WASHINGTON, DC – Republican members of the House of Representatives are insisting on getting answers from the FBI after court documents indicate that the agency had engaged in spying on more than three million US citizens without a warrant.
Representatives Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mike Turner (R-OH), in a letter dated May 25, wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray, asking for an explanation as to why his organization had stepped in and collected personal information of more than 3.3 million US residents without their knowledge or permission, according to recently released court information.
The information relates to section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows federal agencies to target “non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information.” Additionally, FISA also allows the government to collect Intel on any US citizen who may have had contact with targeted foreign individuals; however, FISA enforcement by the FBI and other agencies against Americans has typically been conducted behind a cloak of secrecy.
That is, until the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ruled in November 2020 that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) report “the number of inquiries from US persons conducted by the FBI against information acquired by Section 702.” As a result of this ruling, ODNI’s 2021 Annual Statistical Transparency Report included information about Intel collected by the FBI from US citizens, which caught the attention of Representatives Jordan and Turner, among others.
ODNI’s 2021 Transparency Report indicates that the FBI conducted 3,394,053 searches for information on US citizens, which represents a 250 percent increase over the number of searches conducted in 2020, which totaled 1,324,057; more than 50 percent of these searches, approximately 1.9 million, were related to investigations into Russian interference with critical US infrastructure.
The 2021 ODNI report indicates that the government apparently greatly stepped up its Intel efforts against its residents during the first year of Joe Biden’s presidency.
In their letter to Wray, Jordan and Turner issued a host of requests, including explanations about the searches made of the 3,394,053 U.S. citizens who appeared in the 2021 ODNI report, what information was collected, and how the information was used for private purposes. research.
Additionally, Jordan and Turner also asked for information on the 1.9 million Americans who were investigated for Russian infrastructure interference, as well as “a detailed statement about the FBI investigation, including the status of the investigation and any information discovered about the identity of the Russian actors and their involvement or connection to the Russian government, if any.”
The two Republicans also called for explanations for several other instances of perceived FBI overreach, including meeting Intel between 2015 and 2020; A written response from Wray was required no later than 5:00 pm on June 7.
FISA was introduced on May 18, 1977 by Senator Ted Kennedy and signed into law by President Carter on October 25, 1978; Section 702 is reauthorized by Congress every six years, with the next vote scheduled for 2024.