According to a newly-released court document, the FBI has used a huge database improperly over 278,000 times to collect information about American citizens.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court supervises the Section 702 database, which can be examined by the National Security Agency and the FBI. The FBI is only permitted to search the database when they believe information related to foreign intelligence can be found.
“The FBI frequently violated the three-part standard articulated by the government,” Judge Rudolph Contreras of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court wrote. “In October 2018, the Court concluded that ‘the FBI’s repeated non-complaint queries of Section 702 information’ precluded findings that its Section 702 querying and minimization procedures, as implemented, satisfied the definition of ‘minimization procedures’ … and were reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”
“The Court cited as a contributing factor in FBI’s non-compliance a ‘lack of common understanding within FBI and the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice of what it means for a query to be reasonably likely to return foreign-intelligence information or evidence of crime,’” he added.
The opinion of the court detailed roughly 300,000 abuses logged between 2020 and early 2021, The Washington Post noted.
“Nonetheless, compliance problems with the querying of Section 702 information have proven to be persistent and widespread,” Contreras argued. “If they are not substantially mitigated by these recent measures, it may become necessary to consider other responses, such as substantially limiting the number of FBI personnel with access to unminimized Section 702 information.”
The Post reported that after the events of January 6, 2021, an FBI employee ran 23,132 separate queries of presumed Americans “to find indications of foreign influence related to the query term used,” according to Contreras.
“According to whistleblower information, the FBI has manipulated the manner in which it categorized January 6-related investigations to create a misleading narrative that domestic terrorism is organically surging around the country,” a House Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government report stated, according to The Washington Examiner. “Ordinarily, the FBI characterizes and labels cases according to the originating field office, with leads ‘cut’ to other field offices for specific assistance in that geographic location. With January 6 cases, however, the FBI has not followed its ordinary procedure, which would have resulted in the (Washington Field Office) leading the investigation and categorizing the investigations as WFO cases.”