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Posts Tagged ‘FISA’

Abolish FISA, Reform FBI, & Break Up CIA – The American Mind

Posted by M. C. on September 22, 2021

The President of the United States should control Intelligence by the very means by which he controls all other parts of the National Security establishment: The National Security Council. That is, assuming that he controls it, and not the other way around.

https://americanmind.org/memo/abolish-the-cia/

Angelo Codevilla

This is the first in The American Mind’s new Rethinking Policy series. Throughout 2020 we are publishing essays that boldly reframe, reorder, and reprioritize our political goals in order to directly address the real challenges of our time. These essays are intended to spur clear, sharp discussions that rid us of obsolete ideological frameworks and point towards viable paths forward. Amid today’s realignment, we must discern and articulate vital principles and national purpose free of the ideological encumbrances of the past. —Eds.

America’s Intelligence agencies are the deep state’s deepest part, and the most immediate threat to representative government. They are also not very good at what they are supposed to be doing. Protecting the Republic from them requires refocusing them on their proper jobs.

Intelligence officials abuse their positions to discredit opposition to the Democratic Party, of which they are part. Complicit with the media, they leverage the public’s mistaken faith in their superior knowledge, competence, and patriotism to vilify their domestic enemies from behind secrecy’s shield.

Pretenses of superior knowledge have always tempted the Administrative State’s officials to manipulate or override voters. Hence, as Justice Robert H. Jackson (who served as chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials) warned, they often turn their powers against whomever they dislike politically, socially, or personally and try to minimize the public’s access to the bases upon which they act.

But only the Intelligence agencies have the power to do that while claiming that scrutiny of their pretenses endangers national security. They have succeeded in restricting information about their misdeeds by “classifying” them under the Espionage Act of 1921. Thus covered, they misrepresent their opinions as knowledge and their preferences as logic. Thus acting as irresponsible arbiters of truth at the highest levels of American public life, they are the foremost jaws of the ruling class vise that is squeezing self-rule out of America.

As Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) truly told President Trump, “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” As we shall see, Intelligence officials have proved Schumer correct.

What follows begins with an overview of the threats today’s intelligence agencies pose to self-government in America.

Next, it touches on U.S. intelligence’s dismal professional record, and suggests that the measures needed to refocus them on professional performance would also separate them from domestic politics.

In sum, we find:

  • CIA is obsolete. Cables show agents’ intelligence takes are inferior to diplomats’. Agent networks are unprotected by counterintelligence. FBI success at counterintelligence ended when the Bureau was politicized and bureaucratized in the 1970s. CIA bottlenecks and incompetently controls strategic intelligence, while the Army and Marines show demonstrable tactical superiority.
  • As a result, CIA is ideologically partisan. Its strength is in leading or joining domestic campaigns to influence public opinion. FBI has followed suit.
  • Senior intelligence officials were the key element in the war on Donald Trump’s candidacy and presidency. CIA used meetings that it manufactured as factual bases for lies about campaign advisors seeking Russian information to smear Hillary Clinton. Intelligence began formal investigation and surveillance without probable cause. Agents gained authorization to electronically surveil Trump and his campaign and defended their bureaucratic interests, sidelining Lieutenant General Michael Flynn and denying or delaying Trump appointments and security clearances.
  • Partisanship produces failure. FISA has incentivized political abuse. “Profiling” has failed repeatedly in high-profile cases like the Atlanta Olympics bombing and the anthrax mail attacks. Perjury trapping has become commonplace.

Finally, we outline the steps that presidents and Congress might take to improve matters:

  • FISA must be repealed legislatively or through Constitutional challenge in court. It unconstitutionally mingles judicial and executive power in secret. It gave Intelligence a blank check. Hardly “an indispensable tool” for national security, it is now indispensable for partisanship. Broad consensus exists for a legislative “fix,” but none is possible. The secret court’s existence, the heart of the law, allows partisan bureaucrats and allied judges to do what they want in secret.
  • Functions currently performed by CIA should be sheared down. Data infrastructure and consultant networks should be eliminated. Bipartisan opposition to the Intelligence threat should use fierce resistance and lobbying from Intelligence as evidence of why cuts are in the national interest.
  • CIA must be disestablished. Its functions should be returned to the Departments of State, Defense, and Treasury. FBI must be restricted to law enforcement. At home, the Agencies are partisan institutions illegitimately focused on setting national policy. Abroad, Agencies untied to specific operational concerns are inherently dangerous and low-value.
  • Intelligence must return to its natural place as servant, not master, of government. Congress should amend the 1947 National Security Act. The President should broaden intelligence perspectives, including briefs from State, Defense, and Treasury, and abolish CIA’s “covert action.” State should be made responsible for political influence and the armed services for military and paramilitary affairs.

Sword and Shield

See the rest here

Angelo Codevilla is a Senior Fellow of the Claremont Institute and professor emeritus of International Relations at Boston University.

