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FBI Chief Warns Hamas-Inspired Terror Threats Have Reached Unprecedented Level

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by tts-admin | Dec 8, 2023 | 0 comments

James Farrell – Forbes Dec 5, 2023

FBI Director Christopher Wray (pictured above) claimed Tuesday terror threats have stood at an unprecedented level since Hamas’ attack on Israel in October, as he urged lawmakers in a congressional hearing to renew a controversial law that allows for the warrantless surveillance of certain foreign targets, claiming it has crucial national security value.

Key Facts

A law called Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is set to expire next month, and Wray devoted a significant portion of his opening statement at Tuesday’s Senate Oversight Committee hearing to defending the program.

Failing to renew the program would be tantamount to “unilateral disarmament” against terror threat levels that have been rising since the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, Wray said, noting “a steady drumbeat” of calls for attacks by terrorist organizations inspired by Hamas.

While terror levels were elevated prior to Oct. 7, they’ve gone to “a whole other level” since then, with “a veritable rogues gallery of foreign terrorist organizations calling for attacks against us,” Wray told Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

In a separate statement to CNN, Wray said there’s no information to indicate that Hamas “has the intent or capability to conduct operations through the U.S.” but that the FBI has not discounted that possibility, and is concerned about Hamas supporters “engaging in violence on the group’s behalf.”

The program, which allows U.S. intelligence to collect communications of foreign targets without a warrant, has garnered scrutiny for years due to the FBI’s handling of the gathered intelligence data, which often includes information about Americans who are not targets of the investigation but are included in communications.

But Wray told Congress the agency is “committed to being good stewards of our authorities” and has instituted “a whole host of changes to address compliance incidents” in hopes of getting the program renewed.

Wray also resisted proposals to add a warrant requirement for FBI agents to access Section 702 information regarding Americans, arguing that such a requirement would hamper the FBI’s ability to respond to fast-moving threats.

Crucial Quote

“While there have been many times over the years where individual threats could have been higher here or there than where they may be right now, I’ve never seen a time where all the threats or so many of the threats are all elevated, all at exactly the same time,” Wray told Graham.

Chief Critic

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) was outraged over Wray’s opposition to adding a warrant requirement for U.S. citizens in Section 702. “You have a lot of gall, sir,” he said. “That is disgraceful. The Fourth Amendment requires more than that, and you know it.”

Key Background

Section 702 was first passed in 2008, following years of warrantless foreign surveillance programs that ramped up in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001. Privacy advocates have long argued these programs can illegally vacuum up Americans’ data without a search warrant, though national security officials say they’re necessary to stave off terror threats. In recent years, Republicans have criticized FBI surveillance practices, particularly after the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. A 2019 Justice Department Inspector General’s report found the FBI made serious mistakes in obtaining a warrant to eavesdrop on former Trump adviser Carter Page. Earlier this year, the FBI’s use of FISA garnered fresh criticisms from both parties when disclosures in FISA court—a court that secretly approves warrants for certain types of surveillance—revealed that agents improperly searched intel garnered under Section 702 of FISA for information on U.S. citizens, including Jan. 6 suspects, Black Lives Matter protesters and even U.S. politicians. Many Democrats, like Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), have criticized the surveillance program, and there are competing bills on the floor calling for significant reforms. Wray, in his opening remarks Tuesday, said that the FBI has set up a new “Office of Internal Auditing” focused specifically on FISA compliance. He said that more recent data shows improvement, with a 98% compliance rate. Wray’s appearance Tuesday also comes as Republicans continue to attack the FBI on a host of issues—from investigations into Hunter Biden to the investigation into Jan. 6 and former President Donald Trump.


My source, ian.



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