DOJ Inspector General Says He Does Not Have Confidence That FBI Is Following FISA Surveillance Request Policies

The Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report scrutinizing the FBI’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications that found several errors in cases dating back years.

In December, Horowitz released a report on the FBI’s investigation of President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign that found several errors in the FISA surveillance requests and renewal requests for members of the campaign.

“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,” Horowitz wrote.

The Woods Procedures require FBI agents to provide information that supports claims made in FISA surveillance applications.

Horowitz and his team went to eight different FBI field offices and examined 29 FISA applications related to counter-terrorism investigations that took place between October 2014 and September 2019.

As a result of his team’s review of the applications, Horotwiz said he does not have “confidence” that the FBI is complying with the Woods Procedures.

“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 said that conclusions rest “primarily” on the fact that for four of the 29 applications reviewed, agents were unable to produce the Woods Files — and in three of those cases, agents said they did not know if the files “ever existed.”

Additionally, he said his team “identified apparent errors or inadequately supported facts in all of the 25 applications” that they were able to review with the Woods Files.

The report continues to state that the Woods Procedures require that when FISA warrant applications use information from a Confidential Human Source (CHS), a statement from an agent stating that the facts are accurate is included.

But, Horowitz said that his review found that “about half” of the applications that used information from a CHS lacked “documentation attesting to these two requirements.”

“Our preliminary results also indicate that FBI case agents are not consistently following Woods Procedures requirements related to renewal applications,” the report continued.

Horowitz added, “Based on the results of our review of two renewal files, as well as our discussions with FBI agents, it appears that the FBI is not consistently re-verifying the original statements of fact within renewal applications.”

However, Horowitz said that his team did not make a judgment on whether or not the errors in the process would have impacted agents’ ability to get approval for the FISA warrants. But, he said his team will continue its review of the FISA warrant process.

In a statement included with the report, the FBI said it accepts the finding and expects that the changes FBI Director Christopher Wray announced after Horowitz’s December report would address the issues laid out in the report on the Woods Procedures.