Inspector General Report Finds 'Significant Lapse' in FBI Management of FISA Program

Inspector General Report Finds 'Significant Lapse' in FBI Management of FISA Program

According to a new Department of Justice inspector general report released Thursday, an investigation found 209 errors in a sample of 29 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications reviewed. The report indicates “widespread shortcomings in the FBI’s compliance with procedures that govern applications for surveillance warrants.”

The report is a consequence of an earlier investigation into the FBI’s handling of FISA applications targeting Carter page, Trump’s former campaign adviser. “In December 2019, Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz released a report detailing multiple inaccuracies and omissions in the surveillance warrant applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court) targeting Page” reports The Hill.

The Horowitz report stated “we identified fundamental and serious errors in the agents’ conduct of the FBI’s factual accuracy review procedures (“Woods Procedures”).” Thursday’s released inspector general report states the audit was initiated by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) “to determine whether the significant errors found in that December 2019 OIG report were indicative of a more widespread problem with Woods Procedures compliance.”

“Given the FBI’s reliance upon its Woods Procedures to help ensure the accuracy of its FISA applications, we believe the missing Woods Files represent a significant lapse in the FBI’s management of its FISA program,” the report states.

The Hill reports:

The inspector general found an additional 209 instances in which the Woods File in the sample applications did not contain adequate documentation or support 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 inspector general on Thursday outlined 10 recommendations for the FBI and DOJ National Security Division to undertake. In a response included in the inspector general’s report, the FBI agreed with the recommendations and said it had already implemented some of them.

“We fully accept the OIG’s recommendations, having cooperated with the OIG’s review of our Woods Procedures, which is just one 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 of protecting the American people from national security threats. But our mission is also to uphold the Constitution, and the FBI remains committed to executing our FISA process with the unwavering rigor it requires,” it added.


Join the Newsletter