Trump and GOP Gave More Power to the FISA Courts They are Outraged Over Today
The long anticipated memo from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devn Nunes has finally been released, confirming some of the allegations that have been waged at the investigation into the Trump campaign for month. The document outlines how the Obama Justice Department used the controversial "Steele Dossier" as a vital component of the warrant they presented to the FISA courts justifying their surveillance of members of the Trump presidential campaign. While Democrats in Washington have argued that the memo paints an incomplete picture of the investigation, it would require key components of the memo to be outright lies in order to change the narrative it depicts.
Unfortunately, while outrage from the Trump Administration and Republicans appears justified, it is difficult to have much sympathy considering the very same people just voted to give the FISA courts more power. As Judge Andrew Napolitano wrote at the time:
Even in the fresh aftermath of 9/11, when the government’s respect for constitutional norms was at a lamentably low point, the government interpreted the Fourth Amendment as requiring the government to separate its intelligence functions from its law enforcement work. The government recognized that its trigger for mass surveillance — namely, looking for a foreign agent among the populace — was a far lower standard than probable cause of crime, which is what the Fourth Amendment requires.
Today, the federal government’s computers are permanently connected to the mainframes of all telecoms and computer service providers in America, so the spying is in real time. Today, the federal government employs more than 60,000 domestic spies — one spy for every 5,500 Americans. Today, if any of them come across evidence of crimes while listening to your telephone calls or reading your texts or emails ostensibly for intelligence purposes, there is little they can do about it.
Now, hidden beneath the “Fire and Fury” controversy is the muffled sound of the Trump administration and Republican congressional leaders plotting the enactment of an addition to FISA that would permit the use of evidence of crimes in federal court even when it is discovered during mass surveillance authorized by general warrants.
If enacted, this radical, unconstitutional hole in the Fourth Amendment would bring the country full circle back to the government’s use of general warrants to harass and prosecute — general warrants so odious to our forebears that they took up arms against the king’s soldiers to be rid of them.
I am surprised that President Donald Trump supports this. He has himself been the target of unlawful foreign surveillance and unconstitutional FISC-authorized domestic surveillance. “Fire and Fury” even quotes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair warning a newly elected Trump about this. And now he wants to unleash upon us all the voracious appetite for surveillance that was unleashed upon him and prosecute us for what is found, the Constitution be damned.
Just another example of how the Federal government is able to grow, regardless of who is nominally in power.