The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is a United States federal law which prescribes procedures for physical and electronic surveillance and collection of intelligence information. The Act birthed FISC, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It has been amended numerous times since 9/11.
More recently, the Senate voted to pass a bill known as the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017. The bill, whose six-year renewal passed in a 65-34 vote, expands the power of the American government, which can now collect and intercept private communications without a warrant. The bill’s supporters, Tech Crunch reported, consider it “one of the U.S. government’s most important counterterrorism and counterintelligence tools,” while privacy advocates, who have vocally criticized the bill, think it violates the Fourth Amendment.
The Senate, however, passed the bill and, at the moment, that’s all that matters. Interestingly, and although controversial laws typically break down along party lines, this one received bipartisan support. The opposition remains equally bipartisan, with Republican Rand Paul and Democrat Ron Wyden leading the opposition movement.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Glenn Greenwald had the following to say: “The same Democrats who denounce Trump as a lawless, treasonous authoritarian just voted to give him vast warrantless spying powers.” In an extensive piece, published on The Intercept, Greenwald wrote: “If ‘resistance’ means anything, at a minimum it should entail a refusal to trust a dangerous authoritarian to wield vast power with little checks or oversight.”
Ever since the inception of, what the media calls Russiagate, Glenn Greenwald has been one of its most vocal critics. Even those who don’t agree with him have been wondering; If Trump is indeed “in Putin’s pocket,” how come the biggest proponents of the “Russia collusion” theory, the establishment Democrats, grant him warrantless spying power so easily and without resistance?
Just as the American public was slowly accepting the ordeal of being spied on without a warrant, the entire saga seems to have metamorphosed, instead of reaching its epilogue. Republican lawmakers started calling for the release of what they claim is a classified report relating to FISA abuses.
Republican Lee Zeldin claims to have read the classified document and is calling for its immediate public release. Even the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a similar message, with the hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo. Which is quite ironic, since his father has the executive power to declassify it.
WikiLeaks has, however, taken things even further. The organization is offering a reward. They have announced this on their official Twitter page.
Since numerous officials have confirmed that a secret report showing abuses of spy law Congress voted to reauthorize this week exists, doesn’t each of them have the responsibility to make it public? If this memo had been known prior to the vote, wouldn’t have FISA reauthorization failed? The bill will, after all, reach Donald Trump’s desk and he has the power to send it back with a veto.
And here is what whistleblowers have to say. Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon papers leaker said: “Don’t do what I did; don’t wait until the bombs are falling or thousands have died if you have information that might avert that,” Time reported.
Edward Snowden, who copied and leaked classified information from the National Security Agency in 2013 without authorization wrote the following on Twitter: “There is one signal that will tell you if the Republican’s #ReleaseTheMemo campaign is legitimate: whether or not Donald Trump signs the FISA 702 reauthorization into law in the next 10 days. If he doesn’t veto 702 and send it back to Congress for reform, this is nothing but politics.”
Is this just smoke and mirrors? We will soon find out.