The FBI has been scolded for improperly surveilling American citizens repeatedly in 2020 and 2021.
An unsealed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court filing indicated improper surveillance was conducted 278,000 times, according to the New York Post.
Those under surveillance included participants in civil rights protests that followed the death of George Floyd in 2020 and participants in the events of Jan. 6, 2021.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio said FBI Director Christopher Wray “told us we can sleep well at night because of the FBI’s so-called FISA reforms. But it just keeps getting worse,” according to The Washington Post.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the report on Friday, according to The Hill.
The FBI maintains a database of searchable intelligence, but under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, there must be a foreign intelligence purpose to conduct a search, or the FBI must be seeking evidence of a crime, according to Fox News.
Fox reported that the FBI promised to do better, according to an unnamed senior FBI official.
“As Director Wray has made clear, the errors described in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s opinion are completely unacceptable. As a result of the audits that revealed these instances of noncompliance, the FBI changed its querying procedures to make sure these errors do not happen again,” the official said.
“We are committed to continuing this work and providing greater transparency into the process to earn the trust of the American people and advance our mission of safeguarding both the nation’s security and privacy and civil liberties, at the same time.”
In one instance cited in the report information was sought on “over 19,000 donors to a congressional campaign.”
Fox News said the candidate was not in Congress at the time and did not win the election.
Recall that communications are obtained without a warrant under Section 702 based on the government’s pledge that it is targeting only foreigners abroad. But the surveillance inevitably sweeps in Americans’ communications… 2/22 https://t.co/q5i8ulklYF.
— Elizabeth Goitein (@LizaGoitein) May 19, 2023
Judge Rudolph Contreras of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court attacked the FBI in an opinion dated April 2022.
He wrote that “compliance problems with the querying of Section 702 information have proven to be persistent and widespread.”
“If they are not substantially mitigated by these recent measures, it may become necessary to consider other responses, such as substantially limiting the number of FBI personnel with access to unminimized Section 702 information.”
The report was released days after the report of special counsel John Durham criticized the FBI for opening its discredited investigation into the Trump campaign’s non-existent links to Russia.
“Where’s the accountability for this? Who’s going to be held accountable? These are the questions we’re going to continue to ask,” House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana said, according to The Hill.