House Extends Controversial Surveillance Measure For 6 Years Despite Bipartisan Resistance

By Derrick Broze

Representative Justin Amash and a bipartisan coalition of 42 lawmakers failed to block a six-year extension of a controversial spying measure.

Washington D.C. – On Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of a six-year extension of section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a controversial law which allows the federal government to spy on American citizens. A bipartisan coalition of civil liberties advocates opposed the bill, but failed to stop the measure from passing with a vote of 256-164. Senator Rand Paul has now threatened a filibuster during the upcoming Senate vote.

The program has been extended several times since its inception. As 2017 came to a conclusion, lawmakers approved a short extension until January 19. The six-year extension was passed as part of a bill introduced by California Republican Devin Nunes. Nunes’ bill – The FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 – allows the FBI and NSA to access Americans’ private communications without requiring a warrant first. Instead, the agencies only need notify the secret FISA court that it intends to access the data and communications of a suspect.

Amash introduced an amendment that would replace the text of Nunes’ bill with the USA RIGHTS Act, an alternative bill sponsored by Senators Rand Paul and Ron Wyden and Representatives Amash, Ted Poe, and Zoe Lofgren. The Amash amendment would have added a warrant requirement to Section 702. The amendment was overwhelmingly voted down with 183 votes against and 233 in favor. Nunes’ bill contains a provision which would require a court order (not a warrant), but only under the narrowest circumstances. A court order would only be necessary if FBI agents already have an open criminal investigation into the American whose data they want to access, and if there is found to be no valid national security concern.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul acknowledged that the chances of beating the bill were better in the House. “The privacy movement is stronger in the House than the Senate. Maybe we can learn from you guys,” the Senator stated. Paul now has the opportunity to stall the bill in the Senate.

According to 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 New York Times notes that the NSA began collecting Americans’ international phone calls and emails without a warrant immediately after the 9/11 attacks as part of the Stellar Wind program. Once the public became aware of the program in 2008, Congress codified the program into law by passing section 702 of FISA.

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.

Prior to the vote, the LA Times Editorial Board noted,

Critics persuasively argue that this would allow the FBI to sift through information about Americans in many other investigations without judicial approval.

Former judge and well-known public speaker, Andrew Napolitano, also published a scathing opinion piece on Fox News discussing an overlooked element of this battle. Napolitano’s warnings are even more disturbing in light of the passage of the bill.

Hidden beneath the “Fire and Fury” controversy is the muffled sound of the Trump administration and Republican congressional leaders plotting the enactment of an addition to FISA that would permit the use of evidence of crimes in federal court even when it is discovered during mass surveillance authorized by general warrants.

If enacted, this radical, unconstitutional hole in the Fourth Amendment would bring the country full circle back to the government’s use of general warrants to harass and prosecute — general warrants so odious to our forebears that they took up arms against the king’s soldiers to be rid of them.

Americans should also take note that 178 Republicans and 55 Democrats voted against the Amash amendment to require a warrant. These people do not care about granting the American people even the slightest protection from the prying eyes and ears of Big Brother. Also, the Democrats could have swung the vote in favor of the warrant requirement. This should be a glaring example that when it comes down to the issues which affect all Americans – taxation, war, surveillance, civil liberties, economic enslavement – the two parties are always going to work together. They are not enemies, but rather different factions of the same party. As the great comedian George Carlin used to say, “It’s a big club and you ain’t in it!”

Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for and the founder of the 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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6 Comments on "House Extends Controversial Surveillance Measure For 6 Years Despite Bipartisan Resistance"

  1. The US Government was the perpetrator of 911.

  2. Mahatma Muhjesbude | January 12, 2018 at 11:29 am | Reply

    Well, once again the lazy sheeple got what they deserve and deserve what they get when they let the dark state remove another precious part of our American freedom from us with unbridled big government intrusion into our most private correspondence. All everybody had to do was email their representative and if the outcry was large enough and translated to potential future voters, then they would have ended the totalitarian spying.

    So wait until you ‘all see what happens next after you let them get away with that?

    This totalitarian ‘creep’ has an end game. Just remember this: “…the last thing in life you lose is your personal freedom. Because after that there’s really nothing left worth anything” – P.J. Klipangle

    • Free Man (NOT) | January 12, 2018 at 6:14 pm | Reply

      I read Rand Paul will filibuster it in the senate.
      Will it do any good? Who knows.
      Even if it fails in the senate, do you really think they won’t continue spying on us?

      • lightingstrikesthrice | January 13, 2018 at 10:46 am | Reply

        Why doesn’t Paul filibuster to abolish all spying/surveillance? Just theater with the ‘warrant or national security’. That’s just too easy to abuse. Business as usual.

    • lightingstrikesthrice | January 13, 2018 at 10:45 am | Reply

      The kakistocracy would have just continuing to do so in secret or hiding behind ‘national security’. The only way to stop any of it, is to tear it down and start over completely from scratch. Notice Paul and the others are not filibustering to abolish spying/surveillance of any sort, oh no. A warrant or national security, what a joke. I like the quote, it is spot on.

  3. lightingstrikesthrice | January 13, 2018 at 10:39 am | Reply

    Yes, yes. If people get angry and demand their ‘representatives’ to vote this down, or add a ‘warrent if no national security is involved’, they will just do so secretly. Or, EVERYTHING will be national security, because it is utmost important to the criminals of the kakistocracy keeping their criminally insane practices secret.

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