A recently unsealed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court filing revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation improperly surveilled Americans more than 278,000 times in the year ending November 2021.
According to a 127-page court filing from April 2022 that was unsealed Friday, the FBI improperly used warrantless surveillance powers to target individuals who protested at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and during the George Floyd riots in the summer of 2020. The agency also surveilled 19,000 people who donated to a defeated congressional candidate.
Regarding the surveillance of the political donors, the filings stated, "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."
While it is unclear which campaign the filing refers to, Fox News Digital reported that the candidate did not win the election.
According to the filings, between May 30 and June 18, 2020, the FBI improperly used Section 702 to surveil "133 individuals arrested in connection with civil unrest and protests" that sparked as a result of the death of George Floyd.
The filings also reported that an employee with the FBI ran over 23,000 queries "to find possible foreign influence, although the analyst conducting the queries had no indications of foreign influence related to the query term used."
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act grants the federal government the power to run surveillance on foreign individuals. However, it also allows the FBI to collect intelligence information on Americans with ties to those foreign suspects.
FISA Section 702 is set to expire at the end of the year. Before it is reauthorized, lawmakers are pushing for the agency to reform the section.
FBI Director Christopher Wray has insisted that the agency has already taken steps to reform the bureau's querying procedures to ensure improper surveillance of Americans does not happen again.
A senior FBI official told Fox News Digital that Wray "has made clear, the errors described in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court's opinion are completely unacceptable."
"We are committed to continuing this work and providing greater transparency into the process to earn the trust of the American people and advance our mission of safeguarding both the nation's security, and privacy and civil liberties, at the same time," the official stated.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence reported a "significant decline" in the number of queries the FBI made into American citizens between 2021 and 2022.
The agency conducted 204,000 queries into Americans in the year ending November 2022 — a 94% decrease compared to 3.4 million queries the previous year.
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