The Justice Department has a database of “incidental collection” information about U.S. citizens, which ten thousand DOJ employees can access – and 30% of the 3.4 million times they did so last year were in error, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) revealed Thursday.
The news came out at a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance hearing, as Judiciary Chair Jordan questioned U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board members Sharon Franklin and Beth Williams.
The FBI is refusing to reveal, or even estimate, how many Americans are in the “incidental collection” database, or much information about them has been incidentally acquired, they testified.
What’s more, the Justice Department is conducting these investigations of U.S. citizens without probable cause, Rep. Jordan explained:
“Americans are being picked up in this ‘incidental collection.’
“We don’t know the number. My guess is it’s pretty darn big. They won’t tell us.
“And, without probable cause, that database is being searched 3.4 million times – with all kinds of error rates, as Mr. Gates [R-Fla.], in his round of question, determined earlier.”
“The solution is simple, right: require probably cause, if you’re going to query this database on American citizens?” Rep. Jordan said.
Or, “How about if we just get the FBI out of this business, altogether?” Rep. Jordan proposed.
Jordan was referring to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is up for reauthorization at the end of this year.
According to the Judiciary Committee, Thursday’s hearing is part of an effort to save and protect Americans from the power of government being weaponized against them:
“The hearing, ‘Fixing FISA: How a Law Designed to Protect Americans Has Been Weaponized Against Them,’ will examine the FBI's abuses of its Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorities, discuss the FBI’s failures to implement meaningful reforms to prevent its abuses, and address the broad issue of warrantless mass surveillance on American citizens.”