The FBI diddles FISA. Will the judges do anything about it?

The biggest dopes so far in the Trump impeachment saga appear to be  the FISA judges whom the FBI took to the cleaners.

If everyone should be able to agree on one thing, it’s how the Justice Department’s inspector general’s probe reveals that the FBI’s affidavits to get FISA court permission to wiretap a Trump campaign volunteer, Carter Page, were flawed by  numerous, errors, omissions and deceptions.

It said,

Our review found that FBI personnel fell far short of the requirement in FBI policy that they ensure that all factual statements in a FISA application are “scrupulously accurate.”

We identified multiple instances in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time the application was filed.

That raises a question: Were the unarguably false applications the result of gross incompetence or intentional fraud? (For your convenience, I have copied below the now infamous 17 major FBI screwups uncovered by Inspector General Michael Horowitz’ lengthy and in-depth investigation.)

It beggars belief that the FBI could be that incompetent. It’s hard to imagine how Horowitz could absolve the FBI of partisanship with the screen-shot-2019-12-13-at-4-00-26-pmapplications found that the errors and omissions were all in one direction and were so egregious as to suggest the need for criminal prosecution.

If these supposedly unpartisan mistakes are to be ignored, or worse excused, because it can be argued that they were committed by lower-level employees, why weren’t they caught by senior FBI officials? After all, this was an investigation of a presidential campaign, not some probe of aldermanic corruption in Chicago. For that reason, I can’t believe that all these procedural violations weren’t known by senior FBI officials. They had to be known, so we need to know where they willfully ignored the violations or endorsed them.

But to my point. Doesn’t the submission of false applications to the FISA judges amount to a contempt of court? The court acts secretly so we don’t know how the judges have or will respond to this wholesale deception? Will they drag the offenders–as they should–back to court to explain their malfeasance or misfeasance? Will the judges just shrug their soldiers, accepting what it is because it is? Aren’t the judges just a little pissed off that they were so easily used?

That’s why these questions live beyond the impeachment process. Is justice done? Did the justices do their job, or did they permit spying on a U.S. citizen knowing that a significant part of the justification was the discredited Steele dossier? The FISA court approved multiple applications for spying on Page, they clearly had to know that a the latter applications were partially based on false evidence.

We aren’t done with the FISA court. It’s secret proceedings cry out of Congressional oversight. And its (presumed) incompetence or bias requires a criminal investigation.

Related: The Steele dossier was rubbish. So why did the FBI continue to investigate it?

The FBI’s 17 major screwups, according to the inspector general’s probe. The FBI:

1. Omitted information the FBI had obtained from another U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Page, including that Page had been approved as an “operational contact” for the other agency from 2008 to 2013, and that Page had provided information to the other agency concerning his prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers, one of which overlapped with facts asserted in the FISA application;

2. Included a source characterization statement asserting that Steele’s prior reporting had been “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings,” which overstated the significance of Steele’s past reporting and was not approved by Steele’s handling agent, as required by the Woods Procedures;

3. Omitted information relevant to the reliability of Person 1, a key Steele sub-source (who was attributed with providing the information in Report 95 and some of the information in Reports 80 and 102 relied upon in the application), namely that ( 1) Steele himself told members of the Crossfire Hurricane team that Person 1 was a “boaster” and an “egoistand may engage in some embellishment” and (2) the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation on Person 1 a few days before the FISA application was filed;

4. Asserted that the FBI had assessed that Steele did not directly provide to the press information in the September 23 Yahoo News article based on the premise that Steele had told the FBI that he only shared his election-related research with the FBI and Fusion GPS, his client; this premise was incorrect and contradicted by documentation in the Woods File-Steele had told the FBI that he also gave his information to the State Department;

5. Omitted Papadopoulos’s consensually monitored statements to an FBI CHS in September 2016 denying that anyone associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia or with outside groups like Wikileaks in the release of emails;

