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: 4th amendment, fbi, fisa, fisa court, fisa warrants, fisc, inspector general, oversight, surveillance


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Zof (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 12:22pm

    Amazing

    It's like all the people that said it was fake were right this whole time. Nuts. Now all those people convicted will walk free, or get their records expunged. Oh, and it looks like Carter Page is going to sue the heck out of the FBI, and win.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2019 @ 12:25pm

      Re: Amazing

      Are you sure?

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        icon
        Zof (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 12:32pm

        Re: Re: Amazing

        They fabricated evidence. Yeah, he's going to sue and he's going to win. They ruined his life. Manafort is still screwed, but Flynn will walk now, and Papadop will get his record wiped, and he'll likely also sue and win now.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2019 @ 12:44pm

          Re: Re: Re: Amazing

          In your prior post you claimed that "Now all those people convicted will walk free", then in your second post you say "Manafort is still screwed" - so which is it?

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 12:46pm

          And if that happens, I’m sure you’ll avoid taking every opportunity you can find to shove the fact that it happened down everyone’s throats~.

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

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            icon
            Zof (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 12:48pm

            Re:

            I just did it this time. Me knowing is enough for me. The real mind bender now is waking up and realizing it was all just a con from the DNC and FBI, with help from the news media. It's realizing you live in that world, where both sides are badguys.

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

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 12:51pm

              it was all just a con from the DNC and FBI

              [citation needed for the claim that the DNC was an explicit, knowing partner to the FBI’s fuck-ups in this situation]

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

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                icon
                Zof (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 12:52pm

                Re:

                They literally lied about paying for the fake dossier they had the FBI pretend was real, and the FBI literally lied about the DNC paying for it, despite knowing they did. They knew they'd never get their FISA applications approved without lying about the disposition of the fake DNC dossier. Come on.

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

                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 12:54pm

                  I’m still not seeing a direct connection that says the DNC knowingly and explicitly aided the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign. Do you have any other evidence? If not, your complaint will be dismissed.

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

                  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                    icon
                    Zof (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 1:00pm

                    Re:

                    Again, I know what's going on because I read up. The Ohr connection is pretty damning. The DNC literally paying for the fake dossier should be enough, and is for anyone unbiased.

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

                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 1:12pm

                      The DNC literally paying for the fake dossier should be enough

                      Can you provide proof that the DNC paid for the Steele dossier (it’s not “fake” if it actually exists, dumbass) on direct orders from, or on behalf of, the FBI?

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

                      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                        icon
                        Zof (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 1:18pm

                        Re:

                        The Mueller Report contains the proof that the DNC lawyer paid for the fake DNC dossier. I'd assume that's good enough.

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

                        • icon
                          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 1:19pm

                          the DNC lawyer paid for the [Steele] dossier

                          But did they do it on direct orders from, or on behalf of, the FBI?

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

                          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                            icon
                            Zof (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 1:21pm

                            Re:

                            Did they reaarange deck chairs on the titanic and attempt a straw man argument? I'm not sure. That wasn't in Mueller's report.

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

                            • icon
                              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 1:23pm

                              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.

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

                              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                                icon
                                Zof (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 1:27pm

                                Re:

                                The FBI literally lied about where the dossier came from, despite knowing. They were acting on orders from the Obama DOJ. I don't know what point you are trying to make, but it doesn't matter anymore.

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

                                • icon
                                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 1:40pm

                                  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.

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

                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2019 @ 1:23pm

                          Re: Re:

                          (Repeating "DNC!" everywhere doesn't actually do anything)

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2019 @ 12:30pm

                    Re:

                    The proof is that the FBI publicly messed with the Democrats during the election, while secretly investigating some Republican operatives, which no one knew about until later. QED. Isn't it obvious?

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2019 @ 1:05pm

                  Re: Re:

                  It’s not that you’re a liar that makes you a piece of shit bro. It’s that you’re so bad at it. And that you expect us to believe the sub infowars propaganda that you peddle.

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

                  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                    icon
                    Zof (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 1:17pm

                    Re: Re: Re:

                    And it's not that you are an anonymous coward, it's that I'm quoting information from the story so you just look really dumb.

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

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2019 @ 2:44pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Sounding super defensive and repeating the same stupid lies over and over again really is not helping your cause here bro.

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

                    • identicon
                      Lisa Pages Dildo, 15 Dec 2019 @ 8:47pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Zof, I think you are ramming it in too hard. Not that you are necessarily wrong in your overall thesis.

                      Maybe use more bacon grease.

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

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 12:47pm

    “We didn’t do bad things because we hated Trump. We did bad things because that’s what we’ve always done.” — The FBI, probably

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      icon
      Zof (profile), 12 Dec 2019 @ 12:57pm

      Re:

      This makes sense to me. It's like the old telecom tradition of lying to customers about outages so they don't have to pay fees associated with breaking their SLA. Telecoms got so used to lying to people, they'd do it when they didn't even have to lie. It just became standard practice.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 13 Dec 2019 @ 6:58am

      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.

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

  • identicon
    bob, 12 Dec 2019 @ 4:49pm

    14/14 comments not blocked

    Congrats zof as of this post you don't have any of your 14 comments hidden. Is this a record?

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

  • identicon
    Jim, 13 Dec 2019 @ 4:32am

    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.

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

  • icon
    Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 13 Dec 2019 @ 4:36am

    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.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 13 Dec 2019 @ 7:11am

      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.

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

      • identicon
        Nicolaus Copernicus, 13 Dec 2019 @ 10:51am

        Re: Re: Conspiracy theorists will theorise

        "pattern recognition always wants the more complex solution to be true"

        Is that so .....

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

      • identicon
        R/O/G/S, 15 Dec 2019 @ 10:33pm

        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

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

  • identicon
    Lisa Pages Dildo, 15 Dec 2019 @ 8:30pm

    Peter Strokers viagra

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

  • identicon
    Lisa Pages Dildo, 15 Dec 2019 @ 9:07pm

    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."

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


Add Your Comment

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



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

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



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.