Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Share:

Weaponization Panel Disappointed With GOP Leadership on FISA Reform



A member of the House panel investigating the weaponization of government expressed disappointment Tuesday in House Republican leaders and the scope of that investigation. 

Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., a member of the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, said House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-Ky., wouldn’t support a proposed reform of government surveillance programs. 

“This week, we’ve just seen the announcement by the speaker of the House that he does not support a warrant requirement being amended into the FISA 702, an astonishing and disheartening development for me,” Bishop said, speaking at The Heritage Foundation’s Weaponization of the U.S. Government Symposium. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s news and commentary outlet.)

Johnson said this week that he likely wouldn’t support an amendment to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that would require additional court oversight of surveillance by government officials. 

House Republicans have split on the matter, with some arguing that government officials have abused a law intended to allow spying on noncitizens abroad and others contending that FISA remains a necessary tool for national security. 

“We are seeing that the Republican majority in the House is going to be in this existential sort of fight about whether we will be able to take a serious step on one reform on one problem that has been demonstrated in astronomical numbers,” Bishop said. 

“We are not in a good place. But we’ve got to amp up the fight and we’ve got to solidify at least Republicans, and hopefully everyone, [because] this is not about partisanship or ideology. It is about fundamental ideas of freedom that have existed since the Enlightenment.” 

The North Carolina Republican also noted that the House weaponization subcommittee lacks the authority of the Senate special committee from the 1970s that it was modeled after. 

“Its model was in the Church Committee in the ’70s, at least that was my inspiration when I negotiated for that; we were going through the speaker contest in January 2023,” Bishop recalled. “I will say that the Church Committee was able to look much more deeply at things that were typically offstage, the intel community, the actions by the CIA, and the like.”

The Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities, chaired by then-Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho, was typically referred to as the Church Committee

Bishop noted that the House subcommittee has been able to document that government agencies essentially outsourced censorship by working with Facebook and other Big Tech companies to silence certain political points of view. But, he said, he would have liked to have the resources to dig into the intelligence agencies. 

“I think we’ve begun something important with the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, but we’ve had to concentrate on something and it has been basically the First Amendment and these agency efforts [to censor free speech],” Bishop said. “But it is a burgeoning field. It’s hard to see how we can get to it all.”