Civil Liberties

Republicans Love Federal Snooping

(Unless it's against Trump).

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Binu Omanakkuttan/Dreamstime.com

President Donald Trump and some Republican lawmakers in Congress insist that the president and his aides were inappropriately snooped on by politically motivated federal intelligence officials during the 2016 election. Yet when given the opportunity to scale back the FBI's power to secretly engage in domestic surveillance of American citizens, the president and the GOP did not take advantage of it. In fact, they did the opposite.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments was scheduled to sunset at the end of 2017 unless Congress renewed it. That provision authorizes the federal government to poke into communications of foreign targets, overseen by a secret court. While these powers are supposed to be used only to collect foreign intelligence and fight terrorism overseas, domestic communications also get quietly vacuumed up. Because these communications are typically collected without a warrant, there is reason for significant concern about privacy violations.

Surveillance officials are supposed to mask the identifying information of any Americans, but civil rights advocates warn that these powers are actually being used to collect evidence in wholly domestic cases, circumventing the requirements of the Fourth Amendment. Their fears were bolstered by Edward Snowden's disclosure that the government is storing massive amounts of data from Americans' email accounts and phones.

As Congress prepared to renew Section 702, a bipartisan coalition of concerned lawmakers demanded reforms. One bill—introduced by Sens. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D–Ore.) and Reps. Justin Amash (R–Mich.) and Zoe Lofgren (D–Calif.), among others—would have required officials to get a warrant to access Americans' communications or data, except in very limited emergency circumstances. The bill was supported by groups from across the political spectrum, including the American Civil Liberties Union and FreedomWorks.

Although Trump and Republican allies like Rep. Devin Nunes (R–Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, say the FBI broke the rules to engage in surveillance against members of Trump's campaign, they resisted the chance to fix the underlying problem. In January, Nunes and 177 other GOP legislators voted against the bill to restrict domestic snooping, then advanced and passed a different bill to renew Section 702. Rather than scaling back domestic surveillance powers, the legislation expanded them, explicitly permitting the FBI to use foreign surveillance rules to fight domestic crimes.

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  1. Really don’t see the point of this note from Scott.
    Politicians are hypocrites who expand power over others while reducing people’s power over themselves… stop the presses!
    Since it calls out Rs, can we be assured that Ds voted against the bill en masse, and/or reduced surveillance authority when they were in power?
    No? Is that why they’re not mentioned?
    Looks like this note, then, serves the purpose only of bashing the Rs… implicitly promoting Ds via omission.
    Looks like nothing more than a note of partisanship hiding under the guise of a “libertarian” “article”.
    R:D::Ba’ath:ISIS

    1. You sound like a fan of right-wing authoritarians, Nardz. Which part attracts you most — the bigotry, the lousy education, or the superstition-laced backwardness?

      Thank you.

      1. Someone needs a hug.

    2. The Republican party holds the majority of seats in the House and the Senate, and they control the executive branch. The point of this article is that the Republicans had the rare opportunity to pare back the surveillance state regardless of what the Democrats wanted, but they didn’t.

      1. Kind of like when Democrats had super majorities in both houses and the executive in 2008 and 2009? Or is that different because reasons?

        1. They even had a president who pledged to end the Patriot Act during the campaign. Haha

  2. Yes, most of them are hypocrites. But, couldn’t someone easily say “so called civil libertarians hate the surveillance state unless it’s being used against people they don’t want in office”?

    There are a lot of people who have exposed themselves as hypocrites during this presidency.

  3. Important news from Raw Story’s Twitter!

    Corey Lewandowski flashes white power ‘OK’ symbol on stage at Trump’s Michigan rally

    Disgraceful. I really wish Mueller would hurry up and throw this white supremacist regime out of office.

    1. Mueller’s got nothing against Trump so far or he would have done it already.

      1. I have faith in Mueller. He has years of experience and an unblemished record of service to the American people. I even read on Twitter that he single-handedly dismantled the Gambino crime family.

        The process is moving more slowly than I’d like, but maybe he’s waiting to present his full case until after the midterm elections, when the #BlueWave gives us a Democratic House.

        #Impeach
        #Resist
        #TrumpRussia

        1. Mueller is waiting for someone to turn and testify that it was Trump on the grassy knoll.

        2. …when the #BlueWave gives us a Democratic House.

          The Democrats are already sealing their fate, though. The latest numbers aren’t encouraging for them at all, with no consideration for actual voter turnout. Essentially, the same reason they lost the 2016 presidential.

          Riding the anti-Trump wave isn’t going to cut it. They aren’t running on a platform at all. You can count on Trump voters to show at the polls. What’s going to mobilize Democrats to actually vote?

      2. Mueller is pushing the obstruction of justice charge for firing Comey–which is laughable.

        You might disagree with the president’s decisions, but he is constitutionally charged with firing his subordinates.

        The president exercising his constitutional powers in firing a subordinate cannot be obstruction of justice.

        It might be awful or bad or wrong or stupid or not advisable. But it isn’t obstruction of justice.

      3. Mueller’s got nothing against Trump so far or he would have done it already.

        That sounds like an Ouachita Baptist education talking.

        1. I don’t think that’s much of a stretch.

          So far, Muller has managed to force two potential star witnesses to confess to lying–which hurts their credibility. No prosecutor wants to force the people he’s trying to flip with by charging them with lying. After you’ve forced someone to plead guilty to lying, their credibility as witnesses is shot.

          On the other hand, Mueller is going after the president for obstruction of justice–for performing his duties as president in a perfectly constitutional manner.

