Inspector General again scolds FBI over its faulty FISA warrants
A report from the Justice Department’s Inspector General shows the FBI has real problem filling out the paperwork required for it to conduct secret wiretaps on Americans.
According to Reason’s Scott Shackford:
Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz organized an audit to determine whether similar problems were happening with the other FISA warrant applications targeting Americans. In a 2020 memorandum, Horowitz determined that the FBI regularly neglected following its own procedures to make certain each FISA warrant application is as accurate as possible. Out of 29 FISA warrant applications to surveil Americans, the OIG found that 25 of them had errors or “inadequately supported facts.” And the other four were missing the associated files that showed that the FBI agents involved were following so-called Woods procedures—the policies the FBI came up with in 2001 to make sure each warrant was properly detailed.
[The report] details the results of the audit ordered by Horowitz, and the problems go even deeper. Out of 7,000 FISA applications between 2015 and 2020, the OIG found 183 instances where those aforementioned Woods files were “missing, destroyed, or incomplete,” meaning the accuracy of those warrant applications may be difficult or impossible to prove.
All of which points to the need for fundamental FISA reforms. The ACLU’s Ashley Gorski said:
“The FBI has repeatedly failed to comply with the procedures for ensuring the accuracy of its FISA applications, and its efforts to improve oversight policies in the wake of the Carter Page debacle have not gone nearly far enough. But there’s a more fundamental problem here: in practice, FISA applications are never subject to testing by defense counsel in court. No FBI internal compliance policy can compensate for that.”
Then it’s time to review FISA from top to bottom. And if reforms are impossible, then jettisoning the secret courts and their surveillance entirely should be the result.