Independent Justin Amash has spent much of his time in Congress battling warrantless Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance. Amid the recent criticism of Attorney General William Barr for intervening in the sentencing of Roger Stone, Amash is taking aim at the 69-year-old lawyer’s reported role in creating the surveillance state.
“Bill Barr is one of the architects of the surveillance state,” he tweeted. “His real passion is unconstitutional, warrantless searches and seizures. With the Patriot Act up for renewal in the next month, let’s look back on some of Barr’s greatest hits.”
Amash continued to post quotes of Barr speaking of surveillance and its related laws. In one case, Barr claims that he believes the Patriot Act was a “major step forward” that addressed many of the “most severe problems” with FISA. However, he said he considers FISA to be still “too restrictive,” pointing to the requirement of probable cause that individuals to be monitored are a foreign power or acting on behalf of a foreign power.
Another quote showed Barr’s loose standard of what constitutes an unreasonable search.
“The Fourth Amendment only protects against ‘unreasonable’ searches. This is a relative standard. What is reasonable depends on the situation.”
Amash previously slammed President Donald Trump for threatening to veto his proposed amendment of reform FISA 702, which the congressman claims could allow warrantless surveillance of American communications. After the recent IG report revealed many cases of abuse of the FISA process during the investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign, Amash took aim at both Democrats and Republicans for failing to reform the process.
“Almost nobody cared until there was a partisan benefit to caring,” he tweeted.
According to Politico, Trump and Barr both believe in the unitary executive theory, which argues that the Constitution gives the President “broad control of the executive branch.”
Barr has reportedly argued for the right of the FBI to seize fugitives abroad without foreign government consent and also told former President George H.W. Bush that he could send troops to Iraq without congressional approval.
University of California law professor John Yoo claims that many of the Federalist Society “heroes” believe in the unitary executive theory. Yoo himself supports the theory, and Politico claims he advised Bush on his powers and said he has “unlimited authority to use force abroad.”
Critics of Barr claim that the President should not have the power to interfere with or obstruct ongoing investigations being conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other executive branches of government.