Jordan urges warrants to search Americans’ data and protect constitutional liberties as GOP fights over FISA

EXCLUSIVE: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan wants the intelligence community to obtain a warrant before it searches Americans’ data through the government surveillance tool known as Section 702 of FISA, telling Fox News Digital that unless there is an “emergency,” it is critical to protect Americans’ constitutional liberties. The House of Representatives this week is considering renewal of FISA’s controversial Section 702. Some lawmakers – both Republicans and Democrats – have said it is used as a tool of privacy infringement. Others say the tool is critical to preventing terror attacks. HOUSE SINKS JOHNSON-BACKED FISA RENEWAL AFTER TRUMP PUSHSection 702 of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows the government to conduct targeted surveillance of non-U.S. persons located abroad to acquire foreign intelligence information. When U.S. citizens are flagged as part of these investigations, the FBI takes over the process of querying them for possible security reasons.”The warrant requirement is necessary,” Jordan, R-Ohio, told Fox News Digital on Wednesday.Jordan said that when the intelligence community, like the FBI, collects “this giant haystack of information,” Americans’ data often gets swept up in the mix. “When trying to collect on foreigners, we should do that – they don’t have any constitutional liberties,” Jordan said. “But when you do that, you inevitably catch up a bunch of Americans in this database.” FBI IMPROPERLY USED WARRANTLESS SEARCH POWERS MORE THAN 278,000 TIMES IN 2021, FISA COURT FILING REVEALS”So, all we’re saying, is if you are going to search this database for Americans’ name, phone number or email address… you’ve gotta get a warrant,” Jordan told Fox News Digital. “It is a tried-and-true method.” The FBI improperly used warrantless search powers against U.S. citizens more than 278,000 times in the year ending November 2021. An unsealed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) filing revealed the improper use of the tool last year, and showed that the FBI improperly surveilled people involved in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021; George Floyd protesters during the summer of 2020; and donors to a failed congressional candidate. FISA COURT OPINION REVEALS A US SENATOR, STATE SENATOR, STATE JUDGE GOT SWEPT UP IN 702 QUERIESThe FBI at the time said the errors are “completely unacceptable” and the bureau changed its querying procedures to make sure the errors do not happen again. Fox News Digital also reported last year that a U.S. senator and a state judge were improperly queried in June 2022 and October 2022. The FISC, at the time, said those examples demonstrated a “failure” to follow FBI policy. “This is why the requirement has to be included,” Jordan told Fox News Digital. “You have to go to a separate, but equal, branch of government to get a warrant if you are going to search that database of information.” Jordan said he has added exceptions to the rule. For example, Jordan said that in an “emergency situation,” officials can search without a warrant. The warrant, when obtained, would be through the secret FISC. “If it is not an emergency situation, you have to get the warrant,” Jordan said. “You want to go search something on an American citizen not during an emergency situation? You have to go to a separate and equal branch of government and get a warrant.” Jordan told Fox News Digital that intelligence officials told lawmakers that there were 200,000 times last year when searches and queries were of “U.S. persons.” “How many of those 200,000 are covered by the emergency exception? No one will answer that,” Jordan said. “My hunch is that the number is extremely big.” Jordan told Fox News Digital that the addition of a warrant requirement for searches of Americans has broad bipartisan support, including some from “the progressive left,” such as the House Judiciary Committee ranking member, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.”Nadler and Jayapal are in support of it, and the progressive left are for it because they know that when the abuses took place, it was people at BLM protests and Jan. 6, and donors to a congressional campaign,” Jordan said. “We have solid bipartisan support for this amendment,” Jordan said. WRAY DEFENDS FISA, SAYS LAW USED TO ‘DETECT AND THWART’ CHINESE HACKING OF US CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTUREAs Jordan answered Fox News Digital’s questions, more than a dozen House Republican privacy hawks blocked the House from advancing the bill to renew FISA 702. Nineteen Republicans voted against their party leadership to tank a procedural vote that would have allowed for the House to debate and then vote on the bill itself. The final vote was 193 to 228. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., does not support the warrant requirement. He told lawmakers Wednesday that the language was too narrow.”I appreciate the warrant amendment would allow some U.S. person queries without a warrant, I fear that its exception language is still too narrow and would be difficult to apply,” Johnson said. “The warrant amendment would allow U.S. person queries without a warrant if there is an ‘imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm.’ Without the warrant amendment, the 56 essential reforms that are included in the FISA Act will strike the perfect balance and achieve both our critical objectives: It will help us to both safeguard the precious LIBERTY of our people – as well as their physical safety,” he added.The Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act, a compromise bill between the House Judiciary Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is aimed at curbing instances of abuse reported against former President Trump and others by instituting safeguards on who can access Section 702-collected data, particularly if it involves a U.S. citizen. It also would make it a crime to use backdoor loopholes to improperly access Americans’ data.FISA Section 702 will expire on April 19 if Congress does not act.Lawmakers are now set to meet in conference Wednesday afternoon. Fox News’ Liz Elkind contributed to this report. 
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