Mike Lee BLASTS FBI Director Chris Wray over warrantless surveillance of Americans

"It's why we have a constitution, sir, and you must comply with it."

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) drew attention at a fiery congressional hearing on Tuesday when he pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray on the agency's alleged warrantless surveillance of the American people. Lee blasted Wray over the FBI's conduct regarding its searches, even suggesting he had no regard for the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution. 

"FBI and other agencies searched Americans' communications over 200,000 times, only 16 of which were evidence of the crime that returned information," Lee said at the beginning of his question pertaining to searches on American citizens. 

"Were the three related batch queries consisting of over 23,000 separate queries relating to the events of January 6, were those evidence of the crime only inquiries? Yes or no?" Lee asked. 

Wray responded that he doesn't "know the answer to that," to which Lee interjected, "Well, the answer is no."

Lee soon after stated, "So the FBI is already required to obtain a court order in some circumstances, before accessing the contents of Americans communications in the context of 702. They're already required for that in some circumstances. Since 2018, how many times has that requirement been triggered, according to government reporting, do you know?"

Wray answered, "I think there have been two instances."

Lee responded: "103. 103 times that's been triggered. And out of those 103 identified times, the FBI should have obtained a court order. How many times did the FBI actually obtain one?"

"Zero," answered Wray.

"Zero. So you're telling me that the FBI has completely ignored the limited court order requirement that it's already subjected to you had the audacity to come here and you told us that getting the adding a warrant requirement to 702. Even for queries involving US persons on US soil, that that would amount to some sort of unilateral disarmament that—you have a lot of gall, sir," Lee declared.

"This is disgraceful," Lee continued, "The Fourth Amendment requires more than that, and you know it. I know every single time for centuries. Even prior to the founding of this country. It was similar protections built into the laws of the United Kingdom before we became a country even then the government was making the same darn argument you're making today, which is, it's too hard..."

"It's why we have a constitution, sir," Lee passionately concluded. "and you must comply with it."

The FBI has caught heat over alleged improper practices of surveillance before. In 2022, a series of reports called the Twitter Files detailed various instances of state-corporate collusion across social media. Matt Taibbi, one of several journalists who covered the drop, said the FBI acted as a "subsidiary" for then-Twitter before Elon Musk's takeover. 
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