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FISA Bill: GOP Needs to Win Back Trust to Win in November

Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2024
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by David P. Deavel
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“We have two parties, and only two,” the legendary journalist and conservative political activist M. Stanton Evans liked to say: “One is the evil party, and the other is the stupid party. I’m very proud to be a member of the stupid party. Occasionally the two parties get together to do something that’s both evil and stupid. That’s called bipartisanship.” I couldn’t help but think of that line on Friday when the House passed the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on Friday. 149 Republicans and 126 Democrats voted in favor of this act that does not include a requirement for warrants when authorities want to search American citizens’ data.

This is indeed both evil and stupid. It was FISA lawlessness that allowed the DOJ to spy on the Trump campaign via Carter Page. And, so that readers understand that this kind of abuse is not reserved merely for Donald Trump but for all of us, we might consider that it was less than one year ago that it was revealed that the FBI had misused FISA searches nearly 278 thousand times over 2020 and 2021. This is no mere “right-wing talking point.” You could have read about it in left/regime sources such as Reuters and the New York Times.

That improper searches targeted not only people at January 6 but also those at George Floyd protests is small comfort, as is the fact that the FBI started to pull back on its FISA requests starting in 2022. After all, we were assured by then-Attorney General William Barr in 2020 that changes to the FISA program would limit the problems already being observed. That clearly didn’t happen.

It’s not that there wasn’t a chance to stop this bill from passing as is. Arizona GOP Representative Andy Biggs proposed an amendment to the bill requiring warrants for searches of U. S. citizens. It tied 212-212—and was defeated because House Speaker Mike Johnson cast the deciding vote against it. As Biggs said on X (Twitter), “86 Republicans voted with Joe Biden and the Uniparty to allow the FBI to continue spying on Americans without a warrant. The Swamp is deep.”

Of course, Johnson doesn’t think of it that way. Earlier in the week he told reporters that when he was a member of the House Judiciary Committee, he too saw the massive violations. But, he said last week, he: “got the confidential briefing on sort of the other perspective on that to understand the necessity of section 702 of FISA and how important it is for national security. And it gave me a different perspective.” Unfortunately, the perspective it gave him was the one shared by the Biden Administration, the FBI, and the Intelligence Committee. In short, it was the perspective of those who most need to see that, because bad guys exist, our Fourth Amendment guarantees against “unreasonable search and seizure” and warrants only “upon probable cause” do not cease to exist.

The good news is that the version of Section 702 that passed included a two-year sunset on this version of the act, rather than a five-year one, and a promise to give a stand-alone vote on Ohio Representative Warren Davidson’s bipartisan The Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale bill, which puts a great many barriers in the way of the government obtaining private citizens’ data.

The better news is this: there is still a chance to change this FISA reauthorization. After passage on Friday, a motion was made to reconsider the vote on the FISA reauthorization. Due to parliamentary maneuvers in response, the vote to reconsider will not take place until Monday. Texas GOP Representative Chip Roy, who voted against the FISA bill, observed that House members who supported the reauthorization without the extra safeguards now ought to “go home and tell constituents over the next 72 hours about why they are siding with the intelligence agencies in the deep state and the swamp over the rights and liberties of the American people.” And Utah Senator Mike Lee tweeted on Saturday, “If you don’t like the FISA bill as passed by the House yesterday, tell your representative! The House will be voting on a motion to reconsider on Monday. This isn’t over. #FISA702 #GetAWarrant.”

Indeed, you should contact your representative. The idea that we are going to keep going with warrantless FISA searches of our citizens after the revelations of the last decade is a massive blunder. Especially since 9/11, over twenty years ago, Americans have been told over and over that their civil liberties must be put on a backburner, usually with some sort of a warning such as that, if they don’t, “the terrorists will win.” While there is no doubt that our Constitution is not, as Justice Robert Jackson famously said, “a suicide pact,” and written laws have exceptions to them, the continuing erosion of our society and especially our liberties named in the Bill of Rights because of an ostensible threat to our “safety” has begun to be obnoxious.

