How the DOJ Changed the FISA Process In Response to FISA Abuse During the Trump Russia Collusion Investigation.

What follows is a simple explanation of Part IIIC of the Durham Report, The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”).

FISA is a law that allows the government to collect foreign intelligence information. It is a complex law, but it is an important tool for protecting the national security of the United States.


FISA requires the government to get a warrant from a special court before it can collect any information. It:

  • cannot be used unless the government certifies that the information sought cannot be obtained through other means than electronic surveillance.
  • must be based on probable cause that the person or organization being targeted is an agent of a foreign power.
  • must not be used to collect information that is protected by the First Amendment.

Changes to the FISA Process

The Department of Justice has implemented a number of changes to the way it handles FISA applications in response to concerns about the accuracy and completeness of the information in those applications. These changes include:

  1. Requiring that both an agent and a supervisor affirm that the Office of Intelligence of the National Security Division has been apprised of all information that could call into question the accuracy of the information in the application.
  2. Requiring that an FBI field office not involved in the investigation do the following things before the government files an application for electronic surveillance of a federal elected official, a candidate for federal office, or a staffer of such a person.
    • Review the case file.
    • Evaluate the proposed filing for accuracy and completeness. 
  3. Requiring the FBI Director to consider conducting a defensive briefing for the target before the government files an application with the FISC.
  4. Time conditions:
    • Limiting the maximum duration of surveillance to 60 days.
    • Requiring the government to report to the FISC every 30 days on the results of the approved surveillance and the continued need for such authority.

These changes are designed to ensure that FISA applications are accurate and complete, and that the government only uses electronic surveillance when it is necessary and appropriate.

Text was simplified with artificial intelligence and edited and organized by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal (Dossy). All opinions are the author’s own.