You might not have noticed it with everything else going on right now, but the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) is in shambles. That’s the secretive court that is supposed to be protecting us from terrorists.
Fortunately, the Taliban has announced that it will lay off of administering any terrorist attacks until the you-know-what crisis is over; even ISIS has advised its terrorists to stay out of Western nations until this current unpleasantness is over.
It’s a good thing the FBI doesn’t need to obtain any warrants right now, because it has completely broken the FISA process through stupidity, sloppiness, dishonesty and criminality.
The DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has announced the findings of his latest review of FISA procedures. This audit was requested after it was discovered that the Russian collusion FISA warrants against Trump campaign advisor Carter Page turned out to be fraudulent piles of perjury. (Apologies: Piles of Perjury was the name of my high school garage band way back when, and I’ve been dying to work the phrase into an article. I’m not going stir-crazy from the quarantines!)
To conduct the audit, Horowitz’s team randomly selected 29 FISA applications from eight different FBI field offices, from a time period ranging between 2014 and 2019. Plucking a few warrants out of a hat like this is designed to give a statistical analysis of whether or not there are widespread problems with these SECRET AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL warrants that violate everyone’s rights.
Any guesses as to how many of the 29 applications had problems?
If you guessed 29 out of 29, give yourself a cigar!
The FISA applications that Horowitz’s team reviewed had an average of 20 major errors, omissions or false statements in them. The very best one they could find in their random sampling had five violations of FBI procedures for applying for a FISA warrant. The worst one had 65 problems with it.
Four of the applications that Horowitz reviewed didn’t have any supporting documents to back up the assertions in them. The documents did not exist. In other words, FBI agents knowingly invented evidence out of thin air, told the FISC court that the evidence existed, and signed off that the evidence they were presenting the court was 100% accurate under penalty of perjury. And as was the case with the Carter Page warrants, someone really high up in the FBI has to sign off on these applications – people with names like James Comey, Rod Rosenstein or Sally Yates.
Because the process is secret and the surveilled American citizens are having their Fourth Amendment rights trampled by the process, the applications are approved by the people with the big offices on the Seventh Floor at the J. Edgar Hoover Building. A FISA warrant is such an extreme measure to take against an American citizen that it’s supposed to be handled with extreme caution and can only proceed if a Big Cheese at the FBI looks over everything and puts his or her stamp of approval on it.
That’s half of the problem. The FBI knew after years of getting away with this that they could just put something in front of the court, and no one was going to double-check their work. The other half is the FISC court itself.
It’s not as if 5% of the warrants being rubberstamped by the court had problems. 100% of them over a five-year period had fictitious “evidence” in them that was put before the court as if it were true. Over the five-year period that Horowitz reviewed, no judge ever called on an FBI agent to show the court the documents that the FBI was claiming existed.
Lying in any sort of official government proceeding is supposed to be a serious crime. (Just ask Roger Stone.) Imagine if some District Court judge was discovered to have been so lazy that virtually every case ever tried had fabricated evidence used to convict people. That judge would be impeached immediately, and the prosecutors would all be fired, disbarred and possibly jailed.
But as usual, we’re now hearing crickets from the Department of Justice on this latest embarrassment caused by the FBI.