Politics

Barr Vows to Make Reforms to Surveillance Process Following Watchdog Report

Attorney General William Barr met with Senate Republicans on Tuesday to convince them to support an expiring surveillance law, while telling them that he wants to make internal reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant process.

Several GOP senators told reporters after a private caucus lunch that Barr was looking at steps to reform the FISA warrant application process internally to tighten standards on obtaining a warrant. The FISA warrant application process is at the center of a damning report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz on the surveillance of Trump campaign aide Carter Page during the 2016 presidential election.

The report, released on Dec. 9, 2019, concluded that the applications for FISA warrants on Page included 17 significant errors or omissions. Horowitz faulted the entire chain of command involved in the FBI investigation.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told The Hill that Barr went over “his recommendations and some internal reforms FISA warrant application and surveillance technology being used” during the meeting.

“Hes going to do some things that he can do,” he said. “I think hes going to take a lot of what Horowitz did and add his own stamp to it.”

Meanwhile, Graham told Fox News that Barr committed to “clean up [the] mess” of what happened in 2016 while adding that “whether or not we need statutory changes I think is a subject of debate.”

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times request to comment about what reforms the attorney general intends to make.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in December, Horowitz said many of the errors found in his investigation amounted to a failure that implicated the chain of command at the FBI responsible for handling the FISA applications, including senior officials.

“We believe this circumstance reflects a failure not just by those who prepared the FISA applications, but also by the managers and supervisors in the Crossfire Hurricane chain of command, including FBI senior officials who were briefed as the investigation progressed,” Horowitz testified at the time.

“Especially in the FBls most sensitive and high-priority matters, and especially when seeking court permission to use an intrusive tool such as a FISA order, it is incumbent upon the entire chain of command, including senior officials, to take the necessary steps to ensure that they are sufficiently familiar with the facts and circumstances supporting and potentially undermining a FISA application in order to provide effective oversight consistent with their level of supervisory responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters in a press conference after the meeting that Barr spent most of the meeting on Tuesday speaking about expiring intelligence provision. Several authorities of the USA Freedom Act are set to expire on March 15.

“The attorney general just wanted to underscore the importance of these provisions that were enacted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks,” McConnell said. “They are still relevant to our efforts to go after terrorists today, just like they were after 9/11.”

Barr proposed to senators a multi-part strategy that would involve having Congress approve a continuation of the existing provisions while the administration makes some regulatory changes to the process of surveillance applications. At the same time, senatoRead More – Source