Trump pushing for major FISA reform or he will let law expire


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It appears that President Trump is now demanding a major rewrite of the law that authorizes the FISA court or else he will allow the law to expire.

Congress has approximately 10 working days to reauthorize three expiring provisions of the USA Freedom Act, a 2015 bill that overhauled the country’s surveillance laws, with Attorney General William Barr and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) backing a “clean” extension.

But Trump threw a grenade into those already fragile plans Thursday, when Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told reporters that the president supports his effort to include broader reforms of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as part of any reauthorization of the intelligence programs. “I’ve talked to the president, and I plan on insisting on getting a vote,” Paul said, asked by The Hill about including broader FISA reforms in a bill would authorize the expiring provisions of the USA Freedom Act.

Paul wants a vote on an amendment that would prevent FISA warrants from being used against Americans. Paul’s proposal would also prevent FISA information from being used against Americans in a domestic courtroom. The president, according to Paul, is supportive of his amendment.

Trump’s apparent support for including broader changes to the surveillance court associated with FISA comes as he’s railed repeatedly about his campaign being “spied” upon by the Obama-era FBI. [emphasis mine]

The simple fact is that the FISA court has always been unconstitutional. As written, it is designed — and been used — to bypass the fourth amendment’s requirement that no searches be conducted of a person’s private property without probably cause and a search warrant. Paul’s amendment would simply bring the FISA court into line with constitutional law.

It would be criminal if both Congress and Trump allow this court to be renewed without making this change, especially considering the abuse committed by the Obama administration and government officials of the court in the past four years. Yet, Attorney General Barr as well as Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) are calling for exactly that.

Barr indicated during the lunch that Trump would support a clean extension of the three programs. McConnell threw his support behind extending the authorities during a press conference after the powwow with Barr. “These tools have been overwhelmingly useful according to our intelligence advisors, and I hope that when the Senate deals with these expiring provisions in a couple of weeks, we will be able to continue to have them in law, which will, of course, provide maximum protection for the American people,” McConnell told reporters.

As good as McConnell has been in getting Trump’s conservative judges confirmed to the courts, he sometimes infuriates me. Considering the abuse of power seen in the FBI, Justice Department, and Obama administration, it makes no sense to renew these laws unchanged.

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3 comments

  • Phill O

    As a point of argument (and respectfully), getting rid of the FISA system because the dims abused it, is like getting rid of guns because some abuse them. There are many with American citizenship who are actively working against the lawful government, even supporting terrorism. Monitoring of these people is needed for the security of the “general” population. The Obama administration should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

  • Cotour

    “It appears that President Trump is now demanding a major rewrite of the law that authorizes the FISA court or else he will allow the law to expire.”

    And then we will need another 9-11 to reinstitute them?

    It has been demonstrated through evidence, with much more to come, that those in the leadership positions that headed and directed these government law enforcement and surveillance agencies (FBI< CIA< DNI etc) and their direct subordinates will and have abused their power, in the EXTREME! To the point of nearly being able to remove a president from office because of their own subject political interests and associations.

    If Trump allows these FISA laws to be renewed without real and substantive structural changes then that would not make sense to me. Mr. president, if you do not get substantive and real rewrite of these laws, then let them go.

  • Max

    Obama on the FISA court;
    https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/buzzfeedpolitics/president-obama-defends-nsa-spying
    More good links here;
    https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2013/jun/21/barack-obama/barack-obama-says-foreign-intelligence-surveillanc/

    Extraordinary power comes with extra ordinary restraint and oversight to prevent extraordinary abuse. The abuse has and is occurring, therefore the FISA court is a fraud and is being used for its intended purposes.
    Against political opponents, rival companies, insider trading, elimination of whistleblowers, political opportunities including blackmail, environmental embarrassment, “shaming” in the “me to movement”, etc. etc.
    If they can’t use the system to find dirt on a target, then they will implant information and suspicious circumstances as they did to President Trump to falsely accuse and set up any who do not tow the line. Bringing “bearing false witness” to a whole new level.
    There is an old saying, never develop a weapon that can be used against you. With the right judges in place, Trump can turn the tables on the deep state with their own methods.

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