House Judiciary FISA Hearing to Examine How Spy Powers Have Been ‘Weaponized Against’ Americans

Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday will investigate how Section 702, a law that was designed to help combat terrorism, has been “weaponized against” Americans.

Breitbart News first reported that the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next week on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) ahead of Section 702’s December reauthorization deadline.

Now, the hearing notice details more about the Thursday hearing:

The hearing, “Fixing FISA: How a Law Designed to Protect Americans Has Been Weaponized Against Them,” will examine the FBI’s abuses of its Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorities, discuss the FBI’s failures to implement meaningful reforms to prevent its abuses, and address the broad issue of warrantless mass surveillance on American citizens.

The witnesses for the hearing include:

  • Michael E. Horowitz, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Sharon Bradford Franklin, Chair, U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board
  • Beth A. Williams, Board Member, U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

A routine audit recently found that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of National Director of Intelligence (ODNI) of Section 702 use found that FBI agents often had political overtones for their search queries of the FISA database. This includes “the names of a local political party” to see if it had links to foreign intelligence. The Justice Department reportedly claimed that FBI personnel “misunderstood” the search procedures and that they were “subsequently reminded of how to correctly apply the query rules.”

Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, dramatically revealed that he was the unnamed lawmaker that was surveilled by the FBI. The FBI said that that the surveillance was a defensive countermeasure to make sure the Illinois Republican was not the subject of a foreign influence operation.

Here is the video of LaHood testifying that he was surveilled by the FBI:

House Appropriations Committee / YouTube

Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) and other lawmakers have pressed Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz over the FBI’s purchase of Americans’ geolocation data.

Cline asked Horowitz during a hearing in March if other parts of the Department of Justice (DOJ) are buying Americans’ private data, describing these reports as “disturbing.”
House Appropriations Committee / YouTube

Reports have found that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have purchased Americans’ private data, in what could be considered a run around constitutional protections against warrantless searches.Cline then pressed Attorney General Merrick Garland about this controversy.Cline asked Garland if he agreed with Horowitz that purchasing Americans’ private data should not have happened post-Carpenter v. United States, a landmark 2018 Supreme Court ruling that held that the United States government needed a search warrant to track suspects for an extended period via cellphone carriers.

The attorney general said, “The Department [DOJ] has an internal investigation going on internally to find out which parts,” of the agency might still be engaging in this practice.

House Appropriations Committee / YouTube

Sean Vitka, of Demand Progress, an online privacy and digital rights group, said, “FBI Director Wray’s admission that the FBI secretly purchased Americans’ location data ‘derived from internet advertising’ is both shocking and further proof of the need for Congress to take immediate action to rein in mass surveillance.”Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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