Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) told Breitbart News, in an exclusive interview Monday, that the FBI’s claim that surveillance of Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) was “counterintelligence” is merely a “cover story.”
Biggs, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance, spoke to Breitbart News as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) will expire at the end of December.
The House subcommittee on federal government surveillance will hold a hearing Thursday, which was first reported by Breitbart News.
Biggs said that he would like to investigate how the federal government misused and abused FISA, and in some instances, used FISA to “look at political figures with no adequate oversight.”
Section 702 is a law that allows intelligence agencies to collect communications of targeted foreigners. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) made the startling revelation that he believed the FBI surveilled him through Section 702, as revealed by a Justice Department (DOJ) and Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) routine audit. Section 702 may also lead to incidental or even targeted collection of Americans’ communications.
Here is the video of his revelation:
A mid-April New York Times report suggested the surveillance of LaHood was a counterintelligence measure.
Biggs said the defense that the surveillance of an elected member of Congress is counterintelligence was a “cover story,” noting it has troubling implications.
The Arizona Republican asked rhetorically, “Why didn’t you talk to Mr. LaHood?” He said the congressman should have had the opportunity to offer his consent to be surveilled by the government.
He said the defensive surveillance argument would effectively allow the government to have a “really broad scope” to investigate Americans as long as it is believed to be in the interests of the American people.
Sean Vitka, a policy counsel for Demand Progress, a civil liberties group, said that a lower defensive standard for the FBI would still amount to a warrantless search in the context of the Fourth Amendment.
Vitka said, “Frequently there is ambiguity as to whether someone is a witness or a target, and there’s no ‘defensive’ or ‘offensive’ distinction in the Fourth Amendment — a search is a search.”
Biggs said the FISA program seems to be “out of control,” and called for more “accountability” and “oversight,” noting that the current scheme is not working.
Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.
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