The US Senate reauthorized a controversial NSA spying program on Thursday – and then, because it’s 2018 and nothing matters any more, embarked on a partisan battle over a confidential memo that outlines Uncle Sam’s alleged abuse of surveillance powers.
Despite numerous appeals, press conferences, competing legislation and speeches outlining abuse of the program, on Thursday a majority of senators ignored pleas for a proper warrant requirement to be added to the program – that would require the Feds to always go to a judge before searching the communications of a US citizen – and voted to continue the surveillance for a further six years.
However, the agents won’t need a warrant if they are looking into…
Death, kidnapping, serious bodily injury, offense against a minor, destruction of critical infrastructure, cybersecurity, transnational crime, and human trafficking
…which are basically the crimes the FBI investigates. Ergo, it’s unlikely the Feds will seek warrants to search the NSA’s section 702 data stores for stuff on American citizens.
Just hours after the section 702 program was given the final green light before the president can sign on the dotted line, the Senate’s intelligence committee approved the release of a confidential four-page memo alleging previous abuse of the FISA spying program to the rest of Congress. The public is unable to see it.
The mysterious missive was drafted by House intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), and of course it could be looney-tunes nonsense. Regardless, a number of lawmakers who only now just read the memo have said that had they been aware of the misconduct detailed in the memo, they would not having voted for the reauthorization of section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.
Republican lawmakers in particular, having seen the report, embarked on a fiercely partisan campaign accusing the Obama administration of snooping on the Trump presidential campaign using the foreigner-targeting FISA laws.
The hypocrisy is stunning, even for Congress. One moment, Republicans insist a Big Brother program is needed to foil terrorists abroad, ignoring its ability to pry into the lives of Americans. The next moment, Republicans are upset the same set of laws were indeed used to pry into the lives of Americans – some of the folks working for Team Trump.
Congresscriters who now claim to be shocked – shocked! – about FISA’s sweeping capabilities – have been willfully ignoring determined efforts in both the House and the Senate in recent weeks to have a full debate about the extent of spying powers that the US government possesses
In one part of that speech, he even went into great detail over how the Director of National Intelligence had publicly denied that Uncle Sam was able to intercept communications between US citizens on US soil – and then, when challenged subsequently, claimed to have heard a different question.
When Wyden asked the same question again, the director refused to answer, claiming that it was classified. “How can a topic in which the director of national intelligence has already given an answer in public suddenly become classified?” asked Wyden in his speech.
But if all that wasn’t enough, we will all likely be subject to one more head-holding display of hypocrisy when President Trump signs the reauthorization bill into law – despite the fact congressfolk are railing against the same set of FISA laws being used to spy on his campaign.