          If Mueller had something, he wouldn’t be making his best witnesses plead guilty to lying and chasing the president on a constitutionally ridiculous grounds. If he had something substantial, he’d have shown his hand by now. The most reasonable assumption given the absence of evidence or charges is that Mueller is biding his time, hoping that the Democrats take control of congress and use what little he has to impeach.

          He’s just waiting for a Democrat jury–and that is not the behavior of a prosecutor with a smoking gun.

    2. Please cite the administration’s policies which make it a white supremacist regime. Ok thanks.

  4. I really wanna appreciate this post, Thank You

  5. OK, let’s be fair;

    ‘Republicans’ of the political class love surveillance because they believe that they are exempt – not because they are Republicans but because they are of the political class.

    Republican voters have reluctantly accepted that common sense anti-crime and anti-terrorism measures (like not accepting young men refugees from Islamic States who have spotty backgrounds) are’t going to be kept in place in the face to Leftist schweeming, and at least want enough surveillance in place that violent nuts get caught before they kill hundreds.

    1. It’s a valid point that, we’re basically being given two choices by our “betters;” either total surveillance by the pubs or a tidal wave of illegals, including terrorists, by the rats.

  6. “President Donald Trump and some Republican lawmakers in Congress insist that the president and his aides were inappropriately snooped on by politically motivated federal intelligence officials during the 2016 election. Yet when given the opportunity to scale back the FBI’s power to secretly engage in domestic surveillance of American citizens, the president and the GOP did not take advantage of it. In fact, they did the opposite.

    This bit makes me suspect that Shackford doesn’t fully grok what the FBI did to the Trump campaign.

    The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (FISA) rejected only 12 of 38,169 requests for surveillance warrants between 1979 and 2015.

    http://dailycaller.com/2017/03…..-rejected/

    With a 99.9% batting average, the FISA court rejected the FBI’s application for a warrant to conduct surveillance on the Trump campaign (twice). I guess even the rubber stamp of a FISA court was reluctant to okay something that smelled like a Nixonian campaign surveillance scheme.

    The FBI eventually resubmitted the application–but the last time they included the infamous “Piss-gate” dossier. Despite being aware of the “Piss-gate” dossier’s provenance, the FBI neglected to mention in their application for a FISA warrant to the court that the dossier had been paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

    1. We shouldn’t conflate the issue of FISA courts being a rubber stamp 99.9% of the time with the issue of the FBI running interference for the Hillary Clinton campaign. One is a question of whether our Fourth Amendment rights are being adequately protected. The other is a question of whether the FBI was working to undermine one presidential candidate in favor of another.

      If Shackford can’t tell the difference between those two issues, he should review the available information until it becomes clear.

  7. I guess the highly abbreviated version is:

    Why would Republicans react to abuse of the FISA court by the FBI with scaling back the FISA court?

    “President Donald Trump and some Republican lawmakers in Congress insist that the president and his aides were inappropriately snooped on by politically motivated federal intelligence officials during the 2016 election. Yet when given the opportunity to scale back the FBI’s power to secretly engage in domestic surveillance of American citizens, the president and the GOP did not take advantage of it. In fact, they did the opposite.

    Where have I seen this logic before?

    Republicans criticized some nutjob for killing innocent children with an “assault rifle” at an elementary school. Yet when given the opportunity to ban “assault weapons”, the president and the GOP did not take advantage of it?!

  8. I don’t like the FISA courts and the fact that they’re effectively a rubber stamp. However, misuse does not justify taking away legitimate use. Criminals using guns don’t justify taking guns away from people who have never done anything wrong, and it’s perfectly understandable if some in the GOP think the FBI running interference on one presidential campaign for the benefit of another is unacceptable–even if they also think that the FISA courts serve a legitimate purpose (when the FBI isn’t withholding critical information from the court and abusing the system).

    We throw people in jail for misusing their guns and violating people’s rights. Not sure I understand why we aren’t pursuing the same strategy with rogue agents of the FBI who appear to have abused the FISA court.

    I bet the judge is livid.

  9. Democrats love snooping and want more.

    Water is wet.

    1. The amount of denial of Democratic voters about their own party on most of the issues regarding authoritarianism is nearly overwhelming at this point. Like the GOP, they simply have no guiding principles on issues of privacy and government overreach. Essentially, they are guided by reflex to Trump and the GOP, and little more, save for a handful of Democrats.

    2. Quit living in a silo, both parties want to be able to snoop. It’s one of the few bipartisan supported overreaches of government.

  10. Sarah Sanders got a small taste of the medicine Trump dishes out all the time and suddenly Republicans are outraged.

    1. Reporters are so brave. How dare Trump insult them for being blatantly partisan hacks! The other guy only spied on them and tried to prosecute them. But, mean words are worse than Hitler

    2. Oddly, a good many members of the media in attendance were embarrassed. And how classy to attack Sarah over being mad at Trump.

    3. No, we’ve been outraged since you were lying about Reagan.

  11. GOOOOOOOOOOAL!

  12. Jesus fucking Christ, it’s an entire thread of mentally deranged psychopath Mary Stack talking to herself.

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  14. Republicans simply insist that Trump not be the only one snooped on. Equal treatment under the law used to be a Libertarian thing….

  15. Both major parties want to take away your ability to communicate via encryption. They don’t see any value in digital freedom. Both parties support invasion of privacy, just look at the support for the Patriot Act, one of the few bipartisan laws still supported strongly by both parties, and it’s a nightmare and rescinding of major parts of the Bill of Rights and democracy.

  16. The bill will never pass, although I appreciate the efforts of a few congress critters who still have some respect for the Constitution rather than use it for toilet paper. Both parties are equally complicit in trying to roll back our rights and make the government ever bigger.

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