The tendencies of the modern left and too much of the “national security right” have been to turn our entire society into the equivalent of a more relaxed military garrison or perhaps low-security prison. We’ve been showing our papers, subjecting ourselves to body scanners and pat-downs at the airport, making sure we throw out containers with more than a certain number of ounces of liquids, and hand over the pocket knives we forgot in our pockets for over two decades now. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s been a kind of test for what the American people will put up with.

Over the last few years, we learned what people with power might do to an easygoing people. During the response to Covid, we discovered that there is a healthy portion of that Swamp that had no problems with turning our society into a literal police state where unauthorized surfing, boating, or playing in yards during “shelter-in-place” orders merited police intervention. We learned that many would use bureaucratic power and even the law to remove people from jobs because they refused to take a pharmaceutical product that was still largely experimental. And we learned that social media companies were effectively censoring Americans on behalf of, and reporting on them to, parts of our own federal government.

It’s been ugly. And in blue states, such tyranny continues. Rather than enforce the laws of the land in the face of a crime wave, New York would rather place National Guard troops inside the subway system.   

The Grand Old Party has a grand old opportunity now to be the party that doesn’t just do stunts like reading the Constitution in public but make laws that actually reflect what that supreme law of the land says. We can be the party that brings law and order; by doing so, we can be the party of true liberty.

Too often, Republicans have ended up being the echo and not the choice; a junior party in the uniparty and not a challenger to it; a slightly cleaned up puddle that still smells of the swamp. These failures have bred distrust—and trust is the ultimate currency of politics.

Donald Trump urged Republicans to “kill” the FISA bill as it stands this week. He was surely right. If Republicans want to win in November, they need to win back the trust of the American people. They need to show Americans that they aren’t stupid and won’t deal with evil. They should get their act together this weekend and figure out how to protect Americans from our enemies while also protecting them from searches without warrants. Definitely call or write your representative today.  

 David P. Deavel teaches at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, and is a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. Follow him on X (Twitter) @davidpdeavel.

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fcgd
fcgd
3 months ago

we are not free if we have searches without warrants

Brian Armstrong
Brian Armstrong
3 months ago

I’ve lost faith in the whole system. Greedy politicians who have no respect for the working class! Our schools are broke, even though in my county (.63 cents on every dollar goes straight to the teachers union!) that I pay in personal property tax! And they’re broke?! Issue 107 in cuyahoga county Ohio allowed renters and people who own nothing, to vote for an increase in personal property taxes! An issue that they have no investment in! They are raising property values and collecting more money from home owners, putting a burden on the elderly who are on a fixed income! Purposely taking everything from the people who worked all their lives and giving it to others because we’re not dying fast enough!

Steve
Steve
3 months ago

The American people wants warrants, stop this bill now, the government can’t be trusted anymore

John
John
3 months ago

Johnson gets a briefing from the FBI and changes his position.He’s not the brightest blub in the republican party!Let the untrustworthy FBI give you a briefing they created to justify the continued use of spying on Americans like conservatives, christians, churches, parents at school board meetings, people hording ammo, food, etc…

GT Patriot
GT Patriot
3 months ago

The GOP will win trust by standing for something. Instead of yapping about impeaching Biden, the GOP needs to impeach him. They need to gut the provisions in the FISA law that abused Donald Trump. They need to publicly condemn the pro-Hamas segment of our society. This group is not pro-Palestinian. They are pro-Hamas. The GOP needs torefuse Biden the right to bring in 5000 illegals which is currently proposed. Only action, not talk, will restore trust.

PaulE
PaulE
3 months ago

Given how fast and thorough the left has managed to fully weaponize the remainder of the executive, judicial and legislative branches of the system that they didn’t already control prior to the installation of Team Biden to finish the job over the last 3 1/2 years, the reauthorization or reform of FISA is largely a moot point now. Seriously! The DOJ, FBI and 3 letter intelligence agencies will continue to do as they please, no matter what Congress decides. Just look at how closely we now mirror how countries like China, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, etc. currently function in terms of how the judicial and legal systems are all fully weaponized to support the equivalent executive leadership in power in those countries. The legislative branch is all those counties has been reduced to either a glorified rubber stamp of what the ruler wants or simply acts as a ceremonial level of functionality to give an air of legitimacy in terms of “democracy” or whatever the state wants to call their version of rule by edict.

