DOJ IG: ‘At Least 17 Significant Errors or Omissions in the Carter Page FISA’ Application

Michael Horowitz
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) audit on the origins of the Russian collision hoax released Monday by the inspector general (IG) found “at least 17 significant errors and omissions” in the Carter Page federal surveillance application that enabled the investigation into the Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

DOJ IG Michael Horowitz’s report indicated the agents in charge of dealing with approving FISA surveillance, particularly the Carter Page one approved by FBI Director James Comey, “did not give appropriate attention or treatment to the facts that cut against probable cause, or reassess the information supporting probable cause as the investigation progressed.”

“The agents and SSAs [Supervisory Special Agent] also did not follow, or appear to even know, the requirements in the Woods Procedures to re-verify the factual assertions from previous applications,” it adds.

The process — known as the Woods Procedures — used to ensure the facts provided to obtain a FISA surveillance approval is flawed, the IG report found, noting in a footnote:

We do not believe that this [Woods Procedures] process, even when faithfully executed, is sufficient to ensure that all factual assertions in the application had adequate supporting documentation. … We examined the completeness of the Woods File by comparing the facts asserted in the first FISA application to the documents maintained in the Woods File. Our comparison identified instances in which facts asserted in the application were not supported by documentation in the Woods File. Specifically, we found facts asserted in the FISA application that have no supporting documentation in the Woods File, facts that have purported supporting documentation in the Woods File but the documentation does not state the fact asserted in the FISA application or facts that have purported supporting documentation in the Woods File, but the documentation shows the fact asserted is inaccurate.

Some DOJ agents followed their judgment, rather than the evidence, in some cases in what appears to be an effort to get the results they wanted, IG Michael Horowitz determined in his report, adding:

We identified at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Ac] FISA applications, and many additional errors in the Woods Procedures. These errors and omissions resulted from case agents providing wrong or incomplete information to [the National Security Division Office of Intelligence] OI and failing to flag important issues for discussion.

While we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence of intentional misconduct on the part of the case agents who assisted OI in preparing the applications, or the agents and supervisors who performed the Woods Procedures, we also did not receive satisfactory explanations for the errors or problems we identified.

Comey certified the FISA request for Carter Page despite the problems with the process used to ensure the information used to obtain the surveillance is acccurate.

The IG report noted:

Comey certified the Carter Page application on behalf of the FBI… We described the elements of the certification required by the FBI Director or Deputy Director, including that the information sought through the requested FISA authority is foreign intelligence information that cannot reasonably be obtained by normal investigative techniques and is necessary to protect the United States against clandestine intelligence activities In this regard, the Director’s certification is different from the approval of the NSD [National Security Division], AAG [Assistant Attorney General], DAG [Deputy Attorney General], or the Attorney General, which requires that the signatory find that the application satisfies the FISA’s statutory requirements.

Comey admitted that as FBI director he did not always fully read a FISA application, reading only the description at times, highlighting yet another problem of the surveillance programs.

The former FBI director had reservations about signing the Page FISA request based on a source the federal government knew was connected to the opposite political side and whose information “had not yet been corroborated.”

Comey said that the reason he signed the FISA was that he believed in “probable cause” that “Page was an agent for a foreign power.”

The source that Comey believed provided probable cause was the discredited Christopher Steele, who was also hired by Hillary Clinton.

Horowitz pointed out:

In most instances, the agents and supervisors told us that they either did not know or recall why the information was not shared with OI, that the failure to do so may have been an oversight, that they did not recognize at the time the relevance of the information to the FISA application, or that they did not believe the missing information to be significant.

On this last point, we believe that case agents may have improperly substituted their own judgments in place of the judgment of OI, or in place of the court, to weigh the probative value of the information.

The surveillance of the Trump administration campaign began in 2016 before he won the presidency.

Horowitz determined that the federal government based the Trump campaign-linked FISA on weak “probable cause.”

The IG pointed out:

We concluded that the failures described above and in this report represent serious performance failures by the supervisory and non-supervisory agents with responsibility over the FISA applications. These failures prevented OI from fully performing its gatekeeper function and deprived the decision-makers the opportunity to make fully informed decisions.

Although some of the factual misstatements and omissions we found in this review were arguably more significant than others, we believe that all of them taken together resulted in FISA applications that made it appear that the information supporting the probable cause was stronger than was actually the case.

In other words, it appeared the Obama administration in the guise of protecting the integrity of the 2016 presidential election from Russian interference seemingly attempted to ensure Hillary Clinton became president.


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