JAMES Magazine Online: U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter Talks About Support of FISA Reauthorization

Cindy Morley

Thursday, April 18th, 2024

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Late last week the U.S. the House of Representatives passed a controversial bill which provides a two-year reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Supporters say this bill allows U.S. Intelligence Agencies to conduct warrantless surveillance of non-citizens living outside of the United States.

But opponents say the surveillance powers in Section 702 are a “blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution against unreasonable searches and seizures– permitting intelligence agencies to gather electronic communications of US citizens and non-citizens without a warrant by tapping directly into the systems of telecommunications and internet providers.”

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-GA, supported the two-year reauthorization and recently gave his reasons for his vote.

“Section 702 of FISA is a critical national security tool that protects the United States against acts of terror,” said Carter. “By reauthorizing this program for two years, instead of the five-year extension that was previously considered, we are protecting American citizens while working towards reasonable reforms that ensure this tool is used correctly. Section 702 does not permit the FBI to surveil American citizens. Warrantless surveillance of Americans is wrong, it is unconstitutional, and it will not be tolerated. There are safeguards in place to prevent such abuses, but Congress and the next administration will use this two-year reauthorization to expand and improve upon those important protections for American citizens.”

Many Conservatives who supported the reauthorization said they felt the new version of the bill – which is a two-year reauthorization instead of five years, meant that if former President Donald Trump won the presidential election this year, the legislation would be up in time for Trump to overhaul FISA laws next time around.

Carter said the 2024 reauthorization of FISA Section 702 made 55 reforms to prevent against abuses. These reforms include:

● Disqualifying over 90% of the FBI from obtaining U.S. person queries;

● Prohibiting the FBI from querying for evidence of a crime;

● Creating a specific criminal liability for Section 702 leaks;

● Conditioning FBI compensation on query compliance;

● Mandating independent audits of all FBI U.S. person queries;

● Creating enhanced criminal penalties for those who violate FISA, leak FISA applications, or lie to the FISA Court;

● Authorizing the FISA Court to prosecute for contempt;

● Prohibiting use of political opposition research and press reports as justification for a FISA order;

● Mandating that FISA Court proceedings be transcribed and submitted to Congress;

● Assigning legal counsel to scrutinize U.S. person surveillance applications.

The surveillance powers were set to expire on April 19 if not renewed. The bill passed by a vote of 273 to 147. The two-year extension is expected to be passed by the Senate and then signed into law by President Joe Biden.