We have not unraveled what happened in 2016. It has not been made public. No one has been held accountable. The agencies involved have the whitewash buckets and brushes out. We know to a mathematical certainty that in 2016 the FISA system was abused.
Corrupt, politically motivated senior officials in the intelligence community were the perpetrators. Their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was to spy on then candidate Trump and his campaign. Their motivation was to seize control of the election. They were intent on blocking a Trump Presidency.
Their acts, if successful, would amount to a coup d’état. It would have been the end of the election of American governments. That’s the seriousness of the situation. Little change has come since 2015.
Renew, replace, expire
Portions of the FISA law expire on March 15, 2020. That is what should happen. Congress should not pass a law extending the pernicious provisions. Trump has justifiably demanded any law extending FISA include dramatic reforms to protect civil liberties. He is probably being too nice. FISA should not be extended for two reasons. The people have not changed and the process has not changed.
There is a bill proposed which makes cosmetic changes to FISA. Those alterations make no substantive changes. Trump and all the rest of us will remain at risk. The changes fall far short of the substantial reforms needed. The FISA revisions ostensibly protecting the public are limited to protecting members of Congress and candidates for Congress.
That is simply outrageous. They want to protect themselves at our expense. Where are you when we need you Shaheen, Pappas and Kuster? Why aren’t you leading the charge? You just don’t care, do you? It was your partisans who were the perpetrators. Maybe the abuse of the FISA courts wasn’t sufficiently high on your priority list.
Is it surprising that the legislative body that gives itself subsidies for health insurance? You know the healthcare required under Obamacare you pay for. It wants to give itself special protection against the intelligence community while leaving average people at risk. That is Democrat leadership out in front and on exhibit.
Those who support this bucket of crap legislation point to the lengthening prison time for those who abuse their power. Hey guys, a million times zero is still zero prison time. There is no accountability among the people or in the system. We know this because we saw the system in action.
It took three years to drag it into the open. But we have seen it. When senior intelligence officials lied to the FISA court to get warrants to spy on the 2016 Trump campaign. There was no accountability. The system is broken. It does not work. No reauthorization should be undertaken.
Wrong people, wrong process
The assertion is the potentially lengthy prison sentences will deter bad actors. Well, no. I do not believe it. They are invisible, there is no double-check sufficient to the task. There is no reason to think deterrence will be found in a longer prison sentence. No prison sentence has been imposed… none… no one has even lost their job.
Many of the wrongdoers in 2016 remain in the intelligence apparatus. There is a complete failure to prosecute known criminal acts. Those responsible to enforce the law broke the law. Having done so they are not facing sanction. This destroys any claim these individuals will clean up their agencies.
The uni-party in Washington wants to maintain the status quo. They do not want accountability. Efforts to strengthen the woefully weak protections for citizens are being fought. At a minimum, we should mandate the appointment of an advocate to protect citizens’ rights. These are secret hearings. Judges may optionally consult with an “amicus,” a friend of the court. The role of the amicus is to provide legal counsel. You trust that to protect your rights… don’t you? I don’t.
Who represents the public?
What they want is for a law clerk, not an advocate to represent you. And they don’t even require it. Instead, the court may optionally, at their discretion protect constitutional rights. Congress should allow this anachronistic law which is so easily subject to severe abuse to expire.
Even if FISA ends our intelligence agents will continue to do what they do best. We only hope that is to surveil non-Americans in the search for dangers to our country. If government personnel believe they need to spy on American citizens, obtain their records, or wiretap them; fine. The government can apply for warrants and subpoenas just as it does every day in criminal cases.
Good process produces good policy. Good policy results in good politics. The process here proceeded without taking up the legislation in either of the committees of jurisdiction. Neither Judiciary or Intelligence saw fit to deal with FISA. That would be Democrat leadership for you once again on exhibit.
No one was able to offer amendments to try and improve the bill. Bad process here has resulted in bad policy. The reality is that this bill, in its current form, would not prevent the misconduct of 2016. We will be safer if the bill simply expired. President Trump, veto this bill. Send the Congress back to the Hill to make a better attempt to produce a true reform of FISA.