Trump Admin. Seeks Permanent Renewal of Warrantless Spying Law
The Trump administration is asking Congress to renew a law giving intelligence agencies the authority to collect the communications of millions of Americans without a warrant — despite the fact that such surveillance led to charges that President Donald Trump is in cahoots with Russia.

The law in question is Title VII of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Section 702, which authorizes the National Security Agency (NSA) to intercept the communications of foreigners located outside the United States without obtaining a search warrant. The law expires at the end of the year unless Congress passes legislation reauthorizing it.

“Reauthorizing this critical authority is the top legislative priority of the Department of Justice and the Intelligence Community,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats wrote in a September 7 letter to congressional leaders.

Sessions and Coats argued that the law’s privacy protections are sufficient to comply with the Fourth Amendment, which requires authorities to obtain a warrant based on probable cause before they conduct a search. However, as Nate Cardozo, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Reason, the government is “using [the law] to spy on Americans.”

This should hardly come as a surprise. As Agence France-Presse reminds us, “Section 702 was passed in 2008 to replace a previously secret and illegal warrantless wiretap program instituted after the September 11, 2001 attacks.” In other words, Congress retroactively codified a blatantly unconstitutional policy that was known to vacuum up data on innocent Americans.

Thanks to leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Americans now know just how extensive the agency’s domestic surveillance has become, and hardly anyone believes it is simply about keeping America safe.

Trump, in fact, ought to be among those most opposed to reauthorizing Section 702. Convenient leaks of data obtained via such surveillance by the Obama administration created the perception that Trump conspired with the Russian government to influence last year’s election. Yet the administration is asking Congress to pass a permanent reauthorization of the law.

“The fact that the Trump administration can out of one side of its mouth complain about collection under 702 and on the other say we must snap our fingers and reauthorize it, possibly even without a sunset, … is mind-boggling,” said Cardozo.

Critics point to ways the NSA obtains data on Americans under Section 702 despite apparent prohibitions on doing so. One is so-called “about” searches, in which the NSA collects communications that merely mention a foreign target, even if it’s something as innocent as passing along a news report. The NSA claims to have stopped performing such searches, but given the agency’s history of duplicity, many suspect otherwise. Another way around the law is a “backdoor search,” collecting the communications of a foreigner the NSA suspects will be communicating with an American the agency really wants to target.

The NSA has also been known to share its discoveries about Americans with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for use in domestic criminal cases, which is clearly unconstitutional.

While civil libertarians would like to see Section 702 lapse, that is unlikely to happen. In Washington, there are only two sides with muscle in the debate: those who want full renewal and those who want reform.

“The debate is not about keeping or killing Section 702,” Jake Laperruque, senior counsel at the Constitution Project, told Roll Call. “It is about reforming 702 and curtailing mission creep and abuse.”

At best, there may be some language prohibiting the most blatant abuses, though such language has been rejected in the past. At worst, the whole shebang could be reauthorized in perpetuity. Legislation to that effect, introduced by Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), has already garnered 13 cosponsors including three committee chairmen. Most of the resistance to the bill is expected to come from conservative Republicans, but even liberal Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has declared her opposition to any bill that does not include a sunset provision.

Unfortunately, Section 702 is likely to survive, though perhaps with some modest reforms. But the debate and the votes will show the American people which of their elected officials really believe in the Constitution and which merely pay it lip service.

https://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/26901-trump...

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LIGHTER SIDE

ALERT ALERT

Clinton Donor And Tax Cheat Tied To Russia

“Do as we say, not as we do.”

That seems to be the slogan for Hillary Clinton and her political allies, and it’s especially apt in light of new information about one of Clinton’s largest campaign donors.

While the left is still trying to attack President Trump and his family over unproven business dealings and largely debunked connections to Russia, a new report indicates that it was Hillary Clinton’s team who were doing those exact things.

“Fox News has learned that one of the top donors to the ‘Hillary Victory Fund’ (HVF) in 2016 was a Los Angeles-based attorney who is alleged to have misused company funds to create his own $22 million real estate portfolio,” that outlet reported on Thursday.

“He has also been considered by California to be one of the state’s biggest tax cheats, and allegedly has ties to the (Russian) Kremlin,” Fox continued.

The man’s name is Edgar Sargsyan. His deep pockets greatly benefited Clinton’s campaign, with contributions of at least $250,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund in 2016.

