(Tony Sifert, Headline USA) A recently issued transparency report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence shows that the FBI has been spying on millions of American citizens without warrants and without consequences, according to the America First Report.
ODNI’s assessment, titled “Regarding the Intelligence Community’s Use of National Security Surveillance Authorities,” was released in April 2022 and contains alarming data on the FBI’s irresponsible invasion of the privacy of Americans.
The America First Report indicated that “the FBI scoured private emails, texts and other electronic communications of 3.4 million U.S. residents” without warrants between December 2020 and November 2021, encapsulating the final two months of the Trump administration and the first 10 months of President Joe Biden’s term.
The corrupt intelligence agency also eavesdropped on 1.3 million Americans between December 2019 and November 2020.
Using investigations into foreign terrorists or hackers as their pretense, the FBI’s searches inevitably gather data from Americans.
The revelation called to mind the PRISM scandal, first exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald during the Obama administration, which divulged that the National Security Agency was using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to scoop up metadata from phones and emails indiscriminately.
It also evoked memories of the FBI’s own FISA abuses in obtaining error-laden warrants to spy on then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign advisers during the 2016 election. The agency then leaked that information to the media, resulting in the Russia-collusion hoax that severely undermined public confidence in the once vaunted intelligence community.
According to Reason magazine, the FBI’s spying is “technically legal,” but likely violates the Fourth Amendment’s protections from illegal search and seizure—often interpreted more broadly as a right to privacy.
(1) The FBI conducts warrantless "backdoor searches" for Americans' data in Section 702 databases on a massive scale: up to 3.39 million of these searches last year. Though the FBI's arithmetic is fuzzy, it's clear that the scale of the problem is enormous. pic.twitter.com/M0VjG3X2in
— Ashley Gorski (@ashgorski) April 29, 2022
“[The ODNI] report sheds light on the extent of these unconstitutional ‘backdoor searches,’ and underscores the urgency of the problem,” said Ashley Gorski, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, in a statement.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., agreed.
“The FBI must also be transparent about the particular circumstances in which it conducted a staggering 1.9 million additional queries in 2021,” Wyden said. “Finally, the public deserves to know whether the FBI has fully addressed the extensive abuses of its 702 search authorities that have been documented for years.”
The ODNI has also recently released redacted versions rulings from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that have been deemed relevant to matters of law.
It offered a rare public glimpse into the secretive FISA tribunals, established during the post-9/11 panic to prevent further acts of foreign terrorism.
In one ruling, the FISA court expanded the FBI’s access to Americans’ personal data, Reclaim the Net reported.
“On October 8, 2008, the court expanded the number of FBI officials that could access the personal data of Americans,” RTN wrote. “The court argued that officials in the FBI’s National Counter Terrorism Center could access data collected via FISA because the unit served a foreign intelligence purpose, not a law enforcement purpose.”
Of course, with the deep state newly devoted to the pursuit of alleged “domestic extremists,” these powers are ripe for further abuse by the ultra-politicized Justice Department.
Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.