New findings by the Justice Department inspector general that the FBI has repeatedly violated surveillance rules stood in stark contrast to the years of assurances from top Democrats and media commentators that bureau scrupulously handled Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants — and prompted Republican lawmakers to caution that the FBI seemingly believes it has “carte blanche to routinely erode the liberties of Americans without proper justification.”
The DOJ watchdog identified critical errors in every FBI wiretap application that it audited as part of the fallout from the bureau’s heavily flawed investigation into former Trump advisor Carter Page, who was surveilled in part because of a largely discredited dossier funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). An FBI lawyer in that case even falsified a CIA email submitted to the FISA court in order to make Page’s communications with Russians appear nefarious, the DOJ inspector general found; and the DOJ has concluded that the Page warrant was legally improper.
But, the DOJ’s new assessment indicated that FISA problems were systemic at the bureau and extended beyond the Page probe. In four of the 29 cases the DOJ inspector general reviewed, the FBI did not have any so-called “Woods files” at all, referring to documentation demonstrating that it had independently corroborated key facts in its surveillance warrant applications. In three of those applications, the FBI couldn’t confirm that Woods documentation ever existed.