National Security

Audit found only minor FBI errors in FISA warrants: court filing

An internal audit of 29 warrant applications submitted by the FBI to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found only minor clerical errors in a process that has come under heavy political scrutiny in recent years.

The findings were revealed in a court filing Wednesday and stem from an independent review of the FBI’s application process for surveillance warrants by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

The Justice Department watchdog concluded in a report earlier this year that the FBI had made more than a dozen errors in its applications to look into Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

According to last week’s court documents, the internal review looked over “hundreds of pages of facts contained in the 29 applications audited by the Office of the Inspector General” and found “only one material misstatement and one material omission.”

“The complete absence in the twenty-nine applications of material errors impacting probable cause should instill confidence in the FBI’s use of its FISA authorities,” FBI Acting General Counsel Dawn Browning said in a sworn statement, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

“The overwhelming majority of factual assertions — approximately 6,568 — were determined not to be erroneous at all, materially or otherwise. Of the errors that were identified, many were minor typographical errors, such as a misspelled word, and date errors,” Browning added.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows the FBI and the Justice Department to use wiretaps to help gather information deemed vital to national security or for other foreign policy reasons. The agency is required to submit applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in order to execute the warrants. The practice has often been criticized for its use on American citizens, with many seeing it as an infringement of constitutional rights.

The audit did not specify whether the FBI’s Russia investigation, which Trump has repeatedly referred to as a “hoax,” was included in the review.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We remain committed to improving the FISA process,” Justice Department national security head John Demers told CNN in a statement. “The ability to surveil and to investigate using FISA authorities remains critical to confronting current national security threats, including election interference, Chinese espionage and terrorism.”

Tags Donald Trump FBI FISA Act Fisa Court Justice Department Michael Horowitz Surveillance Trump administration Warrants
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