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No Surprise: Congress Extends FISA 702 | EP 1137

In recent times, the clandestine operations of the secret surveillance state and its implications have attracted attention like never before. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) has been particularly under scrutiny, especially Section 702, which has raised several concerns related to civil liberties and privacy. This little-known law has become a battleground for privacy advocates and lawmakers, but how did we get here, and what does it all signify?



EPISODE 1137 SHOW NOTES/DESCRIPTION



Understanding FISA 702

The controversial FISA 702 is a provision tucked into the defense bill, a "must-pass" legislation, often seen as a litmus test of patriotism. The saga that revolves around FISA 702 involves senators like Rand Paul and Mike Lee, who've been working towards preventing it from being passed, arguing for reforms and coming against its reauthorization. The proposition to strip the reauthorization of the government's chief surveillance power failed when lawmakers fell six votes short.



Under FISA 702, the federal government has the power to spy on foreigners abroad, which is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. This spying capability, though often justified under the guise of national security, has inherent vulnerabilities that could potentially lead to the violation of constitutional rights.



The Debate Around FISA 702

The discourse around FISA 702 has been polarizing. Some believe that it's crucial for National Security, stating that the government needs this power to fend off global terrorist threats. Others, like Nate Thurston and Charlie Thompson, argue that the FISA court is an instrument of overreach, as it gives the government unprecedented access to infringe on foreigner's privacy.


Furthermore, critics argue that FISA 702 doesn't meet the Fourth Amendment's requirements for search warrants, setting a dangerous precedent. However, supporters opine that FISA 702 surveillance is acceptable for spying on foreign adversaries but shouldn't be employed against Americans.


Are Only American Citizens Entitled to Privacy?

This heated debate leads us back to a poignant question about inalienable rights. If these rights are inherent to all human beings, shouldn't they be respected regardless of nationality? The Fourth Amendment, for instance, protects every person's right against unreasonable searches and seizures. So, should the U.S. government violate these rights for non-Americans?


While the U.S. government may not be accountable for protecting the rights of foreigners, many argue it also shouldn't infringe upon them. By deciding not to respect human rights universally and using FISA 702 to spy on foreigners, a slippery slope is created. At first, it's spying on foreigners, but eventually, it paves the way to infringements on citizens' rights at home.



Lastly, when we consider the saga of FISA 702, questions about the effectiveness of mass surveillance also surface. Its effectiveness and efficiency in thwarting terrorist activities remain questionable. It's time we revisit our stance on global surveillance and consider the moral cost of violating inalienable human rights.


The debate around FISA 702, privacy, and other civil liberties isn't going away anytime soon. As technology expands government capability to infringe on privacy, the need to safeguard these rights becomes even more urgent. The future of FISA 702 hangs in the balance, and we'll be keeping a close eye on how this saga unfolds.





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