Secretive court rebukes FBI over errors in Russia probe

Horowitz - FISA - Inspector General report
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz appears before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Inspector General's report on alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The chief judge of a secretive surveillance court said Tuesday that the FBI provided “unsupported” information when it applied to eavesdrop on a former Trump campaign adviser and directed the bureau to report back by next month on what steps it was taking to fix the problems.

The four-page order from Judge Rosemary Collyer followed a harshly critical Justice Department inspector general report that said the FBI had withheld key information when it submitted four applications in 2016 and 2017 to monitor the communications of Carter Page.

The order is a rare public statement from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which operates mostly in secret as it receives applications from the FBI and Justice Department to eavesdrop on American soil on people it suspects of being an agent of a foreign power.

“The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable,” Collyer wrote.

She directed the FBI to report by Jan. 10 on what it has done and what it plans to do to ensure the accuracy of information it submits in its wiretap applications.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told The Associated Press in an interview last week that the report had identified “unacceptable” problems and said the bureau was taking more than 40 steps to deal with the issues.