Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) has come under scrutiny as it is set to expire this year on Dec. 31. The deadline of the contentious section which came into law in 2008 and was renewed in 2012, has impelled lawmakers to review its necessity.
Section 702 of the FISA arguably allows the NSA and other agencies to exploit loopholes to intercept Americans’ communications while collecting information on foreign targets. Depending on who you speak with, this is an infringement on Americans’ privacy under the Fourth Amendment, or it’s vital to national security.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who opened the recent meeting over Section 702’s future began by outlining it as “an important safeguard.” He continued however, saying that “We must ensure that our protection doesn’t come at the expense of cherished liberty.”
The warrantless searches can target anyone and everyone who has contact with a person outside the United States. These people can include journalists, politicians, business executives, human rights activists and attorneys for research or merely banking purposes. It’s most likely that Gen. Flynn’s intercepted conversations with the Russians occurred under Section 702. Anyone who communicates with a “foreign target” can be monitored.
In an interview with CBS News, Sen. R-Kentucky, Rand Paul was questioned over his thoughts about the wiretapping accusation that Obama had allegedly wiretapped Trump’s phone calls. “I doubt that Trump was a target directly of any kind of eavesdropping, but I am not saying it didn’t happen. I think there’s a very good chance it does,” Paul said.
“But the way it works is, the FISA court, through Section 702, wiretaps foreigners and then listens to Americans. It is a backdoor search of Americans. And because they have so much data, they can tap — type Donald Trump into their vast resources of people they are tapping overseas, and they get all of his phone calls.
“And so they did this to President Obama. They — 1,227 times eavesdrops on President Obama’s phone calls. Then they mask him. But here is the problem. And General Hayden said this the other day. He said even low-level employees can unmask the caller. That is probably what happened to Flynn.
“They are not targeting Americans. They are targeting foreigners. But they are doing it purposefully to get to Americans.”
The problems here are threefold; first, this violates the 4th Amendment to protect Americans from unreasonable search and seizure; second, there is so much data gleaned through this process as to make the bits and peaces of info almost useless; and third, the baddies have already gotten encryption down to a point where their communications cannot be broken into.