On March 16 the U.S. Senate agreed to extend a set of government surveillance tools for 77 days, to allow lawmakers time to work on fundamental changes to the unconstitutional domestic eavesdropping program. In the pre-pandemic shutdown world the Senate was to start voting on the “USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020” in mid-march after the bill passed the House with bipartisan approval but Chinavirus put a hold on the negotiations. The House, which has been on extended WuFlu vacation, never took action on the Senates extension so several counter espionage programs have expired.
At the time of the bills extension Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, claimed the reforms provide greater transparency and increased oversight of the system, without compromising counterterrorism efforts. However, Republican Senator Mike Lee vowed that he would do all he could to block the bill’s passage and said Trump should veto it if it nonetheless is approved by the Senate.
The 77 day extension will last until June 1 but as we enter the second half of May the battle over a murky and rogue Federal surveillance court will bring to a head a months-long stalemate that resulted in the lapse of three intelligence programs. Echoing Rep. Schiff’s sentiments from 2 months ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged quick passage of the bill saying the programs are “important tools that keep America safe” and it would “increase transparency in the FISA process and respond to the shameful abuses of 2016 while preserving the toolbox that professionals use to defend us.”
The House and Senate leadership are seeking the reauthorization of three very suspect and shamelessly abused surveillance programs that are used to monitor both the guilty and the innocent.
- Program 1 allows for “roving” wiretaps under FISA which defines any “person” as an individual, partnership, association, joint stock company, trust, corporation, group, entity or foreign power. In other words, anyone or anything under the sun can be surveilled and because it’s FISA they will most probably never know it happened.
- Program 2 is the (supposedly) unused “Lone Wolf” provision which allows the FBI to spy on non-US persons who might be watching the wrong YouTube videos or reading scripture. Simply put, in order to obtain a FISA surveillance warrant, the government doesn’t need to show probable cause that a suspect is connected to a foreign power or organization.
- Program 3 is the notorious Section 215 which allows for the mass collection of phone records by the NSA. Section 215’s “business records” authority allows the government to obtain a secret order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) requiring third parties to hand over any records or other “tangible thing” if deemed “relevant” to an international terrorism, counterespionage, or foreign intelligence investigation.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation shows the dangers of the FISA laws and how easily they can be legally abused to target innocent Americans. There is little oversight from FISC judges who rubber-stamp warrants on the flimsy “evidence” accumulated by flakes like Christopher Steele and “corroborated” by Mockingbird hacks like Michael Isikoff. If the FBI can approach the FISC bench and say, with a straight face, that the “premier law enforcement agency in the land” intends to surveil the presidential campaign of the opposition party because it has “evidence” that there is “collusion” going on with a foreign entity named Russia and the judge green lights that spying then these judges are useless. They obviously will approve anything, and as the IG’s further investigation uncovered, they did approve multiple FISA applications that were full of shoddy, slap dash work and, in a more virtuous justice system, would have been rejected.
The argument, such that it is an argument, over reauthorization of these USA FREEDOM Act programs is a distraction from the real problem that every American must face and come to terms with. The surveillance and spying powers of the modern state are far beyond anything envisioned by the Founding Fathers in 1776 and, to be honest, beyond the conception of most normal citizens in the present day. Combine domestic surveillance allowed under FISA with the ability to “share” intelligence with America’s Five Eyes espionage partners who will do the spying for us on domestic targets and it is a virtual certainly that every person of consequence in America is being watched, tracked, tapped and scrutinized. It is so powerful and so dangerous that the DOJ/FBI, Intelligence Community and leadership of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the US Government (+ the 4th Estate #FakeNews) were willing to commit treason to keep this power from falling into the hands of someone “outside” the system.
Over the next few weeks the lawmakers on Capitol Hill will need to work on this USA FREEDOM ACT against the backdrop of the Michal Flynn exoneration and a steady release of long classified documents detailing the dishonesty and corruption the legal use of FISA allowed. For those still keeping score the outcome of this FISA fight will be a win or loss in the MAGA revolution and its Cold Civil War against the Deep State.
- #OBAMAGATE Nears 3mil Hits On Twitter: The Jan. 5, 2017 Cat Is Out Of The Bag
- FINALLY! Justice Dept. Drops General Flynn Case After 3 Years