FBI officials abused key surveillance tool when tracking down Americans involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising and 2020 George Floyd protests, according to a bombshell new court document that outlines the latest… a series of black marks against the agency.
The violations were first described in a secret April 2022 court order by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a redacted version of the report on Friday, which found the FBI failed to follow its own standards when using Section 702 to conduct warrantless searches.
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows US federal intelligence agencies to conduct targeted searches of foreigners, but sometimes Americans are inappropriately searched in the process.
The report details how the FBI used Section 702 to ‘question’ – or search for – the names of individuals believed to be on Capitol grounds during the January 6, 2021 riot, Black Lives Matter protesters Matters, victims of crime and their families and donors to a single campaign in Congress.
Report says 13 people linked to Jan. 6 were interviewed to determine if they had ‘foreign connections’
Due to clear violations of standard FIA procedures, FBI agents subsequently obtained information about the Americans when they had no “analytical, investigative, or evidentiary purpose.”
The explosive report follows the damning findings of special counsel John Durham’s final report released on Monday – including the dismantling of the Steele dossier and the “salacious” allegations against Donald Trump. He concluded that the FBI had no “factual evidence” to investigate the Trump-Russia collusion.
The report says 13 people linked to Jan. 6 were inappropriately questioned to determine if they had “foreign connections”.
Additionally, more than 130 people were searched in the database who were linked to social unrest and riots led by Black Lives Matter activists following the 2020 killing of George Floyd.
FISA research was conducted to find out if they were linked to counter-terrorism plots – what the DOJ wrote in the report was “reasonable”, but the high level of redactions does not allow for a fuller explanation.
There was also a “batch survey” of more than 19,000 donors for a Congressional campaign, which was not named.
The FBI analyst who conducted the research said the campaign was a possible target of foreign influence.
However, the Justice Department said there were only ‘eight total identifiers’ used in the search that ‘had sufficient links to foreign influence activities to meet the standard of questioning’. .
Additionally, FBI FISA research was conducted on crime victims, including “persons listed in police homicide reports, including victims, next of kin, witnesses, and suspects” .
The DOJ said the requests were inappropriate because there was “no reasonable basis” to expect the individuals to be linked to foreign intelligence through these searches.
In total, the FBI abused Section 702 more than 278,000 times – according to the document.
The Section 702 provision is set to expire by the end of the year, so Congress is taking action and working especially hard to ensure the abuses don’t happen again.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan previously called renewing Section 702 “the most important thing we’re going to do this Congress.”
Jordan told DailyMail.com in a statement on Friday: ‘[FBI Director] Chris Wray told us we can sleep well at night thanks to the FBI’s so-called FISA reforms. But it only gets worse.
In December, the ODNI declassified a 2021 report that includes instances of numerous FISA abuses.
He also revealed that the FBI had searched the data for an “anonymous” congressman and local political organizations in an investigation to determine if they had ties to foreign intelligence services.
The FBI said in a statement that since the ODNI report, the agency has made “significant changes” to searches under Section 702.
More than 100 people were searched in the database who were linked to social unrest and rioting following the 2020 killing of George Floyd and the BLM protests
‘While we cannot comment on specific queries, the FBI has made significant changes over the past few years – changes subsequent to the period covered by the reports raised in today’s hearing – to resolve 702 compliance issues, including the establishment of an all-new Internal Audit Office is currently focusing on FISA compliance and instituting new policies requiring enhanced pre-approval requirements before certain requests “ sensitive” American people could be executed,” an FBI spokesperson said at the time.
“For example, ‘sensitive’ requests involving elected officials now require deputy director approval. We look forward to sharing the impact of our reforms. The FBI takes seriously its role as guardian of our 702 authorities, which are essential to fulfilling our mission to protect Americans from foreign threats from countries like China, Russia and Iran,” the statement continued.
In March, Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., revealed his name was improperly searched by the FBI during a Section 702 query.
“I want to make it clear that the FBI’s inappropriate questioning of a duly elected member of Congress is egregious and constitutes a violation that not only degrades confidence in FISA, but is also considered a threat to the separation of powers,” he said. said LaHood during a House Intelligence. Committee hearing.
Officials told The Associated Press that the “unnamed congressional campaign” in the new court document was unrelated to LaHood.