AG Barr Announces New Oversight Reforms at FBI Pertaining to FISA Applications
At long last the DOJ is announcing reforms related to compliance and oversight at the FBI when it comes to the FISA process.
Abuses of the FISA process have been under scrutiny since the spygate scandal brought them to light. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued a damning report in December finding the FISA warrant applications targeting former 2016 Trump campaign adviser Carter Page were riddled with mistakes, including 17 examples of misconduct, misinformation or outright lies. In January, the top judge from the FISA Court ruled that at least two of the FISA applications used to spy on Carter Page were “not valid.”
The DOJ and FBI claim that these “key reforms” will help the FBI build an internal compliance program to ensure accuracy of FISA applications, and boost oversight of applications targeting federal elected officials, candidates for federal elected office, and their staff.
To quote from the DOJ’s press release directly:
“Today, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation press forward with Foreign Intelligence Surveillance reforms. In consultation with FBI Director Wray, I issued two memoranda — one that authorizes the establishment of an FBI Office of Internal Auditing and directs the FBI to undertake aggressive compliance measures, and the other that establishes protocols to ensure the accuracy of FISA applications and the effective oversight of any surveillance applications targeting elected officials and political campaigns,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “FISA is a critical tool to ensuring the safety and security of Americans, particularly when it comes to fighting terrorism. However, the American people must have confidence that the United States Government will exercise its surveillance authorities in a manner that protects the civil liberties of Americans, avoids interference in the political process, and complies with the Constitution and laws of the United States. What happened to the Trump presidential campaign and his subsequent Administration after the President was duly elected by the American people must never happen again.”
“Since the Inspector General’s Crossfire Hurricane report was issued last December, I have made clear that it describes conduct that was unacceptable and unrepresentative of the FBI as an organization” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “That’s why I immediately ordered more than 40 corrective actions, including foundational FISA reforms, many of which went beyond those recommended by the Inspector General. The FBI has been working diligently to implement these corrective actions. The additional reforms announced today, which we worked on closely with the Attorney General’s office, will build on the FBI’s efforts to bolster its compliance program. FISA is an indispensable tool that the FBI uses to protect our country from national security threats, and Americans can rest assured that the FBI remains dedicated to continuously strengthening our FISA compliance efforts and ensuring that our FISA authorities are exercised in a responsible manner.”
The first memorandum issues is entitled “Augmenting the Internal Compliance Functions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” and the second is entitled “Supplemental Reforms to Enhance Compliance, Oversight, and Accountability with Respect to Certain Foreign Intelligence Activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”