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The FBI just got caught in yet more massive, outrageous FISA abuses

Posted by M. C. on May 24, 2023

The FBI also routinely conducted warrantless searches on individuals listed in police homicide reports, including victims, next-of-kin, witnesses, and suspects.”

Even the Justice Department complained those searches were improper.

By James Bovard

Like the casino gambling scene in “Casablanca,” the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court is “shocked, shocked” that the Federal Bureau of Investigation continues to ravage the privacy of vast numbers of Americans.

For each American the FISA court permitted the FBI to target, the bureau illicitly surveilled almost 1,000 additional Americans.

The court’s just-revealed ruling signals the FBI presumed any American suspected of supporting the Jan. 6, 2021, protests forfeited their constitutional rights.

FISA was enacted in 1978 to curb the rampant illegal political spying exposed during the Nixon administration.

After the 9/11 attacks, the George W. Bush administration decided the president was entitled to order the National Security Agency to vacuum up Americans’ and foreigners’ emails and other data without a warrant.

Federal judges disagreed, and the result was a 2008 FISA reform that authorized the feds to continue commandeering vast amounts of data.

But under Section 702 of that law, the FBI was permitted to conduct warrantless searches of that stash for Americans’ data only to seek foreign intelligence information or evidence of crime.

The FBI had conducted 278,000 improper searches of Americans in 2020 and early 2021.
The FBI had conducted 278,000 improper searches of Americans in 2020 and early 2021.

The heavily redacted 2022 opinion finally released Friday revealed the FBI conducted 278,000 improper searches of Americans in 2020 and early 2021.

Incredibly, the bureau conducted roughly 3.4 million warrantless searches of Americans in 2021 via Section 702.

The day before, Thursday, an FBI whistleblower revealed in congressional testimony that FBI headquarters pressured agents to treat anyone who attended the Jan. 6 protests as a criminal suspect.

The FISA court opinion reveals the FBI wrongfully cast a far broader net.

Roughly 2,000 protesters supporting President Donald Trump (including an unknown number of undercover agents and informants) entered the Capitol that day.

But an FBI analyst exploited FISA to unjustifiably conduct searches on 23,132 Americans citizens “to find evidence of possible foreign influence, although the analyst conducting the queries had no indications of foreign influence,” according to FISA Chief Judge Rudolph Contreras.

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