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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Rep. Biggs Signals GOP Hesitance to Renew FISA after FBI Abuse

'Federal intelligence agencies used scare tactics to convince legislators that unchecked use of this information is the only way to keep our nation safe from harm... '

(Headline USA) Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., warned FBI leadership this week that House Republicans might vote against reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act because of the agency’s repeated abuses of the law.

FISA’s surveillance powers under Section 702 are set to expire this year, which means Congress will have to vote to reauthorize them. Biggs said he is reluctant to do so, in large part because of a recent report issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which found that the FBI used “backdoor searches” to access FISA data on U.S. citizens and lawmakers.

 “In one query incident, FBI queried the names of a local political party to determine if the party had connections to foreign intelligence. This query was not reasonably likely to retrieve foreign intelligence information,” the DNI report said.

The FBI also conducted an unknown number of FISA queries using only the name of a U.S. congressman, according to the report.

In total, the FBI may have conducted as many as 3.4 million warrantless searches of U.S. citizens’ data in 2021 alone.

“During the last reauthorization of Section 702, Congress considered an amendment to require a warrant for access to 702 data relating to U.S. persons,” Biggs wrote in a letter to the FBI. 

“However, federal intelligence agencies used scare tactics to convince legislators that unchecked use of this information is the only way to keep our nation safe from harm. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is clear— Americans have the right to be free from warrantless surveillance by government bureaucrats,” he continued.

In his letter, Biggs asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to respond to several questions about the DNI report, including whether the U.S. congressman whose name was used by FBI agents was made aware that his name appeared in the 702 database and whether any steps were taken to discipline the intelligence analyst responsible for the query.

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