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Leaked FBI email stresses need for warrantless surveillance of Americans

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses a recent email from an FBI official urging employees to "look for ways" to conduct warrantless surveillance on U.S. residents, despite criticism of the expanded warrantless surveillance powers under the recent FISA reauthorization.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] FBI Official's Email

1. What did the FBI Deputy Director's email urge employees to do?

  • The email urged FBI employees to "look for ways to appropriately use US person queries to advance the mission", referring to the use of warrantless surveillance on U.S. residents.
  • The email argued that to continue demonstrating the need for tools like warrantless surveillance, the FBI needs to use them while ensuring compliance with legal requirements.

2. What was the context of the email?

  • The email was sent on the same day that President Biden signed a bill reauthorizing and expanding the warrantless surveillance powers under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
  • The email praised Congress for rejecting an amendment that would have added a "warrant requirement" for U.S. person queries.

3. How did the FBI and a Congresswoman interpret the email differently?

  • The FBI claimed the email emphasized Congress' recognition of the importance of FISA Section 702 and was meant to ensure compliance with privacy-enhancing changes.
  • However, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren interpreted the email as showing the FBI is "actively pushing for more surveillance of Americans, not out of necessity but as a default."

[02] FISA Reauthorization

1. What were the key changes made in the FISA reauthorization signed by Biden?

  • The reauthorization expanded the definition of an electronic communication service provider, requiring more types of companies to provide the government with information, facilities, and assistance to obtain communications.
  • It included a new requirement for FBI personnel to obtain prior approval from an FBI supervisor or attorney before making queries about U.S. people, with an exception for queries that could assist in mitigating or eliminating a threat to life or serious bodily harm.

2. How did some Senators view the FISA reauthorization?

  • Senator Ron Wyden criticized the reauthorization, saying "Forcing ordinary Americans and small businesses to conduct secret, warrantless spying is what authoritarian countries do, not democracies."
  • Senator Ted Cruz voted against the reauthorization because it failed to include a requirement for law enforcement to get a warrant before targeting a U.S. citizen.
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