Rep. Justin Amash: If Republicans are so upset about FISA abuse in Nunes memo, why did they reject FISA reform last month?

Justin Amash Photo: Gage Skidmore

Just hours after the controversial memo from House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes was released to the public, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) started a Twitter storm, questioning why Republicans worried about FISA abuse now as it concerns President Trump, just last month voted to protect the same kind of warrantless government surveillance powers.

Amash said he too, like other Republicans, was pleased that the memo was released. He also renewed his calls for FISA reform.

“I’m glad that the Republican memo has been released. It makes many conclusory assertions, some of which are serious,” Amash tweeted.

Amash continued, “Throughout this process, members of the @libertycaucus and @freedomcaucus have called for the public release of evidence supporting the memo’s allegations. We also have called for the release of the Democratic memo (which I have read).”

The House Liberty Caucus (Amash serves as chairman) and Freedom Caucus (Amash is a co-founder) are two of the most conservative and strident pro-civil liberties Republican factions in Congress.

“Given the current rhetoric from @SpeakerRyan and others, it represents a breach of the public trust that, just a few weeks ago, he and many of the memo’s biggest pushers were demanding the reauthorization of #FISA702, opposed by a bipartisan coalition of liberty defenders,” Amash continued on Twitter.

“Unlike #FISA702, which authorizes systematic violations of the #4thAmendment, the section of FISA discussed in the memo requires probable cause and a warrant,” Amash wrote.

“The central allegation is that a warrant was obtained fraudulently or without sufficient cause,” Amash continued. “If true, it shows the dangers of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, something @libertycaucus and @freedomcaucus members have been saying for a long time.”

Amash called Section 702  “far more dangerous.” He also noted that Section 702 permits agencies to “conduct unconstitutional, warrantless searches on millions of innocent Americans (whose communications were incidentally collected while targeting foreigners overseas).”

Amash said that in light of the release of the memo, Congress has an obligation to re-examine Section 702.

His 2017 House amendment would have replaced standalone reauthorization with the USA Rights Act (H.R. 4124), a FISA reform bill introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.).

Amash has long been opposed to unconstitutional government surveillance, also proposing the Amash-Conyers amendment in 2013 that sought to end the NSA’s “blanket collection” of Americans’ telephone records.

In December, Amash and dozens of his colleagues sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi demanding that any extension of the FISA Amendments Act be considered in the House independently, and not attached to any spending bill.

RARE POV: Republicans reject limited government when it comes to surveillance

“The government’s intelligence-gathering activities under the FISA Amendments Act raise important questions about security, privacy, transparency, civil rights, constitutional law, and the appropriate reach of government power in an age of dispersed, evolving national security issues,” last year’s letter read.

Amash ended his Twitter series on Friday with a declaration, “Congress now has an obligation to re-examine #FISA702 and pass reform legislation like the #USARIGHTSAct to protect the rights of the people we represent.”

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