President Trump signed a reauthorization of the law under which he and his campaign were spied on, probably illegally. From Brian Saady at antiwar.com:
In a bipartisan manner, Congress recently passed the FISA Reauthorization Act of 2017. On January 19th, President Trump signed this bill into law.
That bill extended the controversial Section 702 program that allows the NSA to conduct warrantless surveillance of non-U.S. citizens or residents. This program clearly benefits our intelligence agencies in matters of national security. However, millions of Americans’ private information is also collected in this program.
The private information of anyone in the U.S. who communicates with someone outside of the country could potentially be stored in this massive database. How expansive is this program? The Washington Post reviewed a sample of communications from the Edward Snowden leaks and found that 9 out of 10 people in the database were not surveillance targets. Nearly half of these people were American citizens or residents and their private information was swept up in this net.
This isn’t just a matter of preserving privacy. Once information enters this program, all conventional constitutional law goes to the wayside. The FBI has access to this program to do “backdoor searches” for any crime without a warrant. That information can be passed along to whichever law enforcement agencies the FBI deems necessary. Furthermore, this isn’t a minor program that applies to a few people. There were an estimated 106,469 targets in 2016.
Even former CIA and NSA director, Michael Hayden, has admitted that the FBI’s access to this information without a warrant is a “no-fooling legitimate issue.” Hence, a small but bipartisan group within Congress supported the USA RIGHTS Act that would have maintained national security intelligence without sacrificing Americans’ basic freedoms. The bill would have required a warrant for FBI access to US citizens’ communications.
A group of five Senators, notably Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY), filibustered the FISA Reauthorization Act of 2017 in hopes of redirecting support for the USA Rights Act. Unfortunately, their effort was nullified when Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) cast the deciding vote that ended the filibuster. She was one of 18 Democrats who voted in kind.
Bear in mind, the Democrats have consistently criticized President Trump’s authoritarian ways, yet their support for this bill contradicted all of their pleas for responsible leadership. Moreover, this filibuster was nullified on January 16th, the day after the birthday of Martin Luther King, one of the foremost victims of federal government persecution.
To continue reading: With the Shutdown Over, the Government Can Go Back To Suppressing Your Rights