October 08, 2019

Wyden Statement on New Revelations About Spying on Americans

Declassified FISC Opinion Details FBI Abuses of Warrantless Backdoor Searches, Reveals that the FBI Can Count How Often It Searches for Americans in Foreign Surveillance Database, Despite Claims To the Contrary

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, issued the following statement in response to a newly declassified opinion by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The opinion revealed multiple abuses of the FBI’s backdoor searches for Americans and showed that the FBI does have the ability to count the number times it searches for Americans within its Section 702 foreign surveillance database, despite claims to the contrary.

“Last year, when Congress reauthorized Section 702 of FISA, it accepted the FBI’s outright refusal to account for all its warrantless backdoor searches of Americans,” Wyden said. “Today’s release demonstrates how baseless the FBI’s position was and highlights Congress’ constitutional obligation to act independently and strengthen the checks and balances on government surveillance. The information released today also reveals serious abuses in the FBI’s backdoor searches, underscoring the need for the government to seek a warrant before searching through mountains of private data on Americans.  Finally, I am concerned that the government has redacted information in these releases that the public deserves to know.”

Wyden and a bipartisan coalition proposed common-sense reforms to the 702 surveillance program last year that would have protected Americans’ rights without sacrificing security. Intelligence agencies repeatedly stonewalled Congress and refused to publicly answer basic questions about how the program functions.