The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance is scheduled to hold a hearing today to address the renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The hearing, titled “Fixing FISA, Part II,” aims to discuss concerns regarding warrantless surveillance, abuses of FISA by the FBI, and the necessity for meaningful reforms. A group of House Republicans is advocating against the renewal of FISA, expressing worries about government overreach and the infringement of privacy rights of U.S. citizens.
Examining Representative Matt Gaetz’s Resolution to End FISA
Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, a prominent advocate for ending FISA, believes that the concentration of power within the national security apparatus has become a significant concern among Americans. Gaetz’s resolution, which calls for the termination of FISA, aims to address the violations of individual rights that have occurred under the act. Gaetz emphasizes that FISA abuses have affected individuals from various political backgrounds, including both left-wing and right-wing groups.
Understanding FISA and the Recent Controversies
Section 702 of FISA permits the surveillance of non-U.S. citizens abroad, and if U.S. citizens are involved, the FBI can conduct further investigations on them. However, the FBI has admitted to improperly using warrantless search procedures on Americans, including individuals connected to the January 6 Capitol protests and George Floyd demonstrations. While the FBI has taken steps to address these issues, Gaetz and his supporters argue that completely eliminating FISA is the best solution.
Considering the Future of FISA
Before FISA’s expiration at the end of December, Congress will need to deliberate on whether and how to extend the law. Gaetz’s resolution urges his colleagues not to renew FISA. The resolution has co-sponsors from Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Eli Crane, Thomas Massie, and Matt Rosendale. FISA was originally enacted in 1978 to monitor Americans suspected of engaging with foreign agents and has undergone revisions over the years, particularly after the September 11 attacks.
Wide Opposition and Bipartisan Concerns
FISA has faced criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. While Gaetz’s resolution currently has support from Republicans only, he emphasizes that concerns about government overreach transcend party lines. Gaetz has previously worked with progressive members of Congress who share civil libertarian perspectives and intends to garner support from individuals on both sides of the political aisle.
The Continued Hearing and FBI Director’s Testimony
The House hearing on FISA, which featured FBI Director Christopher Wray, has raised significant concerns about the politicization of the Justice Department. Republican representatives have been critical of Wray’s role, and discussions surrounding FISA will continue during the hearing on July 14.