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How empire is destroying the American republic – Responsible Statecraft

Posted by M. C. on October 6, 2020

McCrystal’s deployment of anti-terrorism technology to manipulate domestic political opinion during an election is surely incompatible with republican values. One would have thought that the McCrystal revelation would have generated more controversy as it comes on the heels of the astonishing abuse of another anti-terrorism tool, NSA surveillance, by FBI agents who submitted phony warrants to the FISA court in order to frame Trump campaign operatives. 

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2020/10/05/how-empire-is-destroying-the-american-republic/

Written by
William Smith

Many American hawks fail to grasp one of the most axiomatic rules of history: when a republic becomes an empire, it is no longer a republic.

For all their concern about spreading democracy abroad, many hawks show a decidedly noticeable failure to recognize that imperial adventures weaken republican government at home. The devolution from republic to empire has a number of causes, some practical and some cultural, with most on display in our current politics. 

On a practical level, the massive national security commitment necessary to maintain an empire tends to overwhelm the republican safeguards against unnecessary wars. In recent decades, for example, the national security state has gone to war in numerous countries — Libya and Syria are only two examples — on the basis of an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that was enacted by Congress to sanction attacks on the perpetrators of 9/11.

The use of that AUMF to justify wars unrelated to 9/11 made these wars blatantly unconstitutional. Yet it is apparent that most of Congress is now a mere appendage of the national security state and no longer protects its constitutional prerogative to sanction war as this would require difficult votes as well as jeopardize the largesse bestowed by defense contractors. Madison’s famous argument in Federalist #51 that, in a republic with separated powers, one branch of government would “resist encroachments of the others” becomes obviated in an empire. Empires tend to ignore republican rules. 

The other practical difficulty of maintaining a republic when it aspires to empire is that the technologies created to fight wars abroad end up undermining republican government at home. In imperial Rome, the legions themselves became a threat to domestic order; in the present U.S. the domestic attacks are more subtle. 

Numerous media reports indicate, for example, that an anti-Trump PAC, Defeat Disinfo, is employing retired Army General Stanley McCrystal to deploy a Defense Department-developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool to counter candidate Trump’s social media posts and to create “counter-narratives” using a network of “paid influencers.” The AI technology was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to counter the propaganda of terrorist groups overseas. The culture of our present officer corps seems a long way from that of General George Marshall who once remarked to Eisenhower, “I may make a thousand mistakes in this war, but none will be the result of political meddling!”

McCrystal’s deployment of anti-terrorism technology to manipulate domestic political opinion during an election is surely incompatible with republican values. One would have thought that the McCrystal revelation would have generated more controversy as it comes on the heels of the astonishing abuse of another anti-terrorism tool, NSA surveillance, by FBI agents who submitted phony warrants to the FISA court in order to frame Trump campaign operatives. 

As observers from both parties have noticed, military technology and tactics have bled into domestic policing with local police departments deploying armored vehicles and drones. One need not be a Trump partisan, nor a rabid libertarian, to conclude that the technologies developed to maintain the American empire are now being used to undermine our republican traditions. 

Tufts law professor Michael Glennon has concluded that the national security state has in fact grown so large that the “Madisonian” branches of government — the presidency, Congress and the courts — are no longer in charge of national security policy. Glennon asserts that we now have a “double government” in which policy decisions are made by “a largely concealed managerial directorate, consisting of the several hundred leaders of the military, law enforcement, and the intelligence departments and agencies of our government” who “operate at an increasing remove from constitutional limits and restraints, moving the nation slowly toward autocracy.” Despite his clear desire to do so, Trump’s inability to extricate us from Afghanistan is confirmation that the Madisonian branches of government no longer determine policy.

The rise of a double government was captured perfectly in a Tweet by Michael McFaul, an Obama national security official, who commented that, “Trump has lost the Intelligence Community. He has lost the State Department. He has lost the military. How can he continue to serve as our Commander in Chief?” To those with an imperial outlook, the President serves at the pleasure of those who run the empire, not the voters. To Michael McFaul, the unelected members of the foreign policy establishment determine the legitimacy of elected leaders. 

While legal breakdowns and the technologies of American empire are overwhelming our republican traditions, the much deeper problem is that American leaders have eschewed a constitutional culture and adopted an imperial culture. 

Republican institutions cannot operate unless its leaders embody a certain temperament or “constitutional personality.” They must demonstrate measured and restrained habits even with political opponents. They will seek common ground and compromise. They would, in Hamilton’s words, “withstand the temporary delusion” of popular pressures and engage in “more cool and sedate reflection.”  

In foreign policy, this constitutional temperament would, in Washington’s words, “observe good faith and justice toward all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all” and “nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded.”  In other words, republics have leaders of a certain quality and type, leaders who demonstrate restraint not only in domestic politics but on the world stage. 

Contrast this constitutional temperament with our current crop of leaders. In domestic politics, we have fierce, vituperative and irrational partisanship. There is no spirit of compromise and no willingness to show good faith with political opponents. Our politics, as Hobbes said of the state of nature, exhibit “a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.” In foreign policy, the imperial personality shows itself in “maximum pressure” campaigns, an “inveterate” antipathy toward Russia, and chest-thumping assertions of American exceptionalism. The constitutional personality exhibits a certain humility; the imperial personality exhibits none. 

