DOJ Readying Warrants In Carter Page Investigation For Public Release

from the giving-the-Republicans-what-they-may-not-want dept

For the first time since the FISA court opened for national security business, the DOJ is considering declassifying FISA warrant applications. The documents are linked to the FBI's surveillance of former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Both sides of the political aisle have asked for these documents, which is something you'd think they'd have wanted to see before issuing their takes on perceived surveillance improprieties.

Devin Nunes -- following the release of his memo -- sent a letter to the FISA court asking it to clear the warrants for public release. The court's reply, penned by Judge Rosemary Collyer, pointed out two things. First, the FISA court had never released these documents publicly, nor was it in the best position to do so. It is only tasked with determining whether or not surveillance is warranted and to what restrictions it must adhere. It does not have the innate power to declassify documents, nor can it arbitrarily decide what documents have gathered enough public interest to outweigh the government's perpetual demands for secrecy.

The court did point out this release could be achieved much faster if Nunes directed his question to the DOJ, which does have the power to declassify its own investigation documents. It doesn't appear Devin Nunes has approached the DOJ but litigants in an FOIA lawsuit have, and they're looking at possibly obtaining the documents Devin Nunes requested from the FISA court.

The government is considering an unprecedented disclosure of parts of a controversial secret surveillance order that justified the monitoring of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Responding to a legal challenge brought by USA TODAY and the James Madison Project, Justice Department lawyers Friday cast the ongoing review as “novel, complex and time-consuming.”

“The government has never, in any litigation civil or criminal, processed FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) applications for release to the public,” Justice lawyers wrote in a five-page filing.

The filing [PDF] notes that the President's unilateral decision (over the DOJ's objection) of releasing the Nunes memo has forced it to reverse some of its Glomar declarations in ongoing FOIA lawsuits, since it's impossible to maintain a stance of non-confirmation and non-denial when the White House is handing out confirmation left and right.

The DOJ has asked for four months to review the documents before returning to the court with its final answer on public release. There will probably be further delays from this point, as the DOJ will need the FISA court to officially unseal documents before it can turn these over to the litigants. It notes the plaintiffs are not happy with this timetable, but points to the presumed complexity of a task it has never undertaken previously as the reason it needs 120 days before the litigation can move forward.

This administration continues to break new grounds in inadvertent transparency. However, the release of these documents may further undermine the Nunes Memo narrative, so legislators and White House officials hellbent on using the FISA court to score political points should be careful what they wish for.


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 10:56am

    JUST A STEAMING PILE OF INNUENDO.

    Falsely written from headline through as if imminent news, ends with no more than ill-intentioned WISH.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 11:17am

    ' Falsely written from headline through as if imminent news, ends with no more than ill-intentioned WISH.'

    Is this even a sentence?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 11:26am

    "This administration continues to break new grounds in inadvertent transparency."

    It certainly looks like The Most Transparent Administration in History™ has been upstaged.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 11:30am

    why is this just the first time?

    What's sad is that this is the first time one of these documents is being released. That should be pretty telling that the FISA court and process is not overseen well enough to ensure the government isn't abusing it's power.

    I believe there is the need to keep things secret for a limited time. But how long has this court been operating now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 11:52am

      Re: why is this just the first time?

      Agree, though this is just one more example of 'The abuse is fine until we think it targets us'.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 11:59am

    Transparency is a good thing, right?

    Also, 'However, the release of these documents may further undermine the Nunes Memo narrative' does sound like a wish. God forbid it doesn't but let's hope it does.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2018 @ 3:58am

      Re:

      It will be 100 % about narrative.

      Whatever the side of right/wrong you are on, Nunes/other trumpists will claim the technicalities are insufficient for a warrent, while democrats will hold the "law and order"-side (oh, the murk on all faces after Trumps "war on drugs"! Trump will call democrats out for hypocricy, while the republicans will be exactly as hypocritical in the end! Narrative, people. You don't have to have even a point in what you say. As long as you can muddy the water enough to make people doubt the facts, it is enough for the partisan media to spin it! The objective media? They will get labeled according to loyalty!).

      No matter what the release says it is a judgement-call and it can be questioned. There is a reason the persons making these calls are called judges!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 20 Mar 2018 @ 1:30pm

    For a government

    Hmm
    For a gov. thats supposed to be OPEN and outstanding in the Best ways, this goes against everything this nation is supposed to stand for..

    For all the balances and protections WE ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE, why is it that so much ISNT being done, as of late?

    For some odd reasoning, the Declaration of war, makes things SECURITY RIDDEN, and we cant even tell WHO flushed the toilet last, or even used the toilet last(and left it a mess)...(the cat did it).

    When the internet of things started, the Gov. posted as much as they could. But Tons of stuff has been removed, hidden, repressed.. Such as the Water Quality reports, that EVERY city is supposed to do yearly..and Many have NOT.. aND WHAT THOSE TESTS SHOW about your water, and what HAS been tested, and NOT tested..

    Would it not, be a good idea to know Whee super fund sites are and the LAST test evaluations??

    Or that the Gov. has cut so many jobs that 2/3 of the agencies CANT DO THE JOB..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ryuugami, 20 Mar 2018 @ 3:15pm

    Mined out already

    the release of these documents may further undermine the Nunes Memo narrative

    I'm left to wonder: how can you further undermine what's at this point essentially a floating sky island?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 20 Mar 2018 @ 4:49pm

    Sunlight is Always the Best Disinfectant

    DOJ Readying Warrants In Carter Page Investigation For Public Release

    Full disclosure is in the public's best interest as it could very well expose the Trump/Russia collusion narrative for what it appears to be - political character assassination.

    Almost two years into the "investigation" has turned up a big fat intelligence community nothing titled - Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections - which has the following disclaimer attached:

    Annex B

    Estimative Language

    Estimative language consists of two elements: judgements about the likelihood of developments or events occurring and levels of condfidence in the sources and analytic reasoning supporting the judgements. Judgements are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be fact. Assessments are based upon collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic argumentation, and precedents.

    https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2018 @ 9:58am

      Re: Sunlight is Always the Best Disinfectant

      It very well could prove Trump had nothing to do with Russia, that some in his campaign had arrangements with Russia, or that Trump was fully in bed with Russia.

      The problem at this point is there is so much misinformation that even releasing the documents in full won't fully convince everyone of the veracity of claims for or against Trump.

      However with all the smoke and mini fires (hotel meetings, Trump's words on twitter, the easily debunked claims by his administration, etc.) that keep appearing I would lean towards the reports not helping trump's case.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2018 @ 8:51pm

    Interesting

    Its interesting to hear Techdirt's compelling faith in a secret US court.

    I'm out, when Techdirt can't help but spout lefty talking points, and runs counter to their values because Trump. Its not worth keeping on the RSS feed.

    Nice job at bringing the partisan shit, Tim!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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