LISTEN TO TLR’S LATEST PODCAST:
Democrat Representative from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard, took to the House floor to explain that she is introducing a bill which would “permanently” ban the warrantless collection of Americans’ emails.
Gabbard highlights the specific issue with the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) amendment 702 which she says has led to “massive government led exploitation of personal privacy through the collection of American citizen’s emails.”
According to the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s website FISA Amendment 702 is described as
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authorizes the Intelligence Community to target the communications of non-U.S. persons located outside the United States for foreign intelligence purposes. A key anti-terror tool that has helped to thwart numerous terror plots including the 2009 conspiracy to bomb the New York City subway, Section 702 operations are subject to multiple layers of oversight by all three branches of government.
Critics like Rep. Gabbard, a Democrat, and Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) argue that 702 allows for the simultaneous collection of American data without a warrant, whilst collecting a targeted non-citizen.
Liberty minded Republican Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, recently explained his contentions with amendment 702 like this:
The way it works is, the FISA court, through Section 702, wiretaps foreigners and then [NSA] listens to Americans. It is a backdoor search of Americans. And because they have so much data, they can tap — type Donald Trump into their vast resources of people they are tapping overseas, and they get all of his phone calls.
And so they did this to President Obama. They — 1,227 times eavesdrops on President Obama’s phone calls. Then they mask him. But here is the problem. And General Hayden said this the other day. He said even low-level employees can unmask the caller. That is probably what happened to Flynn.
They are not targeting Americans. They are targeting foreigners. But they are doing it purposefully to get to Americans.
The Guardian has said that Paul’s comments are “absolutely correct.”
The FISA court and the federal government have interpreted that Section 702 to grant the right to collect information “to, from or about the target,” reports DC McClatchy. It is that “about,” that Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the New York University School of Law, said, opens up the communications of many Americans to data collection if they mention a key term or person the National Security Agency and Office of the Director of National Intelligence is monitoring.
“Your communications could be acquired under Section 702,” Goitein responded, “and that is something that should concern you.
The current presidential administration, through the Director of Intelligence, Dan Coats, has signalled his previous approval of 702 calling it the “crown jewel” of the international intelligence community, reports Reuters.