The Memo: One Question Nobody Is Asking

If Republicans are so worried about government surveillance and its potential for abuse, why did they reauthorize FISA?

This is a question few people seem to be asking.
Last week, the House Intelligence Committee released a memo that revealed abuses of the FISA process. Sadly, the real news was lost in partisan bickering about Russia connections and Clinton crookedness. I wrote an article highlighting the real takeaways from the memo. You can read that HERE.

Republicans threw a royal fit because it appears the Democratic National Committee had a hand in developing the narrative that led the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to approve a FISA warrant to spy on a Trump advisor. That information was never disclosed to the FISC. The memo says the findings it reports “represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.

As I’ve discovered, whether you think information the FBI and DOJ omitted from its warrant requests was material or relevant depends on your political point of view. But that really misses the point. The system is obviously being used for political purposes. No matter what side of the political aisle you stand on, that should cause you concern.

In 1975, Sen. Frank Church warned that the U.S. surveillance network had the potential to support “total tyranny.” Think about that for a minute. He made that statement before widespread use of the internet. Before everybody had a cell phone. Before email and messaging became a primary means of communication.

More than 40 years later, Congress has taken no action to rein in the surveillance state. Just weeks ago, the GOP-dominated Congress extended Sec. 702 of FISA for six more years. That was the very legal framework used to spy on this Trump advisor. In fact, Congress expanded FISA and further empowered agencies like the FBI and NSA to spy on Americans.

This memo was available to members of the House Intelligence Committee prior to the vote to reauthorize FISA. None of this information was made available to Congress at large. The 22-member intelligence committee decided to sit on it as Congress debated extending (and in fact expanding) FISA authority. Amendments that would have modestly reformed the law to better protect the privacy of Americans were rejected.

Most telling, every single Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee voted to reauthorize Sec. 702, and in a heartwarming show of bipartisanship, six of the nine Democratic representatives on the committee joined their colleagues.

The existence of this memo became public the day after Trump signed the FISA extension into law.

So, again I ask the question – If Republicans are so concerned about FISA abuses, why did they push through reauthorization even though the president and some members of House leadership knew about these abuses?

I’ll tell you why. If they didn’t reauthorize it, it wouldn’t have been available for them to use in the future.

The finger-pointing and partisan bickering is part of the political theater meant to distract you. Never forget, the real end-game is more power and control over you.

About Tenth Amendment Center
The Tenth Amendment Center is a national think tank that works to preserve and protect the principles of strictly limited government through information, education, and activism. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of state and individual sovereignty issues, focusing primarily on the decentralization of federal government power as required by the Constitution. For more information visit the Tenth Amendment Center Blog.

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