The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and FreedomWorks are urging President Trump to support including broader surveillance reforms as part of a bill reauthorizing soon-to-expire intelligence programs.
The two groups went up on Monday with an ad, which will air on Fox News, telling Trump to support reforming the “rogue FBI.”
“President Trump, as Congress considers the Patriot Act, tell them to rein in a rogue FBI and reform our surveillance laws, so that this never happens again,” the ad says.
The ad will air through Friday and is part of a six-figure, multistate TV and digital ad campaign to urge Trump and Congress to enact broader surveillance reforms.
Congress has until March 15 to reauthorize, reform or end three expiring provisions of the USA Freedom Act, a 2015 law that overhauled the post-9/11 Patriot Act.
But lawmakers are under pressure to use any reauthorization bill to also make broader reforms to the court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) after Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the warrant applications to monitor Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
“If President Trump wants to do right by Carter Page and all Americans, he should demand truly meaningful reforms to our surveillance laws and dismiss any proposals for small ‘fixes’ or clean reauthorizations that [House Intelligence Committee Chairman] Adam Schiff [D-Calif.] or [Attorney General] Bill Barr may be trying to pressure the president and Congress into accepting. America will be watching,” Christopher Anders, ACLU deputy political director, said in a statement.
Josh Withrow, a senior policy analyst at FreedomWorks, added that the groups hope that “we can reach President Trump with the message that there is massive bi-partisan agreement with him that the government’s surveillance authorities urgently need serious reform.”
Libertarian-minded Republicans and progressives have warned for years that they do not believe the surveillance courts provided enough transparency or privacy protections for individuals targeted for surveillance.
The concerns about potential abuse have been raised by a larger number of Republicans after the Horowitz report, and the House Judiciary Committee was forced to pull its bill to reauthorize some programs after Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) threatened to force votes on several FISA-related amendments.
Trump has largely stayed out of the fight over whether to reauthorize the three expiring USA Freedom provisions that deal with roving wiretaps, lone-wolf surveillance and a controversial phone records program.
But he hinted last week that he could be leaning toward supporting broader surveillance reforms when he retweeted two tweets from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who supports using the intelligence bill to reform the surveillance court.
When he retweeted Jordan a second time, Trump added “they spied on my campaign!”
Barr pitched Senate Republicans last week on a clean extension, while promising that he would use his own authority to make broader changes to the FISA courts.