DOJ and FBI Announce FISA Reforms

The Federal Docket

September 2, 2020

The DOJ and FBI have announced several measures to “build a more robust internal compliance program” overseeing the FBI’s applications for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Spurred by the president’s criticisms of FISA and an Inspector General report critical of the FBI’s use of FISA warrants, the reforms seek to “ensure the accuracy of FISA applications, as well as the active oversight of applications targeting elected officials, candidates for federal elected offices, and their staffs.”

The DOJ’s press release explicitly references the use of FISA warrants in the investigation of Trump’s presidential campaign, while nonetheless justifying the use of FISA warrants for certain crimes. There have been two memorandums issued by the Attorney General. These memos outline several measures that have already been taken or soon will be, including creating an Office of Internal Auditing to oversee the FBI’s compliance with the relevant statutes, policies, procedures, and court orders relating to national security. The measures also require the FBI to scrutinize FISA applications targeting U.S. persons and to “develop procedures to prevent United States persons from becoming unwitting participants in malign influence operations by foreign powers and to ensure appropriate disciplinary action for those who knowingly misrepresent facts to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.”

Hopefully, these reforms will inspire more reforms in the broader federal criminal system.

Click here to read the DOJ press release.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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