extension in the NDAA authorizes it further until at least April 19.

Senator Mike Lee sounded the alarm regarding the FISA issue, expressing his concerns on X, “The Senate recently voted to set aside the point of order against the NDAA. Thirty-five of us opposed the motion to waive, falling short of the necessary 41 votes to prevent this outcome and remove FISA 702 from the NDAA. This is not a positive development. The House should take action to halt the NDAA.”

And here’s what Sen. Lee is urging Americans to do:

It’s a new day in America. The Fourth Amendment still prohibits warrantless searches of Americans. FBI disregards that under FISA 702. The NDAA would further enable FBI’s lawless abuse of 702. One-third of the House can still stop the NDAA. Ask your representative to vote NO!!!

Another individual who raised objections was Rand Paul. Thomas Massie, a House Representative from Kentucky, expressed his opinion, stating that while the Senate vote was tight, it is now the responnsibilty of the House to prevent the reauthorization of surveillance on American citizens without a warrant.

Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who exposed the government’s massive surveillance programs, has called on Americans to speak out against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

A prominent news organization, CNN, has pointed out that Section 702 creates an opportunity for the government to misuse the law and engage in large-scale, unconstitutional surveillance of wireless communications, directly infringing on the Fourth Amendment’s protections.

“The searches are governed by a set of internal rules and procedures designed to protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties, but critics say that loopholes allow the FBI to search the data it collects for Americans’ information– as opposed to from foreign adversaries– without proper justification,” CNN writes.

Also interesting is another fight centered on historic abuse of government power, as The Hill details:

The rocky relationship betwen Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a rising conservative populist star, is in the spotlight after McConnell played a leading role in killing a Hawley-sponsored amendment to the annual defense bill.

Additionally, Hawley maintains that McConnell was determined to eliminate his proposal, which aimed to offer reparations to individuals living in the St. Louis area who were exposed to radiation from inadequately stored nuclear waste originating from the Manhattan Project in the 1940s.

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