Tag Archives: FISA court

Justice Dept recommends Trump veto of FISA bill

The Justice Department yesterday recommended that President Trump veto of the new reauthorization bill of the FISA court presently working its way through Congress.

Sadly, Justice’s reasons for this recommendations is that they reject House amendments to the bill by Democrats that would weaken its ability to spy on Americans.

The bill reauthorizes three surveillance programs and makes some changes to the court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). But the Senate, when it took up the bill earlier this month, added language to create new legal protections for some FISA warrant applications, a change that garnered pushback from the Justice Department.

[Assistant Attorney General Stephen] Boyd said on Wednesday that the Justice Department had offered “specific fixes to the most significant problems” stemming from the changes made by the Senate but signaled that they had been ignored by House lawmakers.

Instead, the House will vote on an additional amendment to the legislation as part of its debate on Wednesday that would tighten the limits on the FBI’s ability to access Americans’ web browsing history.

Boyd warned that the Justice Department believes the proposed change from the House would “weaken national security tools while doing nothing to address the abuses identified by the DOJ Inspector General.”

The good news here is that this recommendation, as odious as its goals are, will give Trump ammunition for vetoing the bill, which in the end will end this corrupt court. And that goal should be the goal of every freedom-loving American.

Senate approves FISA renewal

Ya gotta have your KGB! The Senate today approved 80-16 a renewal of the FISA court, allowing that corrupt secret tribunal to continue its spying on Americans.

Since the Senate revised the House bill slightly, the new version will have to go back to the House for approval. It is unclear if the House will approve it as written, or if Trump will sign any of these versions.

Republicans, who spear-headed the passage of this bill, will claim that its new restrictions will protect the rights of Americans. They are lying.

While senators agreed to add the Lee-Leahy bill, they also rejected two other amendments: one from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) preventing FISA warrants from being used against Americans and one from Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) preventing law enforcement from obtaining internet browsing and search history without a warrant.

House FISA court reauthorization reaches Senate

You gotta have your KGB: A House-passed FISA court reauthorization bill, which makes some superficial claims at reining in the abuses of that court by FBI and Justice officials in the past four years, has now reached the Senate.

Overall this new law is junk, and accomplishes nothing. Though it does increase penalties for misuse, and allows for outside review in more situations, the secret court will continue, available to authorize the illegal surveillance of American businesses and individuals, for political reasons.

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

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.

FISA court condemns FBI

The FISA court has issued a rare public rebuke of the FBI over its apparent misconduct and illegal tampering of evidence, as documented by the inspector general report released last week, misconduct aimed at misleading the court into issuing uncalled FISA warrants.

[T]he chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [FISC] strongly criticized the FBI over its surveillance-application process, giving the bureau until Jan. 10 to come up with solutions, in the wake of findings from Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz.

The order, from the court’s presiding judge Rosemary M. Collyer, came just a week after the release of Horowitz’s withering report about the wiretapping of Carter Page, a former campaign adviser to President Trump. “The FBI’s handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the [Office of Inspector General] report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above,” Collyer wrote in her four-page order. “The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable.” [emphasis mine]

This is another independent confirmation that the behavior of the upper echelons of the FBI during the Obama administration was corrupt, apparently acting to take sides during the 2016 election against Donald Trump.

The highlighted words however are to me very distressing. The FISA court is asking the bad apples to come up with new procedures to prevent them from behaving as bad apples again. If this is all that happens then they will have gotten away with it, and will proceed to do worse in 2020 and beyond.

What needs to happen is firm contempt citations against specific individuals, people like James Comey, followed by prosecution. Until that happens the bad guys will still be in charge, and the American justice system will still be corrupted.