Donald Trump and a growing number of his Nationalist buddies in the Republican Party want you to believe that they are opposed to reauthorizing the three government surveillance programs currently being debated in Congress. Don’t believe them!
When lovers of liberty opposed these programs, which are found within the PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), they did so because the programs were clearly unconstitutional and surrendered way too much power to the government. But Trump and Trumpist Republicans oppose them because they aren’t unconstitutional enough, and would mean giving up power they don’t want to relinquish.
What Trump wants is Mitch McConnell’s version of the PATRIOT Act, which expands the administration’s power to spy on anyone, anywhere, at any time.
In an amendment to the Act, McConnell included provisions empowering the FBI to collect the web-browsing and search histories of Americans . . . WITHOUT A WARRANT!
In another amendment, McConnell proposed giving the attorney general’s office complete oversight of the FISA Court to ensure “accuracy and completeness” of FBI surveillance submissions to the secret Court. This amendment would increase Bill Barr’s oversight of Trump’s political enemies while simultaneously expanding government’s power to spy on every American.
In the words of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR):
“Under the McConnell amendment, Barr gets to look through the web-browsing history of any American — including journalists, politicians, and political rivals — without a warrant, just by saying it’s relevant to an investigation.”
The Senate passed its version of FISA reauthorization, which included amendments to the original House bill passed back in March, so it was sent back to the House to hammer out the differences, and that’s when objections to the bill previously supported by Trump and Friends started making headlines.
Amazingly, the Democrat-controlled House wants to provide additional protection for Americans against FISA Court abuses — abuses that Trump and McConnel specifically added to the Senate version. And since such protections would handcuff Trump’s tyrannical ambitions, he and his loyalists within the GOP are pretending to object to reauthorization.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
Even if the so-called protections provided in the House version become law, we already know the government will continue spying anyway.
When the USA FREEDOM Act was passed in 2015, it was supposed to bring an end to bulk collection of metadata by the NSA and rein in the FISA Court, But the FREEDOM Act failed, the NSA continued spying, the FISA kept all its power when Trump and the GOP renewed FISA 702 in 2018.
The bottom line is this: Trump and the majority of Congress, regardless of party, not only want to see government spying reauthorized, they would like to see it made permanent.
So, when you read the headlines about how Trump and the GOP are fighting NOT to reauthorize government surveillance programs, know that the exact opposite is true.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.