Inspector General's Report On Investigation Of Trump Campaign Finds More FISA-Related Abuse By The FBI

from the and-if-the-FBI-does-this-to-the-big-people,-imagine-what-it-does-to-the-little-p dept

The Inspector General’s report [PDF] on the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s connection to the Trump election campaign has been released. In the 480-page report, there’s enough to satisfy both sides of the argument. Those who believe the investigation was never politically-driven will have their hunches confirmed. Those that believe there’s a concerted Deep State effort targeting Trump will find just enough in it to affirm those beliefs as well.

The Inspector General behind the report, Michael Horowitz, has never been afraid of calling bullshit on the numerous agencies he oversees. These agencies, on the other hand, do everything they can to thwart his investigations, so if anything crucial seems to be missing from this report, you can probably blame the FBI.

The report clears the FBI of any wrongdoing, at least as far as the “politically-driven” allegations. The IG concluded the FBI did things badly, but did not do them for anti-Trump reasons.

That being said, the more disturbing aspects of the report deal with the FISA court and the FBI’s casual abuse of its surveillance authorities. Not much is known about the FBI’s domestic surveillance efforts — at least not those authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. While the FBI routinely performs “backdoor” searches of domestic communications harvested by the NSA’s foreign-facing surveillance efforts, we have yet to see an actual FISA affidavit from the FBI.

The affidavits reviewed by IG Horowitz involved the surveillance of Carter Page, hat-wearer and foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign. The super-secret process has rarely been this closely examined before. What it shows is the FBI playing fast and loose with its surveillance powers. Here’s Charlie Savage’s take for the New York Times:

[T]he inspector general found major errors, material omissions and unsupported statements about Mr. Page in the materials that went to the court. F.B.I. agents cherry-picked the evidence, telling the Justice Department information that made Mr. Page look suspicious and omitting material that cut the other way, and the department passed that misleading portrait onto the court.

Here’s what the report says:

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.

The FBI was so interested in keeping Carter Page under surveillance that it manipulated the facts it had to better fit the actions it wanted to take. In the FBI’s initial wiretap application, the agency cherry-picked info from informants to find anything that might possibly suggest Carter Page was the connective tissue between Donald Trump and the twice-convicted Paul Manafort. When it came time for the wiretap renewal, the FBI chose to withhold new information that contradicted some of the original probable cause it had supplied to the FISA court on its first application.

This is just the FBI adding onto its not-so-proud tradition of misleading the FISA court. As far back as 2002, the FISA court was already complaining about the FBI’s “inaccurate affidavits.” Not much seems to have changed. If this report is any indication of the FBI’s general approach to submitting affidavits, agents are massaging weak correlations into something approaching probable cause and continuing this abusive editing process for every renewal. The procedures introduced following the FISA court’s 2002 criticism don’t appear to be having much of an effect.

The FBI will get yet another chance to start acting like a trustworthy government agency. More pressure is being placed on it from its oversight. The Inspector General’s office says another audit is underway — this time to determine just how often the FBI fudges facts on FISA applications.

Given the extensive compliance failures we identified in this review, we believe that additional OIG oversight work is required to assess the FBI’s compliance with Department and FBI FISA-related policies that seek to protect the civil liberties of U.S. persons. Accordingly, we have today initiated an OIG audit that will further examine the FBI’s compliance with the Woods Procedures in FISA applications that target U.S. persons in both counterintelligence and counterterrorism investigations.

These findings will be of considerable public interest, but given how much secrecy surrounds FISA court proceedings, it’s unclear when, or if, we’ll ever see this report. So far, nothing seems to be making the FBI handle its considerable power more responsibly. The FISA court isn’t adversarial. Few people criminally charged as the result of FISA-ordained surveillance have the opportunity to challenge this evidence in court. The worst thing that can happen to the FBI is periodic benchslaps by FISA judges. And the opinions and orders containing these benchslaps generally aren’t cleared for public consumption until years after the fact. That’s not much of a deterrent.

There’s a Deep State problem out there, but it’s not politically-motivated. It’s not the FBI vs. politicians it doesn’t like. It’s the FBI vs. Americans it wants to place under surveillance via a court supposedly interested in the gathering of foreign intelligence. Ordinary domestic surveillance produces paper trails that must be turned over in trial courts. FISA surveillance does not, which is why the FBI loves having this option.

Filed Under: , , , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Inspector General's Report On Investigation Of Trump Campaign Finds More FISA-Related Abuse By The FBI”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
48 Comments

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11

Plaintiff argues that the DNC explicitly worked with, or on behalf of, the FBI as part of the agency’s investigation into the Trump campaign. But Plaintiff offers no facts in their Complaint to support this position. The Complaint is summarily dismissed.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13

I don’t know what point you are trying to make

My point was that you have no direct evidence that the DNC and the FBI worked together on the investigation into the Trump campaign. You cannot prove that the DNC bought the Steele dossier on orders from the FBI, or that the FBI explicitly knew the DNC was going to buy the Steele dossier. And you cannot prove that the FBI acted on orders from the DNC, or that the FBI investigated the Trump campaign for the explicit purpose of giving political aid to the Democrats (including Hillary Clinton).

All you have is speculation. You have no direct evidence to back up your conspiracy theory. Stop acting as if saying “DNC” over and over will make your case any stronger — because it won’t.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Ever since Hoover the FBI has a decidedly spotty history of alternating between being a crime investigation agency, a criminal investigation agency, and a political tool.

