After he found significant issues with the FBI’s Carter Page FISA warrants, Inspector General Michael Horowitz conducted a test to determine how rampant the problems with FBI FISA warrants were. The results aren’t pretty. Horowitz took a sample of 29 applications to review. He found issues with all of them.
In 25 applications, his team found “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts,” while in four of the cases, they were unable to find a “Woods” file — a required file that contains supporting documentation for every factual assertion contained in a FISA application. In three of those missing supporting documentation, it’s unclear if a Woods file was ever created.
Per Horowitz’s summary:
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 4 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 as part of its efforts to ensure that applications are “scrupulously accurate.”
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Our concerns are supported by the fact that in four instances the FBI could not produce the original Woods File, that the Woods File deficiencies that we identified spanned all eight field offices in which we performed fieldwork, that case agents or supervisors whom we interviewed generally did not contest our results, and that the FBI CDC and NSD OI accuracy reviews conducted for the same period of our review identified similar deficiencies. As a result,we do not have confidence that the FBI has executed its Woods Procedures in compliance with FBI policy, or that the process is working as it was intended to help achieve the “scrupulously accurate” standard for FISA applications.
Those documents that did have Woods files contained an average of twenty errors. As you mull that over, keep in mind that neither a person being investigated nor his attorney is involved in the FISA process to protect the rights of the person being investigated. Just ask Carter Page how well that worked out for him!
Horowitz included an FBI response to his report within the document from Associate Deputy Director Paul Abbate who wrote, “We believe that the process errors identified in the OIG’s preliminary findings will be addressed by Director Wray’s previously ordered corrective actions.”
What’s that expression about a horse and a barn door?
Cross posted in modified form at The Lid