‘Absolutely No Reason To Trust You’: Mike Lee Scolds FBI Director Over Not Answering Questions About US Surveillance


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Jason Cohen Contributor
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Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee chided FBI Director Christopher Wray at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday for refusing to answer questions related to abusing a controversial surveillance tool.

Lee asked Wray a series of questions about alleged and hypothetical examples of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse, asking if the FBI takes away security clearances or fires agents in these scenarios. Wray declined to answer the questions about FISA Section 702, which is designed to mainly target foreign nationals but also grants U.S. intelligence agencies the ability to conduct surveillance of American citizens. (RELATED: FBI Agents Misused FISA Data To Surveil ‘Political Party,’ US Congressman, Audit Finds)

“I don’t know that I can speak to specific instances, but what I can tell you and I think this is important to this exchange is that all the instances you just listed off all involve conduct that occurred before the reforms that we put in place,” Wray asserted.

“I have been on this committee for 13 years. During the entirety … I have expressed concerns to FBI directors appointed by presidents of both political parties and three different presidential administrations,” Lee responded. “Every darn one of them has told me the same thing: ‘Don’t worry about it, we’ve got this taken care of, we’ve got new procedures. It’s going to be different now.’ It’s never different. You haven’t changed. And you keep referring to these … new procedures. We haven’t seen that, we’re not even allowed to have access to it, and we have absolutely no reason to trust you because you haven’t behaved in a manner that is trustworthy.”

The government conducted millions of warrantless backdoor searches using FISA Section 702 in 2021, according to an Office of the Director of National Intelligence 2022 Transparency report.

“You can’t even as we sit here tell me that people who intentionally, knowingly, deliberately violated the civil rights of American citizens that they were fired or that they had their security clearance stripped,” Lee continued.

Lee is part of a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers that introduced the Government Surveillance Reform Act in November, which reforms FISA Section 702, ending warrantless searches on Americans. The legislation’s objective is to “reauthorize and reform Section 702,” as well as safeguard Americans’ rights while keeping the tool’s important surveillance authorities, according to an advisory on Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden’s website.

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