‘There is absolutely a new urgency in the conference about the issue…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Following Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the FBI’s abuse of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act courts, several Republican lawmakers have proposed legislation that would overhaul and reform the FISA process.
Reps. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, and Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, both members of the House Intelligence Committee, have said they will introduce legislation to tweak several provisions of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which authorizes surveillance via the FISA court.
Similarly, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who has been a long-time critic of FISA process, said the Senate GOP will introduce reforms to put an end to the one-sided FISA court hearings, which create a biased environment, according to Lee.
“A number of Republican colleagues who have been deferential to the FISA program in the past did approach Sen. Lee after yesterday’s hearing looking to work with him on FISA reform going forward,” Lee’s communications director, Conn Carroll, said. “There is absolutely a new urgency in the conference about the issue, and Sen. Lee looks forward to working with his new FISA-skeptic allies to craft new safeguards in light of the very damning IG report.”
Horowitz’s report detailed “at least 17 significant errors and omissions” in the FBI’s FISA warrant application to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Even Republicans who have long been negligent of the intelligence community’s abuse raised concerns about the FISA process.
NeverTrump Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., who has had impassioned debates with Lee over the integrity of the FBI, admitted during Horowitz’s testimony before the Senate that he was “embarrassed on behalf of the FBI … because I believe that it is critically important that we have the FISA statute.”
“I wish Mike Lee weren’t sitting here two people from me right now, because as a national security hawk, I’ve argued with Mike Lee in the four-and-a-half or five years that I’ve been in the Senate that stuff just like this couldn’t possibly happen at the FBI and at the Department of Justice,” Sasse said during the hearing.
“Mike Lee has warned me for four-and-a-half years the potential for abuse in this space is terrible,” Sasse continued, “and I constantly defended the integrity and the professionalism of the bureau and of the department that you couldn’t have something like this happen.”