He was also in charge of an elite fundraising dinner to benefit Clinton, where donors paid $100,000 per couple just to attend the ritzy event. But in true Clinton fashion, the money apparently went missing.

Sargsyan is now “being sued by his former company for allegedly diverting those funds to start his own real estate company,” according to Fox.

Now, people are asking hard questions about Clinton’s buddy Sargsyan, including whether his contributions were part of a pay-to-play scheme and if he had shady connections to foreign governments.

“Nobody gave to the Hillary Victory Fund out of the goodness of their heart or some generalized desire to help 33 random state parties,” pointed out attorney Dan Backer from the Committee to Defend the President.

“They did so to buy access and curry influence — something the Clintons have been selling for nearly three decades in and out of government,” he continued.

Trying to buy political influence is sadly common, especially when it comes to the Clintons. What is raising more red flags than normal, however, is the evidence that Sargsyan is no run-of-the-mill campaign donor.

“The really scary question is, what did this particular donor with this strange web of connections hope to buy for his quarter-million dollars?” Backer asked Fox News.

That web of connections is strange indeed.

The Committee to Defend the President is now alleging that SBK, a major Sargsyan-linked company “is an investment firm that is affiliated with United Arab Emirates president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and its international affiliate has business interests in Russia,” according to Fox.

“Among its dealings was a bid to finance $850 million for a major bridge project to connect Crimea with Russia,” the group claims.

“He worked for SBK, and SBK appears to have bid on some Crimean/Russian bridge project,” Backer said. “That’s usually an indicator of political favor and connections.”

It raises several chilling questions: Was Sargsyan paying a quarter million dollars to Clinton for political favors, and — more disturbingly — was that money actually from sources in Russia in order to smooth the way for its construction plans?

Nobody knows for sure. What is clear, however, is that there is a pattern of dirty money surrounding the Clintons, with the “Uranium One” and “Clinton Foundation” scandals just two of the most well-known examples.

“It reinforces how fast and loose the Clinton machine was when it came to ‘Hoovering up’ these megadonor checks, not just from questionable Hollywood and Wall Street elites but potentially from foreign influence peddlers using who knows what money,” Backer told Fox News.

“It reinforces the need to take a long hard look at not just the unlawful money laundering process, but the way in which they were solicited as well,” he continued. “The Clintons have never shown a great deal of concern for whomever it was cutting the checks — whether it’s foreign influence peddlers or Hollywood smut peddlers like Harvey Weinstein.”

If those claims are even partially true, then America dodged a bullet in November of 2016 — and it’s worth keeping the pile of foreign-connected Clinton scandals in mind the next time the left tries desperately to tie Donald Trump to Russia. Perhaps they should look in the mirror.

SLAVEHOLDER??

Washington Post Compares
Jeff Sessions To Slaveholder’

The Washington Post compared Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “slaveholders” after he quoted the Bible on Thursday while discussing his department’s policy of prosecuting all illegal immigrants who cross the border.

Sessions made the statement during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

WaPo ran a story entitled “Sessions cites Bible passage used to defend slavery in defense of separating immigrant families” by general assignment editor Keith McMillan and religion reporter Julie Zauzmer on Friday.

Rather than detailing the statistics Sessions cited in the speech that explain the immigration policy, the story quoted John Fea, a history professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

“This is the same argument that Southern slaveholders and the advocates of a Southern way of life made,” Fea said.

Sessions spent much of the speech discussing the numbers behind current immigration policy, including separating families at the Southwest border.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said.

“Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.”

“The previous administration wouldn’t prosecute aliens if they came with children,” Sessions said.

“It was de-facto open borders if you came with children. The results were unsurprising. More and more illegal aliens started showing up at the border with children.”

Sessions laid out the numbers in the speech.

“In 2013, fewer than 15,000 family units were apprehended crossing our border illegally between ports of entry in dangerous areas of the country,” he said.

“Five years later, it was more than 75,000, a five-fold increase in five years. It didn’t even have to be their child that was brought, it could be anyone. You can imagine that this created a lot of danger.”

The U.S. has the “opportunity” to fix its broken immigration system now, Sessions said.

“I believe that’s it’s moral, right, just and decent that we have a lawful system of immigration,” he said. “The American people have been asking for it.”

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