In an attempt to avert government shutdown, the Trump administration is calling for vote on a “spending bill” which includes a temporary reauthorization of the controversial section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
On Thursday President Donald Trump tweeted out his support for a so-called spending bill and his disdain for Democrats, who he accuses of attempting to shut down the government. “House Democrats want a SHUTDOWN for the holidays in order to distract from the very popular, just passed, Tax Cuts,” Trump tweeted. “House Republicans, don’t let this happen. Pass the C.R. TODAY and keep our Government OPEN!”
What Trump didn’t mention was that the massive spending bill also includes an extension of section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). According the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Section 702 of FISA “allows the NSA to collect emails, browser history and chat logs of Americans. Section 702 also allows other agencies, like the FBI, to search through that data without a warrant. Those searches are called ‘backdoor searches.’”
The FBI and NSA claim they need section 702 in order to prevent another 9/11 like attack. However, in 2013 whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that Section 702 also authorizes two Internet surveillance programs known as PRISM and Upstream. PRISM gathers messaging data sent via Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and other tech companies, while Upstream taps into the so-called backbone of the Internet to gather data on targets.
House Republican leaders unveiled a new version of a bill they hope to pass before Friday’s midnight deadline and keep federal agencies humming along at current funding levels through Jan. 19, averting a shutdown that would create political havoc in Washington.
The new version of the bill also allows for a temporary extension of the FISA and section 702. The attempt at reauthorization is opposed by a small group of senators, including Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Patrick Leahy, Steve Daines, and Ron Wyden. The senators gathered at a press conference on Wednesday with activists from the American Civil Liberties Union and FreedomWorks to voice their opposition to quietly renewing Section 702. Paul also stated that he will “actively oppose and filibuster any long term extension of warrantless searches of American citizens.”
In an interview with Fox News, Paul reiterates his claim but says he would support a short term extension. He also notes that attaching controversial bills to big “must-pass” bills is common practice in Congress.
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I’m never a fan of shutting down government so that’s not my intention. I am a fan of defending the bill of rights, though. pic.twitter.com/qJ9Sc298Ep
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 21, 2017
This is not the first time the Trump administration expressed support for the extension of section 702, which is scheduled to end on December 31st. The Anti Media previously reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was also fighting to save FISA. On September 7, Sessions and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats sent a letter to the leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate urging them to permanently reauthorize the controversial Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Supporters of section 702 and FISA want a vote on an extension without any debate on the possibility of weakening or limiting the secret program. They face opposition from civil liberties advocates who want to vote on whether to end, amend, or extend the program. “There isn’t any chance that a long-term FISA reauthorization has the support of the overall conference,” Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, told the Washington Post on Wednesday.
While Congress debates the future of Section 702, the Trump administration continues to support the dangerous, unconstitutional measure. Critics say a lack of transparency has the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to approve of mass surveillance programs with no accountability. The courts were originally created under the the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) in response to reports produced by the 1975 Church Committee. The Senate panel was tasked with investigating the foreign and domestic surveillance operations by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) during the 1970s. The Church Committee also released detailed reports on the governments Counter Intelligence Programs (COINTELPRO) that were used against activists and influential voices of opposition during the 1950s and ’60s.
Americans who care about privacy must stand against this obvious violation of liberty and privacy.
Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for ActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter. Derrick is the author of three books: The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 1, Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 2 and Manifesto of the Free Humans.
Derrick is available for interviews. Please contact [email protected]
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