Tag Archives: FISA court

Did the British Collude to Steal the Election for Hillary? by Thomas Farnan

We’ll never get to the bottom of the Russiagate fabrication unless we get to the bottom of the British role in it. From Thomas Farnan at amgreatness.com:

To borrow a Shakespearean expression turned colloquialism, “there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark.”

Great Britain has reportedly applied diplomatic pressure against releasing the unredacted Carter Page FISA documents. Why? Is it that British spy agencies were hot on the trail of Russian collusion and they do not want to have their sources compromised?

Or, more likely, was MI6 spying on an American political campaign with a Russian pretext and it does not want to be embarrassed?

A formal alliance permits intelligence agencies from the United Kingdom and the United States to engage in common spying to stop enemies from doing things like running jets into skyscrapers. Called “Five Eyes,” the alliance also includes Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

At the behest of the FBI, minor members of the Trump campaign, including Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, were invited to London to talk to Cambridge professor Stefan Halper about Trump and Russia.

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What Is Robert Mueller Looking For? by Andrew P. Napolitano

Robert Mueller is looking for something that will justify his complete farce of an investigation. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

Robert Mueller is the special counsel appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May 2017 to probe the nature and extent of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. The investigation began in October 2016 under President Barack Obama when the FBI took seriously the boast of Carter Page, one of candidate Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisers, that he had worked for the Kremlin.

The FBI also had transcripts of telephone conversations and copies of emails and text messages of Trump campaign personnel that had been supplied to it by British intelligence. Connecting the dots, the FBI persuaded a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to issue a search warrant for the surveillance of Page, an American.

Page never registered as a foreign agent, and working for the Kremlin and not registering as a foreign agent is a crime for which the FBI should have investigated Page. Such an investigation would have included surveillance, but not from the FISA court. Surveillance in a criminal case requires a search warrant from a U.S. District Court based upon the constitutional requirement of probable cause of crime — meaning that it is more likely than not that the thing to be searched (internet and telephone communications) will produce evidence of criminal behavior.

But the FBI didn’t seek that. Instead, it sought a warrant to surveil Page’s communications based on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act standard, which is probable cause of communicating with a foreign power. This lower, easier-to-demonstrate and unconstitutional standard is the tool of choice these days for FBI agents because it requires less effort and is used in a court that grants 99.9 percent of search warrant applications.

The temptation to use the FISA court and its easy standard instead of a U.S. District Court and its privacy-recognizing constitutional standard to get a search warrant is often too much for the FBI to resist. This is a form of corruption because it presents a path for criminal investigators to invade the privacy of Americans that the Constitution protects.

To continue reading: What Is Robert Mueller Looking For?

March Madness, Washington-Style, by Andrew P. Napolitano

If nothing else comes of Russiagate, at least the FBI’s use of the Trump dossier before the FISA court demonstrates just how much FISA and the court have overtstepped their original bounds, shredding the Fourth Amendment. Whether the American people and their politicians will do anything about it are another matter. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

For the past few days, the nation’s media and political class have been fixated on the firing of the No. 2 person in the FBI, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. McCabe became embroiled in the investigation of President Donald Trump because of his alleged approval of the use of a political dossier, written about Trump and paid for by the Democrats and not entirely substantiated, as a basis to secure a search warrant for surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser who once boasted that he worked for the Kremlin at the same time that he was advising candidate Trump.

The dossier itself and whatever was learned from the surveillance formed the basis for commencing the investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia by the Obama Department of Justice, which is now being run by special counsel Robert Mueller and has been expanded into other areas. The surveillance of the Trump campaign based on arguably flimsy evidence put McCabe into President Trump’s crosshairs. Indeed, Trump attacked McCabe many times on social media and even rejoiced when Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired him at 10 p.m. last Friday, just 26 hours before his retirement was to have begun.

Why the fixation on this? Here is the back story.

After the unlawful use of the FBI and CIA by the Nixon administration to spy on President Nixon’s domestic political opponents, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978. This statute outlawed all domestic surveillance except that which is authorized by the Constitution or by the new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

That court, the statute declared, could authorize surveillance of foreigners physically located in the United States on a legal standard lesser than that which the Constitution requires. Even though this meant Congress could avoid the Constitution — an event that every high school social studies student knows is unconstitutional — the FISC enthusiastically embraced its protocol.

To continue reading: March Madness, Washington-Style

Super-Secret Spy Court Raises Alarm Over Feds’ Snooping, by Alicia Howe

Here’s some information about a court that would prefer nothing at all be known about it: the FISA court, much in the news lately. From Alicia Howe at wnd.com:

WASHINGTON – It’s a mysterious court that hides behind a hulking vaulted door and impenetrable concrete walls – and it’s where the federal government makes some of its most secretive decisions concerning Americans’ basic liberties.

If you dare ask where the secret court is located, employees at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C. – where the court reportedly relocated in 2009 – won’t tell you.

That’s because the super-secret court is far beyond the reach of any journalist or curious American citizen.

