Republican Mike Johnson Hits Walkoff Vote as Intel Community Edges 4th Amendment in 1-0 thriller


by Matt Taibbi

After wailing for years about misuse of secret FISA surveillance against their own, House Republicans turtle, letting voters know exactly where they stand

How CNN described extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA:

A Republican rift is jeopardizing extension of a cornerstone of the US intelligence gathering by which the government hoovers up massive amounts of internet and cellphone data. The trove of data now in jeopardy has vital importance to the US. According to one assessment, it forms the basis of most of the intelligence the president views each morning, and it has helped the US keep tabs on Russia’s intentions in Ukraine, identify foreign efforts to access US infrastructure, uncover foreign terror networks and thwart terror attacks in the US.

How the National Security Agency wrote about FISA in press release:

The U.S. Intelligence Community relies on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in the constant hunt for information about foreign adversaries determined to harm the nation or our allies. The National Security Agency (NSA), for example, uses this law to target terrorists and thwart their plans… Under Section 702, NSA can target foreigners reasonably believed to be located outside the United States only if it has a basis to believe it will acquire certain types of foreign intelligence information that have been authorized for collection.

It’s bad enough we have news media indistinguishable from the comms departments of enforcement agencies, but why bother having political parties if you can’t count on their own self-interest? The Republicans’ own Judiciary Committee Chair, Jim Jordan, had to remind his own caucus Presiding Judge Rudolph Contreras of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Abuses listed 278,000 misues of his own court’s program! Thse were against “crime victims, January 6th riot suspects, people arrested at protest in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in 2020, and in one case… 19,000 donors to a congressional candidate,” among others. Yet:

All 278,000 of those “targeted” searches were apparently neccessary and couldn’t have been done with warrants. (Also, the FBI says, seriously, they’ve already fixed the problem.) Why does government have the ability to conduct warrantless searches in communications involving Americans? Every explanation I heard was the same tautology: “We want to conduct surveillance without probable cause because before we get probable cause, we often want to conduct surveillance.”

In the New York Times officials complained a warrant requirement “would cripple the program because they typically use it before there is enough evidence to meet a standard of probable cause for a warrant, like early in investigations when they are trying to learn more…”

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta said much the same: We would like to know about threats before we know about threats. “Well, it involves obviously a national security threat. And time is of the essence… You’ve got to be able to move quickly… to determine whether or not there is an immediate threat.”

Or the reason offered was along the lines of the explanation by Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, who cast the tiebreaking vote to ensure the key warrant amendment failed. Johnson told reporters we need secret authority to spy on Americans because he was given a secret intelligence briefing, where he learned secret reasons, which he encouraged other members to learn secretly.

I don’t mean to be glib about this, but the notion that a warrant requirement would “cripple” or “gut” a program because it’s “cumbersome” and “time is of the essence” is barely even an argument. If Republicans can’t or won’t even pass a baby-step amendement, let alone kill the program, after FISA was used in multiple instances of political espionage against their own politicians and supporters (including on members of congress, in a little-remembered incident), then they are sackless and deserve everything that happens to them. Well, the politicians, anyway.

Should we start keeping score? Intelligence Community 1, Bill of Rights 0.


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The FBI and Democrats (and Republicans?) need to come clean and expose all their abuses. Then immovable safeguards need to be established and put in place (how you do that if a corrupt person is in charge, I do not know), THEN we can have discussions. The abuses are real. Just because they currently are only aimed in one direction is not an excuse.

Killed the 4th now after the first
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It’s too late to primary him. What they showed him in the SCIF to “change” his mind was probably personal in nature not that the IC would threaten or blackmail anyone.

Pretty succinct and from Liz Cheney to Harriet Hageman, a remarkable upgrade from voters in Wyoming.

Remember, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s motion to reconsider is today.