Minimizing the 4th Amendment and Privacy through the Primacy of National Security
Commentary on Section 702 and the FISA Reauthorization Act
by Thomas Drake, @thomas_drake1
This week the US Senate voted to suppress and severely curtail debate or the inclusion of any amendments to Section 702 and the FISA Reauthorization Act bill (S. 139) through a cloture vote of 60-38, paving the way for a vote in favor of passing the full bill that was already passed by the House of Representatives.
My fellow NSA whistleblower, Diane Roark (the former House Intelligence Committee professional staffer who had oversight of NSA for 5 years), wrote an article on 17 Jan 2018 about this cloture vote and what it means, weighing in on the kabuki props and information operation cover lies blanketing Section 702 and the FISA Reauthorization Act bill now cleared for a final vote by the Senate.
In addition, independent investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler (@emptywheel) has diligently followed the FISA trail in great detail for many years. She has scooped many main stream media reporters (often never giving her credit for her work) and is arguably the best single press source for how FISA has radically changed (and is secretly reinterpreted by the government), since the stunning revelations about the mass surveillance programs began to emerge in public starting in late 2005 and 2006. You can read her investigative articles and analysis at her website.
In the following article, she strips the veneer off the bait and switch of the FISA Reauthorization Act bill passed by the House of Representatives just before the Senate cloture vote was made.
In terms of history, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act (FISA-AA) further enabled the legalization of pernicious and pervasive mass surveillance practices that licensed the secret backdoor warrantless searches and data mining of US person calls, emails, texts and other Internet and digital communications under the cover and color of spying on foreign targets.
As background, I blew the whistle right after 9/11 while a senior executive at the NSA on the original mass domestic warrantless electronic surveillance program known as STELLARWIND (authorized by President Bush), and its secret subversion of FISA and privacy rights protected by the Constitution and paid a very high price for doing so. This FISA Reauthorization Act bill just further codifies and expands the mass surveillance regime under the guise of protecting people by stripping their privacy protections.
National security does not trump our inalienable rights as a people, especially when the government want to 'collect it all to know it all' and bypass the rule of law for secret executive rules to keep us safe from ourselves using legislative acts to make it all legal.