Secret FISA Court issues highly unusual public rebuke of FBI for mistakes

Image: FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies to the Senate Intelligence C
FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about "worldwide threats" on Jan. 29. Copyright Joshua Roberts Reuters file
By Pete Williams with NBC News Politics
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The criticism comes after a report by the DOJ inspector general that found "so many basic and fundamental errors."


WASHINGTON — The secret court that approves orders to conduct surveillance on suspected foreign terrorists or spies issued a highly unusual public rebuke to the FBI on Tuesday, ordering the agency to say how it intends to correct the errors revealed last week by the Justice Department inspector general.

Rosemary Collyer, presiding judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court, said the inspector general's report "calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable." She ordered the FBI to file a report by Jan. 10 on how it intends to remedy those mistakes.

In his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Inspector General Michael Horowitz expressed misgivings about the FBI's errorsand omissions in its requests for judicial approval to conduct surveillance on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

"We are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked investigative teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the FBI," Horowitz said.

Under questioning from Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Horowitz discussed a litany of embarrassing slip-ups by the FBI, including the actions of a lawyer who the inspector general said "doctored" an email to make it seem like Page was not a CIA source, when in fact he was. That potentially exculpatory information was never shared with the FISA court, which approved the surveillance warrant.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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