No Warrant Necessary! Senate Republicans Set Up Vote to Expand FBI Spying

Now it’s Senate Republicans’ turn to use tragedy as pretext to violate our rights

By Darrell England

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled a vote to expand the FBI’s warrantless surveillance to include metadata and even some browsing history.

This can certainly be seen as an intentional move to expand the FBI’s power. Republicans are pointing to the Orlando shooting to justify the expansion of power, which will allow them to also bypass due process for American citizens. Just days prior, Republicans attacked Democrats for trying to limit due process in the aftermath of the Orlando attack. The Democrats are also no stranger to expanding the powers of government; but don’t let Republicans fool you, they are just as happy to limit our rights when pretense is provided.

“In the wake of the tragic massacre in Orlando, it is important our law enforcement have the tools they need to conduct counterterrorism investigations,” said veteran Senator John McCain.

Reuters reports on the nature of the amendment that is scheduled for a vote as early as Wednesday:

The amendment would broaden the FBI’s authority to use so-called National Security Letters to include electronic communications transaction records such as time stamps of emails and the emails’ senders and recipients.

The Obama administration for years has lobbied for a change to how NSLs can be used, after a 2008 legal memo from the Justice Department said the law limits them largely to phone billing records. FBI Director James Comey has said the change essentially corrects a typo and is a top legislative priority for his agency.

NSLs do not require a warrant and are almost always accompanied by a gag order preventing the service provider from sharing the request with a targeted user.

The letters have existed since the 1970s, though the scope and frequency of their use expanded greatly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Politicians can swear to protect and uphold the Constitution, but many are quick to throw the Bill of Rights out the window. Authoritarians exist in both parties and are eagerly awaiting the chance to exploit tragedy.


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