Removing the practical dangers of empire would be hard, but not impossible. Restoring congressional authority in matters of war and peace and banning the domestic use of military and intelligence technologies are both achievable goals for those wishing to restore republican values. However, the imperial culture of our national security elites flows out of a will to power that is, at root, a character flaw. Changing laws is easy compared with improving character. 

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Comey’s Amnesia Makes Senate Session Unforgettable – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on October 6, 2020

Flawed process? Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz pinpointed no few than 17 “serious performance failures” related to the four FISA warrant applications on Page. Left unsaid is the fact that Horowitz’s investigation was tightly circumscribed. Basically, he asked the major players “Were you biased?” And they said “No.”

https://original.antiwar.com/?p=2012341079

by Ray McGovern

Former FBI Director James Comey testified to Congress last Wednesday that he did not remember much about what was going on when the FBI deceived the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court into approving four warrants for surveillance of Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Few outsiders are aware that those warrants covered not only Page but also anyone Page was in contact with as well as anyone Page’s contacts were in contact with – under the so-called two-hop surveillance procedure. In other words, the warrants extend coverage two hops from the target – that is, anyone Page talks to and anyone they, in turn, talk to.

At the hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsay Graham reviewed the facts (most of them confirmed by the Department of Justice inspector general) showing that none of the four FISA warrants were warranted.

Graham gave a chronological rundown of the evidence that Comey and his “folks” either knew, or should have known, that by signing fraudulent FISA warrant applications they were perpetrating a fraud on the court.

The “evidence” used by Comey and his “folks” to “justify” warrants included Page’s contacts with Russian officials (CIA had already told the FBI those contacts had been approved) and the phony as a three-dollar bill “Steele dossier” paid for by the Democrats.

Two Hops to the World

But let’s not hop over the implications of two-hop surveillance, which apparently remains in effect today. Few understand the significance of what is known in the trade as “two-hop” coverage. According to a former NSA technical director, Bill Binney, when President Barack Obama approved the current version of “two hops,” the NSA was ecstatic – and it is easy to see why.

Let’s say Page was in touch with Donald Trump (as candidate or president); Trump’s communications could then be surveilled, as well. Or, let’s say Page was in touch with Google. That would enable NSA to cover pretty much the entire world. A thorough read of the transcript of Wednesday’s hearing, particularly the Q-and-A, shows that this crucial two-hop dimension never came up – or that those aware of it, were too afraid to mention it. It was as if Page were the only one being surveilled.

Here is a sample of The New York Times’s typical coverage of such a hearing:

“Senate Republicans sought on Wednesday to promote their efforts to rewrite the narrative of the Trump-Russia investigation before Election Day, using a hearing with the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey to cast doubt on the entire inquiry by highlighting problems with a narrower aspect of it.

“Led by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee spent hours burrowing into mistakes and omissions made by the FBI when it applied for court permission to wiretap the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in 2016 and 2017. Republicans drew on that flawed process to renew their claims that Mr. Comey and his agents had acted with political bias, ignoring an independent review that debunked the notion of a plot against President Trump.”

Flawed process? Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz pinpointed no few than 17 “serious performance failures” related to the four FISA warrant applications on Page. Left unsaid is the fact that Horowitz’s investigation was tightly circumscribed. Basically, he asked the major players “Were you biased?” And they said “No.”

Chutzpah-full Disingenuousness

Does the NYT believe we were all born yesterday? When the Horowitz report was released in early December 2019, Fox News’ Chris Wallace found those serious performance failures “pretty shocking.” He quoted an earlier remark by Rep. Will Hurd (R,TX) a CIA alumnus:

“Why is it when you have 17 mistakes — 17 things that are misrepresented or lapses — and every one of them goes against the president and for investigating him, you have to say, ‘Is that a coincidence’? … it is either gross incompetence or intentionality.”

Throughout the four-hour hearing on Wednesday, Comey was politely smug – a hair short of condescending.

There was not the slightest sign he thought he would ever be held accountable for what happened under his watch. You see, four years ago, Comey “knew” Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in; that explains how he, together with CIA Director John Brennan and National Intelligence Director James Clapper, felt free to take vast liberties with the Constitution and the law before the election, and then launched a determined effort to hide their tracks post election.

Trump had been forewarned. On Jan. 3, 2017, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), with an assist from Rachel Maddow, warned Trump not to get crosswise with the “intelligence community,” noting the IC has six ways to Sunday to get back at you.

Three days later, Comey told President-elect Trump, in a one-on-one conversation, what the FBI had on him – namely, the “Steele Dossier.” The media already had the dossier, but were reluctant (for a host of obvious reasons) to publish it. When it leaked that Comey had briefed Trump on it, they finally had the needed peg.

New Parvenu in Washington

After the tête-à-tête with Comey on Jan. 6, 2017, newcomer Trump didn’t know what hit him. Perhaps no one told him of Schumer’s warning; or maybe he dismissed it out of hand. Is that what Comey was up to on Jan. 6, 2017?

