05:41 GMT03 April 2020
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    Republican lawmakers are pushing back against Attorney General Bill Barr’s call to fully renew three sunset provisions of the PATRIOT Act without bringing reform to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the body which grants the government approval to spy on US citizens.

    Award-winning editorial cartoonist Ted Rall joined Radio Sputnik’s Political Misfits on Friday to discuss why he believes the FISC, established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 and also known as the FISA court, is flawed and offer up his thoughts on why there is not more outrage regarding the subject of surveillance from the American public.

    Rall told hosts Bob Schlehuber and Jamarl Thomas that the FISA court is broken, since it lacks a privacy advocate in the warrant approval process.

    “In reality, there is no one who argues against it. There’s no adversarial process at all. The FISA court is a rubber stamp court,” he contended, noting that in some instances the court coaches authorities on how to get approval for a warrant.

    "No American should ever be spied on by this secret court ever again. These secret courts created to protect us are in some cases being used to spy on us,” Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said in a Thursday address to the public on social media. “No secret court should be granted all that power without the consent of the American people.”

    Paul said that Barr’s attempt to have a “clean renewal” of the PATRIOT Act without any reform to the FISA court “is a disservice to our current and future presidents and should be roundly defeated.”

    “They spied on the Trump campaign in 2016,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) argued on social media on Thursday. “We need to reform FISA so that they can't do it again in 2020.”

    “Democrats have just been awful on privacy rights,” Rall contended.

    While Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), head of the House Judiciary Committee, and Adam Schiff (D-CA), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, attempted to pass legislation that would allow them to renew provisions of the PATRIOT Act before the March 15 deadline earlier this week, the matter was held up due to Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who has been vocally against renewing Section 215 of the Act.

    “We’re making policy. This isn’t some game where side deals that are done in secret without the concurrence of the committee of jurisdiction is somehow binding on the numbers of the committee,” Lofgren told Politico on Wednesday, rejecting the notion that her proposed amendments were so-called “poison pills” to the process.

    Nevertheless, “it doesn’t seem like the American people really much care about this,” Rall said. “There’s certainly no street protests. There’s not much discussion. The media doesn’t focus on it.”

    Rall argued that people may be less up-in-arms about their calls being tracked and stored on an NSA data farm in Nevada because “it doesn’t feel real” to a degree. While one might be more inclined to act against such an occurrence if there were a clicking sound present as if a call were being actively tapped, there is no blatant reminder that a conversation is being spied on.

    “I think there’s also an age thing where a lot of younger people, millennials, grew up in an age where privacy never existed. So they have no expectation. They don’t remember a world where privacy as a value and as a political issue was something that was near and dear to the hearts of the American people.”

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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