The fix is in: The House is about to vote on a renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), incorporating what appear to be only cosmetic changes to the law.
The deal reached by House leaders would require officers overseeing FISA applications to certify that the Justice Department has been fully informed of any issues with the accuracy of the application, and require that agencies submitting applications appoint officers to ensure the applications are compliant with the law.
The bill also includes measures to assuage concerns by Democrats and libertarians worried about government overreach in surveilling of American citizens, such as ending the National Security Agency’s to collect call detail records. It also includes measures to increase transparency, requiring the Justice Department to publish reports explaining its positions on how information is derived for FISA applications.
These are changes desired by the Democrats in the House. Or to put it another way, they are working hard to renew a law that I would call “The Law to Enable Democrats and their Allies in the Justice Department, FBI, and CIA to spy on Republicans”.
This law should expire. Trump should veto any renewal effort, no matter who writes it. It is unconstitutional., has done nothing to protect us, even as it is has been abused to violate our constitutional rights.
And even if it could be argued that the law provided the country some added security that would be lost if it expires, freedom is more important.
UPDATE: The House has passed the bill, which Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) condemned as “weak sauce.”
“The ‘Deal’ on FISA is weak sauce diluted [and] made impotent by A.G. Barr. None of the reforms prevent secret FISA court from abusing the rights of Americans. None of the reforms prevent a President of either party from a politically motivated investigation. Big Disappointment!” Paul tweeted early Tuesday evening.
Paul and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who have both vocally called for sweeping reforms to FISA, are urging President Trump to veto the bill if it arrives at his desk.
Barr was first pushing for passage of a renewal that would have changed nothing in the law, making me think that his so-called investigations into the FISA corruption are probably hogwash. He might make noises about upholding the law, but so far what he has done makes him appear a willing partner in the Washington corrupt culture, working to keep the status quo.
Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:
If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
Cortaro, AZ 85652