Trump AG, CIA picks raise concerns about expansion of surveillance, P.2

Last time, we began looking at the issue of government surveillance, specifically regarding concerns about expansion of surveillance under President Trump. It is well known, of course, that the intelligence agencies significantly increased surveillance after the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, and the Edward Snowden affair—regardless of what you think about it—did spark certain changes and fuel prolonged discussion about privacy rights of criminal suspects.

As we noted, part of what is driving the concern is Trump’s selections for Attorney General and CIA director, Jeff Sessions and Mike Pompeo, respectively. It is known that Sessions was a supporter of the Patriot Act. He voted to reauthorize that law, and voted in favor of extending the use of roving wiretaps under the Patriot Act.

Sessions also voted in support of a measure that removed the need for obtaining a search warrant when federal agents want to surveil individuals located outside the United States. He also voted against a measure that would have required a warrant for surveillance of phone calls to foreign nations. Sessions is also said to be opposed to restricting NSA surveillance and supportive of expanding the types of information the FBI is allowed to gather online without search warrants.

Mike Pompeo, for his part, also voted in favor of extending the use of roving wiretaps under the Patriot Act, and has publicly advocated upgrading surveillance efforts to battle terrorism. Both Pompeo and Sessions advocate repealing a 2015 law prohibiting the FBI and the NSA from bulk collection of phone records. Such surveillance would impact scores of Americans who aren’t even under suspicion of a crime.

With the legislative measures set to be introduced and/or voted upon in the coming year—including an expected measure that would require technology companies to unlock encrypted communications for federal investigators—privacy advocates do have grounds to be somewhat concerned.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue from the standpoint of criminal defense, and the importance of working with an experienced criminal defense attorney to tackle privacy issues.

Sources:, Jeff Sessions on Homeland Security, Accessed Dec. 22, 2016., Mike Pompeo on the Issues, Accessed Dec. 22, 2016.


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