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Controversial US surveillance program (briefly?) lapses amid congressional dysfunction

Photo collage of the Statue of Liberty inside the iris of an eye.
Cath Virginia / The Verge | Photos from Getty Images

The Senate has passed a bill reauthorizing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a controversial program that allows warrantless spying on foreign “targets,” but a long, knock-down, drag-out fight over amendments kept the Senate in session past midnight on Friday, when the surveillance program officially expired.

To be clear, the spying wasn’t actually going to stop. As Sen. Mike Lee (R-OH) pointed out on the Senate floor on Friday afternoon, the FISA court recently granted a government request to allow the program to continue until April 2025.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) claimed that the FISA court’s extension of Section 702 certification “doesn’t mean the program can continue uninterrupted for another year.”

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