FISA Court Issues Opinion Regarding Surveillance Request Reforms

Elliot Setzer
Thursday, March 5, 2020, 12:48 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) on Wednesday largely accepted changes the FBI plans to make to its process for seeking warrants. The court also temporarily barred some FBI officials mentioned in the Office of the Inspector General's report from appearing before the court.

The 19-page opinion and order, written by FISC chief judge James Boasberg, directed that any attorney submitting a FISA application make a representation stating that the application, to the best of their knowledge, fairly reflects “all information that might reasonably call into question the accuracy of the information or the reasonableness of any FBI assessment in the application, or otherwise raise doubts about the requested findings.”

The FISC also questioned the effectiveness of measures to reform the FISA application process. In the decision, the court stated that the FBI’s revised FISA application form is unlikely to trigger the disclosure of information that may undermine probable cause. It ordered the FBI to report back, among other things, about its progress in reforming its process for drafting requests.

The FISC further ordered that any Justice Department or FBI personnel under disciplinary or criminal review relating to their work on FISA applications shall not participate in drafting or submitting FISA applications.

The opinion is available here and below:


Elliot Setzer is a Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford Law School and a Ph.D student at Yale University. He previously worked at Lawfare and the Brookings Institution.

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