On Tuesday, the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [FISC], the court responsible for approving FISA warrants, in a rare moment of public display, slammed the FBI over its surveillance application process, thanks to what was gleaned from the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz’s report, giving the once esteemed law enforcement bureau until January 10 to come up with solutions.
The order was handed down by the FISC court’s presiding judge Rosemary M. Collyer, and came only a week after the IG Horowitz’s report was released about the wiretapping of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, as part of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s witch hunter investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election that we all know never happened.
“The FBI’s handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the [Office of Inspector General] report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above,” the judge’s four-page order read. “The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable.”
Fired and disgraced former FBI Director James Comey should be calling wardrobe right about now for soiling his pants. This is about his FBI abusing the warrant application process one of the most important courts in our federal system.
The IG said he didn’t find any significant evidence that the FBI agents were involved in a political conspiracy against the Trump campaign in 2016. That’s because he was only able to interview people inside a specific bubble, without subpoena powers, and he only had emails and phone calls to go on, and they only dated back to May 31, 2016. The origins of the attempted government coup went back further, and that will all be revealed in US Attorney John Durham’s report which is expected to come out in the Spring.
From Fox News:
While Collyer’s order did not specify exactly what reforms the FBI needed to implement to its policies for obtaining permission to wiretap people under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, the order did say that the FISA court will weigh in on whether the reforms are deemed sufficient.
“The [FISA court] expects the government to provide complete and accurate information in every filing with the court,” Collyer wrote. “Without it, the [FISA court] cannot properly ensure that the government conducts electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes only when there is a sufficient factual basis.”
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has dealt with some of the most sensitive matters of national security: terror threats and espionage. Its work, for the most part, cannot be examined by the American public, by order of Congress and the president. Its work has been mostly secret, its structure largely one-sided.
“The most unusual thing is that there is a body of law that the court has created, but as a practitioner that is part of that law, we have between zero and some very limited knowledge of what that law is,” Michael Sussmann, a former Justice Department prosecutor and current private attorney in the consumer and computer-privacy field, told Fox News. “But, it’s the fact that there is a secret law and a secret body of law that makes it the most vexing.”
The Tuesday order from the court came not too long after a Republican-led push to reform the FISA system. In fact, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made a comment during the IG testimony that he doesn’t know if we’re going to keep the FISA court after all the abuse that went on. FISC judges see dollar signs going away with language like that, so they FINALLY spoke up. I have been on record as saying I believe the FISA judges involved in the FISA application request and the three extensions were in on the coup. What else was there to think when we never heard from them, even after it was exposed many times over the course of the past three years that they were lied to by the Comey FBI?
Representatives Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) last week introduced a bill called the FISA Improvements Act in an attempt to “stop these abuses” and amend the FISA system by adding specific requirements on the FBI, the DOJ, and on FISC, which would also give Congress “critical new insight to perform oversight of the FISA powers.”
“The deceptive actions of a few high-ranking officials within the FBI and the Department of Justice have eroded public trust in our federal institutions,” Stewart stated. “They flattened internal guardrails, deceived the FISA court, and irreparably damaged the reputation of an innocent American” – a reference to Carter Page.
The GOP bill would mandate that an impartial court adviser (amicus curiae) be assigned to all cases where a US individual is involved. It also would ensure that the DOJ disclose “any usage of unverified information in the application,” and include a provision in which any FISA extensions are heard or denied by the same judge which “ensures that the government is not able to obfuscate details of an expiring order’s newly gathered evidence to support renewal.”
While this is a good step in the right direction don’t think for a moment that the investigation into the FBI’s abuses of the FISA system are over. The Durham investigation into the origins of the FISA abuses that kick-started the “official” Trump campaign investigation, which eventually led to the Mueller witch hunt has already turned into a criminal investigation. A US Attorney doesn’t do that unless they found criminal activity.
My final thought is it’s nice to finally see that the smug, arrogant a** James Comey is reaping the wrath he so deserves.
Rich is syndicated opinion columnist for David Harris Jr., The Range, Illicit Info and other online publications. “Raised under Reagan, suffered under Clinton”