Tag Archives: FISA court

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

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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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Alan Dershowitz on the Nunes memo: Republican ‘truth’ and Democratic ‘truth’, by Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz suggests that the actual FISA application that the House Intelligence Committee memo is based be released. It’s a good suggestion, However, he keeps suggesting that nonpartisan experts be brought into the process. Good luck finding one of those. From Dershowitz at theburningplatform.com:

Alan Dershowitz on the Nunes memo: Republican 'truth' and Democratic 'truth'

The Republicans have now released the memo containing their version of what is in the controversial FSIA application. Not surprisingly, the Democrats have a different version. It should be easy to decide whose “truth” is more credible: Let the American public see the application itself — instead of second-hand, partisan accounts — and let us decide for ourselves.

The problem with that obvious solution is that the application is currently classified. But classification should never be used – as it often is – for political benefit or to protect agencies or individuals from just criticism. Let a nonpartisan expert decide what must be redacted for genuine security concerns, and let the remainder of the application be released.

We, the American people, have the right to know whether the application deliberately failed to disclose to the FISA court that the so-called “Steele dossier” was commissioned by political operatives seeking dirt on a political opponent. We are entitled to know how much weight, if any, was given to the dossier in the application.

The Republican memo, standing alone, raises questions about the process by which the warrants were obtained from the FISA court. The Democratic memo, if it is forthcoming, may purport to answer those questions. But it will never be able to answer them definitively without an objective assessment of the actual FISA application itself.

This episode strengthens the view I have long espoused that the entire enterprise of appointing a special counsel was misguided. Instead, Congress should have created a nonpartisan commission of objective experts to investigate all claims made by either party about any unfairness surrounding the 2016 presidential election. Nor are congressional committees an adequate substitute for a nonpartisan commission. Congressional committees by their nature are partisan, as evidenced by the dueling accounts of the FISA application.

To continue reading: Alan Dershowitz on the Nunes memo: Republican ‘truth’ and Democratic ‘truth’

Lying, Spying and Hiding, by Andrew P. Napolitano

Andrew Napolitano makes a powerful argument: if the House Intelligence Committee had released what it had on the FBI and NSA’s FISA court abuse during the Congressional debate on a massive expansion of FISA, that expansion, which just barely passed, wouldn’t have passed. From Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

I have argued for a few weeks now that House Intelligence Committee members have committed misconduct in office by concealing evidence of spying abuses by the National Security Agency and the FBI. They did this by sitting on a four-page memo that summarizes the abuse of raw intelligence data while Congress was debating a massive expansion of FISA.

FISA is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which was written to enable the federal government to spy on foreign agents here and abroad. Using absurd and paranoid logic, the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which only hears the government’s lawyers, has morphed “foreign intelligence surveillance” into undifferentiated bulk surveillance of all Americans.

Undifferentiated bulk surveillance is the governmental acquisition of fiber-optic data stored and transmitted by nearly everyone in America. This includes all telephone conversations, text messages and emails, as well as all medical, legal and financial records.

Ignorant of the hot potato on which the House Intelligence Committee had been sitting, Congress recently passed and President Donald Trump signed a vast expansion of spying authorities — an expansion that authorizes legislatively the domestic spying that judges were authorizing on everyone in the U.S. without individual suspicion of wrongdoing or probable cause of crime; an expansion that passed in the Senate with no votes to spare; an expansion that evades and avoids the Fourth Amendment; an expansion that the president signed into law the day before we all learned of the House Intelligence Committee memo.

The FISA expansion would never have passed the Senate had the House Intelligence Committee memo and the data on which it is based come to light seven days sooner than it did. Why should 22 members of a House committee keep their 500-plus congressional colleagues in the dark about domestic spying abuses while those colleagues were debating the very subject matter of domestic spying and voting to expand the power of those who have abused it?

To continue reading: Lying, Spying and Hiding

Russsia-Gate Implodes, by Justin Raimondo

The title says it all. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

The real “collusion” is the alliance of foreign actors and the Democrats

The finale is upon us: the Russia-gate fraud is about to be exploded, at long last. Although the vaunted memo – and the underlying intelligence – compiled by the leadership of the House Intelligence Committee under chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) has yet to be released, there has been enough chatter by those House members who have read it to give us the basic elements of what it contains. Although prepare to be shocked by what I consider to be the most outrageous aspect of this affair.

To begin with, it’s clear that the “dossier” paid for by the neocons over at the Free Beacon and then taken up later by Hillary Clinton was submitted to the FISA court by the FBI as the factual basis for allowing secret surveillance of the Trump campaign, possibly including Donald Trump himself. The FISA judge was reportedly not told who paid for the dossier.

In an interview with the Daily Caller, veteran law enforcement professional Joseph DiGenova cites as evidence of a pattern of deception the details of a FISA court opinion (April 27, 2017) that charged the Obama administration with lying to the court and illegal use of material obtained through their spying campaign. The court said the government’s actions were “abusive” because the purloined material was handed out to “contractors.”  We aren’t told who these contractors are. My guess – and DiGenova’s: Fusion GPS, the firm hired to smear Trump, and CrowdStrike, the  cyber-security firm in charge of the DNC’s email system – which the FBI never was allowed to look at.

The anti-Trump coup plotters constructed an elaborate fiction for the benefit of the FISA court, presented it to the court as factual, and used it as the basis for obtaining a warrant for the Obama administration – and, in effect, the Clinton campaign – to not only spy on the Trump campaign but to actively disrupt it.

To continue reading: Russsia-Gate Implodes

The FISA Memo is All the Ammunition Trump Needs to Take on the CIA, by Tom Luongo

Tom Luongo exults that Trump appears to be rolling up victory after victory against the shadow government, which he differentiates from the Deep State. From Luongo at tomluongo.me:

FISA is an abomination. Let’s get that out of the way. And since I don’t believe there are any coincidences in U.S. or geo-politics, the releasing of the explosive four-page FISA memo after Congress reauthorized FISA is suspicious.

Former NSA analyst (traitor? hero?) turned security state gadfly Edward Snowden came out in favor of President Trump vetoing the FISA reauthorization now that the full extent of what the statute is used for is known to members of the House Intelligence Committee, who are rightly aghast.

But, like I said, timing in these things is everything. And the timing on this leak is important.

Someone leaked this memo to the House Intelligence Committee with the sole intention of giving President Trump the opportunity to do exactly what Snowden is arguing for.

And well Trump should.  This is the essence of draining the swamp.  It is the essence of his war with the Shadow Government.  If one makes the distinction between the Deep State and the Shadow Government, like former CIA officer Kevin Shipp does, then this falls right in line with Trump’s goals in cleaning up the rot and corruption in the U.S. government.  In a recent interview with Greg Hunter at USAWatchdog.com,

Shipp explains, “I differentiate between the ‘Deep State’ and the shadow government. The shadow government are the secret intelligence agencies that have such power and secrecy that they act even without the knowledge of Congress. There are many things that they do with impunity. Then there is the ‘Deep State,’ which is the military industrial complex, all of the industrial corporations and their lobbyists, and they have all the money, power and greed that give all the money to the Senators and Congressmen. So, they are connected, but they are really two different entities. It is the shadow government . . . specifically, the CIA, that is going after Donald Trump. It is terrified that some of its dealings are going to be exposed. If they are, it could jeopardize the entire organization.” [emphasis mine]

To continue reading: The FISA Memo is All the Ammunition Trump Needs to Take on the CIA