The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued a scathing order on Friday, demanding the Federal Bureau of Instigation come up with some convincing answers. If they don’t find some excellent explanations and a whole pile of missing paperwork, the FISA court might just pull the plug on all their ongoing wiretaps.
Court orders answers about missing surveillance evidence
By June 15, the FBI must “tell the court the identities of the surveillance targets.” They also are ordered to come up with a good reason why the court shouldn’t simply “invalidate the surveillance orders because of the errors described.” On top of that they need to drag through each and every file dating back to January 2015 “and to report on efforts to ensure proper Woods procedures were followed.”
FISA is the special court which presides over national security bugging cases to grant or deny government wiretap warrants against American citizens. They’re mad about a brand new report with even more infuriating findings than what the IG discovered before. These new and disturbing allegations are entirely separate from the intentional lies and omissions uncovered in December, relating to the Carter Page case. That’s the one which led to the eavesdropping on President Donald Trump.
This time, the issue concerns the required “Woods files” which are a folder attached to each surveillance request and are supposed to contain all the relevant details to prove what the agents are saying in court is true.
The FBI has no clue on how to follow the rules
A recent internal probe conducted by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, revealed the FBI basically ignored the rules. After spot checking surveillance warrant requests from here and there across the country, the IG determined he “lacked confidence” that the FBI was following its own rules requiring the evidence presented to the court be “scrupulously accurate.”
The FISA court expressed the extent of their displeasure with the findings on Friday. According to the court, “saying that the IG’s ‘lack of confidence’ is ‘well founded’ would be “an understatement.” As far as they are concerned, the lack of confidence has a massively solid, reinforced, slab of evidence underneath it for a foundation.
Every single one of 29 files which were spot checked had serious evidence flaws. Horowitz explained that his investigators “couldn’t see original Woods files for four of the 29 applications because the FBI has not been able to locate them and, in 3 of these instances, did not know if they ever existed.”
It’s clear to the court that corruption has infected the entire surveillance system. “The OIG Memorandum provides further reason for systemic concern,” they write. They’re never going to trust a thing the FBI puts in front of them, ever again. “It thereby reinforces the need for the court to monitor the ongoing efforts of the FBI and DOJ to ensure that, going forward, FBI applications present accurate and complete facts.”
The FBI is sweating bullets. The bureau issued a statement Friday, insisting that “maintaining the trust and confidence of the Court is paramount to the FBI and we are continuing to implement the 40-plus corrective actions ordered by Director Wray in December 2019. Although the applications reviewed by the IG in this audit predate the announcement of these corrective actions, the FBI understands the Court’s desire to obtain information related to the applications.”