Was the former FBI director protesting too much in his June 2017 testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee when he insisted he’d tried to make it clear to Trump that briefing him on the unverified but scurrilous information in the dossier wasn’t intended to be threatening?

It took Trump several months to figure out what was being done to him.

Trump to NYT: ‘Leverage’ (aka Blackmail)

In a long Oval Office interview with the Times on July 19, 2017, Trump said he thought Comey was trying to hold the dossier over his head.

“…Look what they did to me with Russia, and it was totally phony stuff. … the dossier … Now, that was totally made-up stuff,” Trump said. “I went there [to Moscow] for one day for the Miss Universe contest, I turned around, I went back. It was so disgraceful. It was so disgraceful.

“When he [Comey] brought it [the dossier] to me, I said this is really made-up junk. I didn’t think about anything. I just thought about, man, this is such a phony deal. … I said, this is – honestly, it was so wrong, and they didn’t know I was just there for a very short period of time. It was so wrong, and I was with groups of people. It was so wrong that I really didn’t, I didn’t think about motive. I didn’t know what to think other than, this is really phony stuff.”

The Steele dossier, paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign and compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, includes a tale of Trump cavorting with prostitutes, who supposedly urinated on each other before the same bed the Obamas had slept in at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton hotel.

Trump told the Times: “I think [Comey] shared it so that … I would think he had it out there. … As leverage.”

Still Anemic

Even with that lesson in hand, Trump still proved virtually powerless in dealing with the National Security State/intelligence community. The president has evidenced neither the skill nor the guts to even attempt to keep the National Security State in check.

Comey, no doubt doesn’t want to be seen as a “dirty cop,” With Trump in power and Attorney General William Barr his enforcer, there was always the latent threat that they would use the tools at their disposal to expose and even prosecute Comey and his National Security State colleagues for what the president now knows was done during his candidacy and presidency.

Despite their braggadocio about taking on the Deep State, and the continuing investigations, it seems doubtful that anything serious is likely to happen before Election Day, Nov. 3.

On Wednesday, Comey had the air of one who is equally sure, this time around, who will be the next president. No worries. Comey could afford to be politely vapid for five more weeks, and then be off the hook for any and all “serious performance failures” – some of them felonies.

Thus, a significant downside to a Biden victory is that the National Security State will escape accountability for unconscionable misbehavior, running from misdemeanors to insurrection. No small thing.

Sen. Graham concluded the hearing with a pious plea: “Somebody needs to be held accountable.” Yet, surely, he has been around long enough to know the odds.

Given his disastrous presidency, either way the prospects are bleak: no accountability for the National Security State, which is to be expected, or four more years of Trump.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). This originally appeared at Consortium News.

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Democrats drop controversial surveillance amendment | TheHill

Posted by M. C. on May 28, 2020

“It would be unconscionable for the Democratic House to pass any PATRIOT Act reauthorization without critical privacy reforms that would pass the Senate.

Except when it is.

Someone was afraid the amendment would end up as something more than just faux patriotism.

Someone like the CIA or FIB.

https://thehill.com/policy/technology/499784-democrats-drop-controversial-surveillance-amendment

House Democratic leaders have dropped plans to vote on a controversial amendment aimed at blocking law enforcement from accessing Americans’ web browsing history that had threatened to scuttle a vote on reauthorizing three surveillance programs, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer‘s (D-Md.) office confirmed.

Support for the amendment, sponsored by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), has fractured over the last day, with progressive groups and lawmakers pulling support.

House lawmakers seeking the amendment initially pushed for language mirroring a measure offered by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) in the Senate that would require a warrant anytime law enforcement wanted to access web browsing data.

The amendment that was ultimately submitted to the Rules Committee on Tuesday narrowed that protection to U.S. persons — something that would exclude individuals in the U.S. on green cards or other visas.

Wyden initially released a statement praising the Lofgren-Davidson measure, but pulled his support following comments from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who was involved in developing the House amendment text.

Schiff in a statement to reporters seemed to suggest that the measure would allow room for law enforcement to continue the collection of Americans’ records as long as they are relevant to a foreign intelligence investigation, an issue that critics have said is left open to interpretation in the current amendment.

Multiple progressive groups — including Demand Progress and Fight for the Future — released statements Wednesday pushing lawmakers to vote against the amendment and underlying bill.

Asked during a press conference about the decision not to vote on the bipartisan amendment, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) acknowledged that it was under consideration, but “we decided that where the votes were, were to go with” the Senate bill.

“We have to have a bill, and we have to have it signed. … That bill in the Senate goes a long way and it is strongly bipartisan. … We hope that it would be the bill that could get the signature of the president,” she said.

It is not immediately clear whether dropping the amendment will give Democrats the votes necessary to push through the reauthorization package.

President Trump tweeted Tuesday night that Republicans should oppose the underlying surveillance reauthorization bill because of alleged abuses under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) raised similar concerns during speeches on Wednesday.

A source said that Scalise and Trump spoke on Wednesday “and agreed that this bill should not move forward in the House in its current form.”

