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Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Rebukes FBI for Trump Affiliate Warrant Applications

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Court - Sputnik International
The secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) issued a rare statement on Tuesday, publicly rebuking FBI personnel who “provided false information” while applying for secret surveillance warrants to monitor four affiliates of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The statement follows a December 9 report by the Department of Justice Inspector General (DOJ IG) that found “serious performance failures” in how the bureau applied for those warrants, which permitted them to spy on Trump campaign advisers George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn for an operation dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane.”

The FISC’s statement from Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer noted the report included “troubling instances in which FBI personnel provided information” to the National Security Division (NSD) of the DOJ “which was unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession. It also describes several instances in which FBI personnel withheld from NSD information in their possession which was detrimental to their case for believing that Mr. Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power.”

“In addition, while the fourth electronic surveillance application for Mr. Page was being prepared, an attorney in the FBI’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) engaged in conduct that apparently was intended to mislead the FBI agent who ultimately swore to the facts in that application about whether Mr. Page had been a source of another government agency,” the statement continues, noting “the conduct of the OGC attorney gave rise to serious concerns about the accuracy and completeness of the information provided to the FISC in any matter in which the OGC attorney was involved,” prompting the FISC to order the US government on December 5 to provide “certain information addressing those concerns.”

​The court notes that the FBI’s handling of the Page applications was “antithetical to the heightened duty of candor” expected of those who bring such requests before the court. The statement earlier notes the gravity of filing such an application, which if mistaken, would be seeking to violate the intended target’s Fourth Amendment rights under the US Constitution.

“Therefore, the Court orders that the government shall, no later than January 10, 2020, inform the Court in a sworn written submission of what it has done, and plans to do, to ensure that the statement of facts in each FBI application accurately and completely reflects information possessed by the FBI that is material to any issue presented by the application,” the statement continues. 

“In the event that the FBI at the time of that submission is not yet able to perform any of the planned steps described in the submission, it shall also include (a) a proposed timetable for implementing such measures and (b) an explanation of why, in the government’s view, the information in FBI applications submitted in the interim should be regarded as reliable.”

“It is further ordered, pursuant to FISC Rule of Procedure 62(a), that the government shall, no later than December 20, 2019, complete a declassification review of the above-referenced order of December 5, 2019, in anticipation of the FISC’s publishing that order. In view of the information released to the public in the OIG Report, the Court expects that such review will entail minimal if any redactions,” the statement concludes.

In his December 9 report, DOJ Inspector General David Horowitz noted that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) would be opening a new audit of the FBI’s compliance with the strict Woods Procedures for applying to the FISC for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, building on the evidence uncovered in the report.
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