Report: FBI Misused Database for Jan. 6, Racial Protests
According to an opinion from the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), which oversees US spy agencies, the FBI improperly searched an intelligence database for information on suspects in the Jan. 6, 2021, riots and those arrested during the 2020 George Floyd protests.
- According to an opinion from the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), which oversees US spy agencies, the FBI improperly searched an intelligence database for information on suspects in the Jan. 6, 2021, riots and those arrested during the 2020 George Floyd protests.1
- The court found that the FBI used the special intelligence database, launched after the 9/11 attacks and maintained under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, to conduct over 300K alleged abuses between 2020 and early 2021.2
- The report also claimed the FBI searched 133 identifiers of people "in connection with civil unrest and protests" around " the same time as the Black Lives Matter protests," 23K people believed to be involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, and over 19K donors to a congressional campaign.3
- It further alleged the FBI violated its own standards requiring that any search using the database has a foreign intelligence purpose or is aimed at finding evidence of a crime, claiming it ran 13 queries of suspected Capitol rioters in a search the justice dept. later found didn't meet either criterion.4
- Regarding the unnamed congressional campaign, the court found that of the 19k campaign donors queried in the database, only "eight identifiers...had sufficient ties to foreign influence activities to comply with the querying standard."4
- Section 702, from which a significant portion of Pres. Biden's daily intelligence brief comes, is set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress renews it.1
Sources: 1CNN, 2Al Jazeera, 3Forbes, and 4El País English.
- Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Townhall. The FBI hasn't followed its own ethical guidelines for a long time, going at least as far back as 2016 when it ordered the illegitimate FISA warrant to wiretap the Trump campaign. The agency that's supposed to protect Americans instead spied on hundreds of thousands of them — and that's just regarding two protest movements. As the law's renewal date nears closer, these abhorrent abuses of power will be on the minds of both parties in Congress.
- Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by PBS NewsHour. While there are certainly flaws in Section 702 that need correcting, America shouldn't forget that FISA searches have stopped ransomware and cyber attacks, helped combat aggression from China, and even aided in the drone strike on al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri last summer. The brave members of US intelligence agencies are constantly working to improve their analytical skills and ethical standards, but they shouldn't be stripped of this important tool due to a few mistakes.