How FISA Shields FBI Abuses

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from The Wall Street Journal,

The Durham report recently revealed how the FBI opened its Trump-Russia investigation in 2016 without “any actual evidence of collusion.” Now a newly unsealed court document reveals that the bureau conducted thousands of improper searches on American citizens under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The numbers are astounding. The document issued by the secret FISA court says the FBI improperly conducted 278,000 warrantless searches on U.S. citizens. Rudolph Contreras, then the presiding judge of the FISA court, issued his ruling in April 2022 but it was only made public Friday. It deals with the Section 702 powers that are used to spy on the electronic communications of foreign nationals overseas but can incidentally include communications with Americans.

The searches must reasonably be aimed at gathering foreign intelligence or evidence of a crime. The sheer volume of improper searches confirms the judge’s observation that the bureau’s “compliance problems” have “proven persistent and widespread.” For example, more than 19,000 donors to a failed (but unnamed) Congressional campaign were searched without sufficient cause.

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