Fortified with biometric hand scanners, wooden and metal doors and walls reinforced by concrete, it’s the room where it all happens: Eleven powerful court judges approve wiretaps, data collection and government requests to monitor suspected terrorists, spies and even American citizens. And they’re given sweeping power under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

In 2013, Eric Mill – a blogger and alum of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for government transparency – documented his efforts to learn more about the nation’s most secure and secretive courtroom.

Mill presents images of the mysterious Washington institution through illustrations because, he explained, “One of the first things that happens when you walk into the Prettyman Courthouse is they take away your phone.”

Employees at the courthouse reportedly “laughed at” Mill’s endeavor and referred to the FISA courtroom as the “Room of Requirement.”

They claimed they “had no idea what floor it was even on.”

Still, Mill wandered the long hallways and located what appeared to be a door to the FISA court.

“To the right of the door, next to the intercom and the small sign saying ‘Access Restricted,’ is a biometric hand scanner,” he wrote. “It’s (probably) a Schlage HandKey II, a device that quickly snapshots the three-dimensional bone and joint structure of the hand and matches it against previously registered snapshots.”

To continue reading: Super-Secret Spy Court Raises Alarm Over Feds’ Snooping

 

 

Peeling back the layers of Hillary Clinton’s deceit, by Michael Goodwin

Hillary Clinton wouldn’t recognize the truth if it bit her on the ass and ripped a hole in her pantsuit. From Michael Goodwin at nypost.com:

For law enforcement, Congress and even journalists, exposing misdeeds is like peeling an onion. Each layer you remove gets you closer to the truth.

So it is with the scandalous behavior of the FBI during its probe into whether President Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia in 2016. One layer at a time, we’re learning how flawed and dirty that probe was.

A top layer involves the texts between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and her married lover, Peter Strzok, the lead agent on the Hillary Clinton email probe. They casually mention an “insurance policy” in the event Trump won the election and a plan for Strzok to go easy on Clinton because she probably would be their next boss.

Those exchanges, seen in the light of subsequent events, lead to a reasonable conclusion that the fix was in among then-Director James Comey’s team to hurt Trump and help Clinton.

Another layer involves the declassified House memo, which indicates the FBI and Justice Department depended heavily on the unverified Russian dossier about Trump to get a warrant to spy on Carter Page, an American citizen and briefly a Trump adviser.

The House memo also reveals that Comey and others withheld from the secret surveillance court key partisan facts that would have cast doubt on the dossier. Officials never revealed to the judges that the document was paid for by Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee or that Christopher Steele, the British former spy who compiled the dossier, said he was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected.”

A third layer of the onion involves the revelations in the letter GOP Sens. Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham wrote to the Justice Department. They urge a criminal investigation into whether Steele lied to the FBI about how much and when he fed the dossier to the anti-Trump media.

The letter is compelling in showing that Steele said one thing under oath to a British court and something different to the FBI. The contradictions matter because the agency relied on Steele’s credibility in both the FISA applications and its actual investigation. Strangely, even after it fired him for breaking its rule forbidding media contact, the FBI continued to praise his credibility in court.

To continue reading: Peeling back the layers of Hillary Clinton’s deceit

Nunes Memo Reports Crimes at Top of FBI and DOJ, by Ray McGovern

If the House Intelligence Committee’s report is correct, crimes have almost certainly been committed. From Ray McGovern at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: The newly released “Nunes Memo” reveals felony wrongdoing by top members of the FBI and DOJ for misrepresenting evidence to obtain a FISA warrant and may implicate other intelligence officials, writes Ray McGovern.

The long-awaited House Intelligence Committee report made public today identifies current and former top officials of the FBI and the Department of Justice as guilty of the felony of misrepresenting evidence required to obtain a court warrant before surveilling American citizens. The target was candidate Donald Trump’s adviser Carter Page.

Former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

The main points of what is widely known as the “Nunes Memo,” after the House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), have been nicely summarized by blogger Publius Tacitus, who noted that the following very senior officials are now liable for contempt-of-court charges; namely, the current and former members of the FBI and the Department of Justice who signed off on fraudulent applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court: James Comey, Andy McCabe, Sally Yates, Dana Boente and Rob Rosenstein. The following is Publius Tacitus’s summary of the main points:

  • The dubious but celebrated Steele Dossier played a critical role in obtaining approval from the FISA court to carry out surveillance of Carter Page according to former FBI Deputy Director Andy McCabe.
  • Christopher Steele was getting paid by the DNC and the FBI for the same information.
  • No one at the FBI or the DOJ disclosed to the court that the Steele dossier was paid for by an opposition political campaign.
  • The first FISA warrant was obtained on October 21, 2016 based on a story written by Michael Isikoff for Yahoo News based on information he received directly from Christopher Steele — the FBI did not disclose in the FISA application that Steele was the original source of the information.
  • Christopher Steele was a long-standing FBI “source” but was terminated as a source after telling Mother Jones reporter David Corn that he had a relationship with the FBI.
  • The FBI signers of the FISA applications/renewals were James Comey (three times) and Andrew McCabe.
  • The DOJ signers of the FISA applications/renewals were Sally Yates, Dana Boente and Rod Rosenstein.
  • Even after Steele was terminated by the FBI, he remained in contact with Deputy Attorney General Bruce Our, whose wife worked for FUSION GPS, a contractor that was deeply involved with the Steele dossier.