“We must get to the bottom of the abuses that took place under FISA. Period,” the source added.

Removing the amendment may also cost Democratic leadership progressive support for the bill.

Demand Progress, an influential internet rights group, slammed the decision to drop the amendment Wednesday.

“House leadership has chosen to advance a bill that fails to protect internet activity with a warrant, despite the express support of 61 Senators,” Sean Vitka, the group’s senior policy counsel, said in a statement.

“It would be unconscionable for the Democratic House to pass any PATRIOT Act reauthorization without critical privacy reforms that would pass the Senate.

–Jordain Carney contributed to this report, which was updated at 3:38 p.m.

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DOJ Says FBI Not Trustworthy – PaulCraigRoberts.org

Posted by M. C. on April 15, 2020

Your FIB

10 Classified FBI Secrets - YouTube

https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2020/04/02/doj-says-fbi-not-trustworthy/

News Updates From CLG

02 April 2020 

All links are here:

https://www.legitgov.org

IG Horowitz Found ‘Apparent Errors or Inadequately Supported Facts’ in Every Single FBI FISA Application He Reviewed | 31 March 2020 | The Justice Department inspector general said it does “not have confidence” in the FBI’s FISA application process following an audit that found the Bureau was not sufficiently transparent with the court in 29 applications from 2014 to 2019, all of which included “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts.” Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report in December which found that the FBI included “at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications and many errors in the Woods Procedures” during its Crossfire Hurricane investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign… Horowitz’s office said in a report released Tuesday that of the 29 applications — all of which involved U.S. citizens — that were pulled from “8 FBI field offices of varying sizes,” the FBI could not find Woods Files for four of the applications, while the other 25 all had “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts.” The Woods Procedure dictates that the Justice Department verify the accuracy and provide evidentiary support for all facts stated in its FISA application. The FBI is required to share with the FISA Court all relevant information compiled in the Woods File when applying for a surveillance warrant.

https://www.nationalreview.com/news/ig-horowitz-found-apparent-errors-or-inadequately-supported-facts-in-every-single-fbi-fisa-application-he-reviewed/

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How out of Control Is Our Surveillance State? | Cato Institute

Posted by M. C. on December 23, 2019

Americans deserve a stronger assurance than “hope” that their Fourth Amendment rights are being respected.

https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/how-out-control-our-surveillance-state

By Julian Sanchez

This article appeared on The New York Times on December 18, 2019.
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The F.B.I.’s investigation of the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, we can now say with assurance, was a train wreck. In his report, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz cataloged a damning list of egregious errors, omissions or misrepresentations in filings to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approved nearly a year’s worth of wiretaps on Mr. Page.

Many Republicans have taken this as proof that the investigation was hopelessly contaminated by anti-Trump political bias. That would be the optimistic scenario. Unfortunately, it’s probably much worse than that.

If the F.B.I. botched its applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against Mr. Page because of political bias, after all, problems of the sort Mr. Horowitz identified are most likely unique to this case. The bureau obtains about 1,500 FISA warrants each year, and an overwhelming majority have no connection to domestic politics. The solution is also similarly simple: Toss out the bad apples who acted on political motives and add a few layers of safeguards for the tiny fraction of cases that are designated “sensitive investigative matters” because they do intersect with politics.

 

That might be a reasonable response if we were confident the Page investigation represented an outlier or aberration. The chilling reality, however, is that we have no idea whether that’s the case.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, zeroed in on this point. When she asked Mr. Horowitz whether finding mistakes in a FISA application was “a fairly unusual occurrence,” he responded, “I would hope so.”

Americans deserve a stronger assurance than “hope” that their Fourth Amendment rights are being respected. The sheer quantity of serious defects in the FISA applications targeting Mr. Page — which officials consistently told Mr. Horowitz received far more review than normal, because agents understood the applications would doubtless attract controversy and scrutiny — raises an obvious and disturbing question: If they’re this sloppy with a target involved in a presidential campaign, how bad is it in ordinary cases, which the public will never learn about and which are unlikely to ever be the topic of congressional hearings?

We needn’t worry so much about that, of course, if the defects of the Page warrants were products of political animus against the Trump campaign. But the report provides very little reason to think that’s the case. The case for supposing bias is the culprit here leans heavily on the former F.B.I. agent Peter Strzok, now notorious for a voluminous history of text messages denigrating Mr. Trump and suggesting that he would not become president because “we will stop it.” But while Mr. Strzok played a supervisory role in the earliest stage of the Page investigation, it’s hard to tie him to the specific problems Mr. Horowitz identifies. As the report notes, Mr. Strzok “was not the primary or sole decision maker on any investigative step” and at one point opposed FISA monitoring of another Trump campaign staff member that case agents proposed. Moreover, the problems Mr. Horowitz documented in the initial FISA application filed under Mr. Strzok’s watch were significantly less serious than the outrageous omissions and misrepresentations to the court that occurred in the subsequent applications to renew the wiretap, after Mr. Strzok’s role in the investigation had ended.

