Attorney General William Barr Defends FISA, Calls It A 'Critical Tool'

Former Trump campaign aide Carter Page's wiretap has led to concerns among lawmakers that any American could be surveilled without a fair process.
Posted at 2:18 PM, Dec 19, 2019

Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday defended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as a "critical tool," in response to calls from Republican senators for the FISA court to be shut down unless there's large-scale reform.

Barr said, "We are committed to preserving FISA and we think all Americans should be committed to preserving FISA. It is essential to the security of the United States."

Calls for FISA reform spurred from the release of a watchdog report earlier this month on the beginning of the FBI's Russia investigation. The report revealed serious errors and omissions in the bureau's FISA requests to monitor former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Page's wiretap has led to concerns among lawmakers that any American could be spied on without a fair process. U.S. Sen. Mike Lee asserted FISA law as it is will be abused by the government, saying "it's not a question of if, but it's when and how soon will government officials get caught doing it."

FBI Director Christopher Wray praised the report in a statement, saying its "findings and recommendations represent constructive criticism that will make [the FBI] stronger as an organization." He also said he's "ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the Report’s recommendations."

In a public order filed Tuesday, the typically secretive FISA court criticized the FBI and gave the bureau until Jan. 10 to explain what it plans to do to make sure those mistakes don't happen again.