Wray Sets Reforms to FBI’s Intelligence Wiretap Cases

FBI Director Christopher Wray outlined reforms aimed at bolstering public confidence in sensitive surveillance operations after a damning report that demonstrated flaws in how the bureau handled wiretap applications for a former Trump campaign aide, reports USA Today. In a filing ordered by the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), Wray pledged that the bureau would overhaul its training for agents and lawyers to ensure that information used to support future surveillance applications is complete and properly vetted. The plan comes more than a month after the Justice Department inspector general identified 17 inaccuracies in requests to wiretap former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page in 2016 and 2017. The surveillance of Page, whom the FBI believed was conspiring with the Russian government, occurred as the FBI probed Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

After the IG report was released FISA Chief Judge Rosemary Collyer rebuked the FBI and asserted that it had misled the court when seeking permission to wiretap Page. Although the inspector general debunked claims by President Donald Trump that the Russia investigation was motivated by political bias, it revealed a dysfunctional system in which investigators, handpicked to conduct one of the FBI’s most sensitive investigations, committed “basic and fundamental errors.” The FBI sought four court-ordered wiretaps of Page. Each application contained multiple errors, said Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report. Among the most common were omissions of important information, including some that contradicted investigators’ suspicions that Page was acting as a foreign agent.

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