During a Thursday House Judiciary Committee hearing on the “Weaponization of the Federal Government,” whistleblowers and former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents roasted the agency’s potentially First Amendment violating censorship collusion with Big Tech firms and hit back at the FBI’s secret surveillance practices.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, highlighted an FBI whistleblower’s November 2022 claims that the agency accepts private user information from Facebook without the user’s consent and that this information is only from the conservative side of the political spectrum during his opening statement.
“In my time in Congress, I have never seen anything like this,” Jordan said in reference to the numerous whistleblower claims about the FBI’s politicization and surveillance.
In his written testimony, former FBI agent Thomas Baker criticized the agency’s “promiscuous spying on Americans” via Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants (a controversial type of surveillance warrant that has been used by the FBI to secretly collect the personal information of more than three million Americans).
Baker also described the FBI’s censorship collusion with Twitter as “a perversion of the First Amendment.”
And during his appearance as a witness, Baker discussed “reverse targeting” — a surveillance technique used by various federal government agencies to circumvent legal restrictions that prohibit these agencies from spying on Americans when questioned by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY).
“They would target a foreign person who was close to an American they were really interested in and then when they picked up that information on the Americans, ‘Aha, we got it in incidental…collection,'” Baker said. “That was all phony and false. It wasn’t incidental collection at all.”
Baker continued by suggesting that Congress “address and correct” this practice by instituting penalties for this type of behavior.
Massie also called out the FBI’s use of FISA to surveil Americans, saying that it had been used to collect “millions of exabytes of data.”
“When what you’re collecting incidentally becomes the entire universe, I think you might need a warrant to go and look at that information,” Massie added.
Baker blamed former FBI Director Robert Mueller for the FBI’s change in culture to an “intelligence-driven” agency and said the FBI now operates “through deceit and deception.”
Law professor Jonathan Turley said the FBI’s censorship collusion with Twitter raises “serious questions of whether the United States government is now a partner in what may be the largest censorship system in our history.”
Despite the mountain of evidence showing that the FBI has engaged in large-scale censorship collusion and surveillance, Democrats played down the revelations and claimed that the committee was being used to “showcase conspiracy theories.”
In her opening statement, Stacey Plaskett (D-VI), the ranking member of the subcommittee, said: “I’m deeply concerned about the use of this select subcommittee as a place to settle scores, showcase conspiracy theories, and advance an extreme agenda that risk undermining Americans’ faith in our democracy.”
She noted that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI “do not always get it right” but insisted that “with domestic terrorism on the rise and hate speech normalized by national politicians, the Department of Justice and the FBI are doing their best to protect us from sliding into chaos.”
The Democrat representatives continued by claiming that Republicans’ “dangerous rhetoric and baseless accusations against the Justice Department and FBI…pose a direct threat to those organizations’ ability to do the work they’re doing to protect our communities.”
Additionally, she falsely claimed that “racist” and so-called “hate” speech is “not constitutionally protected,” despite the Supreme Court unanimously reaffirming that there is no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who was a witness during the first panel, warned that the subcommittee could be taking oversight down “a very dark alley filled with conspiracy theories and disinformation.”
You can watch the entire hearing and see the written testimony that was submitted by the witnesses here.
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