With one significant exception — an F.B.I. lawyer responsible for improperly altering an email related to the final renewal application — Mr. Horowitz didn’t find signs of Mr. Strzok’s intense animus among others who worked on the FISA warrants. The report notes that among the huge quantity of internal communications reviewed, the inspector general identified “a small number of text messages and instant messages” in which members of the investigation team “discussed political issues and candidates,” but that these “did not raise significant questions of potential bias or improper motivation.”

If there’s an explanation for the errors Mr. Horowitz documents suggested by his reports, it’s not political bias. It’s confirmation bias.

The F.B.I.’s interest in Mr. Page — and its suspicions that he might be a Russian intelligence asset — predated his involvement in presidential politics. He had reportedly been the target of a FISA warrant in 2014 and was the focus of yet another counterintelligence investigation opened in April 2016 by the F.B.I.’s notoriously Trump-friendly New York field office, months before the bureau started an inquiry into potential links between the Trump campaign and Russia’s election interference operation. When investigators got wind of Christopher Steele’s notorious dossier, which made Mr. Page a pivotal figure in a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between Mr. Trump and the Kremlin, it would have seemed like confirmation of what they already suspected.

Having adopted this theory, investigators began to exhibit classic signs of confirmation bias, readily absorbing new information that fit the model they’d built, while overlooking or explaining away facts that didn’t fit. The worst misrepresentations to the court that Mr. Horowitz uncovered are sins of omission — new information the bureau obtained as the investigation progressed that should have led it to question previous representations it had made to the court.

The many layers of review FISA applications go through — laid out in a set of rules known as the Woods Procedures — were ill equipped to detect this sort of problem, because the Woods Procedures focus on confirming that facts in the application match documents in the F.B.I.’s case file. But you can’t fact check a claim that doesn’t exist — which means the process is bad at detecting important information that has been left out. Officials who reviewed later applications also told Mr. Horowitz that they typically focused on the new information in each submission. That means assertions they’d made early on ended up effectively being taken for granted: Nobody was revisiting early assumptions to see whether they still held up in the face of new data.

If this explains why the Page investigation went increasingly off the rails, it’s an explanation that has little to do with partisan politics at its heart. But that would mean there’s little reason to think the Page investigation is special in this respect. There’s an urgent need, then, for the inspector general to do more such “deep dives” and figure out just how pervasive the problem really is.

Fortunately, the inspector general is already taking a first step in this direction, having begun a review that will “examine the F.B.I.’s compliance with the Woods Procedures in FISA applications that target U.S. persons.” But in itself, that’s not enough: While Mr. Horowitz found violations of the Woods Procedures in the Page case, they weren’t the most serious distortions. Those occurred precisely because the Woods Procedures aren’t well calibrated to catch material facts that get left out. To do that, you’d need to do the kind of intensive and comprehensive case-by-case review conducted in the Horowitz review, not just run Woods vetting a second time to see whether the results tally.

Doing this sort of deep dive for a representative sample of FISA applications will, of course, be both expensive and extremely time consuming. But it’s well worth it to find out just how badly our surveillance state is broken.

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JOHN KIRIAKOU: James Comey’s Interview on Fox News Screams Out for Correction – Consortiumnews

Posted by M. C. on December 21, 2019

And the truth of the matter is that the FISA court isn’t really a court at all.  It meets in secret.  A “defendant” has no idea that the government is asking for a warrant against him.  The defendant has no attorney to represent his interests before the court. 

The FISA judges have to know they are being played. The truth is that if they make waves they loose their jobs.

The FISA court has become such an embarrassment to those who pay attention that it has to pretend they care.

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/12/19/john-kiriakou-james-comeys-interview-on-fox-news-screams-out-for-correction/

By John Kiriakou

Former FBI Director James Comey gave an interview this week to journalist Chris Wallace on Fox News in which he made one of the most disingenuous and dissembling statements I’ve heard in years, one that screams out for correction and real Congressional oversight.

When asked about Justice Department Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz’s report, which found “17 significant errors and omissions” by the FBI when it began investigating alleged Russian involvement with the 2016 Trump campaign and it applied for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, Comey said that he had been “overconfident” when he defended the FBI’s use of FISA.

Overconfident! Comey ignored the fact that the FBI repeatedly renewed the warrant against Page, whom the FBI suspected was working for Russian intelligence, even if it had no evidence to indicate that was the case.  He downplayed the fact that an FBI attorney illegally changed an FBI report to indicate that Page was not working for the CIA, when the FBI knew for a fact that he was.

Perhaps most disingenuously, Comey told Wallace that, “I thought the FBI had gone about this in a thoughtful and appropriate way.  He’s (Horowitz) right.  I was wrong.  I was overconfident as director in our procedures…It’s incredibly hard to get a FISA.”

Comey’s Lie About a FISA Warrant 

Even more importantly, at least for the American people as a whole, is Comey’s lie that “it’s incredibly hard to get a FISA.”  It’s actually incredibly easy to get a FISA.  Over its 33-year lifespan, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has issued 33,942 warrants.  It has denied 12.  In fact, between the court’s creation in 1986 and 2003, it didn’t deny a single request for a warrant.  Those numbers simply don’t support Comey’s odd contention that it’s “incredibly hard” to get a FISA.  He’s lying to us… Read the rest of this entry »

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Remember the FBI’s promise it wasn’t abusing the NSA’s data on US citizens? Well, guess what… • The Register

Posted by M. C. on October 17, 2019

The FBI said it had no way to measure it the number of searches it ran.

