Gaetz Calls For Allowing FISA Authorization To Expire

Concerns about the wide scope and alleged misuse of surveillance authority contained in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act have swirled on both sides of the political aisle for years. Now, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and several other GOP lawmakers are calling for the most controversial of those powers to be phased out later this year.

Section 702 of the act is set to expire at the end of this year without congressional renewal, and that is what Gaetz wants to prevent.

In a resolution introduced on Tuesday, he wrote: “The persistent abuse of Section 702 of FISA underscores the disturbing trend of our federal government being weaponized against its people.”

These powers were ostensibly designed to allow the FBI to spy on subjects who are not U.S. citizens and are living in other countries, but documents released earlier this year indicate that they were improperly used to surveil Americans more than 278,000 times as of late 2021.

Among those reportedly targeted by these operations were individuals who participated in the George Floyd demonstrations nationwide in 2020 and the Capitol Hill protest early the next year.

Joined by Reps. Eli Crane and Paul Gosar of Arizona, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and Matt Rosendale of Montana, Gaetz argued that the situation requires concerned opposition among lawmakers.

“The blatant misuse of warrantless surveillance powers targeting Americans’ communications should not be accepted or reauthorized,” his resolution stated. “We must uphold national security without sacrificing the constitutional rights of our fellow Americans.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray indicated that the errors would be addressed and one senior bureau official claimed that steps toward that end had already been taken.

“These steps have led to significant improvement in the way we conduct queries of lawfully obtained Section 702 information,” the individual asserted.

Gaetz was not alone in his skepticism that the issue had been, or even could be, remedied by internal FBI measures.

As House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) explained in May: “Chris Wray told us we can sleep well at night because of the FBI’s so-called FISA reforms. But it just keeps getting worse.”