Over 10,000 Federal Agents May Have Access To Secretive Surveillance Program

At an April 27 House Judiciary subcommittee hearing, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) referred to a court-ordered report which said that over 10,000 federal agents may have access to a secretive surveillance program.

More than 10,000 federal employees might have access to data revealed by a secretive government surveillance program that has come under scrutiny because of alleged abuses, according to expert testimony to Congress.

At an April 27 House Judiciary subcommittee hearing, lawmakers heard from a panel of witnesses on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which gives intelligence agencies broad powers to conduct surveillance on foreigners suspected of spying for a foreign power or belonging to a terrorist group. The witnesses included a representative from the Department of Justice Inspector General and two witnesses from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

However, bipartisan concerns have been raised because the program also has the ability to collect information about U.S. citizens.

During the hearing, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) queried panelists about how many FBI agents could have access to FISA-acquired data.

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Epoch Times Photo
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) delivers remarks at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A court-ordered report released in May 2022 revealed that the FBI had made more than 3.3 million queries of Americans under FISA authority. This, in turn, prompted a crisis of confidence in the FBI’s respect for civil liberties among members of both parties.

In his questioning, Gaetz referenced that report.

Addressing each of the three panelists, Gaetz asked, “If I represent to you that we believe there may be north of 10,000 people in the federal government who can perform [FISA] queries, would anyone here have a basis to disagree with that?”

All three answered in the negative.

In a Twitter post featuring a clip of the exchange, House Judiciary Republicans said, “Upwards of 10,000 FBI personnel may have access to section 702-acquired FISA data.

“10,000! Why’s that number so big?”

Rep. Andy Biggs
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) speaks at a House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee hearing, “The Fentanyl Crisis in America: Inaction Is No Longer an Option,” in Washington on March 1, 2023, in a still from video footage. (House Judiciary Committee YouTube/Screenshot via NTD)

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