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FBI surveillance of espionage and terrorism collapses

The judge in that case said the FBI reported to the court that its internal oversight and compliance audits in 2020 revealed several problems, mainly in 2019. Among them were cases in which the FBI system had a problem. preview pane that automatically appeared to analysts. portions of the results of warrantless surveillance repository queries, including some research undertaken as part of criminal investigations into healthcare fraud, violent gangs, public corruption and bribery.

Since a change in the law in 2018, the FBI is supposed to obtain a court order before viewing such documents on an American for ordinary criminal investigations, but it had not sought such an order until the end of 2020. .

A senior FBI official said most of the problematic incidents were attributable to the preview pane issue and none were seen as intentional or malicious rule violations. The FBI has since changed its systems to get rid of the viewing pane and added training – steps that prompted the FISA judge to say the program could continue.

The recently leaked report also shed new light on the FBI’s use of its power to obtain commercial documents in national security investigations under a law known as Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Congress allowed this law to expire on March 15, 2020, amid chaotic messages from then-President Donald J. Trump as he fueled grievances over the Russia inquiry, and lawmakers failed to have it. not reauthorized.

There is a catch, however, which may relieve some of the pressure on the continued exhalation of this authority. Due to the way the law was drafted, the FBI can still obtain Section 215 orders for investigations initiated before March 15, 2020 or for new investigations into activities that took place before that date. .

It was not clear to what extent the office had used this residual power. The new report says that in all of 2020, it secured 28 such orders covering 25 targets, up from 61 orders covering 53 targets in 2019.

During the briefing with reporters, a senior Justice Ministry official said about 20 of those 28 orders were obtained after March 15, 2020, using the residual power to issue them for pre-existing cases. .

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