Congress just took a big dump on Jim Jordan’s surveillance reform effort (and the Constitution)

Posted on Dec 14, 2023

Today, the House of Representatives voted on a measure to reauthorize Section 702 domestic surveillance, passing an extension.

Some background on this comes from Ohio’s neighbor, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky:

What’s interesting about this is not merely that the vote represents Congress taking a massive dump on the Constitution (it will extend de facto warrantless surveillance measures).

The move also appears to massively undercut Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, whose committee just moved– on a bipartisan basis– a bill that the hawkish Wall Street Journal editorial board says would “gut” a “crucial” intelligence tool.

Overwhelmingly, Jordan’s Judiciary Committee voted out the bill that well and truly would rein in Section 702 surveillance– which applies to things like emails. As the WSJ ed board admits, “the bill would require a warrant for queries of U.S. persons.” Sort of like the way the Constitution says, you know?

But instead of that bill proceeding, it appears that a 4 month reauthorization of Section 702 and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was rolled into the always-must-pass end-of-year Christmas Tree that is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Because that bill was brought before the House today, after passing the Senate yesterday, under a suspension of the rules, two-thirds of the House had to vote for it to make it law. And they just did.

From Justin Amash, former Libertarian and libertarian Republican congressman:

It’s unfortunate that House Republicans–and Democrats– decided to throw Jordan under the bus on one issue where he and his chairmanship of House Judiciary are genuinely useful things.