FBI improperly used warrantless search powers more than 278,000 times in 2021, FISA court filing reveals - Fox Newsa

The FBI improperly used warrantless search powers against U.S. citizens more than 278,000 times in the year ending November 2021, according to an unsealed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) filing.

U.S. citizens covered in that improper effort included people involved in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021; George Floyd protesters during the summer of 2020; and donors to a failed congressional candidate, the filing said.

Section 702 of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows the government to conduct targeted surveillance of non-U.S. persons located abroad to acquire foreign intelligence information. When U.S. citizens are flagged as part of these investigations, the FBI takes over the process of querying them for possible security reasons.

“As Director Wray has made clear, the errors described in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s opinion are completely unacceptable,” a senior FBI official told Fox News Friday. “As a result of the audits that revealed these instances of noncompliance, the FBI changed its querying procedures to make sure these errors do not happen again. These steps have led to significant improvement in the way we conduct queries of lawfully obtained Section 702 information.”

The FBI has faced scrutiny for the misuse of Section 702, and FBI Director Christopher Wray has said the bureau has taken steps to reform the system.

Fox News Digital first reported last month that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said there was a “significant decline” in the total number of queries the FBI made into U.S. citizens between 2021 and 2022 under Section 702, due to the changes the bureau made to its “systems, processes, and training relating to U.S. persons queries.”

In the year ending November 2022, the FBI conducted a total of about 204,000 queries, a 94% drop from the previous year’s reporting period when it conducted nearly 3.4 million.

The filing released on Friday detailed a number of the improper queries, including a batch query for “over 19,000 donors to a congressional campaign.”

Between December 2021 and November 2022, the FBI’s queries conducted based on evidence of a crime “increased slightly.” But the number of instances in which the FBI “failed to obtain a required court order prior to reviewing the results of certain evidence of a crime-only queries declined.”

The report also shows the FBI opened “zero” investigations into U.S. persons who are not considered a threat to national security in the year ending November 2022.

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Events: George Floyd Protests January 6th Riot 

Organizations: FBI Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) 

Tags: Surveillance Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) 

Type: Headlines