But that, it turns out, was a bold-faced lie. Because we now know that the FBI carried out 6,800 queries of the database in a single day in December 2017 using social security numbers. In other words, the FBI was using the NSA’s database at least 80 times more frequently than the NSA itself.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/10/08/fbi_spying_abuse/

By Kieren McCarthy in San Francisco

Turns out the Feds make the CIA and NSA actually look good

The FBI routinely misused a database, gathered by the NSA with the specific purpose of searching for foreign intelligence threats, by searching it for everything from vetting to spying on relatives.

In doing so, it not only violated the law and the US constitution but knowingly lied to the faces of congressmen who were asking the intelligence services about this exact issue at government hearings, hearings that were intended to find if there needed to be additional safeguards added to the program.

That is the upshot of newly declassified rulings of the secret FISC court that decides issues of spying and surveillance within the United States.

On Tuesday, in a year-old ruling [PDF] that remains heavily redacted, everything that both privacy advocates and a number of congressmen – particularly Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) – feared was true of the program turned out to be so, but worse.

Even though the program in question – Section 702 – is specifically designed only to be used for US government agencies to be allowed to search for evidence of foreign intelligence threats, the FBI gave itself carte blanche to search the same database for US citizens by stringing together a series of ridiculous legal justifications about data being captured “incidentally” and subsequent queries of that data not requiring a warrant because it had already been gathered.

Despite that situation, the FBI repeatedly assured lawmakers and the courts that it was using its powers in a very limited way. Senator Wyden was not convinced and used his position to ask questions about the program, the answers to which raised ever greater concerns.

For example, while the NSA was able to outline the process by which its staff was allowed to make searches on the database, including who was authorized to dig further, and it was able to give a precise figure for how many searches there had been, the FBI claimed it was literally not able to do so.

Free for all

Any FBI agent was allowed to search the database, it revealed under questioning, any FBI agent was allowed to de-anonymize the data and the FBI claimed it did not have a system to measure the number of search requests its agents carried out.

In a year-long standoff between Senator Wyden and the Director of National Intelligence, the government told Congress it was not able to get a number for the number of US citizens whose details had been brought up in searches – something that likely broke the Fourth Amendment.

Today’s release of the FISC secret opinion reveals that giving the FBI virtually unrestricted access to the database led to exactly the sort of behavior that people were concerned about: vast number of searches, including many that were not remotely justified…

The FBI said it had no way to measure it the number of searches it ran.

But that, it turns out, was a bold-faced lie. Because we now know that the FBI carried out 6,800 queries of the database in a single day in December 2017 using social security numbers. In other words, the FBI was using the NSA’s database at least 80 times more frequently than the NSA itself…

Or, in other words, the FBI was breaking the law and the constitution. And it did so tens of thousands of times between 2017 and 2018 – while at the same time promising Congress that everything was fine and it was only using the database for rare instances connected to national security.

To say Senator Wyden is unhappy about this turn of events would be an understatement. “Last year, when Congress reauthorized Section 702 of FISA, it accepted the FBI’s outright refusal to account for all its warrantless backdoor searches of Americans,” he said today in a statement.

“Today’s release demonstrates how baseless the FBI’s position was and highlights Congress’ constitutional obligation to act independently and strengthen the checks and balances on government surveillance.

“The information released today also reveals serious abuses in the FBI’s backdoor searches, underscoring the need for the government to seek a warrant before searching through mountains of private data on Americans. Finally, I am concerned that the government has redacted information in these releases that the public deserves to know.”

In short, little had changed in the security services’ approach since Edward Snowden revealed the scale and depth of spying operations carried out against US citizens and foreigners. Given the slightest opportunity to spy on citizens, the FBI will take it, lie about it and when finally caught, promise to do better next time. ®

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Funny J Edgar Memes of 2017 on SIZZLE | Church

 

 

 

 

 

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Robert Mueller and James Comey have made the FBI a threat to democracy former agent warns | Daily Mail Online

Posted by M. C. on September 5, 2019

ad nauseum…

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7423843/Robert-Mueller-James-Comey-FBI-threat-democracy-former-agent-warns.html

