I was doing a little research last night, looking for the House FISA bill & roll call from last Thursday (1/11). I was already upset about this, because I knew that Kevin McCarthy, my Congressman, voted to renew & expand FISA, further degrading our 4th Amendment rights…but I wanted to see the data for myself.
What I found pissed me off even more, and I can guarantee you that most Americans don’t what’s really been going on with this attack on our freedoms.
While the news media first started reporting about the FISA renewal within the last couple of weeks, as the controversy started brewing over the January 19th renewal deadline, the bill that the House voted on last week did not originate in the House. It isn’t really a recent bill at all. And the original bill had nothing to do with FISA whatsoever. But the media reports neglect to mention any of this.
The bill started out as S.139: “The Rapid DNA Act of 2017.” The purpose of that bill was to direct the FBI to use rapid, automated processes to analyze DNA samples. Sounds good and reasonable. The bill passed in the Senate on May 16, 2017, and was sent to the House.
And at that point, the House did nothing.
The House sat on the bill for almost 8 months, ignoring it, until the evening of January 9th, when they gutted the bill. They completely rewrote it, and it became the “FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017.”
Two days later, the House debated this new bill for about two and a half hours, rejecting an amendment brought by Justin Amash that would have increased privacy protections for American citizens, and then passed their expansion of FISA by a vote of 256-164.
This entire spectacle was engineered to ram through this degradation of our Constitutional rights, bypassing committees, and avoiding public review and scrutiny as much as they could possibly get away with. It’s a trick that Democrats in the California state legislature use quite often to ram through controversial bills.
You see, while new legislation has to make its way through various committees, and tends to be available to the public for weeks, or even months, as the legislation makes its way through the process, the same is not true of amendments, which can usually be offered right up to the moments before a final vote is taken. Completely replacing a bill via the amendment process is a scumbag trick used by scumbag politicians to rush through controversial legislation with a minimum of scrutiny.
The very purpose of FISA is to give American law enforcement and intelligence agencies a legal method to gather data on foreign threats. One of the major flaws of the FISA program is that it has also resulted in law enforcement and intelligence agencies gathering data on US citizens without a warrant – a blatant violation of the 4th Amendment. And now, Congress wants to give US law enforcement agencies permission to use any data illegally collected on US citizens under FISA as evidence against those citizens in US courts. So the most likely explanation for their procedural trickery here is that want to ram the bill through before Americans find out what they’re doing.
What this truly amounts to is a coordinated attack on the Constitutional rights of American citizens, orchestrated and executed by the very people who are supposed to represent us and defend our rights.
Because with Washington politicians, it’s not about doing what’s right for the American people, it’s about perpetuating the power of the political class.
Unfortunately, the ‘amended’ bill is now making its way back through the Senate, as it barely cleared one of the final procedural hurdles. At this point, we can only hope that the coalition being organized by Senator Rand Paul is able to filibuster and successfully put a stop to this outrage.