What Are Woods Procedures and Did the FBI Violate Them in Obtaining Warrants to Spy on the Trump Campaign?


There are special procedures at the FBI that require that all information presented in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application be extreme-vetted for accuracy and presented to the FISA court only if verified.  A question has arisen as to whether FISA warrants obtained to spy on the members of the Trump campaign violated those procedures.

The Woods Procedures are named for Michael Woods, the FBI official who drafted the rules back in 2001 when he was head of the Office of General Counsel’s National Security Law Unit.  Prior to the procedures “incorrect information” was repeatedly submitted in FISA packages.  Agents are now required to sign and swear a declaration attesting that they are aware of the knowledge contained in a FISA application, that is it is accurate and that it has been verified.

Former FBI Director James Comey has testified that many of the revelations made in the Steele Dossier are “salacious” and “unverified.”  The Trump administration contends that FISA warrants obtained to spy on the Trump campaign were based primarily on the that Dossier.  Congressional Democrats have pushed back on this however.  Having received briefings from the FBI on the underlying material, they say the Dossier was alluded to in the FBI’s case to obtain the warrants, but the origins of their investigation were other sources.