An FBI audit found the agency had “insufficient justification” for two FISA searches relating to “January 6th Capitol Violence.”
The FBI’s Office of Internal Auditing (OIA) released a routine audit evaluating its compliance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The FBI audit analyzed audits of both FISA and Section 702 data. Section 702 is a law that allows intelligence agencies to collect communications of targeted foreigners. It also may lead to targeted surveillance of Americans’ private communications, which privacy advocates consider a run around the Fourth Amendment’s requirement for a warrant to search Americans’ communications.
The audit found 17 searches of the government’s FISA database had insufficient justification for the searches of Americans’ communications, which include:
- Eight searches looking for connections in raw FISA collection
- Two searches related to “January 6th Capitol violence”
- One Afghan refugee vetting
- One domestic terrorism matter
- Among other issues
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The FBI audit does not identify if the queries relating to January 6 were of Americans, but it may likely be considering the subject matter.
The FBI audit noted that FISA queries must have an authorized purpose, be reasonably designed, and be justified.
“‘Justified’ means the person conducting the query must have a specific factual basis to believe that the query is reasonably likely to retrieve foreign intelligence information or evidence of a crime from raw FISA collection,” the audit read.
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Elizabeth Goitein, a privacy expert at the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, said the audit “strongly underscores the need for Congress to impose a warrant requirement for these queries.”
She said that since the FBI performed roughly 200,000 searches on Americans, and with a 96 percent FISA compliance rate, this means the FBI “conducted 8,000 searches for Americans’ phone calls, text messages, and emails without even a reasonable likelihood that the searches would yield foreign intelligence or evidence of a crime, let alone probable cause and a warrant.”
“Even if the compliance rate were 100%, the government should not be able to access Americans’ communications without a warrant,” she added. “But with a baseline of 8,000 violations per year, there can be no question that a warrant is needed to protect Americans’ fundamental rights.”
Even if the compliance rate were 100%, the government should not be able to access Americans’ communications without a warrant. But with a baseline of 8,000 violations per year, there can be no question that a warrant is needed to protect Americans’ fundamental rights. 11/11
— Elizabeth Goitein (@LizaGoitein) May 11, 2023
Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.