Demand Progress Statement on DOJ IG Report’s Revelations of “extensive compliance failures”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2019
CONTACT: Sean Vitka, [email protected], 570.798.7678

Yesterday, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice released its review of “Crossfire Hurricane,” an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into whether Donald Trump’s campaign for president coordinated with the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 elections.

In October, the government revealed more significant instances of noncompliance involving a different Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authority, Section 702, and earlier this year, Demand Progress Education Fund and the FreedomWorks Foundation chronicled years of abuse of yet another FISA authority, Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which is now scheduled to sunset on March 15, 2020.

The following statement can be attributed to Sean Vitka, counsel for Demand Progress:

“The DOJ Inspector General found ‘extensive compliance failures’ throughout the FISA application process, including the failure of supervisors to identify serious issues. While the report does not prove political bias like that alleged by Donald Trump, it should be recognized for what it is: A severe indictment of the FBI and the ways the government, including the Trump administration, fails to protect the public from wrongful spying.

“That this many significant errors would occur in an investigation where close scrutiny was guaranteed is frightening. These errors reveal a dangerous dismissal of the FBI’s internal procedures, supervisors’ ignorance of what those procedures require, and an inability of senior staff to identify and correct these serious problems.

“People familiar with other FISA authorities, like Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, have long noted that these types of internal protections are insufficient to protect people’s privacy, and this Inspector General report proves their inadequacy. Congress must strengthen independent overseers — like the Inspectors General, the special amici, and the courts — to ensure the FBI does not abuse its powers. It should be assumed this investigation into a presidential candidate is the best the FBI can do — and that should terrify the public.

“Now it’s time for Congress to fix these problems. In addition to strengthening the independent overseers of FISA surveillance, Congress should ensure that warrantless FISA authorities can’t be used to investigate First Amendment-protected activity, and it should further limit what can be obtained without a warrant.”

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