The House intelligence committee approved a bill Friday to crack down on political “unmasking,” with Republicans saying the Obama administration abused foreign intelligence to embarrass private citizens and insisting the practice had to stop.
The new protections came as part of a broader bill that would renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the government’s chief snooping program for collecting communications of foreign agents and potential terrorists.
The bill cleared on a 13-8 vote that fell along party lines, with Democrats complaining about going after unmasking. Both sides accused each other of politicizing the issue and ruining the bipartisanship they used to share in their approach to national security.
“It was bipartisan while we had a Democratic president. And now it’s not bipartisan, and what changed? What changed was Jan. 20,” said Rep. Chris Stewart, Utah Republican. “This committee has changed because we have a Republican president.”
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