Despite calls for the release of an internal memo that would supposedly expose the abuse of the government’s expansive powers to spy on Americans without a warrant, President Donald Trump late Friday afternoon—largely obscured by the drama of a pending federal shutdown—signed a bill into law that grants him sweeping surveillance powers.
“There is one signal that will tell you if the Republican’s #ReleaseTheMemo campaign is legitimate: whether or not [Trump] signs the FISA 702 reauth into law in the next 10 days. If he doesn’t veto 702 and send it back to Congress for reform, this is nothing but politics.” —Edward Snowden“Our democracy is broken. And now that Trump has signed a bill expanding Orwellian domestic spying powers, the most powerful and corrupt officials will have the tools to ensure that our democracy remains broken, and target those who try to fix it,” said Laila Abdelaziz, a campaigner with Fight for the Future, in response.
Earlier in the day—amid calls from right-wing pundits and Republican lawmakers that a classified memo written by House GOP staffers that purports to describe abuses in FBI surveillance practices be released—civil libertarians and transparency advocates, including NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald, called their bluff by saying that if the memo shows the kinds of abuse that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI), claimed that it does, they would have not only the ability, but the obligation to have the document released to the public.
Writing at The Intercept, Greenwald, along with his colleague Jon Schwarz, explained that “President Trump and congressional Republicans have the power, working together or separately, to immediately declassify all the relevant information. And if indeed the GOP’s explosive claims are accurate – if, as HPSCI member Steve King, R.-Iowa., says, this is “worse than Watergate” — they obviously have every incentive to get it into the public’s hands as soon as possible. Indeed, one could argue that they have the duty to do so.”
And, earlier in the day, Snowden put it this way:
There is one signal that will tell you if the Republican’s #ReleaseTheMemo campaign is legitimate: whether or not @RealDonaldTrump signs the FISA 702 reauth into law in the next 10 days. If he doesn’t veto 702 and send it back to Congress for reform, this is nothing but politics. https://t.co/TBwt0T0lBm
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 19, 2018
And so, with Trump quietly signing the bill, one might be tempted to say: ‘Well, there you have it.’