Congress Should Not Reauthorize Section 702 of FISA

Congress Should Not Reauthorize Section 702 of FISA

Op-Ed by Congressman Gosar
The Gateway Pundit:


Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was enacted by Congress in 2008 to ostensibly allow the United States intelligence community to surveil foreigners located abroad.  Purportedly, Congress wrote this law to protect our national security by allowing spying on non-U.S. threats without a court order.  


Congress is currently considering reauthorizing Section 702, which is set to expire at the end of this year.  Congress reauthorized the spy program in 2012 and again in 2018.  Rife with abuse and overreach,I voted against reauthorizing Section 702 in the past and I intend to oppose its reauthorization once again this time.


Section 702 has been controversial since its inception, and it has been highly scrutinized by civil liberties advocates and privacy rights activists.  There are numerous reasons why Congress should not reauthorize section 702 FISA warrants.


First and foremost, the warrantless surveillance authorized under section 702 is a clear overreach of authority and is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. The government's ability to collect and analyze the communications of non-U.S. individuals without a warrant has led to the collection of communications of American citizens and raises serious concerns about the indiscriminate and broad nature of the surveillance program, further infringing on the rights of Americans.


Additionally, section 702 has been plagued by abuse and misuse. The program has been used to collect and store vast amounts of data, including emails, text messages, and other electronic communications, without proper oversight or accountability that are way outside the scope of national security or counterterrorism efforts.  This has led to widespread abuses of power, including by the FBI to conduct warrantless searches against hundreds of thousands of American citizens, U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, campaign donors, political opponents and judges.  These abuses highlight the inherent dangers of granting such broad surveillance authority to the government without checks and balances in place.


Additionally, the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding the section 702 program is deeply concerning. The secretive nature of the program makes it difficult for the public and even members of Congress to fully understand the extent of the surveillance activities and the potential impact on privacy rights. The lack of transparency also hinders the ability to hold government agencies accountable for any misuse or overreach of their surveillance powers, further eroding trust in the democratic process and the rule of law.


Another key concern is the potential for section 702 to be used for purposes beyond its original intent. The broad language of the provision leaves the door open for the government to exploit the surveillance powers for purposes unrelated to national security, such as political targeting.  For example, thanks to the Durham Report, we have a better idea of the lengths of corruption, such as an over-reliance on a former British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s deeply discredited dossier used as a justification for instigating a witch-hunt against Donald Trump.  As if that were not bad enough, a court found that the FBI wrongfully used their database for searches on non-citizens and U.S. citizens – nearly 278,000 times. This runs counter to the notion of limited government and undermines the fundamental principles of democratic governance.


FISA was established to review warrant applications for spying activities while maintaining the secrecy necessary to effectively carry out covert operations on foreign entities to aid our national security.  It was never intended to spy on U.S. citizens.  As Congress considers the year-end reauthorization of Section 702, I remain deeply concerned with the continued abuses of this program.  While everything must be done prevent future terrorist activities, it should not come at the cost of the privacy and civil rights abuses of innocent American citizens.  

Instead of reauthorizing the warrantless spy program, Congress should take a stand against warrantless surveillance and prioritize the protection of privacy rights and constitutional principles.




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