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Fox News host Maria Bartiromo confronted House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, on his change of heart regarding a proposed amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Initially, Johnson supported an amendment to Section 702 of FISA, which allows intelligence agencies to collect data on foreigners abroad but can also include data on Americans if they communicate with surveillance targets. The amendment aimed to require warrants for searches involving U.S. citizens, but Johnson withdrew his support after a confidential briefing, leading to the passage of FISA without the amendment.

During an appearance on Fox News, Bartiromo questioned Johnson about his decision. Johnson defended the necessity of FISA, stating that it is essential for counterterrorism efforts and preventing attacks on U.S. soil. He mentioned that President Donald Trump also supports the use of FISA and noted that Trump had re-authorized it in 2018 for an additional six years. Johnson explained that changes were made to the bill to align with Trump’s requirements, shortening the re-authorization period to two years.

Johnson provided an example to illustrate his opposition to the proposed amendment, emphasizing the importance of timely action in preventing potential terrorist attacks. He argued that asking for warrants before surveillance queries could result in delays that may lead to loss of American lives. Despite facing criticism, including a motion to vacate his position as House speaker introduced by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Johnson maintained that Trump supported him and dismissed the motion as a distraction. Johnson and Trump recently met at Mar-a-Lago, with Trump praising Johnson’s efforts under challenging circumstances.

The passage of FISA without the proposed amendment raised concerns about the balance between national security and privacy rights. Johnson’s stance sparked debate over the necessity of warrantless surveillance and the implications for civil liberties. Critics questioned the adequacy of existing oversight mechanisms and the potential for government overreach. The focus on FISA and its implications highlighted the ongoing tension between security needs and constitutional protections, prompting calls for increased transparency and accountability in surveillance practices.

The interaction between Bartiromo and Johnson underscored the complexities surrounding national security measures and the challenges of balancing security imperatives with individual rights. Johnson’s defense of FISA highlighted the perceived value of the program in preventing terrorist threats, while critics raised concerns about the potential for abuse and violations of privacy. The debate over FISA reflects broader tensions within the political landscape regarding security, privacy, and oversight, emphasizing the need for informed discussions and policy decisions that safeguard both national security interests and constitutional principles. Such debates contribute to ongoing efforts to address evolving threats while upholding fundamental rights and democratic values in a rapidly changing security environment.

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