Warning Americans that their right to live free of being spied upon is in danger, retired Army Gen. Michael Flynn on Monday fired off a five-tweet barrage attacking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court system.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is the judicial panel that oversees American intelligence agencies in surveillance matters involving American citizens in the U.S. This shadowy body came to the public eye during the investigation of debunked claims against the 2016 campaign of former President Donald Trump.
Through repeated applications to the court, containing falsified information, the FBI was able to conduct surveillance on the Trump campaign that grew into the “Russia collusion” investigation that plagued Trump’s presidency and cost Flynn the national security advisor post he held briefly in the first days of the Trump administration.
“In the coming months, among other serious problems (& there are many), we are going to learn the FISC has become a parallel Supreme Court but operates in almost total secrecy,” Flynn wrote.
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Flynn referenced former Democratic Sen. Frank Church of Idaho, who in the 1970s sparked reforms of America’s intelligence agencies as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities — better known as the “Church Committee.” The committee uncovered revelations of the government spying on Americans, as noted by the Levin Center.
“In 1975, Church stated, ‘hiding evil is the trademark of a totalitarian government. There is no more pernicious threat to a free society than a secret police…operating beyond the law…if these abuses had not been uncovered and had the agencies gone unchecked, we might well have seen a secret police develop in the United States. Once that begins the Constitution itself is in very real danger,’” Flynn wrote.
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Flynn wrote that Church and his work resonate in the contemporary United States.
“Church was right then and his words are exponentially more on point in 2023. Advances in technology, growth of a federal bureaucracy & deep-seated corruption across the federal government has only expanded the government’s ability to destroy American’s 4th Amendment rights,” he wrote.
Flynn wrote that the time has come to protect Americans from intrusive government.
“Now is the time to form another ‘Church-like’ committee to enact serious reforms & either disband the agencies or demand full compliance & accountability from an increasingly rogue security state ‘shadow government’
“[‘Pray’ emoji] that our elected representatives have the moral fiber, integrity, & guts to call out & then do the right thing,” he wrote.
“Doing the right thing is really hard. America has sacrificed so much for so many, our fallen & our founders deserve the city on the hill to shine once again!” Flynn wrote.
In a 1975 interview, Church justified his call for restraints on surveillance with grave warnings about the extent to which agencies established to defend the country could be used to spy on U.S. citizens.
Church warned that the apparatus of intelligence gathering “could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: Telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter.”
“There would be no place to hide,” he said.
“If this government ever became a tyranny; if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community in this country has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny and there would be no way to fight back,” Church said then.
“Now, why is this investigation important? I’ll tell you why: Because I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge,” he said.
“I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return,” Church said.