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Barr announces new FISA restrictions

Barr announces new FISA restrictions
© Washington Post

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Lawyer for former officer charged in George Floyd death alleges witness coercion CNN legal analyst joins DOJ's national security division MORE issued two memos on Tuesday that would impose new restrictions on how his department would conduct surveillance on a candidate for a federal office and their staff members. 

The new restrictions come after President TrumpDonald TrumpVirginia GOP gubernatorial nominee acknowledges Biden was 'legitimately' elected Biden meets with DACA recipients on immigration reform Overnight Health Care: States begin lifting mask mandates after new CDC guidance | Walmart, Trader Joe's will no longer require customers to wear masks | CDC finds Pfizer, Moderna vaccines 94 percent effective in health workers MORE has repeatedly criticized the process in which the FBI obtained a warrant from court created by the the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), as it investigated Russia's interference in the last presidential election.

The Justice Department inspector general has also issued a report criticizing how the department applied for a warrant to surveil former Trump campaign staffer Carter Page. The report concluded that information that should have been a part of the application was not included. 

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"Today, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation press forward with Foreign Intelligence Surveillance reforms," Barr said in a statement.

One change would require the FBI to consider briefing a candidate or campaign staffer that they are at risk of being compromised by a foreign power prior to applying for a FISA warrant for that person.

Another would strengthen oversight of the use of FISA for surveillance of candidates or elected officials to ensure they are justified and nonpartisan. The reforms would also increase auditing of the procedures, including regular audits of FBI use of National Security Letters.

"In consultation with FBI Director [Christopher] Wray, I issued two memoranda — one that authorizes the establishment of an FBI Office of Internal Auditing and directs the FBI to undertake aggressive compliance measures, and the other that establishes protocols to ensure the accuracy of FISA applications and the effective oversight of any surveillance applications targeting elected officials and political campaigns," the attorney general said in a Tuesday statement.

Barr said the move was made to ensure the American people can maintain confidence in the U.S. government exercises surveillance authorities in a "manner that protects the civil liberties of Americans."

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"What happened to the Trump presidential campaign and his subsequent Administration after the President was duly elected by the American people must never happen again," he said.

"The additional reforms announced today, which we worked on closely with the Attorney General’s office, will build on the FBI’s efforts to bolster its compliance program," Wray said in the statement. "FISA is an indispensable tool that the FBI uses to protect our country from national security threats, and Americans can rest assured that the FBI remains dedicated to continuously strengthening our FISA compliance efforts and ensuring that our FISA authorities are exercised in a responsible manner.”

Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Opposition to refugees echoes one of America's most shameful moments White House defends CDC outreach to teachers union MORE (R-Ark.) lauded the updated security measures to the FISA program on Twitter, saying the reforms would prevent future abuses of the act that was signed in 1978.