FBI Misused Powerful Surveillance Tool on Jan 6 Suspects, Court Documents Show

The FBI misused a powerful digital surveillance tool more than 278,000 times, a newly unsealed court document shows.

The bureau misused this powerful tool on the Jan. 6 suspects, people arrested at Black Lives Matter riots, and 19,000 donors to a congressional candidate.

The FBI claims it has fixed the problems for this major violation.

However, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), which oversees this part of the law, told the FBI in writing that if the bureau doesn’t do better, the court will crack down and order changes to the FBI surveillance program.

The news comes amid mounting calls to defund the FBI over multiple allegations of abusive actions.

As Slay News reported, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said earlier: “I think we have to deauthorize, defang and defund many of these authorities and entities and different task forces that actually converted the just and righteous act of protecting our country with the desire to have a particular political candidate win or lose.

“If that had been a Republican operation — an operation to help a Republican candidate — it wouldn’t have ended in a report.

“It would have ended with real significant indictments.

“And I think we should claw back the $325 million that Nancy Pelosi had gifted for the new FBI headquarters in the DC area.

“This report is an insufficient consequence for the malfeasance and corruption that we have seen here.

“It was an operation from beginning to end to fuse political opposition research from the DNC and the Clinton campaign with this intelligence process and criminal process.

“And it’s a sad day in America.

“It’s very ugly for our country and it’s very ugly for the future of a democracy where the people make the choices – not the law enforcement and intelligence officers.

“In a proper world, Republicans and Democrats would be able to work together on this.

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“Because it wasn’t that long ago that the FBI was a right-wing organization, weaponized against civil rights leaders and others.

“And it was wrong then, and it’s wrong now.”

From The Washington Post:

Officials also found a long pattern between 2016 and 2020 in which the FBI conducted FISA searches about “individuals listed in police homicide reports, including victims, next-of-kin, witnesses, and suspects,” according to the court opinion.

The Justice Department found that these searches violated the rules “because there was no reasonable basis to expect they would return foreign intelligence or evidence of crime.”

After the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, an FBI employee ran batches of inquiries that amounted to 23,132 separate queries of presumed Americans “to find evidence of possible foreign influence, although the analyst conducting the queries had no indications of foreign influence related to the query term used,” Contreras found.

There, too, Justice Department officials concluded that there was no specific factual basis to think the searches would turn up foreign intelligence information or evidence of a crime.

The court opinion also noted that “no raw Section 702 information was accessed as a result of these queries.”

In a different incident, an FBI analyst “conducted a batch query for over 19,000 donors to a congressional campaign” because the analyst said the campaign was “a target of foreign influence,” the opinion said.

But Justice Department officials found in an audit that “only eight identifiers used in the query” — often a name, phone number or an email address — “had sufficient ties to foreign influence activities” to comply with FISA standards.

READ MORE: Former Special Agent Left Homeless after Blowing Whistle on FBI and DOJ

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By David Hawkins

David Hawkins is a writer who specializes in political commentary and world affairs. He's been writing professionally since 2014.

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