Some champions of the reauthorization of Section 702 without changes have tried to spin proposed reforms of this authority to be a hobbyhorse of conservatives angered about the FBI’s baseless investigation of Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
But liberals and progressives are also becoming equally passionate about “reform or die.”
Late last week we reported that the FBI used Section 702 to conduct warrantless and illicit searches of Americans 278,000 times – and that some of the victims of these warrantless searches were protestors angered by the killing of George Floyd.
We quoted House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Ranking Member Jerry Nadler (D-NY) about their outrage over this revelation from an unsealed court document. Rep. Nadler noted that the FBI has repeatedly broken its promises, declaring: “Without significant changes to the law to prevent this abuse, I will oppose the reauthorization of this authority.”
Now the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), has weighed in. He tweeted:
Section 702 of FISA exists to protect America from foreign threats.
Instead, it has been abused again and again to spy on Americans.
This authority should not be renewed without significant reforms to safeguard Americans’ privacy and constitutional rights.
How direct – how simple – how inarguable.
When the chairmen of both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, and the Ranking Member of the House Committee, insist on reform or nothing, surveillance hawks on the Hill would be wise to prepare for major concessions. The first of them should be to include a warrant requirement whenever an American’s 702 information is surveilled.