Energy Department Activities Involving FISA

05.18.09 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Although the Department of Energy is not one of the agencies that performs intelligence surveillance or physical search under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, it does occasionally play a role in providing analytical support to other agencies such as the FBI that do conduct FISA surveillance.

A recent DOE Inspector General report (pdf) noted four cases that were “referred by the FBI [to the Department of Energy Office of Intelligence] for analysis of raw data collected under FISA court orders.”  The report does not specify the nature of the raw data or the reason the four cases were referred to the Energy Department, though one may speculate that the data concerned nuclear weapons-related information rather than, say, novel designs for wind turbines.

No violations of law were found by the Inspector General, but the report said DOE improperly failed to respond to one of the four FBI FISA referrals for more than a year.  See “Letter Report on “Selected Aspects of the Department of Energy’s Activities Involving the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” DOE Inspector General, May 6, 2009.