“The Justice Department appreciates the diligent work of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) in completing its review of the FBI’s use of Section 215 orders in 2006 and is pleased that the OIG report recognizes the critical importance of these tools to the FBI’s conduct of national security investigations.
“As the OIG report notes, the process for obtaining Section 215 orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) involves multiple levels of review. These reviews are designed to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans and ensure that applications comply with statutory requirements. To ensure that the Justice Department and FBI are taking full advantage of this tool, the Justice Department’s National Security Division (NSD) has augmented the number of attorneys handling Section 215 applications and is collaborating with the FBI to increase the efficiency with which requests for Section 215 authority are prepared. We appreciate the OIG’s finding that this careful approach has not caused any harm to national security and that, when circumstances required immediate collection, the FBI and the NSD were able to work together to obtain Section 215 authority expeditiously.
“Finally, we are pleased that the OIG report confirms that there were no illegal uses of Section 215 authority in 2006. While the report notes two instances in which a third party over-produced records in response to a court-authorized Section 215 request, the FBI did not solicit the additional business records in either case and, therefore, cannot be faulted for the recipients’ production of records beyond the court order. Indeed, in both instances cited by the OIG report, the FBI took steps necessary to ensure that the over-produced information would not be used.”