After numerous scandals have exposed the FBI’s repeated and systematic abuse of multiple surveillance laws to target political opponents, members of Congress are working to enshrine basic civil liberties in one such law.
As reported by Just The News, the law in question is Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allowed the federal government to search through anyone’s phone records without a warrant in the name of terrorism probes and counterintelligence investigations.
Most infamously, the FISA court system was used to begin spying on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, starting with campaign aide Carter Page, based on debunked rumors that the campaign was “colluding” with the Russian government. But in addition to the Russian collusion hoax, the FISA court has also been used to target other Americans, including a sitting member of Congress, Congressman Darin LaHood (R-Ill.).
As the law must be renewed by Congress every year, lawmakers this year have vowed to make substantial changes before approving the latest iteration of the law. The changes will be proposed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, appointed by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-Ohio.) and Vice Chairman James Himes (D-Conn.).
“I think that you will see changes made to it,” said Congressman Austin Scott (R-Ga.), a new member of the House Intelligence Committee. “Unfortunately, there have been some people that have leaped those guardrails, for lack of better terminology, and there have got to be consequences for those people who were entrusted.”
“If you were entrusted with the ability to query that information, and you abused that, then there have to be consequences,” Scott added.
Scott has said that lawmakers want to address the matters of accountability and verification, including a closer look at who in the government is allowed to query the FISA database, who has to sign off on such warrants, and which Americans can be targeted by the system. Scott also suggested adding a special group of lawyers who will help defend the civil rights of Americans who are spied on as a result.
“I think you will see a broad bipartisan agreement on this,” Scott stated. “I’m not saying everybody’s going to agree on it, you know, but I think you’ll see broad bipartisan agreement on what we come up with.”