6. Included Page’s consensually monitored statements to an FBI CHS in October 2016 that the FBI believed supported its theory that Page was an agent of Russia but omitted other statements Page made that were inconsistent with its theory, including denying having met with Sechin and Divyekin, or even knowing who Divyekin was; if true, those statements contradicted the claims in Report 94 that Page had met secretly with Sechin and Divyekin about future cooperation with Russia and shared derogatory information about candidate Clinton; 

7. Included Page’s consensually monitored statements to an FBI CHS in October 2016 that the FBI believed supported its theory that Pagewas an agent of Russia but omitted other statements Page made that were inconsistent with its theory, including denying having met with Sechin and Divyekin, or even knowing who Divyekin was; if true, those statements contradicted the claims in Report 94 that Page had met secretly with Sechin and Divyekin about future cooperation with Russia and shared derogatory information about candidate Clinton.

8. Omitted the fact that Steele’s Primary Sub- source, who the FBI found credible, had made statements in January 2017 raising significant questions about the reliability of allegations included in the FISA applications, including, for example, that he/she did not recall any discussion with Person 1 concerning Wikileaks and there was “nothing badabout the communications between the Kremlin and theTrump team, and that he/she did not report to Steele in July 2016 that Page had met with Sechin;

9. Omitted Page’s prior relationship with another U.S. government agency, despite being reminded by the other agency in June 2017, prior to the filing of the final renewal application, about Page’s past status with that other agency; instead of including this information in the final renewal application, the OGC Attorney altered an email from the other agency so that the email stated that Page was “not a source” for the other agency, which the FBI affiant relied upon in signing the final renewal application;

10. Omitted information from persons who previously had professional contacts with Steele or had direct knowledge of his work-related performance, including statements that Steele had no history of reporting in bad faith but “[d]emonstrates lack of self-awareness, poor judgment,” “pursued people with political risk but no intelligence value,” “didn’t always exercise great judgment,” and it was not clear what he would have done to validate” his reporting; 

11. Omitted information obtained from Ohr about Steele and his election reporting, including that (1) Steele’s reporting was going to Clinton’spresidential campaign and others, (2) Simpson was paying Steele to discuss his reporting with the media, and (3) Steele was desperate thatDonald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being the U.S. President”;

12. Failed to update the description of Steele after information became known to the Crossfire Hurricane team, from Ohr and others, thatprovided greater clarity on the political origins and connections of Steele‘s reporting, including that Simpson was hired by someone associated with the Democratic Party and/or the DNC;

13. Failed to correct the assertion in the first FISA application that the FBI did not believe that Steele directly provided information to thereporter who wrote the September 23 Yahoo News article, even though there was no information in the Woods File to support this claim and even after certain Crossfire Hurricane officials learned in 2017, before the third renewal application, of an admission that Steele made in a court filing about his interactions with the news media in the late summer and early fall of 2016; 

14. Omitted the finding from a FBI source validation report that Steele was suitable for continued operation but that his past contributions to the FBI’s criminal program had been minimally corroborated,” and instead continued to assert in the source characterization statement that Steele’s prior reporting had been “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings”;

15. Omitted Papadopoulos’s statements to an FBI CHS in late October 2016 denying that the Trump campaign was involved in thcircumstances of the DNC email hack;

16. Omitted Joseph Mifsud’s denials to the FBI that he supplied Papadopoulos with the information Papadopoulos shared with the FFG (suggesting that the campaign received an offer or suggestion of assistance from Russia);

17. Omitted information indicating that Page played no role in the Republican platform change on Russia’s annexation of Ukraine as alleged in the Report 95, which was inconsistent with a factual assertion relied upon to support probable cause in all four FISA applications.

That’s just a slice of the 434-page report. If you’re not inclined to read the entire thing, read its 19-page executive summary. 

dennis@dennisbyrne.net

www.dennisbyrne.net 

My historical novel: Madness: The War of 1812

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