Both the House Committee on the Judiciary (HJC) and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) marked up two bills that would reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)—but in very different ways. The bills in question were H.R. 6570, the Protect Liberty and End Warrantless Surveillance Act, in HJC, and HR 6611, the FISA Reform and Reauthorization Act of 2023, in HPSCI). Under a procedural rule known as “Queen of the Hill,” both measures will be presented on the House floor the following week. The bill that receives the most votes will be forwarded to the Senate for further deliberation.
Renewing any surveillance authority remains a convoluted and intricate matter; however, this decision is unambiguous: we strongly urge all Members to vote NO on H.R.6611, the FISA Reform and Reauthorization Act of 2023, the bill introduced by the Intelligence Committee.
A report published by HPSCI on November 16 advocated for the reauthorization of Section 702, stressing the need for only minimal reforms. The following legislation, H.R. 6611, was as disastrous as anticipated. It would extend for an additional eight years Section 702, which authorizes mass surveillance. It would establish new authorities that have been denied by the courts despite years of pursuit by the intelligence community. It would sustain the unrestricted gathering of communications from American citizens engaged in conversations with individuals located overseas, to provide such information to domestic law enforcement. This was not the intent of this national security program, and due to a vulnerability, communications of individuals on U.S. soil should not be collected without a warrant.
If the last decade is any indication, FISA is due for reform.
To reiterate, the purpose of Section 702 was to authorize warrantless surveillance of non-U.S. citizens overseas to gather foreign intelligence. Domestic law enforcement agencies are progressively surveilling this portion of digital communications that occur within the United States, without producing a warrant. Millions of intrusive searches for American communications, including those of dissidents, racial justice activists, 19,000 donors to a congressional campaign, journalists, and even members of Congress, have been conducted by FBI agents using the Section 702 databases.
This is not a partisan initiative, these resolutions affect us all while bolstering the surveillance state.
The HPSCI bill also includes a call “to define Electronic Communication Service Provider to include equipment.” Earlier this year, the FISA Court of Review released a highly redacted opinion documenting a fight over the government’s attempt to subject an unknown company to Section 702 surveillance. However, the court agreed that under the circumstances the company did not qualify as an “electronic communication service provider” under the law. Now, the HPSCI bill would expand that definition to include a much broader range of providers, including those who merely provide hardware through which people communicate on the Internet. Even without knowing the details of the secret court fight, this represents an ominous expansion of 702’s scope, which the committee introduced without any explanation or debate of its necessity.
In contrast, H.R. 6570, the Protect Liberty and End Warrantless Surveillance Act, a measure from the House Judiciary Committee, would prohibit warrantless backdoor searches of Section 702 databases containing communications of Americans, thereby addressing a significant issue with that legislation. In addition, this legislation would forbid law enforcement from acquiring data on Americans that would otherwise require a warrant, thus bypassing fundamental constitutional safeguards. Significantly, this legislation would additionally reestablish this authority for a limited duration of three years, affording Congress an additional chance to reassess the implementation of the reforms and propose additional modifications should the government continue to exploit the program.
Ryan DeLarme is a disillusioned journalist navigating a labyrinth of political corruption, overreaching corporate influence, high finance, compromised media, and the planned destruction of our constitutional republic. He is also a Host and Founder at Vigilant News. His writing has been featured in American Thinker, Winter Watch, Underground Newswire, and Stillness in the Storm. He also has written scripts for television series featured on Rise.tv. Ryan enjoys gardening, creative writing, and fighting to SAVE AMERICA