Exclusive – Former DNI John Ratcliffe Calls for FISA Surveillance Reforms After FBI Abuse

U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) speaks during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committ
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Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe, in an exclusive interview with SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Saturday, called for reform of key government surveillance powers amid a larger debate on whether Congress should reauthorize them by the end of this year.

Ratcliffe called surveillance powers granted under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) “vital,” but said, given the executive branch’s abuse of them to spy on Americans and on the Donald Trump campaign in 2016, “there’s no way” they would be reauthorized by Congress in their current form.


Donald Trump addresses supporters at the James A. Rhodes Arena on August 22, 2016 in Akron, Ohio. Trump currently trails Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Ohio, a state which is critical to his election bid. (Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)

There’s no way in its current form. There’s no way, and so they’re going to have to put additional guardrails in, but even then it’s going to be tough,” Ratcliffe told host Breitbart News Washington Bureau Chief Matthew Boyle.

Ratcliffe continued:

We’ve seen those tools abused and turned inward on American citizens and the Democrats did that for the sake of political win. They found that, look, ‘If we use these tools, we can make political gains,’ and they attempted to use those to pick a president in 2016 and failed and they continued down that path to pick the president in 2020, and one could argue that they succeeded in terms of abusing these types of things. So unfortunately, it’s absolutely appropriate to say, look, these are valuable tools, but you’ve abused them.

“The bottom line is, they’ve jeopardized our national security for political reasons,” he added.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the House Appropriations subcommittee Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies budget hearing for Fiscal Year 2024, on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The former Texas congressman said as DNI he found Section 702 — which allows expansive surveillance of Americans’ communications in order to hunt down foreign agents — “vital” for national security.

But, he said, “We’ve received nothing to assure us at this point in time [that] they’re not going to continue to be abused and turned against American citizens for political reasons.”

He said even though FBI Director Christopher Wray claimed he had “fixed” problems with Section 702, it was misused 278,000 times against American citizens.

Ratcliffe said when he was DNI and putting together the president’s daily brief, an aggregation of the most sensitive intelligence from all intelligence collection, 30 or 40 percent of the intelligence came from Section 702 surveillance.

“So, a really important tool, really valuable, that was intended for us to surveil or spy on our adversaries and how they intend to harm America and protect us,” Ratcliffe explained. “Unfortunately, what we’ve seen is, in order to gain power or stay in power, we’ve seen the left misuse these tools and now you know, we’re in this unfortunate debate that they created.”

Breitbart News Saturday airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

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