The Republicans John McCain, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SAC), and Richard Burr, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee (SIC) decided to use the shooting in Orlando for an amendment of the spending bill which will gives the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) the right to access anyone’s browser history, email data, and all other digital communications under the guise of fighting terrorism.
This is so the FBI would not have to obtain a warrant to conduct surveillance on potential prey. While ignoring the inefficiency of the FBI in the case of Omar Mateen, the shooter in the Orlando tragedy who was of interest to the FBI twice, interviewed, and let to continue on until he finally committed a mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub earlier this month.
And now the republicans see this tragedy as a way to install more surveillance over peoples lives and privacy on the internet, but not addressing the failure of the FBI to prevent Mateen from carrying out his deadly plot. Now, McCain and Burr are pushing for more powers to the FBI’s because of the Orlando shooting by using the Islamic terrorism aspects to justify their demand.
The amendment is to give full funding to the FBI and the Department of Justice (DoJ) in order to use national security letters (NSLs) to obtain all electronic communications of anyone or suspected criminal before they commit a crime. It also gives the government a permanent power to conduct surveillance on any suspect or prey without establishing a connection to any known terror or group; and by doing this, the provision in the USA Freedom Act that was set to expire in 2019 will be extended.
To add more twist, Senator John Cronyn earlier this week said: “Our failure to act to grant this authority, particularly in the wake of this terrible tragedy in Orlando, would be inexcusable. This is something the FBI director appointed by President Obama had said he needs. He said this is their number one legislative priority. We owe it to those on the front lines of our counter-terrorism efforts to get them what they need.”
Both the American Civil Liberties Union and Senator Ron Wyden agree this amendment would “eliminate many of the reforms” to the Patriot Act that Congress passed last year. Wyden also accuses the FBI of trying to evade paperwork. The FBI already has the power to demand these electronic records with a court order” said the senator, and the are also able to bypass that in emergencies.
Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have also shown complete disapproval.