Principled limited government constitutional conservative Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Andy Biggs are demanding answers from FBI Director Christopher Wray after a newly
declassified opinion from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court revealed "widespread" FISA violations.
In an exclusive report Brooke Singman of Yahoo News revealed that last week, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declassified an opinion from the FISC – the court with oversight of the FISA system – which Jordan and Biggs said revealed the FBI "has been seriously and systematically abusing its warrantless electronic surveillance authority."
The opinion was from November 2020 and detailed the FBI's "apparent widespread violations" of privacy rules in conducting surveillance under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
"We write to request information about the FBI's illegal spying activities," Jordan, of Ohio, and Biggs, of Arizona, wrote to Wray Tuesday.
Singman reported Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authorizes the attorney general and the director of National Intelligence to jointly authorize warrantless surveillance of non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States, subject to limitations.
The section requires the adoption of "targeting procedures" to ensure that acquired information is limited to non-U.S. persons to prevent the "intentional acquisition" of U.S. domestic communications, according to U.S. Code. The section also requires the use of minimization and querying procedures, specifically requiring that the government obtain a FISC order for any review of Section 702 query results in criminal investigations unrelated to national security.
But, wrote Singman, the opinion revealed that the FBI "violated the querying standard" after the Justice Department audited the government’s compliance with Section 702 querying safeguards. The FISC determined that the "FBI’s failure to properly apply its querying standard when searching section 702-acquired information was more pervasive than was previously believed."
The opinion further documented that "the government has reported numerous incidents regarding searches of section 702 FISA information without first obtaining court permission." Pointing to the discovery of 40 queries in which the FBI accessed information for investigations involving "healthcare fraud, transnational organized crime, violent gangs, domestic terrorism involving racially motivated violent extremists, as well as investigations relating to public corruption and bribery" — all unrelated to foreign surveillance.
Singman reported the FISC opinion noted that "none of these queries was related to national security and they returned numerous Section 702-acquired products in response."
Our friend Sara Carter reported that in their letter, Jordan and Biggs note that the ODNI’s memo highlights the misuse of FISA’s Section 702, which states that the government can permit the surveillance of foreigners outside the U.S. for national security purposes, to spy on American citizens.
Jordan and Biggs, in their letter to Wray, though, called the concerns "particularly disturbing in light of prior FBI misconduct" detailed by the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz in his 2019 report, which revealed a pattern of "abuses and deficiencies in the FBI's FISA process."
Horowitz's report revealed that the FBI had abused the FISA process to illegally surveil Page. The report also outlined 17 significant "errors or omissions" and 51 "incorrect or unsupported factual assertions" in the FBI's application to conduct warrantless surveillance.
"Similarly, in March 2020, the OIG warned you of extensive noncompliance with Woods Procedures, which act as a safeguard and are designed to minimize factual inaccuracies in FISA applications by maintaining supporting documentation for each factual assertion in the application," Jordan and Biggs wrote.
"The OIG alerted you to unsupported, uncorroborated, or inconsistent information in the Woods Files of all 25 surveillance applications on U.S. Persons that the OIG examined," they continued.
They added that the recently declassified FISC opinion, which was released in November 2020, "only raises more questions about the FBI’s respect for the constitutional and statutory parameters of FISA."
"Given the seriousness of this matter for civil liberties, please provide the following information immediately," Jordan and Biggs wrote, requesting an explanation why the FBI is "still" "abusing" FISA; a detailed accounting of every instance since December 2019 when the FBI has "queried, accessed" information pursuant to FISA for purposes unrelated to national security; and an explanation on what specific actions Wray has taken to address the concerns in the November 2020 opinion to "prevent the FBI from using its section 702 authorities to surveil, investigate, or otherwise examine U.S. citizens."
As Sara Carter and Jennie Taer reported, Jordan and Biggs asked three threshold questions of Wray, that every American should expect to see promptly and truthfully answered:
1. Please explain why almost a year after the OIG’s report about FISA abuses, the FISC found the FBI to still be abusing its warrantless surveillance authority under section 702.
2. Please provide a detailed accounting of every instance since December 2019 in which the FBI has queried, accessed, otherwise used information obtained pursuant to section 702 for purposes unrelated to national security.
3. Please explain what actions you have taken in the wake of the FISC’s November 2020 memorandum opinion and order to prevent the FBI from using its section 702 authorities to surveil, investigate, or otherwise examine U.S. citizens.”
We eagerly await FBI Director Wray’s answers.
January 6th riot
Rep. Jim Jordan
Rep. Andy Biggs
FBI Director Christopher Wray
Director of National Intelligence
section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act