Over the course of a year, a growing stream of information has come to light about inaccuracies in FBI warrant applications before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). In March, FISC was so disturbed by such information that it ordered the Justice Department to take steps to ensure greater consistency and accuracy in its Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications and to report on the process every thirty days. Last week, FISC published the latest of these reports from the Justice Department.
We’ve previously addressed how the FBI often fails to follow its own internal accuracy procedures in surveillance requests, known as the Woods procedures. This latest update provides some insight into how the FBI is responding to that criticism.
First, the FBI is taking steps to “automate certain processes FBI personnel use to create accuracy sub-files.” The automation process would “enhance the accuracy and completeness of FISA applications” by allowing FBI employees “to package and export” the documents in a file to “other FBI personnel,” presumably reducing transmission error or omissions from the prior manual processes.
Second, the FBI is developing a new system, known as “the Bridge,” that will increase collaboration within the FBI, as well as between FBI and the DOJ Office of Intelligence. The Bridge will automatically cross-reference new data with data in FBI’s current case-management system, Sentinel.
Unfortunately, the Bridge will not be ready until at least the end of next year.
PPSA will continue to monitor the FBI’s progress as it seeks to regain the public’s—and FISC’s— trust following the mishaps and misdeeds of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. The improvements it just reported, though minor, are steps in the right direction.
But, as we’ve said before, rules, regulations and procedures will only work if the FBI adheres to them. PPSA continues to advocate for passage of statutes that will buttress these internal improvements with the force of law.
You can read the Justice Department’s latest update here.