Richard Hennessy
Richard Hennessy
3 months ago

Yes, this is one area that demands that Republicans grow a backbone and not compromise (actually capitulate) on a matter of principle, but the more important area is substantial reduction of bloated domestic spending. That is the need upon which the success of the Republican Party, and of the nation, depends.

JPop
JPop
3 months ago

As a student of history ,I used to wonder how one crazy man could bamboozle a whole country, and turn its people against each other to serve his purpose. I am now learning first hand how he did it. Hopefully WE THE PEOPLE have learned enough from Hitler, to keep our current leader from herding us into cattle cars bound for who knows where.

Jim Molock
Jim Molock
3 months ago

This is not the America people around the world have envied for so long. We The People must stand up

Ron
Ron
3 months ago

Well there’s 149 UniParty Republicans we need to defeat during the primaries this year. Nominate people who win support the voters mandate.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
3 months ago

FISA was a knee-jerk reaction to September11th which, I admit, I supported at the time. Many, such as Ron Paul and numerous Democrats, warned of the potential for abuse (seeing as it was a “Bush bill”). They were right! The purpose of it is to STOP ANOTHER 9-11 not to STOP TRUMP; the fact someone illegally crossing the border on the Watchlist was recently detained then released shows Democrats worry more about Americans then they do terrorists!

Myrna
Myrna
3 months ago

IF we lose freedom, it will be because we were not wise enough to protect ourselves from this loss.

Rik
Rik
3 months ago

Trust ISN’T the problem, now that the Dumicrats have gotten away with STEALING the last election and I don’t see where Republicans have done anything to guarantee to stop the cheating, America is doomed to more Progressively Communist Leadership!

Thinking
Thinking
3 months ago

The dems have undermined trust in government for the republicans for years. If you are not with ole Joe you are a Maga domestic terrorists. Opinions not going along with the dems are called enemies. Palestinian protesters are doing what they want and a former president is being muzzled and cannot say anything in his own defense. But Palestinians and dem Americans can scream death to America all day long. Let them chain themselves together. Just leave them alone, take away tv coverage and after a day they will give up. The handful of trained radicals should be deported. But no one will go to the FISA court to get them arrested. They will arrest me first for my opinion. Even being Pro Israel is punishable. But death to America is allowed.

Jim Molock
Jim Molock
3 months ago

This is not the America, people around the world have envied for so long. We The People must stand up

Randall L. Beatty
Randall L. Beatty
3 months ago

It’s only going to get worse here look up in Washington no one fixes nothing look at the border nothing being done there, our debt keeps getting higher they just keep right on spending nice of them. We need to stop paying them so much money for doing nothing.

Glen
Glen
3 months ago

Eighty-Six House Republicans Vote for Warrantless Surveillance of Americans. That is a headline from Breitbart News. My version would read “Eighty-Six RINO’S Vote for Warrantless Surveillance of Americans” And one of them was my RINO Representative!

Russ
Russ
3 months ago

A total betrayal of the American people by people who are supposed to be representing us, the American people. I expect this crap from democrats but every republican voting for it should be primaried and/or betrayed by us in November. They have done some questionable things but this outright betrayal is a deal breaker for me. They are siding with those who regularly violate our rights instead us whose interest they are suppose to have in mind.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
3 months ago

GOP/RNC Must:
Unite on issues
Move Forward
Warooms for Legal cases ahead 24/7
Take down Leftist Icons NPR PBS NEA etc.
Take Charge when possible
Retire RINOs

Iron Mike
Iron Mike
3 months ago

The entire federal government needs to realize who gave them their job to start. We the people need both parties to understand that as taxpayers, we are tired of taxation without representation. Both parties are more interested in how quick they can make a buck for them and to hell with saving a buck for the middle class citizen. The political parties are trying to sell out America to the liberal woke and blm crowds. There aim is to make America a third world country. Not as lo.g as I live and breathe. “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country. As for me,give me liberty or give me death”. I had rather stand for God, not man.

exoticdoc2
exoticdoc2
3 months ago

Johnson is either being blackmailed or he is not who/what he says he is.

