FISA Court Bans FBI Agent Who Lied To The Court About Carter Page

from the are-you-accepting-applications-for-FISA-court-moderators? dept

The FBI's inability to rein in its agents is causing it more pain. The Inspector General's report released late last year showed agents performed some very selective editing of probable cause to unlawfully prolong the FBI's surveillance of former Trump adviser, Carter Page.

Omitting evidence agents had on hand that Page was not acting on behalf of a foreign power, agents repeatedly extended FISA wiretaps, allowing FBI spooks to continue unjustified domestic surveillance. If you like your Deep State Conspiracy, you can keep it.

But the most probable motivating factor isn't FBI agents' personal dislike of Donald Trump. It's more likely their all-encompassing love of surveillance. The FBI (along with the NSA) has abused the FISA court for years, allowing both agencies to perform domestic snooping under the guise of securing the nation from foreign threats. An agency that's willing to pursue "lying to a federal agent" charges when it's unable to find anything else to go after targets with is one that's willing to engage in surveillance long after it knows continued snooping will fail to uncover evidence of criminal activity.

The FBI has already been told to revamp its warrant request procedures to ensure this abuse doesn't happen again. More significantly, the Inspector General has recommended one FBI official for prosecution after emails were altered to hide wrongdoing from the IG and (presumably) the FISA court. The FISA court went so far as to question nearly everything the FBI has brought to it, given the evidentiary cherry-picking uncovered by the IG's investigation.

In what is possibly a first in FISA court history, the court has banned certain FBI agents from submitting warrant applications to the court. Charlie Savage reports on the latest federal embarrassment.

A secretive federal court on Wednesday effectively barred F.B.I. officials involved in the wiretapping of a former Trump campaign adviser from appearing before it in other cases at least temporarily, the latest fallout from an internal inquiry into the bureau’s surveillance of the aide.

Judge James Boasberg's order [PDF] accepts the FBI's suggested FISA surveillance remedies, but goes further by offering one of the judge's own: the booting of agents shown to have lied to the court to continue surveillance of Carter Page. He also accepted a recommendation from an appointed adversarial party -- FISA expert David S. Kris -- who suggested the FBI agents who submit affidavits sign those affidavits themselves (rather than field supervisors who may have no idea about the particulars of the request). This makes those agents directly responsible for the factual content (or lack thereof) of the assertions made to request (or extend) wiretaps.

Boasberg's ban goes further than the agents implicated in the latest FBI/FISA bullshittery. Anyone else who fucks up will find themselves on Boasberg's ban list as well.

Judge Boasberg’s new order also directed that no Justice Department or F.B.I. officials “under disciplinary or criminal review relating to their work on FISA applications shall participate in drafting, verifying, reviewing or submitting such applications to the court.”

This won't completely fix the FBI's reluctance to engage honestly with courts. But it will at least head off future abuse of the FISA court for the time being. The only other thing limiting the FBI's malfeasance is Congress itself. Another renewal of surveillance powers is playing out against this backdrop, giving finger-to-the-administration's-wind politicians reasons to bypass a clean reauthorization of (abused) powers. Politically popular reforms may be on the way. While we'd rather see bipartisan recognition that we handed federal agencies way too much power after the 9/11 attacks nearly 20 years ago, we'll also take what we can get -- especially when these restrictions will roll over into the next administration.

Filed Under: 4th amendment, carter page, fbi, fisa court, fisa warrants, rubber stamp, surveillance


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 10:49am

    An agency that's willing to pursue "lying to a federal agent" charges when it's unable to find anything else ... it knows continued snooping will fail to uncover evidence of criminal activity.

    These two fit perfectly together, though. The FBI may know that there are no pre-existing crimes to uncover, but with enough surveillance, they will eventually find something about which to ask the defendant in a way that will lead the defendant to "lie to a federal agent" (possibly unintentionally, though that doesn't matter in court), thereby creating a crime and finding it at the moment it is created.

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

  • icon
    Oninoshiko (profile), 5 Mar 2020 @ 11:17am

    I have a better idea:

    Jail time.

    I'll also accept disbanding the FISA court.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 5 Mar 2020 @ 11:25am

    Beyond losing access to the FISA court, agents that lied should be fired at a minimum. Time to send a real message.

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

  • icon
    TheLizard (profile), 5 Mar 2020 @ 11:30am

    posturing

    This is just posturing by the FISA court.

    The law is up for re-authorization. Let it lapse, close the FISA court completely.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 5 Mar 2020 @ 12:22pm

      Re: posturing

      Sadly you are almost certainly right. Make a little fuss to present the appearance that there are actual checks and balances in place so that politicians pushing for re-authorization of spying on the public have something to point to, then should that sail through the FISA court's leash will be given a nice yank and they'll be right back to rubber-stamping anything put in front of them like the good little pet judges they are.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 12:27pm

    "the most probable motivating factor isn't FBI agents' personal dislike of Donald Trump"

    What do you think the word "probable" means? I think the word doesn't mean what you think it means.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 5 Mar 2020 @ 12:33pm

    Oh how pathetic the standards have become...

