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Although a searchable version of the Inspector General’s FISA abuse report contains 149 mentions of James Comey, attempting to look up his name brings zero results.
The bombshell report was released Monday and concerned origins of the Russia probe against President Donald Trump and potential abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant system.
Former FBI Director Comey, a key official during many of the events detailed in the IG report, was such a central figure in the investigation that he makes an appearance an average of once every three pages in the whopping 476-page report.
Although the report found “significant concerns with how certain aspects of the investigation were conducted and supervised, particularly the FBI’s failure to adhere to its own standards of accuracy and completeness” when it came to FISA applications, the agency’s former head counted it as a win.
Shortly after its release, Comey posted on Twitter to smugly celebrate the findings of the report.
So it was all lies. No treason. No spying on the campaign. No tapping Trumps wires. It was just good people trying to protect America. https://t.co/9nurCaIBq2
— James Comey (@Comey) December 9, 2019
It appears a problem with the document prevented any rapid reporting on what the IG found on Comey, however. Although Comey was able to pen an op-ed soon after the report’s release, journalists writing about what the investigation found about him had to search the massive document page-by-page.
This is because despite his name practically flooding the report, searching “Comey” brings zero results.
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All other words and names appear to bring results when searched, including those of Christopher Steele, Andrew McCabe and Donald Trump.
Instead, to find every instance of Comey’s name, those using the DOJ’s searchable version of the report need to look for “Corney.” Once searched, that word highlights each mention of the former FBI director.
The problem is seemingly with the software used to make documents searchable.
As the DOJ outlines in an accessibility handbook, documents must be scanned, uploaded and run through optical character recognition. OCR software is able to take scanned text and add an invisible digital layer, which allows those using a computer to search documents for specific words or names.
The software hits a speedbump when it comes to names and words that would not be in the program’s dictionary.
According to the University of Illinois, the software is powerful but not without flaws. Along with clear text, words need to be in a language dictionary recognizable by the OCR program. If the program is unable to find the word, it takes its best guess based on what it sees.
Although a name like Comey is unlikely to be in the program’s standard dictionary, names like Steele, Ohr and McCabe were all recognized by the program and can be searched in the IG report.
Other documents from the DOJ appear to indicate that this is a common problem with Comey’s name. Considering how central of a figure he is, it seems making his name recognizable by OCR programs would be a top priority for those tasked with digitizing records.
Now, unless those searching the documents know the “Corney” trick, tackling the gargantuan document page by grueling page appears to be the only way to find out firsthand what exactly the report found out about James Comey.
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