Adam Schiff’s “fierce determination to rid ourselves of ISIS’ scourge” (WeHo News)

Adam Schiff, (D-CA 28th) Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee ought to know of what he says when he calls ISIS a scourge – and calls for ISIS’ annihilation.

Yet even in the wake of President Barack Obama’s call for an Authorization for Use of Military Force, he cannot convince the Congress to feel the same way, or at least vote they feel that way on the record.

Congress member Schiff serves a district diverse in culture and politics. The CA 28th holds the Jewish-liberal city of West Hollywood, the Armenian-Christian dominated city of Glendale and the Grande Dame of the old Midwest-inspired Southern California conservatism, Pasadena.

With worldliness earned beginning with his time as a United States Attorney in Los Angeles putting FBI spy Richard Miller behind bars, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said the Paris attacks should dispel any illusions about the nature of the Islamic State.


“It will add another sense of urgency to defeating” it, he said in the Paris terror attack’s aftermath, “and that will be very hard to do without eliminating its sanctuary. If this doesn’t create in the world a fierce determination to rid ourselves of this scourge, I don’t know what will.”


Still, and only days after the President urged Congress to do so, the foreign policy, cyber-security and intelligence expert seems only able to voice his desire to get Congress to authorize the military to take on the Islamic State.


He put forward, one more time, a proposal that the House vote on an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), saying to Rachel Maddow that he felt movement toward a vote from the other side of the aisle.


Rep. Adam Schiff’s proposal seems on track to meet the same fate as his last push for a debate – although more GOP congress members talk it up, the leadership on both sides of the aisle appears unwilling in the extreme to get caught voting to send troops overseas.


Congress member Schiff’s latest AUMF plan would “sunset” the military force authorization resolutions passed by Congress following the 9/11 terrorist attack and prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.


Rep. Adam Schiff, West Hollywood’s congress member who holds a chair on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and also serves on the House’s Select Committee on Benghazi.


According to the administration, President Barack Obama has been citing the authority given to President George W. Bush under the 9/11 AUMF resolution to conduct a military campaign against ISIL in Syria.


The congress member’s proposal reorients the former AUMF to explicitly name an updated list of enemies – Al Qaeda, ISIL, the Taliban and “associated forces” against which the president would carry authorization to use “necessary and appropriate force.”


Any group added to that list would have to be made public.


The proposal repeals the 9/11 and Iraq invasion language that had no sunset clause, while the new authority would expire after three years.


“I believe that the AUMF I’m proposing and circulating amongst my colleagues can serve as a template to bridge the divide by consolidating and unifying our use of force against ISIS, Al Qaeda and the Taliban, repealing all prior authorizations, and provided an expedited mechanism to accept or reject any introduction of ground troops in a combat mission,” the California lawmaker said in statement.


“If this is a war worth fighting – and I believe it is – Congress must have the courage to authorize it.”


The congress member’s proposal came days after Obama called on Congress during an Oval Office address to pass a military force measure.


“For over a year, I have ordered our military to take thousands of airstrikes against ISIL targets. I think it’s time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united, and committed, to this fight,” President Obama said in his address.


It remains to be seen if his proposal will make it to the floor for a vote. Newly-elevated House Speaker Paul Ryan has not weighed in, but assured the Republican caucus he would “stand by the ‘Hastert Rule'” that requires majority caucus support for any bill to reach a vote, even if Democratic support would pass it


While Congress member Schiff suffers from “minority-it is,” the inability of the political minority in the Congress to place items for debate on the agenda, his efforts to rein in the worst of the cyber-security overreach by the NSA finally saw their triumph – at the end of December the NSA ended its mass collection of data of Americans’ phone calls under the Patriot Act.


The June bipartisan passage of the USA Freedom Act banned the collection of information known as metadata from Americans’ telephonic and electronic communications while also putting into place tighter controls on government access to that information, which includes the dates and durations of phone calls and logs of call times, but not the calls’ content, an issue on which Rep. Schiff took the lead.


At the time, Rep. Schiff said, Schiff, who has taken a lead role in cutting back intrusions into Americans’ privacy, issued this statement. “The bill we passed… largely tracks the Telephone Metadata Reform Act that I introduced in January, which requires FISC approval before a query is made to the telephone companies in the absence of exigent circumstances.”


President George W. Bush authorized the secret program and government kept it secret until the summer of 2013 when Edward Snowden’s leaks showed the NSA had gathered from Verizon “all call detail records” of its customers – on a daily basis.


Under the new law, the USA Freedom Act, the government must report the total number of orders for surveillance issued under the new authority and the number of targets of such orders annually to both Congress and the public.


The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) is considering a request by the NSA to access historical phone metadata until Feb. 29, 2016, for the purpose of verifying that the new system works as intended, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

Separately, said the ODNI, the NSA remains under a legal obligation to preserve the phone metadata it has collected until civil litigation regarding the program is resolved or the relevant courts relieve the NSA of such obligations.


Both the NSA and the Justice Department declined to say whether that means they will preserve all the records or just those that are relevant to the litigation.


Even though mass collections of data stopped a fortnight ago, efforts to tighten the nation’s cyber-security to combat terrorism and fight against America’s enemies continue apace, getting a huge boost early this week when the House passed a large spending bill.


As part of the $1.6 trillion agreement announced by House Speaker Paul Ryan to keep the government operating through fiscal 2016, Rep. Schiff added a cyber-security provision that encourages companies to share cyber-threat information with the government.


The measure represents the result of several years’ effort by Rep. Schiff to pass a cyber-bill and brings together three different versions that passed the House and Senate earlier this year with bipartisan support.


The provision, entitled the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, runs parallel to the Senate version of the bill, which passed despite concerns about privacy and transparency.


Importantly, says the Washington Post, the bill denies the Defense Department and, specifically, the NSA, a place as a portal for sharing of threats; it allows the president to designate any agency other than the civilian Homeland Security Department to act as a portal if it cannot.


The news of inclusion of the provision in the omnibus budget bill comes only days after a closed door meeting held in the White House between administration official and privacy advocates working to clarify the president’s stance on strong cyber-encryption.


The Daily Dot reports that Ed Felten, deputy U.S. chief technology officer, Michael Daniel, a special assistant to the president and cybersecurity coordinator met with representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, and New America’s Open Technology Institute.

Source: WeHo News