To continue reading: Nunes Memo Reports Crimes at Top of FBI and DOJ

 

Bad People Lied to a Kangaroo Court, by Robert Gore

The bigger issue is FISA’s evisceration of the Fourth Amendment.

Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] submissions (including renewals) before the FISC [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] are classified. As such, the public’s confidence in the integrity of the FISA process depends on the court’s ability to hold the government to the highest standard—particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens. However, the FISC’s rigor in protecting the rights of Americans, which is reinforced by 90-day renewals of surveillance orders, is necessarily dependent on the government’s production to the court of all material and relevant facts. This should include information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application that is known by the government. In the case of Carter Page, the government had at least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts. However, our findings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant information was omitted.

House Intelligence Committee FISA Memorandum, 1/18/18, Declassified 2/2/18

It’s hard to read the above without laughing. The only people who think that the government in a non-adversarial, secret, non-reviewable judicial proceeding will produce “all material and relevant facts,” including “information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application,” are those pathetically deluded souls who believe that when rules, regulations, and laws are promulgated everyone complies, including the government that promulgated them. They’re always shocked when reality proves otherwise.

The rest of us might want to consider what it took for this exposure of potential government wrongdoing before the FISC. The House Intelligence Committee (HIC) pressed for months and was forced to threaten subpoenas before the Department of Justice and the FBI turned over the evidence upon which its memorandum is based.

If this wasn’t such a high-profile partisan battle, impinging on the presidency, that effort never would have been made. Had Hillary Clinton been elected or Democrats controlled Congress, none of this would have seen the light of day. The intelligence agencies and the FBI can rest assured, it will be business as usual before the FISC: non-adversarial, secret, non-reviewable proceedings in which they can allege, unchallenged, pretty much anything they want, their surveillance requests rubber-stamped by the court (historically it’s approved over 99 percent of all requests).

It is a measure of President Trump’s contempt for civil liberties that he just signed a reauthorization of the FISA law that was used to infringe his civil liberties. The reauthorization expands the government’s surveillance and bulk data capture of Americans’ personal information pursuant to general warrants that do not “require probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” (Fourth Amendment, US Bill of Rights).

Most importantly, the reauthorization “would permit the use of evidence of crimes in federal court even when it is discovered during mass surveillance authorized by general warrants.”  Trump will overlook that little infringement of his rights in the interests of expanding his access to information and the power implicit in such access. He pursues power and is quite proficient at it. Civil liberties can be a real hindrance.

Incidentally, the HIC released its memo to Congress after FISA was reauthorized. HIC Republicans favored that reauthorization, despite what they have alleged about nefarious activities before the FISC. Their memo might have changed some votes. Anybody think the timing was a coincidence?

The FISC enables the government to end run Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights. The HIC memo is a tree, FISA’s destruction of civil liberties the forest. Investigations, possibly indictments, trials, and convictions, will grind on for years and provide plenty of grist for plenty of commentators’ mills. The investigations will eventually wind down, but FISA may be forever. Comey and the Clintons might be in jail, but we all could be, based on evidence obtained without probable cause via general warrants, the government’s data gathering rubber-stamped by its kangaroo court.

As for the HIC’s memo, it’s a fine piece of legal craftsmanship, although it’s not a legal document per se. It confines itself to one matter: the DOJ and FBI’s request for a probable cause order—and three subsequent renewals—authorizing electronic surveillance of Trump campaign volunteer advisor Carter Page.

In the understated, cautious style that is the hallmark of competent legal investigatory work, the memo makes a prima facie case that certain individuals broke various laws. While the evidence underlying conclusions about various DOJ and FBI officials’ misrepresentations and omissions to the FISC, their biases, and ties to Fusion GPS has not been made public, there is almost certainly an ample evidentiary basis for those conclusions.

That evidence, the Democrats’ “counter-memo” and their evidence, and the FISA application and renewals should all be released to the public. The classified information isn’t protecting vital state secrets; it’s protecting officials from embarrassment and possible criminal charges. The American people are smarter and more honorable than those arguing for continuing secrecy; they can handle the truth.

It’s been claimed that the HIC memo plays into Russia’s or Putin’s hands, or that US intelligence capabilities have been or could be irreparably damaged if information was released, without explaining how those consequences could flow. An unfortunate aspect of the American establishment is that it seals itself off from hostile questions in adversarial settings. Never underestimate the power of a question. It would only take one or two to demonstrate that intelligence flunkies, Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, John McCain, and a host of media commentators are either lying through their teeth or have no idea what they’re talking about.

Speaking of big issues, the biggest issue of them all, unsustainable global debt, made an unbidden appearance last week as bond yields broke long-term trend lines to the upside and stocks gave way to the downside. Possible subversion of a duly elected president and even FISA’s evisceration of the Fourth Amendment may amount to playing on the beach as the tsunami rolls in. You can’t do much about what’s going on in Washington. For the tsunami, on the other hand, you can move to higher ground if you have not already done so.

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