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.
AG Bill Barr is requesting a clean FISA renewal with no reforms or revisions. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham support the AG request. The American people want it scrapped, or, at a minimum strongly revised. Congress is trying to hide the FISA renewal within the Coronavirus appropriations bill.
According to media reporting, Rand Paul said he talked to President Trump yesterday, and President Trump does not support a “clean renewal” of the FISA authorities that were used against him and his campaign:
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump told Sen. Rand Paul that he does not support a clean extension of expiring surveillance authorities, throwing the future of the program into doubt ahead of a fast-approaching March 15 deadline to re-up key features of the Patriot Act.
The Kentucky Republican told reporters that Trump made the comments to him on Wednesday, just a day after Attorney General William Barr told GOP senators that Congress should extend the expiring provisions regarding roving wire taps, lone wolf actors and the most controversial provision: call data collection.
Asked about the discrepancy between his conversation with Trump and Barr’s remarks to senators, Paul said there was “misinformation that got out from some people in the administration” about the expiring surveillance authorities.
“The president was out of the country and somebody mischaracterized his positions. I’ll leave it up to y’all to figure that out,” Paul added.
Paul said Trump is “very supportive” of his amendment to prevent the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act from targeting Americans, a reflection of conservative unease over the way the Trump campaign was surveilled in 2016.
“FISA warrants should not be issued against Americans,” Paul said on Thursday afternoon. “Americans shouldn’t be spied on by a secret court. I think he agrees completely with that and that’s the amendment that I’m going to insist on. I’m not letting anything go easy without a vote on my amendment.”
Paul’s conversation with Trump could blow up plans by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to extend those expiring authorities, which McConnell said was his preference on Tuesday. (read more)
Yesterday CTH warned of a scenario where congress would attempt to slip a clean renewal authorization into the Coronavirus appropriations bill. Today, that exact scenario was being discussed on Capitol Hill.
Following the conversation with President Trump, Senator Rand Paul is planning to propose legislation that would force reform to the current FISA authorities.
While CTH disagrees with the Rand Paul proposal, and would rather see the bulk data gathering/collection and opportunities for exploitation eliminated, at least Senator Paul is attempting to stop the system from being abused against political campaigns. WATCH:
Two issues…. and again CTH is not attempting to dismiss the righteous effort by Senator Paul… However:
(A) Isn’t it already illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and grossly corrupt, to use FISA as a political surveillance tool? If so, why do we need another law or rule change to make it more illegal, more unlawful and more grossly corrupt?
(B) Why do only elected officials or candidates for office get protection from having their fourth amendment rights violated by exploitation of the FISA courts? Shouldn’t the same standard of protection apply to everyone?
CTH understands what Rand Paul is attempting to do, but it’s the FISA process being used against *any* American that is the problem. No American should have their constitutional rights travel through a secret court in order to usurp them. Let FISA apply to “non Americans”; and if there is a need for surveillance or collection of information on Americans, then let the government approach regular Title-3 courts for domestic warrants.
Lastly, with all of this taking place it appears Senator McConnell went to see President Trump today about this issue.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.