Lawmakers have less than 15 days to decide whether to reauthorize sections of the USA Freedom Act set to expire next month.
The “lone wolf” and “roving wiretap” surveillance powers are set to expire, as well as the controversial metadata program exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Former DNI Dan Coats and Attorney General William Barr want to reauthorize the metadata program despite a congressional investigation that determined the program was ineffective.
“However, as technology changes, our adversaries’ tradecraft and communications habits will continue to evolve and adapt,” argues Coats. “In light of this dynamic environment, the Administration supports reauthorization of this provision.”
A bill introduced by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) would terminate the metadata program and reauthorize the other two provisions for eight years.
Further complicating matters, some lawmakers want to use the reauthorization debate to make changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a law that establishes the procedures by which the FBI and other agencies can spy on domestic targets suspected of espionage or terrorism.
Reports suggest the government is increasingly relying on FISA surveillance to conduct ordinary criminal investigations against US citizens (a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment). For the Trump Administration, the desire to overhaul FISA is related to the FBI’s improper use of the law to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
“Any legislation devoid of necessary reforms to address the abuse of the intelligence community against a presidential campaign and even our sitting president, including lies and fraud engaged in by top-level FBI officials, misses that mark,” wrote Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
Author’s Note: Gathering data on all Americans in anticipation of the need to spy on one individual is unConstitutional. Domestic surveillance should end completely except by specific court order.
Editor’s Note: As a former employee of the CIA, I spied on people in other countries. I don’t want my own government doing this to me.