CJR Staff
July 15, 2023

Democrat lawmaker says FBI Director Wray's answers 'weren't good enough'

Democrat Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington stated this week on CNN that "the FBI has not been forthcoming with its answers."

Jayapal is referring to the FBI's response to questions about its purchasing of the personal information of American citizens.

Jayapal said that FBI Director Christopher Wray's answers on the matter during a hearing with the House Oversight Committee earlier in the day weren’t good enough.

Wray Has To Do Better

Host Kaitlan Collins asked, "For the most part, Democrats were largely defending Director Wray as he was being largely attacked by Republicans. But you grilled him about the FBI’s practice of buying the personal information of American citizens. Data that could include their location, their health information, even potentially what they are looking at online, obviously, data that the FBI can’t legally collect on its own without a warrant but can buy on the open market. … Congresswoman, were his answers today sufficient for you?"

Jayapal answered, "Kaitlan, they were not. And throughout my questioning, I kept saying to him, this is our job is to have you testify in public before the American people and before Congress about what the FBI is doing. And we do have significant concerns. It’s not just I. ODNI, for those who don’t know, is the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. That is where the report came from that said that the FBI is purchasing large amounts of data from these data brokers, and that information contains everything from your location information, your medical information, it could contain information about all kinds of private things that I think the American people understand they do not want the FBI to have."

Jayapal continued, "And this whole area of the FBI utilizing information of Americans without a warrant, these are all warrantless searches that are done. They are backdoor searches. The information is used in ways that we don’t know. We have a lot of information about this, and the FBI has not been forthcoming with its answers."

"And so, I did say at the end of my questioning of Director Wray, that if he wants the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — which I happen to think is an important piece of legislation — but it contains some very important issues around privacy," Jayapal continued. "We are going to need answers to this and we’re going to need some significant reforms about how the FBI uses American’s data and how we protect the privacy of Americans across this country."

Collins asked, "And if you don’t get that, it sounds like you would consider blocking the reauthorization, is that right?"

Jayapal responded, "Well, I think we need to get some really significant reforms if we’re going to reauthorize FISA."

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