Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee told Breitbart News that the unconfirmed reports that President Barack Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice unmasked the associates of President Donald Trump who were caught accidentally in surveillance operations confirmed to him the dangers of government snooping.
“I have been warning for years, ever since I came to the Senate, there is at least a potential for abuse under Section 702,” he said. Section 702 is the part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, or FISA, and its various updates and revisions, that allows the federal government to monitor foreign individuals, along with specific targeting of Americans. The act is the enabling legislation for mass surveillance programs operated by the National Security Agency and other agencies.
“In 2011, when FISA was up for reauthorization, I warned about this,” Lee said.
Lee said he also discussed these issues in his 2016 book “Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document,” where he lays out how the National Security Agency collects private data without a warrant, as required by the 4th Amendment to the Constitution:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The senator said his anxiety about government surveillance was rooted in the findings of the Church Commission, the 1975 Senate select committee charged with reviewing the federal government’s intelligence agencies. The committee was led by Sen. Frank Church (D-ID) and its reports told the American people about programs, such as CIA attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro and interfere in foreign political systems.
Lee said Church showed that every administration going back to President Franklin Roosevelt and through to President Richard Nixon, who had resigned in 1974, had abused the intelligence agencies for political advantage and for political espionage.
“It has always been a concern,” he said.
The senator said he was unfamiliar with the details of the Rice story or the evidence presented to link her with unmasking Americans in intelligence reports.
“It is not unreasonable to suggest that it could have happened and it it does turn out to be true? It will help make the case that we really need to regroup,” he said. “This is what human beings do when they are given power, when they are given so much power, and they are given technology.”