FISA Renewal Fail: Swamp Monster Mike Johnson vs. The Constitution
By Ben Bartee - April 11, 2024

Originally published via Armageddon Prose:

I frankly don’t know how to help any proud registered Republican who still, at this late date, believes the party leadership has America’s, or Americans’, best interests at heart; they are the electoral equivalent of adult children of alcoholics.


One does not become Speaker of the House but for the blessing of the permanent administrative state and the donors who control national electoral politics.

Case in point: Mike Johnson, not appreciably different in his approach to governance as Kevin McCarthy, or Nancy Pelosi for that matter, or any Speaker of the House of the last 40 years or so.

Via Politico:

House Republicans brought down their own speaker’s third attempt to reauthorize a controversial spy power on Wednesday, marking a fresh blow to the perpetually embattled Speaker Mike Johnson.

Now, GOP leaders are scrambling to find a new plan to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act after 19 House Republicans voted to block a plan to change a section of the law that allows the intelligence community to gather and sort the communications of foreign targets without a warrant.

Johnson plowed ahead with efforts to bring the bill to the floor despite growing angst in his right flank and former President Donald Trump urging Republicans to kill the larger surveillance law. Congress now has no clear path to extending a program that administrations in both parties have touted as vital to national security before its April 19 expiration*.

As Johnson prepared to pull his members into a closed-door meeting later Wednesday, he told reporters‘We will regroup and reformulate another plan. We cannot allow [the authority] to expire. It’s too important for national security.’”

*As many sage observers of the machinations of D.C. have noted before me, every time, without fail, that the leadership of each major party unites on an issue, you can be sure that the American people are about to get fucked good and hard. This is the Iron Law of the Swamp, and it is unbreakable.

The FISA legislation failed in large part because Trump intervened to demand that it fail. Regardless of his motive — personal grievance or patriotism or both — the former president absolutely deserves full credit and praise for the pressure he applied to the craven cowards in Congress who respond only to threats to their political viability. For whatever his flaws might be, no one has ever wielded the power of the bully pulpit in the modern era quite like Trump.

On the “personal grievance” front, we might recall this infamous — but far and away not the only — abuse of the FISA regime by the corporate state to attack its political opponent back in 2016 vis a vis the years-long Russiagate hoax.

Via Associated Press, 2020:

A former FBI lawyer pleaded guilty Wednesday to altering a document related to the secret surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser during the Russia investigation.

Kevin Clinesmith is the first current or former official to be charged in a special Justice Department review of the investigation into ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Attorney General William Barr appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to scrutinize decisions made by officials during that probe.

Clinesmith pleaded guilty to a single false statement charge, admitting that he doctored an email that the FBI relied on as it sought court approval to eavesdrop on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in 2017.

The sentencing guidelines call for zero to six months in prison, but the punishment is ultimately up to U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, who accepted Clinesmith’s plea. Sentencing was scheduled for Dec. 10. Clinesmith resigned from the FBI before an internal disciplinary process was completed.

The case highlights broader problems with the FBI’s surveillance applications on Page, an issue that has long animated critics of the Russia investigation.

Charging documents filed Friday say Clinesmith altered an email he received in June 2017 from another government agency to say that Page was “not a source” for that agency, then forwarded it along to a colleague. The document does not say which agency, but Page has publicly said that he had worked as a source for the CIA.

The FBI relied on Clinesmith’s representation in the email when it submitted its fourth and final application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to secretly eavesdrop on Page on suspicions that he was a potential Russian agent.

Information about any relationship Page may have had with another government agency would have been important to disclose to the FISA court to the extent it could have helped explain, or reframe in a less suspicious light, Page’s interactions with Russians.”

The Russiagate sage might be the most high-profile abuse of FISA, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg, it being used to subvert due process in at least hundreds of thousands of cases involving American citizens.

That’s not compelling enough, apparently, for the traitorous goblin Mike Johnson to reject it, who, for his part, is skating on thin ice.

Inshallah, he’ll soon be an irrelevant footnote in the long and loathsome canon of Swamp gargoyles to occupy the Speakership — not that his replacement is likely to be any better. At least we’ll be treated to the schadenfreude of watching this little demon squirm as he tries to maintain his grip on power.


Ben Bartee, author of Broken English Teacher: Notes From Exile, is an independent Bangkok-based American journalist with opposable thumbs.

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