FISA court orders FBI to determine if misleading warrants need to be invalidated

Judge gives FBI until June 15 to determine if 29 flawed warrant applications contained material errors.

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FBI Chris Wray testifies
FBI official Chris Wray testifies before House Judiciary Committee, February 2020
House Judiciary Committee
Updated: April 3, 2020 - 9:17pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Stung by new evidence of surveillance errors, the nation's intelligence court on Friday ordered the FBI to review more than two dozen wiretap applications to determine if they were so flawed as to have led to inappropriate spying on Americans.

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Chief Judge James Boasberg gave the bureau until June 15 to complete the review, moving quickly to react to a Justice Department inspector general's memo earlier this week that found 29 FISA warrants to spy on Americans contained inaccurate or unverified information in violation of the FBI's so-called Woods Procedures.

The judge's order requires the FBI to determine if the errors were material enough to void the already approved warrants. 

The new IG memo "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,” Boasberg wrote.

The Justice Department has already withdrawn two of the four surveillance warrants that were issued against former Trump adviser Carter Page during the Russia collusion probe after the IG found they suffered from 17 serious errors, including falsified information and uncorroborated evidence. The FBI is required to submit only verified evidence to support a request.

The court signaled on Friday additional action may be taken given the widespread problems now revealed about the FBI's handling of FISA warrants dating back five years. "When problems are identified in particular cases, furthermore, the Court must evaluate what remedial measures may be necessary," Boasberg wrote.

The FBI said Friday night it would cooperate with the court and noted that since the problems with the Page warrants were revealed it has taken more than three dozen corrective actions to ensure future FISA would meet the standard of accuracy required by the court and the bureau's rules.

You can read the IG's memo here.

You can read the ruling here.