At least to get the CIA to fudge their numbers GWB had to replace their entire leadership and put the rest under heavy pressure to spin a "yellowcakes for Iraq" story out of nothing. The FBI though, has a very long history of either wielding a political bat or being a political bat.

Jim says:

Hacking?

By what was unsaid in this report, I would now doubt that the Hillary attack was Russian, and place it more likely a " release of information" by the FBI. after all..the FBI had the server copy weeks ahead of time, they had democratic laptops, and passwords. How much more? Page was an operative, based in Moscow, and NYC. How much time to send a message to one of the Russian servers and make it appear as if the message was from Moscow? Just sayin.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Conspiracy theorists will theorise

I’m trying to laugh quietly about the supposed DNC/FBI collusion to oppose Trump. Why?

Does nobody remember this? https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/apr/13/james-comey-book-hillary-clinton-email-investigation

So why in the world would the DNC collude with the FBI if it was screwing them? Logic is not a strong point with these people.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Conspiracy theorists will theorise

"So why in the world would the DNC collude with the FBI if it was screwing them?"

Because deep state, herp derp and the bavarian illuminati? The problem with conspiracy theories is that when they require leaps of logic in order to mesh yet another tier of wild assumptions emerge to patch the gaps.
It’s interesting how the human mind works. Pattern recognition always wants the more complex solution to be true and then acts on wishful thinking to interpret facts and assumptions to make out the desired pattern.

When factual reality is better observed by Occam and Hanlon swinging their razors. I think it’s just too damn dull to acknowledge that what a conspiracy theorist makes out to be a fiendish generation-spanning plot is just the incompetence, avarice, and selective blindness of individual vested interests.

"Logic is not a strong point with these people."

The problem lies less in their logic as it does in their desire to fill every gap in observable reality with pure fiction. Once you’ve invented a "deep state" consisting of Cancer Man, Agent Smith and an army of MiB’s along with a Freemason conspiracy and actual Alien infiltration any logic applied will result in…what we currently see proposed by oh so many of these clowns.

No one had any facts to bring to the table to back up the birther movement but that didn’t matter when so very many people wanted to believe the first black man to be elected to the white house was somehow there unlawfully.

And when it comes to the republicans…well, trump had it right when he said he could shoot someone and not lose a single voter. Facts be damned once they’ve made up their minds.

R/O/G/S says:

Re: Re: Conspiracy theorists will theorise

Quit with the Occams already. Simple is for the simple.

Only a total loon would deny the existence of a deep state when the evidence is everywhere.

In linguistic terms, it exists simply because it is a signifier.

But in plain terms, in our vernacular, it exists because a majority of people from across a wide L/R political spectrum acknowledge it as real. So, it is validated by that evidence.

But theres also a lot of other evidence too.

Occams Razor has gotten an update since 9/11 due to counter-terrorism profiteers, and increased contact between intelligence agencies and the general public.

Whereas once the average Jane/Joe had next to zero chance of meeting a spook, or otherwise interacting with a spy, today that is reduced to its opposite, due to community policing initiatives combined with the internet, information sharing, and actual spying on all of our communications, all of the time.

In fact, in our new improved upside down world guided by policies and procedures that are guided by law, but that law in conflict with our constitutions, anything is now possible.

So, just to give you a small glimpse of the mind of those who stalk the citizens of our nations (most of them charged with religious fervor), a common sentiment of counter-intel people who stalk and harrass the public is that they “slice the victims throats with Occams Razor.”

This literally means that CE people deliberately seek to avoid rational explanations and deliberately seek to avoid insight by the public into their tactics,and methods.

Just off the top of my head I can name over five of these spy agencies that target our citizens, and affect our politics and discourse, not least of which are the Law Enforcement Intelligence Units (LEIU) full of retired spooks and cops.

So you are, once again being disingenuous, and just plain wrong, to whit, an actual

fiendish generation-spanning plot

exists everywhere a genuinely concerned citizen could look, starting with cold case investigators files passed through generations, targeting whole families and ethnic groups, and LEIU members who hold massive troves of dossiers.

But also in examples such as the CalGang database and other hidden databases where these who warehouse people stalk entire demographic groups ACROSS GENERATIONS, we see ever new layers of the deep state onion peeled away.

While the CalGang is a travesty in itself, warehousing gangster babies as early as one year old, when you add in the other DVIC industries that compile our data and feed it to spooks, yeah-it will last for hundreds of years.

And the only conspiracy about it is that it actually exists, and few discuss it because of the horror of those shitbags then aiming their Panopticon at the speaker.

So where did Occam’s Razor go wrong?

https://scienceblogs.com/developingintelligence/2007/05/14/why-the-simplest-theory-is-alm

Lisa Pages Dildo says:

Secrecy of the state and celibacy of the people, by the people are necessary in a democracy.

Unless its FBI agents twaddling each others genitals, all frothy creamie while live streaming your sex life from the NSAs poopshoot.

In which case the FBI needs EXTRA safety and secrecy.

Get the womens NGOs to all scream something. Scream anything. Use the word RAPE alot, and say its for the children. Maybe flood the internet with child porn-using foreign agencies and NGOs.

Yeah, lets go with that.

"Honestly, his demeaning fake orgasm was really the straw that broke the camel’s back."

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...