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House Judiciary Subcommittee Holds Hearing to Address Illegal Surveillance of US Citizens

House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance Continues Hearing on FISA

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The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance is set to continue its hearing today at 9:15 a.m. ET to discuss the renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The hearing, titled “Fixing FISA, Part II,” will focus on the expansion of warrantless surveillance, the abuses of FISA by the FBI, and the need for meaningful reforms. A group of House Republicans is advocating for the non-renewal of FISA, citing concerns about government overreach and the violation of U.S. citizens’ privacy rights.

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Renewing the Debate on FISA

Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, a prominent advocate for ending FISA, believes that the centralization of power within the national security apparatus has become a pressing concern for many Americans. Gaetz’s resolution, which calls for the end of FISA, aims to address violations of individual rights committed under the act. He emphasizes that FISA abuses have affected individuals across the political spectrum, including both left-wing and right-wing groups.

Understanding FISA and Recent Controversies

Section 702 of FISA allows surveillance of non-U.S. citizens abroad, and if U.S. citizens are involved in these investigations, the FBI can conduct further queries on them. However, the FBI admitted to improperly using warrantless search procedures on Americans, including individuals involved in the January 6 Capitol protests and George Floyd demonstrations. Although the FBI has taken steps to address these issues, Gaetz and his supporters argue that eliminating FISA entirely is the best course of action.

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The Future of FISA

Congress will need to consider whether and how to extend FISA before it expires at the end of December. Gaetz’s resolution encourages his colleagues not to renew the law. Co-sponsors of the resolution include Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Eli Crane, Thomas Massie, and Matt Rosendale. FISA was initially enacted in 1978 to monitor Americans suspected of communicating with foreign agents and has undergone revisions over the years, most notably after the September 11 attacks.

Broad Opposition and Bipartisan Concerns

FISA has faced criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. While Gaetz’s resolution currently has only Republican support, he highlights that concerns about government overreach are bipartisan. Gaetz has previously collaborated with progressive members of Congress who share civil libertarian perspectives and aims to rally support from individuals on both sides of the political aisle.

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 around FISA will persist during the continued hearing on July 14.

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