During this summer of madness in Portland, Oregon, and sadness over COVID-19, two below-the-radar events occurred implicating the insatiable appetite of the United States government to spy on everyone in America. Regular readers of this column know that the feds have been wearing away at our privacy rights using a multitude of means. Yet, these two below-the-fold events this summer have caught the feds flatfooted.
Here is the backstory.
After the calamity of Watergate, Congress investigated the nature and extent of FBI and CIA spying on Americans as ordered by President Richard Nixon. A Senate committee headed by the late Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho, in 1975 made such startling revelations of warrantless and unlawful spying on Americans pursuant to presidential whims — going back to FDR — that it offered legislation to provide judicial oversight.
The legislation is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. It established the FISA Court, with a rotating membership of federal district court judges appointed to it by the chief justice.
FISA is profoundly unconstitutional because it authorizes the judges on the FISA Court to issue search warrants using a lesser standard of proof than what the Constitution requires. The Fourth Amendment requires proof of the likelihood of evidence of crimes in the place to be searched as a precondition for the issuance of search warrants, and it requires specification of the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized.…