Ron
Ron
3 months ago

Good analysis and summary

johnh
johnh
3 months ago

FISA is very important to the safety in USA. In the last month, two teenagers were arrested and planned terrorism acts stopped because the FBI was monitoring the threats. Many innocent lives were saved because of FISA in these two cases.

Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis
3 months ago

Who has standing to bring a test case before the Supreme Court on the loss of our 4th Amendment protections? We need to bring it!

Bob
Bob
3 months ago

Maybe our elected officials should read the Title of the Act, FOREIGN Intelligence Surveillance Act. If Representative Johnson fell for a briefing given by the FBI concerning FISA, maybe he shouild think again. The old adage “actions speak louder than words,” referring to the abuses by the FBI in past years. If an American citizen is working with a foreign adversary and the FBI has the information to satisfy the probable cause requirement then a FISA warrant would be appropriate.

johnh
johnh
3 months ago

We need FISA, if a person obeys laws & regulations why would it be any concern that you are being watched. A good example happened in Idaho this month when FBI started watching an 18-year old that was planning on going on rampage at several churches the following Sunday & as a follower of ISIS. The FBI stopped this from taking place, and we will never know how many the FBI prevents every day or month. We must support FISA to keep USA safe.

CLIFFORD F GERACI
CLIFFORD F GERACI
3 months ago

What a complete waste of time changing Speaker of the House. New boss same as the old boss. Mike Johnson has been against this expanded spying on American citizens FOREVER….well up to now. Now when he has a chance to correct the over reaching Federal Government he changes his mind….despicable….who are we to believe? There are more RINO in Congress than not. How do we vote for someone when they campaign one way, and vote in Congress another???? Sad

Sean Rickman
Sean Rickman
3 months ago

There a few REPUBLICANS that have the backbone to stand up to the democrats.Do the REPUBLICANS need to forget what we stand for and be as corrupt and bullying as they are,the answer is yes,go for it,whatever it takes.IF We continue to lose AMERICA,there won’t be one.The democrats want a one party system just like russia,north korea,iran and how many more.A one party system IS communism,just disguised.WE conservatives know who the villains are,the entities that use politics as a lifelong payday.

Denise
Denise
3 months ago

Our Founders who pledged “their lives, honors and fortunes” with a few notable exceptions, would be sickened at what this nation has become. America was founded by Godly men and women by and large…with a few exceptions, Ben Franklin for one but he was at least a true Republican. Patrick Henry: “When a nation forgets it’s God, tyrants soon forge it’s chains.” Morals are now whatever suits you, truth is subjective, our true history has and is being rewritten and we have no border. Schools are little more than day care centers teaching that girls can be boys and boys can be girls. Our Founders would be rolling in their graves if they could see what this nation has been allowed to become…and they were literally under England’s gun ships for much of our initial history.
Babies by the multiple millions have been sacrificed on the alter of choice, morals are whatever floats you’re boat, our criminal justice system is a joke, families broken by multiple marriages, kids growing up never knowing who’s going to be mom or dad. Politicians have gotten away with literally murder (remember the Clintons??) and with precious few exceptions are little more than opportunists. This is no longer the nation our Founders escaped a dictatorial government for. America is no where mentioned in End Times. Our world, now more of a battleground of greedy self serving tyrants, is no longer the perfect beautiful place first spoken into existence by God’s word. Wars and rumors of wars, neighbor against neighbor, greedy politicians, no real rule of law, and a nation who’s God has perhaps turned His back on….as, it seems, so many who were once His, have turned their backs on Him. Why should we be surprised?
Not to forget the precious few remaining WW1, WW2 and Viet Nam hero’s some of whom have said “I don’t recognize this country anymore”. What a sad epitaph for what was once the greatest nation ever to be.

Gil
Gil
3 months ago

Where can we get the names of those Republicans that voted against requiring a warrant for U.S. Citizens? I will write a letter to all of them. We need to act, people.

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
3 months ago

NAZI GERMANY. When will the army come in and shoot you because you are a Repub. Remember what happened to the Jews. I assume most of you out there is not old enough to remember WW 2. Kyle L.

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1960s and 2020s; history repeats itself
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