Republican Congressmen Jim Jordan from Ohio and Andy Biggs from Arizona are pushing to find answers from the FBI after newly declassified information from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court showed “widespread” FISA abuse by the agency.
Last week, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence published a November ruling from the FISC.
Biggs and Jordan say this information reveals that the FBI “was seriously abusing its warrantless electronic surveillance authority,” they said in a letter this week.
They argued that this new revelation “raises more concerns about the FBI’s respect for the constitutional parameters of FISA.”
The report describes the FBI’s “seemingly widespread violations” of privacy measures while using surveillance under FISA’s Section 702.
Using Section 702, the director of national intelligence and the attorney general can authorize surveillance of non-US citizens without a warrant. However, this is subject to some restrictions.
To stop any “intentional acquisition” of domestic communications, the measure requires that “targeting procedures” be used.
Also mandated is the use of querying procedures and minimization. Before analyzing Section 702 query results for investigations that are not connected to national security, there needs to be a FISC order.
The declassified information revealed that a DOJ audit of the government’s querying compliance found the FBI had “violated the standard.”
The FISC further said the “FBI’s failure to correctly use its standard when analyzing section 702-linked information was more widespread than was previously thought,” the report said.
In around 40 queries, the report said the FBI attempted to access information not related to foreign surveillance, like “transnational organized crime, healthcare fraud, violent gangs, domestic terrorism involving race, as well as investigations into public corruption,” ,., according to Fox News.
Judge James E. Boasberg, the FISC chief judge, said that the agency’s “widespread violations” were troubling.
In a letter this week to FBI Director Wray, Biggs and Jordan described the violations as “especially disturbing given the FBI’s previous misconduct.”
“We are asking for information about the FBI’s illegal spying activities,” the congressmen said in their joint letter requesting an explanation for why it was abusing FISA, “given the crucial nature of this issue for civil liberties.”
The group of congressmen further asked the agency to promptly give an account for every instance where the agency used information under FISA for reasons not related to national security.
Author: Blake Ambrose