The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Announce Critical Reforms to Enhance Compliance, Oversight, and Accountability at the FBI
These Reforms Will Improve the FBI’s Internal Compliance Program, Ensure the Accuracy of FISA Applications, and Require Proper Oversight of FISA Applications Targeting Elected Officials and Campaigns
The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation today announced key reforms that will empower the FBI to build a more robust internal compliance program and that will ensure, among other things, the accuracy of FISA applications, as well as the active oversight of applications targeting federal elected officials, candidates for federal elected office, and their staffs.
“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 issued by the Attorney General is entitled Augmenting the Internal Compliance Functions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This memorandum makes significant improvements to the FBI’s internal compliance program. It authorizes the establishment of the Office of Internal Auditing to overcome a gap in auditing capability at the FBI and requires the development of compliance and oversight mechanisms, training, and internal controls to ensure the FBI’s compliance with applicable statutes, policies, procedures, and court orders that govern the FBI’s national security activities. The reforms also require the FBI to perform robust auditing functions, including, for example, routine audits of the FBI’s use of National Security Letters, compliance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and adherence to FISA’s minimization, targeting, and querying procedures.
The second memorandum is entitled Supplemental Reforms to Enhance Compliance, Oversight, and Accountability with Respect to Certain Foreign Intelligence Activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The supplemental reforms in this memorandum build on the corrective measures undertaken by the FBI Director in his response to the December 2019 report of the Department of Justice Inspector General entitled Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation. These reforms are designed to ensure the accuracy and completeness of FISA applications targeting U.S. persons. The reforms also include oversight protocols to ensure that any use of FISA to surveil federal elected officials, candidates for federal elected office, or their advisors or staff is justified, non-partisan, and based on full and complete information. Finally, the memorandum requires the FBI to develop procedures to prevent United States persons from becoming unwitting participants in malign influence operations by foreign powers and to review its disciplinary policies and procedures to ensure appropriate disciplinary action for those who knowingly misrepresent facts to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.