Congressman Justin Amash, who is seeking the presidential nomination for the Libertarian Party, took aim at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday evening for his push for the warrantless collection of Americans’ search and browsing history.
“The Patriot Act must be stopped,” Amash tweeted. “Mitch McConnell must be stopped. He’s working to expand warrantless surveillance on the web browsing habits of millions of Americans. A president who cares about privacy and our Constitution would tell McConnell this will be vetoed. Period.”
Amash’s tweet was in response to The Daily Beast’s national security reporter Spencer Ackerman, who reported that expired parts of the PATRIOT Act are set to reach the Senate for a vote this week and will include a “push to expand surveillance authorities” into the “warrantless collection” of search and browsing history. Not only that, but McConnell’s push, Ackerman says, is only just the beginning.
According to Ackerman, McConnell’s planned amendment is under the cover of Donald Trump and his allies, who continue to take aim at the FBI’s “witch hunt” of the president’s alleged collusion with Russia, which included alarming abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). He claims that the senate majority leader’s push is an “alarming expansion” of Attorney General William Barr‘s powers under FISA, giving him “oversight of surveillance on political candidates,” while also expanding surveillance authorities on average Americans.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden expressed concern over the new amendment and claimed it would allow investigations to harness internet-spying that can be used to target journalists, politicians, and political rivals.
According to The Daily Beast, the vote on the provision restoration could come as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.
Sen. McConnell is pushing the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2020 through the Senate, which would bring back the invasive surveillance authorities embedded in the Patriot Act after they expired in March. #StopTrumpSpying #Section215 pic.twitter.com/n1SSmDSbjj
— Free Press (@freepress) May 12, 2020
When Amash was pressed by a user who noted that such amendments are usually passed by “veto-proof majorities” in the Senate, the congressman outlined how he would approach the issue if he were president.
“It’s broadly unpopular with the public, so a president strongly opposed to it means Congress likely won’t have a veto-proof majority,” he wrote before noting that he’s not obligated to use his veto if Congress overrides it.
“[I]n fact, I’m obligated to order officials not to execute unconstitutional acts.”
Amash has battled for FISA reform throughout his years in Congress and has also expressed opposition to McConnell and Barr on numerous occasions. As The Inquisitr reported, the 40-year-old politician previously called the attorney general “one of the architects of the surveillance state,” alleging that he supports warrantless searches and seizures unsupported by the Constitution.