Bracewell’s Seth DuCharme recently spoke to POLITICO about FBI Director Chris Wray’s hands-on approach in conversations with the Justice Department to reauthorize provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and multiple inspector general’s reports presenting a host of issues with the FISA procedure.
In March of 2020, the inspector general laid out more widespread problems in the FISA process. That year, Congress weighed reauthorization of multiple FISA provisions. DuCharme said that Wray, in talking with senior Justice Department officials, focused on making the case for the authorities to lawmakers and to the public.
“He said, ‘We need to have a coherent message to people about why FISA’s important and some of the consequences we may face if we lost this authority,’” DuCharme recalled. “I think he saw it as mission critical.”
That level of participation in big-picture strategy talks wasn’t typical for Wray. As DuCharme put it: “That was the exception rather than the rule.”
The efforts weren’t successful. Congress declined to reauthorize the specific FISA authorities that expired in 2020. They have since become defunct.