Senators Grill the FBI On Warrantless Surveillance

On June 13, 2023, the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a hearing on renewing a notable intelligence mechanism. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) has been placed under increased scrutiny, and recent FBI reform proposals on warrantless data collection aren’t enough for the Senate.

In simple terms, Section 702 allows US agencies to compile electronic conversations of foreigners abroad without possessing a warrant. However, these intelligence sweeps sometimes catch Americans’ data. They claim it’s critical for national security purposes, and Section 702 is set to expire soon by the end of the year.

Several Senators are calling for a broad overhaul of this intelligence gathering mechanism.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin declared, “I will only support reauthorization of Section 702 if there are significant — significant — reforms. And that means, first and foremost, addressing the warrantless surveillance of Americans in violation of the Fourth Amendment.”

Utah Senator Mike Lee criticized “the FBI’s shocking disregard for Americans’ constitutional rights” with regards to FISA and argued that  FISA 702 searches represent “an affront to the Constitution.” Lee added that the FBI has “shown us repeatedly for more than a decade that they cannot be trusted” and sharply criticized its “shocking disregard for Americans’ privacy rights and civil liberties.”

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley took FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate to task for the FBI’s repeated cases of abuse of authority, where it has allegedly carried out “278,000 unwarranted, probably illegal queries on Americans.” 

The FBI is a diabolical and, most importantly, unconstitutional entity that has to be taken to task for its political malfeasances. Simply put, an institution of its nature cannot be allowed to operate with impunity. It has to be punished accordingly.

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