FBI Wrongfully Searched Foreign-Spying Database For Information About US Senator, State Judge

An FBI analyst wrongfully searched a foreign-spying database for information about a US Senator and two state officials, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The FISC’s Section 702 violation was revealed in a FISA court opinion written in April and partially declassified on Friday.

“Section 702 of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows the government to conduct targeted surveillance of non-U.S. citizens 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.” Fox News reported.

The court’s opinion said the searches into the three officials did not meet the standard and failed to follow FBI policy.

“Some violations of the querying standard coincided with failure to follow an FBI policy that requires prior Deputy Director approval to use ‘sensitive query terms’ — e.g. identifiers of domestic public officials, domestic political candidates, members of the news media, academics, and religious organizations or persons prominent within them,” the court’s opinion said.

The identities of the US Senator, state senator, and state judge are not known.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation wrongfully searched a foreign-intelligence database for information about a U.S. senator and two state officials last year, a federal surveillance court said, a disclosure that could fuel a bipartisan effort in Congress to overhaul the spying program.

In June 2022, an FBI analyst conducted four overly broad searches of the U.S. senator’s last name in a database of calls, texts, emails and other electronic information collected by the National Security Agency, the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said. The analyst also searched the data using the last name of a state senator. The names of the senators haven’t been made public.

The analyst had information that an unnamed foreign intelligence service had been targeting the two legislators, but the analyst failed to meet standards required to conduct the search, the court said.

Additionally, an unidentified state judge’s social security number was wrongfully used in an October 2022 search of the foreign-intelligence trove after the judge complained to the FBI about alleged civil-rights violations perpetrated by a municipal chief of police, the court said.

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