DOJ audit prompted by FBI spying on Americans finds errors in EVERY sample FISA application

A review of 29 FBI applications to spy on US citizens or residents found mistakes in every single one, and four cases of proper documentation missing entirely, the Justice Department inspector general has revealed.

From a dataset of more than 700 applications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) submitted by eight FBI field offices, Inspector General Michael Horowitz and his team selected a sample of 29, made between October 2014 and September 2019, pertaining to US citizens or “green card” holders.

They found an average of 20 errors in each one.

The Woods Procedures mandate “compiling supporting documentation for each fact in the FISA application,” Horowitz wrote in his findings, which were made public on Tuesday. Yet his auditors found at least some of that documentation contained erroneous or mistaken information in 25 of the applications – and was entirely missing in four other cases.

“We could not review original Woods Files for 4 of the 29 selected FISA applications because the FBI has not been able to locate them and, in 3 of these instances, did not know if they ever existed,” Horowitz wrote.

The auditors “do not have confidence” the FBI actually followed procedure in any of the cases, the report concluded.

Horowitz’s findings managed to attract a considerable amount of attention on Tuesday, even as the US continued to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Attorney General Bill Barr was “appalled” at the way the FISA process was abused, resulting “in one of the greatest political travesties in American history,” DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.

Barr was referring to FBI failure to follow Woods procedures in the four FISA warrants used to spy on the campaign of President Donald Trump – via adviser Carter Page – during and after the 2016 US presidential election. The wider audit followed Horowitz’s findings in December last year that the Page warrants contained at least 17 “significant errors or omissions.” 

Two of those warrants have been ruled improperly obtained since, and the DOJ has moved to “quarantine” information obtained through all four from all pending investigations.

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© Reuters / Erin Scott
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Even so, Barr and FBI Director Chris Wray insisted that FISA warrants remained a vital and “indispensable” tool to guard the US from national security threats, and urged lawmakers to extend those powers going forward.

Democrats, on the other hand, insisted that the actual takeaway from the audit was that the FBI was not evil, but merely incompetent.

“Further evidence that the problems with the Carter Page FISA applications had nothing to do with Trump, Carter Page, or political bias,” tweeted Michael Bromwich, DOJ IG under the Clinton administration.

Bromwich was also the lawyer for Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford during the attempt by Democrats to block the nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. Her accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her back in high school could ultimately not be substantiated.

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FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland © Reuters / Larry Downing
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