The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act procedures were the ones that were abused by deep-state operatives in Barack Obama’s administration to create the false narrative of the Trump 2016 campaign colluding with Russia, a conspiracy theory that since has been debunked.
But the FISA procedures still are being abused and now two members of Congress are demanding answers from FBI chief Christopher Wray, who earlier expressed alarm by the outside-the-lines behavior and said it “cannot be repeated.”
Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Andy Biggs have written to Wray “to request information about the FBI’s illegal spying activities,” according to a report by Fox.
The details about the ongoing trouble come from a newly declassified opinion from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence last week declassified the opinion and Jordan and Biggs explained that showed the FBI “has been seriously and systematically abusing its warrantless electronic surveillance authority.”
The report said the opinion was from late last year and described as “apparent widespread violations” the actions by the FBI.
One section of the law authorizes the U.S. attorney general and DNI to approve warrantless surveillance “of non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States, subject to limitations,” the report said.
It requires the use of certain procedures to make sure the correct individual is being watched.
Fox reported, “But, 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.'”
Further, the court opinion charged, “the government has reported numerous incidents regarding searches of section 702 FISA information without first obtaining court permission.”
The court, the opinion said was “concerned about the apparent widespread violations.”
The members of Congress cited the FBI’s earlier “misconduct,” which was called out by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz in a 2019 report that found “abuses and deficiencies” as well as 17 significant “errors or omissions” and 51 “incorrect or unsupported factual assertions.”
Those dealt with the Obama administration’s strategy to spy on the Trump campaign, including by obtaining spy warrants on various campaign participants.
Jordan and Biggs told Wray the OIG had issued a warning just last year of various “noncompliance” issues that are to guard against misinformation.
But now the court’s comment “only raises more questions.”
The members of Congress called the issue one of civil liberties serious and said they wanted to know why the FBI still was abusing FISA, an account of each instance that has developed in recent years and how has the FBI tried to make sure the rules are followed.
Last year Wray provided information to Congress that he had ordered more than 40 corrective actions regarding FISA policies and practices.
The FISA law, adopted in 2008, imposes limits on spying by federal agencies.
Boasberg found that in 2019-2020 the DOJ’s national security division reported “numerous incidents” to the court involving queries on Americans for criminal evidence without the FBI first obtaining court permission.
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