The congressman confronts the FBI over the “flagrant” illegal search of his personal data

Representative Darren LaHood (R-Il.)
Zoom in / Representative Darren LaHood (R-Il.)

Last month, a Declassified FBI report He revealed that the bureau had used Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to conduct several illegal searches of the personal communications of a sitting member of Congress. Wired was the first to report the abuse, but for weeks, no one knew exactly which lawmaker was being targeted by the FBI. That changed this week when Rep. Darren LaHood (R-Illinois) revealed it during an annual meeting of the House Intelligence Committee Hear global threats that FBI Abuse Number 702 was “in fact” targeting him.

“This reckless abuse by the FBI is deplorable,” LaHood told the hearing, noting that searches of his name not only “weaken confidence in FISA” but were “a separation of powers threat” in the United States. The congressman — who leads the House Intelligence Committee’s working group pushing to reauthorize Section 702 amid a deeply divided Congress — has called past FBI violations of Section 702 “terrible,” and that it’s “ironically” his targeting by the FBI gives him ” A unique perspective” on “what’s wrong with the FBI”.

LaHood said violating his Fourth Amendment rights in ways others consider “scary” positions him well to oversee a working group tasked with implementing bipartisan reforms and safeguards that will prevent any such violations in the future.

House Permanent Selection Committee for the Chief of Intelligence said Mike Turner (R-Ohio) that Lahoud “embodies the fears and mistrust of many in America about the FBI’s leadership,” stating that “many Americans worried it might be them” next.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said he “completely” understood LaHood’s concerns, while stressing that the FBI had already implemented reforms and safeguards to prevent similar abuses in the future. An FBI spokesperson told Ars that the “sweeping changes” to address 702 compliance issues include “an all-new office of internal audit currently focused on FISA compliance” and new policies that require “enhanced pre-approval requirements before certain inquiries can be raised.” Sensitive “on the part of American personnel. Being.” The spokesperson gave an example, saying that for any sensitive inquiries involving elected officials, the deputy director of the FBI must sign off.

Wray said at the hearing that inquiries into the Section 702 database about US persons are down 93 percent since last year. He also confirmed that the FBI launched “all kinds of mandatory enhanced training” initiatives on 702 compliance.

Sean Vitka, senior policy advisor at Demand Progress, told Ars that LaHood’s revelations this week are “the biggest news on the surveillance front” for American citizens. earlier this year, Vitka wrote that the abuse Lahoud was subjected to is “chilling,” saying that there is a “documented pattern of persistent and widespread abuse of Section 702” and that it is “absolutely essential” that Congress initiate reforms this year, “before it’s too late.”

Earlier this year, Demand Progress joined 13 organizations propose reforms to Section 702urging Congress to enact changes such as requiring an intelligence community search warrant on Americans, strengthening the judicial review process for Section 702 inquiries, and enacting restrictions to prevent searches of private private citizens.

LaHood admitted at the hearing that — unlike members of Congress who want to see Section 702 repealed rather than reauthorized by the end of this year — he believes Section 702 is “invaluable” as an effective method of intelligence gathering on non-US citizens. However, “too broad” searches like the one targeting him are “totally irrelevant”.

“A minimum of 702 is worth reauthorizing because it is an invaluable tool to use to counter threats from our adversaries, but the FISA working group must pursue reforms and safeguards through this reauthorization process,” LaHood said.

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