03.31.20

REAX From Senator Patrick Leahy And Senator Mike Lee On The DOJ OIG Interim FISA Report

WASHINGTON – (TUESDAY, March 31, 2020) – On Tuesday the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General released a Management Advisory Memorandum to FBI Director Christopher Wray identifying concerns with the FBI’s compliance with the “Woods Procedures” for FISA applications relating to U.S. persons. Woods Procedures are vitally important to the integrity of the entire FISA process, as they are designed to ensure that the government presents a complete, accurate assessment of the facts to the FISA court. Based on a sampling of 29 FISA applications in eight field offices across the nation, the IG concluded that “we do not have confidence that the FBI has executed its Woods Procedures in compliance with FBI policy.” Woods files were missing from four of the 29 applications, and the other 25 applications had an average of 20 issues discovered per application. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) released the following comment:

“We have been working to reform our nation’s surveillance authorities for years, and, as we predicted, this damning initial report makes clear our work is not done. The significant errors that the Inspector General uncovered in his 478 page report in December on the origins of Crossfire Hurricane do not appear to be isolated incidents. The FBI appears to have a widespread problem in failing to disclose all of the exculpatory evidence in its possession to the FISA court. The disclosure of all exculpatory information to a court is one of the most basic due process rights guaranteed to all Americans, regardless of whether the court operates in the open or behind closed doors.

“This report also comes at a critical time. In the coming months the Senate will consider extending important surveillance tools authorized in the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015, which we co-authored and ushered through the Senate. At that time, we will offer an amendment to both expand amicus protections and address the issues identified by the Inspector General to ensure that agencies provide all evidence, including exculpatory evidence, to the FISA Court in their applications. The FISA process needs real reforms, not window-dressing.

"We look forward to reading the Inspector General's final report from his ongoing audit of the FISA process."

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