Conservative members of the House Judiciary Committee are advocating for substantial changes to the surveillance authorities of the government as mandated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The proposed modifications encompass a prohibition on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) ability to search telephone records of American citizens without prior judicial authorization.
There is an expectation that the culmination of the undertaking will occur concurrently with the expiration of several Patriot Act authorities by the end of the year.
Based on statements provided by legislators to Just the News, a significant example of bipartisan cooperation between Republican and Democratic party members seems to have occurred regarding this issue.
During an appearance with “Just The News,” Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan expressed the belief that “We’ve got, I think, strong agreement amongst members of the Intelligence Committee and members of the Judiciary Committee. And frankly, some Democrats as well, that there needs to be stronger penalties if you abuse the system.”
According to Jordan, his primary emphasis was on the Section 702 system, which grants agents the ability to search phone calls metadata and “where they can create this database” without the need for a warrant.
A declassified report released earlier this year by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court revealed that, over a two-year period, FBI agents had unlawfully searched the phone records of Americans on more than 270,000 occasions. This disclosure has elicited apprehension among civil liberties experts and has attracted censure from constituents of both political factions.
“There needs to be more transparency, more accountability, more audits, and more reporting to Congress and the American people,” Jordan argued. “So I think we have broad agreement there that those kinds of fundamental changes have to happen.
“But then the real question—maybe the more fundamental question—is: do we require a warrant before you can query any information regarding American citizens?” he continued. “I think you should. That’s where the Judiciary Committee members are, and we’re going to try to work through that issue.”
As per Jordan’s analysis, a more comprehensive revision of the expanded authorities bestowed upon the government by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was enacted in retaliation for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, would concentrate primarily on a substantial alteration to the surveillance provisions delineated in Section 702.
Jordan expressed his belief “I think there will be a significant overhaul of Section 702, but not the entire FISA. The following two months are our target here.”
Arizona Republican Representative Andy Biggs, in an effort to cultivate a bipartisan consensus, has been actively participating in informal dialogues with members of the Democratic and Republican parties for a considerable period of time. Biggs conveyed his gratitude to Jordan and his colleagues for their cooperative methodology.
Biggs stated that “We’ve been working in a task force with the Intel Committee guys. I think we’ve reached a lot of harmony on a lot of ideas. The last issue probably is just how we solve some of these issues where the FBI, NSA, and CIA want to go in and look at phone records and other private data points.”
“And that’s where we’re going to solve those… I think we’re going to smooth it out and hopefully be able to get something done before the end of the year. I believe we will,” Biggs predicted.
In recent times, Jordan’s declaration that the House Judiciary Committee has commenced an investigation into allegations that the Justice Department conducted surveillance on members of Congress and their staffs has attracted considerable media attention.
Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is presently conducting an inquiry into allegations pertaining to surveillance purportedly conducted by the Department of Justice on his former chief investigative counsel, Jason Foster. Tuesday, Jordan disclosed the investigation to the public via Fox Business.
During an interview on Fox Business’s The Evening Edit with Elizabeth MacDonald, Jordan asserted that “We now know that they spied on congressional staffers. We want to know, how far does it go? Were they spying on members? Were they spying on other staffers? Keep this in mind, Liz: We know they spied on President Trump’s campaign. We know all that from the FISA Court and what they did with Carter Page and Papadopoulos—everything else. Now we’ve learned that they spied on one of Sen. Grassley’s staff members, Jason Foster.”
“We want to know, does it go further?” Jordan asked pointedly. “So we’ve sent letters not only to the Department of Justice but to all these carriers that the Department of Justice worked with to get the phone records and the email records from congressional staffers like Mr. Foster. How far does this go? Were they spying on members and other staff?”
As part of the ongoing investigation, Jordan dispatched letters to the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Alphabet, Apple, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, along with Attorney General Merrick Garland, seeking information regarding the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) alleged endeavors to obtain the private communications of members of Congress and their staff.
The letter addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed strong disapproval, saying “The Justice Department’s efforts to obtain the private communications of congressional staffers, including staffers conducting oversight of the Department, are wholly unacceptable and offend fundamental separation of powers principles as well as Congress’s constitutional authority to conduct oversight of the Department.”
The following correspondence elaborates on the claim that congressional personnel were served with subpoenas by the Department of Justice (DOJ) while they were investigating the DOJ’s Crossfire Hurricane operation on behalf of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. These summonses were issued with the intent of obtaining correspondence and documents.
The letter asserted that “These revelations strongly suggest that the Justice Department weaponized its law-enforcement authority to spy on the entities seeking to hold it accountable.”
Jordan, in his role as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has prioritized the investigation of allegations concerning the possible exploitation of the Department of Justice for political objectives during the Biden administration.
At present, an investigation is being carried out by the House Judiciary Committee regarding the purported politicization of the Hunter Biden inquiry. In furtherance of this investigation, federal prosecutors have been requested to partake in interviews that have been transcribed in confidence.