House lawmakers are preparing to decide whether to renew controversial aspects of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that expired March 15th.
The expired provisions, implemented after 9/11, expanded the FBI’s ability to use wiretaps and allowed the agency to obtain a variety of business records from companies in connection with national security investigations.
After much debate about whether to renew, scrap, or change the expired provisions, the Senate this month voted 80-16 on a bill that renews the provisions through December 2023 with changes intended to boost privacy and transparency protections. The Senate bill also expands the ability of outside experts to offer advice to the FISA Court when it considers applications for surveillance.
The House had planned to vote on the Senate bill Wednesday until last-minute opposition from President Trump caused a delay. House lawmakers had also planned to vote on a bipartisan amendment that blocks the collection of Americans’ internet search history and web browsing data without a warrant.
“I hope all Republican House Members vote NO on FISA until such time as our Country is able to determine how and why the greatest political, criminal, and subversive scandal in USA history took place,” tweeted Trump on Tuesday, referring to the FBI’s illegal spying on his 2016 presidential campaign.
“It’s very personal to the present when it comes to FISA,“ explains White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. “This is an important tool in the intelligence community. He knows that. But he also knows that it was used and abused and politicized.”
Recently declassified documents support Trump’s claim that top members of the Obama Administration engaged in criminal acts to spy on his 2016 presidential campaign. Earlier this month, we learned that officials including Joe Biden and James Comey put in requests to unmask the identify of a US citizen whose name was mentioned in a classified foreign intelligence report. The individual just so happened to be General Michael Flynn, then-National Security Adviser to President Trump (read more about that here).
Author’s Note: The scandal that took place during and after the 2016 presidential election (AKA Obamagate) is more than enough proof that the spying provisions available to the FBI are too broad and lack proper oversight.