Right and Left React to the Extension of Warrantless Surveillance

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The political news cycle is fast, and keeping up can be overwhelming. Trying to find differing perspectives worth your time is even harder. That’s why we have scoured the internet for political writing from the right and left that you might not have seen.

Has this series exposed you to new ideas? Tell us how. Email us at ourpicks@nytimes.com.

For an archive of all the Partisan Writing Roundups, check out Our Picks.

From the Right


The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to extend the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program for six years with minimal changes. The agencies headquarters in Maryland.

Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Jim Banks in The Washington Examiner:

“As a conservative, I am committed to both protecting our national security and our civil liberties. As a matter of national security, we cannot return to a pre-9/11 footing by reinstituting barriers between national security and law enforcement.”

Mr. Banks, a Republican congressman from Indiana, explains why he supports the decision by Congress to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The statute allows the government to continue conducting warrantless searches of communications of foreigners abroad, even when they are talking to American citizens. Mr. Banks argues that the provision is an “irreplaceable tool” crucial for the intelligence community to protect the nation. Moreover, he counters arguments that Section 702 compromises the privacy of Americans by explaining that it “is subject to extraordinary checks and balances, including oversight from all three branches of government.” Read more »


Willis L. Krumholz in The Federalist:

“The problem, fundamentally, is that Congress has given our intelligence agencies too much power, and refuses to check these agencies even when they flagrantly abuse the vast powers they have been granted.”

Mr. Krumholz cites what he sees as abuses of Section 702 as an argument against reauthorization of the provision. He is particularly concerned with the process known as unmasking, wherein government officials can find out the identities of Americans participating in foreign communications picked up by intelligence agencies. Despite their best intentions to prevent terrorism and crime, he argues, intelligence agencies are not immune from a central tenet of human nature: “Unaccountable power corrupts and would be abused by even the best of us.” Read more »


From the Left


Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and other lawmakers held a press conference on Wednesday urging changes to the N.S.A.’s surveillance authority.

Eric Thayer for The New York Times

Alex Shephard in New Republic:

“Trump’s FISA tweets betray a deep ignorance of the program, suggesting that he is getting his policy briefings not from White House staffers, but from television.”

Mr. Shephard takes on a particularly odd moment in the battle over the law’s reauthorization when, on Thursday morning, President Trump posted seemingly contradictory Twitter message on the issue. To Mr. Shephard, having the president walk back his initial message against reauthorization was a sign that he was out of step with his own administration. More important, perhaps, it also proves that Republican legislators have decided that, on policy, they will just ignore what their party’s leader has to say. Read more »


Trevor Timm in NBC News:

“Democrats should have had the foresight to roll back the Bush-era surveillance laws under President Obama; it’s unconscionable to now hand Trump even more leverage to seek retribution and give him a green light to conduct unconstitutional surveillance on Americans.”

Mr. Timm, the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, takes aim Democrats who joined with the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, and other Republicans to extend the N.S.A.’s ability to spy on Americans without a warrant. He singles out the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, and Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, for being staunch critics of the Trump administration while simultaneously granting it more power. Mr. Timm urges Senate Democrats to correct the mistake their colleagues in the House made in Thursday’s vote. Read more »

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