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Watchdog: FBI’s FISA problems much deeper than Carter Page

Empower Wisconsin | April 1, 2020

By Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner

The Justice Department’s independent watchdog found the FBI’s disregard for its own Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act procedures extended beyond its controversial targeting of former Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

An audit, the findings of which were released on Tuesday, uncovered a lack of properly documented verifications in dozens of electronic surveillance applications.

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report focused narrowly on the bureau’s requirement to create and maintain an accuracy subfile known as a “Woods file” to ensure that factual assertions in FISA applications are backed up by demonstrable evidence. FBI policy requires that the Woods file contain supporting documentation for every factual assertion in a FISA application.

“We believe that the repeated weaknesses in the FBI’s execution of the Woods Procedures in each of the 29 FISA applications we reviewed to date — including the four applications for which the FBI could not furnish an original Woods File — raise significant questions about the extent to which the FBI is complying with its own requirement that FISA applications be supported by documentation in the Woods File,” Horowitz concluded. “We believe that a deficiency in the FBI’s efforts to support the factual statements in FISA applications through its Woods Procedures undermines the FBI’s ability to achieve its ‘scrupulously accurate’ standard for FISA applications.”

Horowitz’s 17-page audit was a follow-up of his much larger report in December, which found serious Woods procedure violations in FBI applications for FISA warrants to monitor Page, who was suspected of being an agent for Russia but was never charged with any wrongdoing.

The inspector general criticized the DOJ and the FBI late last year for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to the FISA warrants for Page and for the bureau’s heavy reliance on British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s salacious and unverified dossier. Steele put his research together in 2016 at the behest of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which was funded by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the Perkins Coie law firm. The DOJ watchdog also criticized the FBI for not passing along information gleaned from its confidential human sources to the court.

Read more at the Washington Examiner. 

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