Lou Dobbs reminds everyone tonight about a rapidly approaching FISA reauthorization deadline coming quickly on March 15th without any public input, public hearings, information about current DOJ/FBI corrective measures, or sunlight on the issues.
Appearing tonight with Mr. Dobbs is House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins who has been trying to draw attention to an upcoming reauthorization and the refusal of House democrats to hold hearings on the need for reform in the wake of yet another IG report hightlighting abuses of the current system.
As outlined by Lou Dobbs, in November of 2019 buried deep in the congressional budget Continuing Resolution (CR) was a short-term extension to reauthorize the FISA “business records provision”, the “roving wiretap” provision, the “lone wolf” provision, and the more controversial bulk metadata provisions [Call Detail Records (CDR)], all parts of the Patriot Act. As a result of the FISA CR inclusion the terminal deadline was pushed to March 15, 2020:
Additionally, prior to the December 9, 2019, inspector general report on FISA abuse, FISA Court judges Rosemary Collyer (declassified 2017) and James Boasberg (declassified 2019) both identified issues with the NSA bulk database collection program being exploited for unauthorized reasons. For the past several years no corrective action taken by the intelligence community has improved the abuses outlined by the FISA court.
The sketchy programs, and abuse therein, has public attention yet congressional representatives are not responding to the findings.
Worse still, there is a confluence of current events pointing toward a likelihood congress and the intelligence apparatus writ large want to reauthorize the FISA surveillance and collection authorities without further sunlight and without public input.
AG Bill Barr is scheduled to meet with key Senators this week. While the media are attributing and framing the meeting toward Trump activity, it is more than likely one key purpose of the upcoming meeting is AG Barr advocating for quiet FISA renewal.
Keep in mind the deadline for the DOJ to respond to the FISA court about the abusive intelligence practices identified in the Horowitz report was February 5th, more than two weeks ago. The responses from the DOJ and FBI have not been made public.
My suspicion is a quiet agreement exists between the DOJ/FBI and FISA Court. It appears the DOJ is trying to get the FISA reauthorization passed before the FISC declassifies the corrective action outlined from the prior court order. This response would also include information about the “sequestering” of evidence gathered as a result of the now admitted fraudulent and misrepresented information within the FISA applications.
With that background in mind, it is NOT accidental the Wall Street Journal publishes an article Sunday about AG Barr’s position on FISA reauthorization. The White House wants structural reform; it appears the DOJ and FBI want considerably less than that.
WASHINGTON—Senior White House officials are discussing an overhaul of the government’s surveillance program for people in the U.S. suspected of posing a national-security risk, spurred in part by President Trump’s grievances about an investigation of a 2016 campaign adviser, according to people familiar with the matter.
The effort seeks to take advantage of the looming expiration of some spying powers next month, including portions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a Watergate-era law that Mr. Trump believes was improperly used to target his campaign, these people said.
Overhauling FISA has become a rallying cry for conservatives and allies of the president in the aftermath of a watchdog report detailing several errors made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its applications for surveillance of Mr. Trump’s campaign adviser, Carter Page. Some Republicans have called for upending FISA, prompting pushback from some in the administration, including Attorney General William Barr.
The plan, which is being spearheaded by officials within the White House Domestic Policy Council, is in the early stages and could face resistance from other parts of the Trump administration, including the National Security Council, which has generally advocated maintaining or expanding surveillance powers during Mr. Trump’s presidency.
Some administration officials have privately raised concerns that the new FISA effort could go too far, but officials working on the plan countered that they don’t intend to undermine the government’s core surveillance powers.
[…] Mr. Trump hasn’t expressed any public opinion on the coming expiration of the spying powers, but he has been a harsh critic of the government’s surveillance powers and has privately encouraged his advisers to develop a policy response to the surveillance of Mr. Page, the people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Trump feels personally victimized by the FISA process and the intelligence agencies that he oversees and some of the White House officials see a political opening for an overhaul.
“We were abused by the FISA process; there’s no question about it,” Mr. Trump told reporters this month. “We were seriously abused by FISA.”
[…] Some senior administration officials, including Mr. Barr, are hesitant to make major changes to existing intelligence law, people familiar with the matter said.
Mr. Barr has said the current FISA process needs more oversight from the Justice Department, in light of the inspector general report, but has defended the law itself as essential for national security.
“We are committed to preserving FISA and we think all Americans should be committed to preserving FISA,” Mr. Barr told reporters in December. “It is essential to protect the security of the United States.”
Mr. Barr has called FISA a “critical tool” and vowed to preserve it after some Republicans suggested the future of the law was in jeopardy following the inspector general’s report. (more)
With the terminal deadline for FISA reauthorization rapidly approaching; and with serious abuses identified within the system of the FISA court, specifically as they pertain to the targeting of American citizens; there have been no public hearings or congressional discussions about the FISA process and the outlined fourth amendment violations.
As typical congress waits until the last-minute to act on important issues.
The FISA “business records provision”, the “roving wiretap” provision, the “lone wolf” provision, and the more controversial bulk metadata provisions [Call Detail Records (CDR)], again all parts of the Patriot Act, must not be reauthorized without a full public vetting of the abuses that have taken place for the past several years.
At a minimum the pending DOJ/FBI response to the FISA court needs to be made public prior to any reauthorization by congress. And to better understand the scale of the issue, the consequences when the system is abused, the upstream sequester material needs to be made public.
Let the American public see what investigative evidence was unlawfully gathered, and let us see who and what was exposed by the fraudulently obtained FISA warrants. At a minimum congress and the American people need to understand the scale of what can happen when the system is wrong – BEFORE that exact same system is reauthorized.
Additionally with all of the information now known to exist, should congress proceed with a reauthorization without any sunlight on the abuse, the White House should counter and demand the intelligence community declassify both the Collyer report from 2017 and the Boasberg report from 2019.
Declassification of existing records would reveal the November 2015 through April 2016 FISA-702 search query abuse as outlined in the April 2017 court opinion written by FISC Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer. Who exactly are these private sector FBI contractors behind the 85% fraudulent search queries? This was a weaponized surveillance and domestic political spying operation. [The trail was laid down in specific detail by Judge Collyer – SEE HERE]
The U.S. constitution’s fourth amendment is being violated by the continued abuse of bulk metadata collection, particularly when private contractors and government officials illegally access the system. The 2016 FISA review (party declassified in 2017) and the 2018 FISA review (party declassified in 2019) both show ongoing and systematic wrongdoing despite all prior corrective action and promises.
This needs to be stopped.
The 2019 Boasberg Report:
The 2017 Collyer Report: