DOJ, FBI review of surveillance applications finds almost all errors are minor

Source: Politico | August 3, 2020 | Josh Gerstein

Only two of a total of 203 false statements or omissions were “material,” according to a court submission.

A review by the Justice Department and FBI of their practices for seeking approval of intelligence-related surveillance found that nearly all of the inaccuracies and omissions identified in a scathing internal watchdog report issued late last year were minor or involved paperwork problems.

The review of a set of 29 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court applications flagged by Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s office in an alarming alert last December identified a total of 203 false statements or omissions, but the Justice Department and the FBI concluded that only two of those were “material,” according to a court submission released on Monday.

Those two instances — which involved one misstatement and one omission in separate applications regarding individuals whose identities were not released — were deemed by the law enforcement agencies not to have been so serious that they “invalidated” the secret surveillance warrants the court issued based on that information, wrote Melissa MacTough, the deputy assistant attorney general for national security wrote.

FBI officials did not publicly describe the inspector general report as overwrought, but they suggested that the perceptions it fueled of an out-of-control secret spying apparatus were unwarranted.

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