The House Rules Committee previously released the text of proposed changes to FISA (full pdf). The “deal” is intended 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. However, key Senators and President Trump say not enough being done to change it.
The current FISA authorities expire on March 15th; it looks like they will lapse as Mitch McConnell tries to regroup for a possible vote next week. McConnell was forced to delay consideration past the expiration date after Senators Mike Lee (R), Rand Paul (R) and Ron Wyden (D) said they would object.
WASHINGTON DC – President Trump told Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Thursday that he does not support a House-passed surveillance bill— raising fresh questions about the fate of the legislation.
A spokesman for Lee confirmed the conversation and that the president told the Utah Republican that he does not support the House legislation. Officials speaking for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lee and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have been working to kill the House bill, including urging Trump to veto it if it reaches his desk, over concerns that it does not go far enough to reform the court associated with the Freedom Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). (read more)
The House legislation, negotiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, supports the requests of AG Bill Barr and would renew several provisions the FBI claims vital to fighting terrorism.
The House legislation updates the three expiring surveillance provisions, including one that permits the FBI to obtain secret court orders to collect “business records” on subjects in national security investigations. The main purpose of this section is researching Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) violations. Using the FISA process for anyone suspected of FARA violations is a bucket of deep state horse-poo. It’s essentially an excuse for surveillance of anyone in DC.
Another provision, known as the “roving wiretap” provision, permits surveillance on subjects even after they’ve changed phones. So long as the subjects are “foreign” that’s no big deal. However, if the account owner of the phone is an American…. well, you can see the problem. Again, more sketchy stuff from the DOJ.
The third provision “lone wolf” allows agents to monitor subjects who don’t have ties to international terrorism organizations. This is where any American can be suspected, accused, and with no oversight have secret surveillance authorized by the secret court. The surveillance is retroactive; meaning the warrant allows the DOJ/FBI to find evidence to support the application for the warrant. Sketchy.
I find myself in alignment with Rand Paul who says the laws should be changed so that *ONLY* foreigners can be targeted by FISA, and for all investigative issues involving Americans the DOJ/FBI should be forced to go to a traditional Title-3 Court to ask for a search warrant or surveillance. This approach is a more reasonable assurance for Fourth Amendment protection.
(Via Associated Press) […] Republicans had been aggressively seeking changes to the law since the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump’s campaign and Russia, while many Democrats already had concerns about government surveillance.
At the behest of those Republicans, the House compromise takes aim at some of the missteps the Justice Department has acknowledged making during the Russia investigation. Applications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to eavesdrop on a former Trump campaign aide were riddled with omissions and missteps, according to an inspector general report.
The measure would require that officers responsible for FISA applications certify that the department has been advised of any information that could undercut or contradict the premise of the surveillance. In the Russia investigation, some of the information the FBI omitted from its applications cut against the idea that former Trump adviser Carter Page was a Russian agent, the watchdog found.
Page has denied that and was never charged with wrongdoing.
The bill also would institute criminal penalties and other sanctions for making false statements to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which issues warrants to the FBI to eavesdrop on people it has probable cause to believe are agents of a foreign power. It would require the attorney general to approve in writing of an investigation if the target of the surveillance is a federal candidate or official.
Attorney General William Barr was involved in the negotiations with the White House and Congress, and he said Wednesday that he supports the bill.
“It is of the utmost important that the Department’s attorneys and investigators always work in a manner consistent with the highest professional standards, and this overall package will help ensure the integrity of the FISA process and protect against future abuses going forward,” Barr said.
But Barr’s support does not guarantee that Trump is on board. The president kept Congress guessing with a Thursday tweet that did not indicate how he would act. (more)