Rep. Andy Biggs: ‘I Believe The FISA Court Should Be Abolished’
Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus Rep. Andy Biggs warned Monday that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – which grants federal law enforcement officials warrants to spy on Americans – must be ‘abolished’ in order to protect the basic Constitutional rights of American citizens.
On The Sara Carter Show Monday, Rep. Biggs, R-Arizona, said that with the March 15 deadline less than two weeks away, Congress must stand firm to protect the rights of American citizens and limit any future abuse of the system for political purposes.
“I believe the FISA Court should be abolished,” said Biggs. “Let’s just face it, my position is real simple- the Constitution protects the United States citizen from unlawful searches and seizures and the FISA Court is a secret court that doesn’t have the same probable cause standard that we have in an Article 3 court that’s established by the Constitution.”
Any reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act would need to include major reforms, senior lawmakers told this reporter. At present, three provisions of the U.S.A. Freedom Act are set to expire on on March 15. Those provisions are the metadata collection under section 215, roving wiretaps and the lone wolf provision.
These provisions, however, are not the same abused by bureau officials who sought the warrant from the court to spy on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. The sections that were responsible for the abuses in the Page FISA warrant come under Title I, and do not expire. For this reason, House Republicans are fighting to use the renewals as leverage to ensure that Title I is changed.
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, along with numerous congressional investigations, revealed that senior FBI officials altered and omitted critical information in the applications submitted to the court. The discovery of the abuse led Attorney General William Barr to appoint prosecutor John Durham to investigate the origin and circumstances surrounding the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign and the now debunked theory that members of the campaign were colluding with Russia.
Other Republican lawmakers suggested that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court can be reformed if an amicus representative – a citizen advocate- representing Americans is placed inside the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is to oversee the submitted applications.
At the present time, there is no one to advocate on behalf of an American being targeted by the FBI and it is solely at the discretion of the judges of the secret court to ask for a review if they decide it’s warranted, lawmakers told SaraACarter.com.
Rep. Jim Jordan, ranking member of the House Oversight Committee told this reporter Friday that he is advocating “to put in place a citizen advocate at the court that’s what this amicus process is, having an advocate representing the interest of an American citizen that is the target of a FISA warrant.”
Jordan also said there should be penalties for violations made by FBI applicants and that transcripts of the court proceedings should be made available to Congress for review at some point in time for oversight of the court.
He said “we can’t settle for a clean reauthorization, no way.”
Biggs said, however, the FISA Court itself is antithetical to the Fourth Amendment and in its nature violates the essence of the law.
“It’s enormously a powerful secret tool that’s oddly enough has been used to spy on President Trump, Carter Page, President Trump’s associates,” he said. “You just look at it and you say, there’s a huge problem here and how about the business records exception that they want. Three million in appropriate searches were done on business records just in 2017.”
Many civil libertarians and lawmakers have called for the FISA Court to either be dismantled or completely reformed. Horowitz revealed in his 435 page report in December, that the bureau had 17 gross violations in its warrant and three subsequent renewals to spy on Page. Those violations included withholding exculpatory information, altering documents and basically lying to the court to obtain the warrant on Page.
Ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes, R-CA, told SaraACarter.com last week that FISA should only be reauthorized if there are major reforms because “the FBI abused FISA to spy on a political campaign, and the FISA judges utterly failed to stop it even thought the House Intelligence Committee told them it was happening. We need major reforms to FISA that do not rely on the FBI acting in good faith on the FISA judges’ ability to find and stop malfeasance.”