Intelligence agencies, in collaboration with the current administration, are promoting Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to Congress as a vital tool to protect Americans from foreign threats.
However, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee revealed on Tuesday it has instead become an abused loophole allowing corrupt bureaucrats to spy on Americans without warrants.
After almost two decades, Section 702 has emerged as the favored method for conducting backdoor surveillance on American citizens, without the need for a warrant.
Despite the documented abuses by officials benefiting from the statute and establishment lawmakers, these bureaucrats are seeking permission to continue spying on Americans with consequences.
⚠️ FISA SECTION 702: "Year after year we hear of instances of non-compliance including the disclosure, just last month, that the FBI illegally surveilled 19,000 donors to a Congressional campaign." @SenMikeLee #ampFW pic.twitter.com/neu6mLcg15
— FreedomWorks (@FreedomWorks) June 13, 2023
The FBI, CIA, DOJ, DNI, and NSA witnesses, all high-ranking officials, spent most of their testimonies urging Congress to maintain Section 702 in its current form. There are indications that certain Republican legislators aligned with the establishment are inclined to seek a straightforward reauthorization of FISA without any changes.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s close allies, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, argue that foreign adversaries like ISIS, China, and Russia would go unchecked if Section 702 is tampered with.
While some intelligence officials expressed openness to further reforms, their previous actions contradict these claims. Assistant Attorney General Matt Olsen of the DOJ’s National Security Division, for example, lobbied for a rubber-stamp reauthorization of Section 702 without any modifications.
Congress attempted reforms aimed at safeguarding individual privacy and civil liberties in 2015 but failed, as evidenced by a recently declassified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion from 2022. The opinion confirmed the FBI continued to conduct broad, suspicionless queries using Section 702, rendering those reforms practically worthless.
The extent of these abuses is staggering, with hundreds of thousands of breaches of Americans’ private information occurring annually. Republican Sen. Mike Lee declared such breaches as unconstitutional and emphasized the urgent need to hold the FBI accountable.
Republican lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned the FBI’s cover-up of the FD-1023 form, which contains allegations that Vice President Joe Biden received bribes from a foreign national. Despite repeated inquiries, Deputy Director Abbate evaded direct answers, sparking further concerns about the FBI’s politicization.
Sen. Hawley directly challenged Abbate, questioning why the FBI should be granted extraordinary authorities and surveillance capabilities given the agency’s concealment of information regarding serious allegations against the President and its unprecedented targeting of his political opponent.
As Congress prepares to vote on FISA, these crucial questions should guide the decisions of lawmakers, especially those representing Americans who currently harbor deep mistrust in the intelligence community and justice system.