Donald Trump backs national security programme after 'confusing' tweets

US President Donald Trump has pushed the House to renew a critical national security programme that allows spy agencies to collect intelligence on foreign targets abroad after tweets on the subject dubbed "confusing" by politicians.

The House is expected to vote on a version that would put restrictions on how the FBI could use information on Americans that is inadvertently swept up by the programme.

"This vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land," Mr Trump said in a morning tweet. "We need it! Get smart!"

Before that, however, he sent out a tweet suggesting the programme was used to collect information that might have been used to "badly surveil and abuse" his campaign.

Representative Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Mr Trump's tweets were "inaccurate, conflicting and confusing statements".

Mr Schiff suggested a vote on the bill should be delayed until the White House's position can be ascertained. The Republicans said the vote should be held.

The programme, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, allows US spy agencies to collect information on foreign targets outside the country.

Americans' communications are inadvertently swept up in the process and privacy advocates and some lawyers want to require the FBI to get a warrant if it wants to view information on Americans that is in the database to build domestic crime cases.

President Donald Trump speaks after signing into law the bipartisan Interdict Act in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Wednesday.

The FBI and intelligence agencies say being able to query the database is essential to keeping the US safe.

Lawmakers in the House are weighing whether the FBI should have to get a warrant to either query information on Americans in the database or seek a warrant only if the FBI wants to view the actual contents of the material and use it for investigating and prosecuting domestic crimes.

On Wednesday, the White House issued a statement opposing changes to the programme.

On Thursday, Mr Trump tweeted: "This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?"

Minutes later, however, he backed the programme.

- AP and Digital desk

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