Hurd Statement on FISA Reauthorization

I recently supported reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) after a bipartisan agreement was reached to maintain the use of critical national security tools while also adding measures designed to prevent abuses of the system.

Our nation faces daily threats that have the potential to disrupt, damage and destroy our way of life here in America. From my time in the CIA, I know how important it is for our intelligence community to have the resources it needs to protect our homeland, while at the same time protecting our citizens’ right to privacy. While this bill is not perfect, it does make important reforms, such as enhanced congressional oversight of the FISA process, penalties for those who abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) process and a requirement to have transcripts of court proceedings during the application process.

The USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020 (H.R. 6172) reauthorizes several expiring provisions under FISA and institutes accountability measures to prevent future abuses of the FISA process, including:

  • Requiring the U.S. Attorney General to approve FISA investigations of an elected official or federal candidate in writing;
  • Requiring the Department of Justice’s Inspector General to annually assess and report to Congress compliance with accuracy procedures as part of the FISA process;
  • Mandating that every agency that submits FISA applications will create a new Office of Compliance to ensure the veracity of FISA applications;
  • Creating a penalty of imprisonment for up to 8 years for those who improperly engage in electronic surveillance or disclose information obtained via unauthorized electronic surveillance; and
  • Allowing individuals who engage in misconduct before the court to be charged with criminal contempt.

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