Need For FISA Is Clear

I am deeply disappointed in the 3/2/19 Lakewood Lens column titled “A FISA Primer”. Primarily, “primer” is defined as a basic introduction to something. The column falsely states the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is a means for the US government to “spy” on its citizens, and it fails to explain that FISA is invoked ONLY through a court-ordered warrant process. The column is essentially a political statement disguised as a teaching moment.

FISA is a process used to track contacts made to or from “foreign” persons, thus the name, which sometimes involves US citizens. A citizen may only be surveilled, or “spied on”, after a court-ordered warrant is approved that is based on evidence that an actual or possible illegal act is involved, such as terrorist activity. As history has shown, abuse of surveillance of US citizens is possible, but routine surveillance without express purpose and judicial approval is illegal under FISA.

The rest of the column is a disjointed mish-mash of one-sided political/rhetorical statements, often about prior unproven events and conspiracy theories and other false assertions about active investigations involving president Trump. (E.g. impact of Hillary Clinton emails, the “Uranium One” company sale, alleged spying by President Obama on Trump, the Steele “dossier” partially used in a FISA warrant, false insinuations that Democrats generally support “infanticide”, “socialism”, and “open borders”.)

Unfortunately, the column fails to address the fact that US intelligence agencies as well as the DOJ and FBI believe the 2016 election was interfered with by foreign entities, e.g. Russia, and use of FISA is relevant. Further, the “Mueller” counterintelligence probe was initiated by Trump’s own DOJ and FBI, not Democrats. That probe also has authority to investigate other possible crimes found during the process, e.g. Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and is why the US Attorneys in Washington D.C. and NY have concurrent investigations on several matters.

The need for FISA could not be clearer under the cloud of controversy involving the Trump Administration, prior political campaign and possible connections to Russians. Whether substantive crimes are found, e.g. conspiracy involving US citizens, investigation is warranted to understand why people had Russian connections and why people lied about them. Beyond that, people involved have given many reasons to investigate the legality of their business and personal conduct prior to and continuing after the 2016 election.

The investigations are real, not “fake” so let’s see what happens.

Paul L. Demler is a Jamestown resident.