By Tank Murdoch
(TNS) In the wake of the biggest political scandal in the history of our Republic — “Spygate,” a.k.a. “Crossfire Hurricane” — you’d think passing legislation aimed at reforming the manner in which the FBI and our various intelligence agencies use the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court would be a slam-dunk.
But no. The divide between Left and Right in Congress is so profound that even blatant politicization of the process by which we authorize our spy agencies to conduct their business, allegedly in service and defense of the country, won’t even bring unity.
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And worse, it seems as though the biggest stumbling blocks are…Republicans.
As provisions of the 1978 FISA Act come up for renewal in the coming days, after Barack Obama allowed his FBI under then-Director James Comey to weaponize the FISA court against the 2016 Trump campaign, Republicans ought to be champing at the bit to pass the kind of reforms necessary to ensure that such abuses never happen again. Mandatory prison sentences for any and all who violate the sanctity of the court with fraudulent “evidence” would be a great start.
But, as The Epoch Times notes, Republicans in the House and Senate seem more content to kick the ‘reform’ can down the road and let Attorney General William Barr tinker around the edges administratively in the meantime:
Senate and House Republicans appear to be at loggerheads about whether to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) before or after the controversial law at the heart of the â€œSpygateâ€ scandal is reauthorized.
Amid frenzied budget negotiations, an obscure provision in the Nov. 18, 2019,Â measureÂ to keep the government open also extended FISAâ€™s expiration, from the end of 2019 to March 15, 2020.
That delay has set up a simmering feud among congressional Republicans.
Attorney General William Barr lit the match Feb. 25 when he told Senate Republicans that he favors a â€œcleanâ€ FISA reauthorization that preserves key controversial surveillance provisions, including highly intrusive bulk metadata collections based on telephone records of individuals within and outside the United States.
Barr said he thinks sufficient reforms can be implemented administratively rather than going through a legislative process.
While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) supported Barr, as did most other Senate Republicans, according to media reports, two Senate GOPersâ€”Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Mike Lee of Utahâ€”made clear they want reforms first, reauthorization later.
Yes, reforms now, not later, would be nice, wouldn’t they? Paul and Lee have seen this movie before; kick the can with empty promises of ‘doing something later,’ only to find that later never comes.
And who is Barr kidding? It’s easy to assume that President Trump’s attorney general would enforce new administrative rules he put in place to protect future presidents from similar abuses. But that assumption could very well be misplaced; the two times Barr has had an opportunity to punish guilty parties related to Spygate — James Comey and Andrew McCabe — he’s passed.
And yes, U.S. Attorney John Durham is still out there, toiling away we’re told, examining evidence in his criminal probe and, perhaps, preparing cases. ButÂ is he? Really? And will Barr opt to … ‘pass’ again?
Even if Barr is true to his word and enforces his new policies if they are violated, what’s to say his replacement will be a zealous and trustworthy? What if it’s another Barack Obama clone who becomes AG someday? Will that individual hesitate to allow the FISA process to be criminally abused if the target is another Republican president?
House Freedom Caucus chair Andy Biggs (R-Arizona) has a better idea: Let’s get rid of the FISA court altogether, because it’s obvious there are factions within the deep state who are willing to trash the Constitution and due process in order to effect a certain political outcome.
â€œI believe the FISA Court should be abolished,â€ Biggs told Sara A. Carter during her Monday podcast. â€œLetâ€™s just face it, my position is real simple- the Constitution protects the United States citizen from unlawful searches and seizures and the FISA Court is a secret court that doesnâ€™t have the same probable cause standard that we have in an Article 3 court thatâ€™s established by the Constitution.â€
Biggs, like other congressional members who spoke to SaraACarter.com, noted that the failure of the courts to stop the abuse and lack of representation for those American citizens being targeted by the bureau violates the essential rights granted in the Constitution. — SaraACarter.com
Over the weekend, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton made a great point in an interview on Fox Business Network with Gregg Jarrett, as we reported. The only reasonable solution is to prosecute anyone suspected of abusing the FISA process, period.
â€œThe FISA courts have inherent authority to investigate any criminality before the court, and Iâ€™m not seeing any evidence itâ€™s interested in doing that,â€ Fitton continued. â€œAnd if I were DoJ and FBI, I would have offered to help the court do that, but of course, DoJ and FBI, theyâ€™re just pretending to, quote, reform the system here.
“…[T]heÂ key reform is to put people in jail who abuse the process,” he continued.
The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, was designed to provide U.S. intelligence agencies with national security tools and authorizations necessary to protect the country from espionage threats. It was specificallyÂ not designed to target Americans, as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) noted in a key reformÂ he’d like to see.
But what about Americans who are working with foreign governments to subvert our country? Fine. Fair enough. But that gets back to Fitton’s ultimate reform, doesn’t it?
President Trump, whom Fitton says, correctly, is a “crime victim” in all of this, is our last line of defense. Will he simply sign off on a non-reform re-authorization because he knows that the majority of our intelligence agencies are on the up-and-up and use the FISA process correctly, or will he threaten to veto without any major reforms like automatic jail those found guilty of abusing the secret court?
Sadly, we think we already know the answer.
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