Hageman Votes Against Bill To Allow Warrantless Spying On Americans

Wyoming congresswoman Harriet Hageman voted Friday against a bill reauthorizing the Department of Justice to conduct warrantless searches on American citizens. The bill passed.

Leo Wolfson

April 12, 20245 min read

U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyoming, talks on C-SPAN about the ability of the FBI to conduct warrantless surveillance of American citizens.
U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyoming, talks on C-SPAN about the ability of the FBI to conduct warrantless surveillance of American citizens. (C-SPAN)

Wyoming U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman voted Friday against continuing to allow the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct searches of Americans’ information without a warrant.

Hageman voted against a bill reauthorizing a part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) known as Section 702, which national security officials say is critical to fighting terrorism.

Despite her vote, the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act still passed 273-147.

When an amendment failed that would have required the FBI to get warrants before surveilling American citizens, Hageman said House Resolution 7888 lost all ability to prevent the federal government from spying on Americans. The amendment died on a 212-212 tie.

“I refuse to support legislation that violates our Constitutional rights,” Hageman said in a Friday press release after the vote.

In a C-SPAN interview Thursday, Hageman said it’s important that Section 702 be reauthorized, as she believes it’s an important tool for American security. But she only wants this done if it comes with necessary reforms to protect American citizens from undue intrusions.

Section 702 allows the government to collect from U.S. companies like AT&T and Google the messages of foreigners who have been targeted for foreign intelligence or counterterrorism without a warrant, even when they are communicating with Americans, which is the source of most of its controversy.

Hageman has constantly criticized some of America’s intelligence agencies for what she sees as an abuse and overreach of their powers to target people these organizations see as political adversaries.

“The reality is that the FBI and other agencies have been abusing Section 702,” she said.


Some of the issues Hageman has publicly addressed include the FBI and DOJ’s pressure campaign on Twitter during the COVID-19 pandemic, the targeting of certain Catholics, people attending school board meetings, and the charges brought against former President Donald Trump.

This week, Trump implored lawmakers to “kill” FISA, complaining that government officials had used it to spy on him.

The office of the Director for National Intelligence found that in 2021, the FBI conducted 3.3 million queries into U.S. citizens without warrants. By 2022, the FBI was still conducting hundreds of warrantless queries per day. Last May, the Washington Post reported that in 2020 and early 2021, the FBI conducted more than 278,000 searches of the 702 database, which violated DOJ rules and often lacked national security connections.

Some of the searches on Americans have included queries on Black Lives Matter protestors and people suspected of participating in the U.S. Capitol riot in January 2021.

According to The New York Times, national security officials argue removing the ability to surveil Americans without warrants could hinder their program as they typically spy on Americans early on in investigations to learn more about their phone numbers or email accounts in connection with a suspected foreign spy or terrorist before there is enough evidence collected to issue a warrant.

The Times also reports that the FBI has since tightened its system to reduce the risk of queries that violate its own standards, changes the bill will codify into law, as well as adding reporting requirements and limiting the number of officials with access to raw information.

“Hopefully, we can get to the place where we have the necessary reforms to make sure that the FBI and Department of Justice cannot do what it’s been doing over the last several years,” Hageman said.

Specifically, Hageman said she wants a warrant requirement for all surveillance of Americans, an effort also supported by some Democrats like Zoe Lofgren of California.

As a member of the Judiciary Committee, Hageman has already helped bring reforms on this issue such as legislation addressing what she sees as abuses of FISA, while still allowing it to be used to detect international threats.

She said the real hurdle has been finding agreement between this committee, the House Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence, and the overall intelligence community.

Bigger Picture

But Hageman also stressed on C-SPAN that she finds the overall debate about surveillance rights extremely worthy and a valuable piece of a larger conversation about how far the power of intelligence communities can extend in relation to American civil liberties and the U.S. Constitution.

“I land on the side of civil liberties,” she said. “I want to make sure we’re protecting the constitutional rights of American citizens.”

Hageman said Thursday she is confident the issue will be resolved before Section 702 expires.

But even if Section 702 is allowed to expire April 19, Hageman said she’s not concerned, and believes America’s intelligence agencies will still be able to do their jobs despite lacking the guarantee of a future database to conduct warrantless surveillance searches. Last week, the FISA court granted a government request authorizing it for another year through April 2025.

Under the law, surveillance activity can continue as long as there are active court orders allowing it, even if it expires itself.

Some far-right members of Congress like Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, R-Georgia, have called for the removal of House Speaker Mike Johnson over his push to resolve the issue.

In an effort to salvage a compromise, Johnson on Friday put forward a shorter extension proposal for Section 702, from five to two years, a move that appeared to win over many Republicans with the possibility that Trump may be president again at that time.

Hageman said on C-SPAN she still fully supports the speaker and doesn’t find this division significant.

“The fact is Republicans don’t ever walk in lockstep, that’s one of the reasons we’re Republicans,” she said. “We’re very independent-minded and independent thinkers. I think that’s in contrast to a lot of Democrats.”

The bill will next move on to the Senate for consideration.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at leo@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter