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Upcoming FISA Fight Highlights Major Fractures In The Republican Party

Anyone who has been paying attention to government overreach for any amount of time should have seen this one coming. I mean, you would have to be living under a political rock not to know that the right wing of the right wing was not going to put up with the, "if you do not have anything to hide, you do not have anything to worry about" argument.

FISA is already a touchy subject with conservatives, and it often pits the war hawks against the privacy protectors. This latest round might get a bit heated, if not downright explosive.


So, before we move on, a QUICK primer:

What is FISA?

It is a government program, created in 1978, which is administered by the NSA that allows the government to listen in / read correspondence between American Citizens and foreign nationals if the NSA has determined that the foreign national in question has any ties to terrorism.

That does not sound too bad, right?

Well, how do you define "ties to terrorism?" Who gets to decide if they have a tie to terrorism? Does the fact that I come from a certain city in Saudi Arabia where one of the 9-11 hijackers was from mean I have ties to terrorism? Does the fact that someone is Iranian mean they have ties to terrorism? Could this be used to target patriotic American conservatives if they have any dealings with someone from another country?

These are questions that we do not have answers to, and it is why the right wing of the right wing wants a judge involved with warrant services prior to any type of "wiretapping."

So the real question is, "why would the government not want a judge to help make that decision?" If nothing else, it would greatly help the optics of the law and make it far more palatable to the American people.

What is wrong with FISA?

The 4th Amendment of the constitution clearly states that all persons who are US Citizens shall be secure in all their personhood (basically everything you are or have) except under probable cause and with a warrant served by a judge. Now, this is a bit of a paraphrase, but it is to help you get the gist.

So when the government listens in on the private conversations of an American citizen, they directly violating their 4th Amendment rights UNLESS they have probable cause which has been warranted by a judge. FISA, however, allows them to get around that by saying that they are surveying the foreign national, and anything surveilled about the American citizen is ancillary.

Unless they find something, then they have probable cause.

Now, there are already a TON of questions about the impartiality of the judges involved with the court and the fact that they almost always give the government what it wants, but at least there is a judge, and at least that judge is hearing evidence and supposedly being an impartial decider who is charged with protecting the constitution which means the 4th Amendment as well.

This is why section 702 of the FISA act is so controversial. It allows the government to surveil foreign nationals, not on American soil, without a warrant, which would not be a problem except that it specifically states that this is true even if the person with whom they are communicating is an American.

In other words, as long as the person is standing on the Mexico side of the border, if they make a phone call to someone in the US, the NSA can listen in without a warrant. They only have to get a warrant if both people are in the country.

Who cares about the 4th Amendment rights of an American Citizen anyway?

You should.

This is why I have such an issue with Speaker Johnson not being willing to work with the Freedom Caucus on this issue and come to some kind of meaningful agreement, or at least, tell the American people why they are having to do this and what the criteria are for it to stop.

What we have had over the last three decades is a Federal Government that continually says, "trust us" more and more and more; while with each passing year we see scandal after scandal after scandal which show that no matter which party is in power, we should not trust the government at all. So why should we continue to give them the power to look into and listen into our lives?

Enter the main opposition argument: IF YOU HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR.

These words have been echoed by fascists and communisis from the beginning of collectivism. They are as terrifying today as they were yesterday and will be tomorrow. I should have nothing to fear because no one is looking over my shoulder, not because I'm sure I'm doing the right thing. That's what it means to be a free people.

When you start chipping away at people's freedom to privacy, even though there are many on the left who point out, speciously, that no such right exists in the Constitution due to their odd reading of the 4th Amendment as a limited clause and not a principle of governance, you create a reality where people must constantly be on the lookout for people listening in/recording their lives.

I'M NOT concerned because I am doing something wrong, but simply because the conversation I am having might not be one I want anyone else privy to.

What if someone is dating a person from overseas. Should they have to worry that their intimate phone calls will be wiretapped and stored in some government data warehouse?

What if I'm ordering something from someone that I do not want to tell people about? Should I have to worry that this information is also in a government data warehouse? Everything the government stores can be used against you if they desire, and that means everything from recordings to metadata, which should all be covered by your 4th Amendment rights, that is, unless the person you are talking to happens to not be an American citizen and who is standing at the time on foreign soil, according to FISA.

Now, does the affect all Americans? No. There are many Americans who do not have any foreign friends or overseas contacts. Yet with an increasingly global world, what happens when you meet someone on Reddit or Facebook who lives in France and they are communicating with you? Guess what, you could be legally watched by the NSA because they no longer have to have a warrant to do so and the other party is on foreign soil.

Far fetched? Possibly, but from small abuses and openings come bigger abuses and openings, which leads to the massive FISA abuse by the Obama Administration who openly flaunted the 4th Amendment by digging through the FISA data to try to get dirt on incoming Trump appointees in order to hamper their transition.

So what happens if YOU do something the government does not like?

Well, simply put, they can use FISA as yet another tool to pry open your personal life and get to/at you in any way they want.

This is why the Freedom Caucus is right on this one.

FISA needs to be put in check, and hard, because the government overreach never stops until we stop it.

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