FBI Rejects Claim that it Demanded More Warrantless Wiretaps on Americans

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has denied claims from a new report suggesting that the agency tried to increase the number of warrantless wiretapping on American citizens.

As reported by Fox News, a report from Wired released on Wednesday claimed that the bureau directed its employees to increase the use of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in order to spy on more Americans within the United States without having to acquire a warrant. The report quoted an email by Deputy Director Paul Abbate back in April, calling on employees “to continue to look for ways to appropriately use US person queries to advance the mission.”

While Abbate’s email did note that agents were to use such methods in a manner that is “fully compliant with the law,” it nevertheless urged them to continue making use of Section 702, as it would “continue to demonstrate why tools like this are essential to our mission.”

The release of the email led to bipartisan criticism; while Republicans have frequently attacked FISA and Section 702 in particular, even some Democrats voiced their concerns over the email’s orders.

“The deputy director’s email seems to show that the FBI is actively pushing for more surveillance of Americans, not out of necessity but as a default,” said Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). “This directly contradicts earlier assertions from the FBI during the debate over Section 702’s reauthorization.”

But the FBI released a statement on Thursday pushing back on the new report, claiming that “yesterday’s reporting in Wired magazine is a complete misrepresentation of the FBI Deputy Director’s email to the FBI workforce.”

The FBI went on to say that “their allegation that the FBI instructed its employees to violate the law or FBI policies is categorically false and insulting.”

Section 702 of FISA has faced increasing scrutiny in recent years, particularly after it was used to spy on multiple members of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, under the guise of so-called “collusion” with the Russian government, although this theory was eventually debunked. Despite frequent calls for Section 702 and FISA overall to be either repealed or heavily reformed, the law was renewed with few changes by H.R. 7888, which Joe Biden signed into law.

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

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