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Video: FBI abused FISA 278,000+ times in 2021: Report

The J. Edgar Hoover F.B.I. Building in Washington, D.C. (Andrew Cline/Dreamstime/TNS)
April 13, 2024

A resurfaced report shows that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) misused Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to conduct warrantless searches against U.S. citizens over 278,000 times from 2020 to 2021.

Sharing a Fox News video report on the number of times the FBI misused FISA to monitor Americans in 2020 and 2021, Turning Point CEO Charlie Kirk tweeted, “My team and I were searching for this story all morning and finally found it. It’s been memory-holed unless you know the exact number of times the FBI abused FISA in 2021: 278,000 times.”

Kirk explained that the 278,000 FISA abuses would be the “equivalent” of each FBI employee abusing FISA eight times.

The resurfaced video report comes as the U.S. House of Representatives voted to reauthorize Friday on Friday. House Republicans also narrowly voted against an amendment proposed by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) that would have prevented intelligence agencies from conducting warrantless searches on American citizens.

Last May, Fox News reported on an unsealed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court filing, which showed that the FBI improperly used its warrantless search capabilities to digitally conduct surveillance against U.S. citizens over 278,000 times.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court filing showed that the improper searches included surveillance efforts against Americans involved in the Capitol Hill protest on Jan. 6, 2021, Black Lives Matter protesters involved in the 2020 George Floyd riots, and thousands of people who donated to a failed congressional candidate.

READ MORE: Video: National security threats ‘elevated,’ FBI director warns

As part of the FISA system, the FBI handles the querying process of U.S. citizens who are flagged as part of the federal government’s investigation into foreign nationals, according to Fox News. As an example of the agency’s misuse of FISA, the outlet reported that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court filing revealed the FBI improperly conducted queries into “over 19,000 donors to a congressional campaign.”

The filing noted, “The analyst who ran the query advised that the campaign was a target of foreign influence, but NSD [National Security Division] determined that only eight identifiers used in the query had sufficient ties to foreign influence activities to comply with the querying standard.”

At the time, a senior FBI official told Fox News that FBI Director Christopher Wray viewed the FBI’s documented misuse of FISA as “completely unacceptable.”

The FBI official added, “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.”