- It is fundamentally a civil liberties affront but the mind-set also produces sequelae
- Call your congressman on the FISA reauthorization act — tell them to do a better job protecting civil liberties, worry about the deep-state ayatollahs
- The usual grandstanders prevent reforms, double down on surveillance – Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio to name two
Two related articles in today’s The Federalist
Article by Willis Krumholz, (excerpts) (bold our emphasis)
Why Congress Shouldn’t Expand Intelligence Agencies’ Power To Spy On Americans Article by Willis Krumholts, (excerpts)
What will it take for some Republicans to stop blindly supporting the federal government’s most powerful bureaucracy?
. . . in the last few years, members of Congress and their staff have been spied on, including during the Iran deal. Even the Senate committee tasked with oversight of the intelligence agencies was spied on during the Obama administration.
Journalists were spied on, too. Sharyl Attkisson, . . .
A presidential campaign was spied on too. An unverified dossier, that nobody will stand by when under oath, was likely used to obtain a warrant in a secret court to spy on at least one member of the Trump campaign. The same bureaucracy that used the dossier to spy on a presidential campaign—the FBI—has, for months, refused to cooperate with the congressional committees tasked with keeping the FBI in check.
. . . intelligence bureaucracies have interpreted FISA 702 as it is currently to allow spying on Americans—or it has been routinely abused to do so. Because of this, conservatives and left-leaning civil-libertarians hoped to reform 702 before reauthorizing the program. But there is an effort in Congress, backed by GOP leadership, to not only reauthorize 702 without any meaningful reforms, but to also expand intelligence bureaucracies’ legal powers. A vote on this will occur today.
Krumholz details the mechanisms for abuse (see article)
. . . this gives the intelligence bureaucracies an immense amount of power. If they don’t like a business deal, a politician, a policy, or a bill—say, one that significantly reduces their power—they can selectively leak information to destroy a reputation or torpedo the deal. When they don’t like who is in the White House, many in the media spin the leaking to be heroic, but this is a perversion. Really, unelected intelligence community officials are pulling the levers of power.
That’s not being “heroic” and shedding sunlight. That’s selectively leaking to create a narrative, and exert power over our elected officials. That’s the East German Stasi, not James Madison.
Ed Note: The Founders were definitively not soft on crime – rather, they also recognized the government could be populated by criminals
No One Should Support the Intelligence Committee’s Bill
Just before year-end, GOP leadership tried to pass a 702 bill with permanent reauthorization and no reform. Fortunately, the likes of Paul and Wyden stymied an attempt to do so at the eleventh hour. So Congress had to punt, funding the government and extending FISA until late January.
Unaccountable power corrupts and would be abused by even the best of us.
Now, instead of trying to pass the reauthorization bill that contained reforms and has widespread bipartisan support—The USA Liberty Act—GOP leadership is again attempting to pass the House version of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bill.
‘If the government doesn’t respect our basic civil liberties, we risk becoming a police state.’
Is it really wise to allow, and even encourage and enhance, unchecked federal government power? Rubio says laws that reform our intelligence agencies might as well have been lobbied for by ISIS. Is it really smart to give immense power to agencies that have routinely abused that power and ignore Congress, then essentially accuse anyone who wants to lessen those powers of abetting terrorists?
I spoke to Rep. Jason Lewis’ office (R-MN), and he said “national security is a vital responsibility of our government, but if the government doesn’t respect our basic civil liberties, we risk becoming a police state. In other words, we have to balance security with freedom. My first oath was to the Constitution, and our first freedoms are what make this country great. We have to protect them in order to protect the America we know and love.”
Lewis is exactly right. Those who choose security over liberty will have neither. What can you do? Get on the phone and call your member of Congress. Tell him or her that you would like to see meaningful FISA 702 reform, not the bill proposed by the House Intelligence Committee.
Then there is this pernicious fall-out from the safe-at-any-cost mindset
Many drivers say they will have to start taking more risks and extending fewer courtesies to fellow motorists, now that the clock is their boss.
The complaint rings true to us and we suggest that any usefulness as to controlling fatigue will be circumvented when drivers are forced to second jobs or as the author focuses on taking short cuts to accommodate customers.