By Daniel Bates For Dailymail.com

  • The FBI under Robert Mueller undermined public confidence in justice while James Comey nearly destroyed it completely, a new book by an ex-agent claims
  • Mike German writes in his upcoming book that Mueller wanted to ‘remake the FBI in his own image’ with no room for dissent
  • Mueller’s FBI silenced whistle-blowers, undermined controls over its operations and created a new category of victims, German writes 
  • The attacks on 9/11 ‘justified unleashing the FBI from traditional legal and moral restraints in order to prevent the follow up attacks they predicted’
  • Upon request from the FBI under Mueller, Congress loosened the Foreign Service Intelligence (FISA) act – meaning the FBI could ‘surreptitiously father information about anyone it deemed ‘relevant’ 
  • It is likely that these looser rules would have helped Mueller during his investigations as Special Counsel and Comey when he was director of the FBI
  • Meanwhile, German claims that Comey breached a ‘cardinal rule’ of the FBI by commenting on Trump’s uncharged behavior in regards to the 2016 election 
  • Comey’s actions tipped the tightest presidential election in history and cast a cloud of illegitimacy over the Trump administration even before taking office’ 
  • German writes: ‘The FBI has systemic problems that, left unchecked, make the bureau a threat to the very democracy it is intended to serve’

The FBI under Robert Mueller undermined public confidence in justice while James Comey nearly destroyed it completely, a new book claims.

Ex-FBI agent Mike German, a 16 year veteran of law enforcement, writes the former directors of the bureau turned it into a ‘lawless law enforcer’.

In Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy, German says: ‘The FBI has systemic problems that, left unchecked, make the bureau a threat to the very democracy it is intended to serve’.

In a damning history of the FBI, German claims that Mueller, who later became the Special Counsel in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, wanted to ‘remake the FBI in his own image’ with no room for dissent.

He threw out the safeguards that were brought in by the Church Committee in 1975 and brought about a ‘new era of abuse’ against citizens.

Mueller’s FBI has silenced whistle-blowers and created many ‘victims of the FBI’ says German, who became an adviser to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after retiring and has written papers attacking the bureau.

Comey went further and ‘dispensed with the illusion the bureau was impartial and apolitical’ when he made his public comments about the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016.

German claims that Comey breached a ‘cardinal rule’ of the FBI by commenting on a subject’s uncharged behavior and his comments cast a ‘cloud of illegitimacy’ over Trump’s presidency before he even took office…

‘The stain of the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover-era abuses should have served as a strong warning that public trust can be lost more easily than it can be recovered’.

German also states his belief that the FBI should have more vigorously pursued bank executives behind the 2008 financial crash.

In some of his most damning comments in the book, German writes that by targeting protesters and minorities and not white nationalists, the FBI contributed to a ‘societal breach’.

German writes: ‘I believe that the FBI has contributed to a breakdown of public trust in government institutions… the FBI widened the divide between us and them – the protected versus the suspected.

‘When members of the public internalized that government institutions would not protect their rights and privileges, they had to decide which side they were on’.

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hoover

Yes son, you too can grow up to be lying scum and hate black people.

 

 

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Christopher Steele Made Damning Pre-FISA Confession; FBI Retroactively Classified | Zero Hedge

Posted by M. C. on May 9, 2019

The FIB and Hillary, how bad can they get? How low can she go? It takes a lot to be worse than LBJ.

What happened to turn her from being a Goldwater Girl into this?

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-05-08/christopher-steele-made-damning-pre-fisa-confession-fbi-retroactively-classified

by Tyler Durden

Former British spy Christopher Steele made a stunning admission during an October 11, 2016 meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec, just 10 days before the FBI used his now-discredited dossier to justify securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page and the campaign’s ties to Russia, according to The Hill‘s John Solomon.

According a typed summary of the meeting – which sat buried for over 2 1/2 years until an open-records litigation by Citizens United – Steele said that his client “is keen to see this information come to light prior to November 8,” the date of the 2016 US election. Also attending the meeting was an employee of Steele’s Orbis Security firm, Tatyana Duran.

And according to The Hill, Kavalec’s notes of the meeting – including this stunning admission – do not appear to have been provided to the House Intelligence Committee for its Russia probe, according to former Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA).

“They tried to hide a lot of documents from us during our investigation, and it usually turns out there’s a reason for it,” Nunes told The Hill‘s Solomon, who notes that One member of Congress had transmitted the memos to the DOJ’s Inspector General, Michael Horowitz out of concern that the IG’s office had never seen it either.

The FBI has retroactively classified Kavalec’s notes on 4/25/2019, despite the fact that it was originally marked unclassified in 2016. It is set to “Declassify on 12/31/2041,” 25 years after the 2016 election.

The apparent effort to hide Kavalec’s notes from her contact with Steele has persisted for some time.

State officials acknowledged a year ago they received a copy of the Steele dossier in July 2016, and got a more detailed briefing in October 2016 and referred the information to the FBI.

But what was discussed was not revealed. Sources told me more than a year ago that Kavalec had the most important (and memorialized) interaction with Steele before the FISA warrant was issued, but FBI and State officials refused to discuss it, or even confirm it.

The encounter, and Kavalec’s memos, were forced into public view through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation by Citizens United. Yet, all but a few lines have been redacted after the fact. Officials are citing as the reason national security, in the name of the FBI and a half-century-old intelligence law. –The Hill

“This new information proves why the attorney general must conduct a thorough investigation of the investigators,” said Citizens United president and informal Trump adviser David Bossie, adding that Kavalec’s notes suggest there was an illegal effort to “frame” Trump with bogus collusion allegations

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6a79c-iu

 

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