Bipartisan Lawmakers Commit to Seizing Opportunity to Rein in Deep State Powers

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Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Warren Davidson (R-OH) said in a joint statement on Wednesday that lawmakers need to seize the opportunity to secure Americans’ civil liberties.

Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), and Davidson, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, released a joint statement on the three-year anniversary, or March 15, 2020, of the expiration of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and two other PATRIOT Act provisions.

The two lawmakers, who have led bipartisan efforts to combat warrantless surveillance of Americans, said:

Three years ago, we were proud to lead bipartisan efforts fighting warrantless surveillance of Americans under Section 215. As we recognize the anniversary of this victory, we remain committed to working together to end warrantless surveillance programs. Today, programs operating under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and claims of inherent executive authority remain a threat to Americans’ constitutional right to privacy.

Jayapal and Davidson said that lawmakers have become increasingly concerned about the FBI’s backdoor searches of Americans’ private information:

Since the last reauthorization of Section 702 in 2018, we’ve learned that the FBI conducts backdoor searches about Americans at an alarming scale. We cannot stand by while Section 702 surveillance and other spying programs carelessly violate Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights. We are pleased to hear our colleagues on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence say a clean reauthorization of Section 702 is a non-starter. We must take this opportunity to reform Section 702 and overhaul privacy protections for Americans so that they truly protect the civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy rights that are foundational to our democracy.

“The government uses the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and unaccountable executive authorities to spy on Americans. Section 702 of FISA expires this year, and there will be a bipartisan effort in Congress to use this opportunity to protect our privacy rights,” Davidson wrote in a statement.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a law that the federal government believes allows intelligence agencies to collect communications of targeted foreigners, will expire at the end of December unless Congress reauthorizes the controversial program. Essentially, the National Security Agency (NSA) can order email services like Google’s Gmail to turn over copies of messages or network operators such as AT&T or Verizon to intercept and furnish copies of phone calls, texts, and internet communications to or from a foreign target. This may also lead to incidental bulk collection of American citizens’ information, which civil liberties advocates often say amounts to warrantless surveillance of Americans.

The government stores the raw bulk collection of data it collects under Section 702 in a database that intelligence agencies can query by using Americans’ names, Social Security numbers, passport numbers, phone numbers, email addresses, and other personally identifiable information. This bulk and incidental collection of Americans’ data is what many detractors call a “backdoor search loophole.”

Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said during a hearing in March that, after reviewing classified information on the surveillance of the unnamed congressman, that he was the lawmaker that was surveilled:

I think that the report’s characterization of this FBI analyst’s action as a mere misunderstanding of the querying procedures is indicative of the culture that the FBI has come to expect and tolerate. It is also indicative of the continued failure to appreciate how the misuse of this authority is seen on Capitol Hill. And I want to make clear, the FBI’s inappropriate querying of a duly-elected member of Congress is egregious and a violation that not only degrades the trust in FISA but is viewed as a threat to the separation of powers.


“I have had the opportunity to review the classified summary of this violation and it is my opinion that the member of Congress that was wrongfully queried multiple times solely by his name was in fact me. Now, this careless abuse of this critical tool by the FBI is unfortunate,” he revealed.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that there is “no chance in hell” that Congress would reauthorize Section 702 without a major fight.

Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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