    The fact that 'You lied to us in your requests, therefore we won't be accepting any requests from you in the future' and 'We also won't be accepting requests from agents under investigation for wrongdoing' actually had to be made a rule just shows how utterly pathetic the rules are when it comes to those with badges.

    If you're a known liar or under investigation of wrongdoing the default should be that you cannot be trusted, that should not need to be tacked on after the fact.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Mar 2020 @ 12:54pm

      Re: Oh how pathetic the standards have become...

      Indeed... when it comes to law enforcement, the standard should NOT be "innocent until proven guilty." They should be held to a higher standard to uphold their duties. If they don't, they're still not criminals, but also not active officers of the law.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 5 Mar 2020 @ 2:07pm

        Re: Re: Oh how pathetic the standards have become...

        Indeed... when it comes to law enforcement, the standard should NOT be "innocent until proven guilty.

        Oh it still should be, if for no other reason than once you start carving exceptions to that more exceptions will crop up, however the standard for acceptable behavior for people in positions of power need to be much higher right along with the penalties for abuse of that power, and judges need to stop being corrupt and/or spineless cowards and actually apply those standards and penalties.

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

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 6 Mar 2020 @ 3:04am

        Re: Re: Oh how pathetic the standards have become...

        "Indeed... when it comes to law enforcement, the standard should NOT be "innocent until proven guilty." "

        It's the right conclusion but the argument has to be the other way around. Law enforcement refers to agents tasked to uphold the law by use of the violence monopoly of government.

        Because the standard for law enforcement is "innocent until proven guilty" the law enforcement officers must prove that they have due cause to investigate every time they act.

        People keep forgetting that where the police and FBI are concerned the fact is that when they intrude upon a citizen's rights they are always, by self-evident observation, proven guilty of that intrusion and are exculpated only if the intrusion can be proven justified.

        This is also why Barr's repeated whining is so toxic, because he tries to portray that police intrusion is by default justified rather than the other way around. Which simply isn't true.

        TL;DR?

        "innocent until proven guilty" is the wrong wording. Whenever a law enforcement officer trespasses on someone else's rights the "guilt" of the trespass has already been evidently proven. The only question remaining on the table is "was the trespass justified"?
        And THAT is why a LEO needs to demonstrate a valid reason every time they infringe upon the rights of any other individual.

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

  • icon
    Koby (profile), 5 Mar 2020 @ 12:48pm

    Finally An Agency

    Years ago, I dreamt up a scheme whereby lawyers could sue each other in court for lying in court, even if they have no related case. Of course, this kind of system would be unworkable, but I still thought of it as a great way to flip the scumball lawyers against themselves to destroy a corrupt system.

    So normally, I dislike goverment bureaucrats and agencies. But this Inspector General thing is a concept that I can get behind! How can we budget for more of them?

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

  • icon
    Darkness Of Course (profile), 5 Mar 2020 @ 3:17pm

    Since they are known liars

    Make the signature line include their badge number (id).

    I'm thinking that might reduce the number of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse signatures.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2020 @ 1:39pm

    DSCTs

    "If you like your Deep State Conspiracy Theory, you can keep it."

    Who likes Deep State Conspiracy Theory? I am so pissed that its not just a theory, that's the real problem. We can't get an honest to God comment about ANYTHING from our government. They are making all the theories too fantastic not to be conspiracies..

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

  • icon
    WulfTheSaxon (profile), 8 Mar 2020 @ 4:34pm

    David Kris

    It should be pointed put that the appointment of David Kris as amicus curiae has been criticized. Before the IG report came put, Kris made multiple cable TV appearances claiming that the FISA abuse allegations were “false” and “dishonest” and that investigating them was “dangerous”.

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

  • identicon
    Lisa Pages Dildo, 11 Mar 2020 @ 7:38am

    FBI = bankster political police

    This seems like it came out of nowhere:

    If you like your Deep State Conspiracy, you can keep it

    Are you conceding that there was in fact a conspiracy within the FBI against Trump then? Because rational people all did that years ago, when he first claimed he was being "wiretapped by the FBI".

    No conspiracy here folks, moooOOOOve along now.

    Yet FBI watchers are well aware of the political nature of those fuckers, as we saw in the case of one of the the Mafia's butt boys, SA Lin Devechio, skating off some murder charges :

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-fbis-lin-devecchio-and-the-grim-reaper/

    And how the hell does a star chamber like FISA exist in a democracy anyways?

    Oh, yeah, that's right, now I remember: Admiral George McKinnon (father of uber-privileged pseudo feminist Catherine McKinnon) and his "deep state" pals had some Nazi's and other secrets to protect.

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


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