More than two dozen FBI applications to monitor Americans suspected of links to foreign intelligence or terrorism had errors in their files, a Justice Department watchdog said, representing every application he examined, the Wall Street Journal reports. The results point to widespread problems at the FBI, including sloppy recordkeeping by case agents, and indicate the shortcomings aren’t limited to those found in the requests to surveil for former Donald Trump campaign aide Carter Page. The DOJ inspector general discovered “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts” in the files to provide factual support for the information cited in the 25 secret applications. Those requests sought wiretapping authority from a court under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
In a December report, the IG found errors in the FBI’s pursuit of a wiretap against Page, a former Trump foreign-policy adviser. FBI officials stressed the agency is taking steps to improve its surveillance application process. The “findings underscore the importance of the more than 40 corrective actions that [FBI Director Christopher] Wray ordered late last year,” the FBI’s associate deputy director Paul Abbate said. Some privacy advocates said the new findings vindicated their views that problems with FISA are systemic rather than evidence of bias against Trump and his campaign, as Trump has suggested, and far broader than the public knows due to a lack of rigorous independent oversight. “If an application as sensitive as Page’s had serious problems, it was highly likely there were going to be issues elsewhere,” Jake Laperruque of the Project on Government Oversight and a former Senate aide who worked on surveillance issues.