Report reveals ‘significant gap’ in FBI handling of surveillance warrants

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The Justice Department inspector general has found widespread deficiencies in the FBI’s compliance with procedures that govern applications for surveillance warrants, according to a new report.

The report was sparked by an earlier investigation into the FBI’s handling of surveillance apps targeting former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

In December 2019, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report detailing multiple inaccuracies and omissions in oversight warrant requests to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA tribunal) targeting Page.

According to the new Justice Department Inspector General’s report released on Thursday, the ensuing investigation found 209 errors in a sample of 29 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) review requests.

The Inspector General also found 209 additional cases in which the Woods file in the sample requests did not contain adequate documentation or supporting statements in accordance with FBI policy. Additionally, the Inspector General found 183 missing or incomplete Woods files in a larger pool of thousands of FISA applications filed between 2015 and 2020.

“The OIG initiated this audit to determine whether the material errors found in this December 2019 OIG report were indicative of a more widespread problem of compliance with Woods procedures,” the Inspector General’s report said.

“Since the FBI relies on its Woods procedures to ensure the accuracy of its FISA claims, we believe that the missing Woods files represent a significant flaw in the FBI’s handling of its FISA program,” he said. he.

The first findings of the review of 29 FISA applications were published in March 2020.

Following the release of the 2019 report, the FBI said it was working to implement reforms to the FISA process. The Inspector General on Thursday presented 10 recommendations for the National Security Division of the FBI and the Department of Justice to undertake.

In a response included in the Inspector General’s report, the FBI accepted the recommendations and said it had already implemented some of them.

“We fully accept the recommendations of the OIG, having cooperated with the OIG’s review of our Woods procedures, which is only an important part of our overall FISA program,” the FBI said in a statement to The Hill.

“The FBI’s FISA authorities are indispensable national security tools and a vital means of accomplishing our mission to protect the American people from threats to national security. But our mission is also to uphold the Constitution, and the FBI remains committed to carrying out our FISA process with the unwavering rigor it demands, ”he added.


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