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Republicans in the United States House of Representatives, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), are pushing to abolish a controversial surveillance program that was enacted by Congress in 2008 as a post-9/11 national security measure.
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) must be reauthorized by the end of the year in order to remain in place, but Gaetz and his allies are aiming to stop it, thus stopping the federal government from conducting warrantless surveillance of foreigners outside the United States.
In certain circumstances, warrantless surveillance of Americans living inside the U.S. also occurs under Section 702 of FISA. This has drawn considerable civil liberty concerns from politicians not only on the right but also the left.
It turns out that FISA has been heavily abused by the deep state. There have been significant violations of the privacy rights of American citizens thanks to the program, which Gaetz and his allies hope will become a thing of the past before 2024 arrives.
“Without congressional reauthorization, the measure, which was extended by Congress in 2017, will expire on Dec. 31, 2023,” reports explain.
It’s time to stop the spying
While some intelligence figures expect us to believe that Section 702 of FISA is necessary in order to protect “national security” Gaetz and other prominent Republicans say no dice.
Reps. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), and Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) all agree that the spying and surveillance apparatus has to go because the potential for it to be abused is too great.
Gaetz introduced a resolution “expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that authorities under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 should be allowed to expire.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray promised that changes would be made to Section 702 of FISA to reduce the number of improper queries, but Gaetz wants the authority removed entirely.
The court system issued an opinion in 2022 that was recently made public showing that the FBI made an additional 278,000 improper queries on top of the aforementioned three million improper queries. These included queries on January 6 “insurrection” protesters, Black Lives Matter (BLM) rioters, and 20,000 congressional campaign donors.
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“The persistent abuse of Section 702 of FISA underscores the disturbing trend of our federal government being weaponized against its people,” Gaetz said. “The blatant misuse of warrantless surveillance powers targeting Americans’ communications should not be accepted or reauthorized.”
“We must uphold national security without sacrificing the constitutional rights of our fellow Americans.”
For the 15 years that Section 702 of FISA has been in place, the intelligence community has hardly been forthright about its use of the scheme. Gaetz’s resolution addresses this.
It should be noted that former President Donald Trump reauthorized and signed Section 702 of FISA into law when he was installed into the White House in 2017. Trump’s signing of that reauthorization came with a caveat that the intelligence community must publicly disclose all queries on Americans.
For 21 months following that reauthorization, the intelligence community sought to avoid having to abide by the new requirement. Only after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), a secretive FISA watchdog group, ruled that the intelligence community had to follow the law as amended in 2017 that it finally agreed.
“This Congress is aware of multiple abuses of the section 702 data collection process through released court decisions and aggregated data, which in itself is an adequate basis to sunset the program,” Gaetz’s resolution further states.
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