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Stewart Combats FISA Abuse

Today, Congressman Chris Stewart (UT-02) introduced the FISA Improvements Act. This legislation is a response to the findings of Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Inspector General (IG), which catalogued numerous abuses of powerful surveillance tools. Representative Stewart’s bill will stop these abuses by amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)—adding significant requirements on the FBI, the Department of Justice, and on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). These requirements will also give Congress critical new insight to perform oversight of the FISA powers.

“The deceptive actions of a few high-ranking officials within the FBI and Department of Justice have eroded public trust in our federal institutions. They flattened internal guardrails, deceived the FISA court, and irreparably damaged the reputation of an innocent American. Collectively, the actions of these individuals has diminished strong bipartisan Congressional support for critical national security tools. My legislation will restore support in these tools by establishing new requirements on future FISA applications.” – Rep. Chris Stewart

More about “FISA Improvements Act”:

This legislation requires:

  • Amicus Curie be assigned to all cases where a US Person in involved.

This amicus curie will act as an attorney representing a FISA target who is a U.S. person. The amici will be there to ensure that constitutional rights are not violated and that the government’s claim meet the threshold for probable cause.

  • Department of Justice (DOJ) to disclosure of any usage of unverified information in the application.

This amends the requirements for submitting an application to the FISC by requiring that the DOJ discloses to the court any information in the application that the US government has not substantiated and to disclose to the court all details of the government’s attempts to verify such information.

  • Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts maintain a transcript of all proceedings.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) investigation into the FISA surveillance order on Carter Page was stymied by a complete absence of the orders proceedings before the court.

  • DOJ to maintain a record of all interactions with the court.

Before presenting a FISA application to the FISC, DOJ officials communicate

  • That extensions of a FISA order be heard or denied by the same judge (as practicable).

This provision ensures that the government is not able to obfuscate details an expiring order’s newly gathered evidence to support renewal of a FISA order.

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