Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff has been a vocal opponent of the recently released FISA memo and the Kremlin-funded media outlet RT, which he ironically appeared on five years ago to discuss Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court transparency.
During a Congressional hearing on March 20 last year, he called the Russian television channel “slick propaganda,” according to the Free Beacon.
“We know a lot about the Russian operation, about the way they amplified the damage their hacking and dumping of stolen documents was causing through the use of slick propaganda like RT, the Kremlin’s media arm,” Schiff said.
He continued, “Donald Trump appoints one of his high profile surrogates, Michael Flynn, to be his national security adviser. Michael Flynn has been paid by the Kremlin’s propaganda outfit, RT, in the past, as well as another Russian entity.”
Despite his recent criticisms of the channel, he appeared on RT on July 31, 2013 for an eight-minute interview on NSA surveillance and FISA.
“That would not allow us to have any kind of a national security system, so I think we have to take that very seriously, just as we took the [Bradley] Manning case very seriously,” Schiff said. “So, we need to find other mechanisms to raise these issues. I think bringing more transparency to the FISA court will allow us to do that … We have to condemn these leaks, take them very seriously, and find a better way to raise these substantive issues.”
This interview came after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified information on U.S. surveillance systems and methods, starting a debate on privacy and security.
Schiff’s 2013 call for more transparency in the FISA court starkly contrasts his comments on the release of the memo last week showing the alleged abuse of the program.
The four-page memo, drafted by intelligence committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, outlines surveillance abuses by the Obama administration’s intelligence community directed at Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Specifically, the memo alleges that the FBI relied heavily on the infamous and unverified Trump-Russia dossier — commissioned by liberal opposition research firm Fusion GPS and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democrat National Committee — to obtain FISA warrants to surveil the Trump team.
After the House Intelligence Committee voted to release the memo, Schiff said that it was a “very sad day” in “the history of this committee,” Fox News reported.
“Today, this committee voted to put the president’s personal interests, perhaps their own political interests, above the national interest,” he said after the vote.
Fox News asked why Schiff’s FISA transparency stance had changed since 2013.
“I introduced bipartisan legislation in 2013 to require Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinions which contained significant statutory construction or interpretation to be declassified, with appropriate redactions,” Schiff said in a statement to the network. “A very similar provision was signed into law as part of the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act, which I supported because when the FISC engages in a significant constitutional or statutory analysis, for instance on authorizing bulk collection of phone records, the public interest in transparency should be weighed.”
“That is a wholly different issue than declassifying a FISC order authorizing surveillance against a particular agent of a foreign power, which by its nature includes highly classified sources and methods and which would alert the targets of the surveillance and allow them to evade detection,” he added.
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