In a memo sent to Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray on Monday, the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz found ‘additional errors’ in more than 24 FISA applications.
Justice Department watchdog has identified additional errors in the FBI’s surveillance warrant application process after reviewing more than two dozen Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications, according to a new publicly released memo.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz informed FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday that his office did “not have confidence” that the FBI was properly following the Woods Procedures, an FBI policy that requires officials to provide supporting documentation to back up factual assertions made in FISA applications.
“As a result of our audit work to date and as described below, we do not have confidence that the FBI has executed its Woods Procedures in compliance with FBI policy,” Horowitz wrote in a management advisory memorandum to Wray.
“Specifically, the Woods Procedures mandate compiling supporting documentation for each fact in the FISA application. Adherence to the Woods Procedures should result in such documentation as a means toward achievement of the FBI’s policy that FISA applications be ‘scrupulously accurate.'”
Horowitz discovered these additional problems after visiting eight FBI field offices and reviewing a selected sample of 29 FISA applications that were tied to both counterintelligence and counterterrorism investigations between October 2014 and September 2019.
Horowitz said he chose to broaden his review of FISA applications following the release of a sprawling report in December that found “fundamental and serious errors in the agents’ conduct” as it related to the Woods Procedures.
That report, which was particularly focused on the wiretap warrant FBI officials sought to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, identified numerous occasions where federal officials did not include the documentation to back up their assertions.
“As a result of these findings, in December 2019, my office initiated an audit to examine more broadly the FBI’s execution of, and compliance with, its Woods Procedures relating to U.S. Persons covering the period from October 2014 to September 2019,” Horowitz wrote.
Horowitz also emphasizes that he did not weigh in on whether these errors had a material effect on the entire surveillance application.
“During this initial review, we have not made judgments about whether the errors or concerns we identified were material. Also, we do not speculate as to whether the potential errors would have influenced the decision to file the application or the FISC’s decision to approve the FISA application,” he continued, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
[No surprise there.]