As a person who has been selected for three juries, I am puzzled at the staffing decisions by Mr. Mueller. As a juror, I do not want my time wasted by a prosecution’s case tainted with apparent bias. Bias is a pretty good reason for a juror to say no to the “beyond a reasonable doubt question”. If Mr. Mueller is pursuing the same blind justice that does give a whit about politics, Mr. Mueller’s staff must be beyond reproach. This is not rocket science.
Why did Mr. McCabe, Ms. Rhee, Mr. Ohr, Ms. Page, and Mr. Strzok not recuse themselves from this case?
Although Glenn Kessler makes a good argument that Mr. Mueller “is legally barred from discriminating career appointees based on political affiliation”, there is nothing prohibiting the aforementioned people from recusing themselves because of apparent bias. This would have been the right thing for them to do. Since Mr. Mueller replaced them without much effort we have to assume that qualified lawyers exist without the political baggage. Why not start off with them? Are there any adults at the Department of Justice? Is this the same culture of corruption problem we have seen at the Department of Justice for the last eight years?
If the Department of Justice cannot police themselves should we allow Section 702 of the Patriot Act to be renewed without substantial reform?
I am still trying to get my head around the possible impact of the dossier in getting FISA warrants. It looks like dossier weaponized the FBI for political purposes. Almost immediately after a FISA warrant was attained to wiretap the Trump Tower in October of 2016, it was disclosed to Louise Mensch. The FBI had a history of integrity but the timing of this leak was so out of character. Now their integrity looks in peril. As I argued in the post, The #Obamagate Motive, it looks the primary objective of the FISA warrant was to discredit the Trump Campaign. In hindsight, it made the FISA court judges like a bunch of fools. This is not going to end well for the FBI!
Can Anyone Make The FBI Look Professional Again?
If the dossier played any role in the FISA warrants, I am not sure all the kings men can put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Director Comey and the FBI shredded the integrity of the FBI and for what? How does anyone including the FISA judges trust the FBI again? The fact that the dossier was funded by the Democratic party shows how far the FBI reputation has fallen. The FBI should have known who funded the dossier. Investigating is something the FBI is supposed to be good at. I would think that the last thing the FBI wanted on their resume was that they acquired any FISA warrant based on Democratic Party funded opposition research. If the dossier is all the FBI had, It makes the case that President Trump did the right thing in firing Director Comey. The fact that the dossier was circulated in the government is an embarrassment to the FBI and a source of amusement for the Kremlin. I am sorry but I am not sure anyone can make the FBI look professional again.
I was watching Louise Mensch explain what she said and did not say about the FISA warrant when it struck me. Why did someone leak this information to her? What was the plan? My first thought was that if she had published her article a little earlier it could have rescued the floundering Clinton campaign. Oops!
The Primary Objective Of The FISA Warrant Was To Discredit The Trump Campaign
Over the last couple of days, I heard Mr. Comey and Mr. Clapper deny that the government spied on the Trump campaign. If we take them at their word then why did they allow the FISA warrant to go forward for “possible financial and banking offenses”? Mr. McCarthy found it extremely odd that they would use a FISA warrant for criminal activities. The simplest most straight forward answer is that the FISA warrant request was never expected to collect any useful information. The plan was to leak the FISA warrant request. If it was leaked in the last week of the campaign, it just might be enough to turn the tide for the Clinton campaign. It was a political hail mary pass for the floundering Clinton presidential campaign. Best of all President Obama, Mr. Comey, and Mr. Clapper had plausible deniability. It would have been the perfect plan if Louise had published a little bit earlier.
On Sunday morning Mr. Levin laid out his argument on Fox and Friends that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign. The administration maintains that it was looking for inappropriate contacts by the Trump campaign with Russian officials. This domestic spying operation started in January of 2016 and continued through the end of the Obama administration. At least six agencies were involved and there were two applications for FISA warrants. Considering that there are no indictments you have to wonder you have to wonder whether the FISA court was deliberately misled. Twitter is following this story under the hashtag, #ObamaGate, due to a similar abuse of power in Watergate. Mr. McCarthy in the article, FISA and The Trump Team, expressed this concern when he said:
The idea that FISA could be used against political enemies always seemed far-fetched. Now it might not be.
At this time we have to assume the FISA warrant was used by the Administration for political purposes.
My wife was adamant that I listen to this interview between Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business and former Qwest CEO, Joe Nacchio. She thought it was the most explosive story about the NSA this year. She is right and I think the NSA should be worried. Mr. Nacchio looks like he is getting his ducks in a row to publish a book that will question the practices of the NSA for over a decade. This has to be a very inconvenient time for a book about alleged illegal NSA practices. In the interview I think that he made three good arguments.
The NSA started illegal surveillance of American citizens prior to 2001.
The NSA engaged in a war against Qwest that was not wise and definitely sounds like it was not in the best interest of the American people or the intelligence gathering effort.
As a result of this war between Qwest and the NSA, he did not get a fair trial and was unduly punished for a crime he did not commit.
At the same time, the Senate Intelligence Committee reportedly reached a compromise with the White House on a different proposal that would give telephone carriers legal immunity for any role they played in the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program approved by President Bush after the Sep 11 terrorist attacks.
I am guessing but this looks like the telephone companies thought their activities prior to 2007 were probably illegal and they wanted a get out of jail free card from the government. They were probably afraid of getting the Nacchio treatment. This looks like a lousy way to run an intelligence operation. I doubt the NSA had the hearts and souls of the telephone companies on their side when the telephone companies’ most important issue appears to be retroactive immunity. It implies a degree of incompetence or corruption in the NSA. So now we get to the big question, how do we reform the NSA? If a good NSA exists and how do we get there? Edward Snowden has his ideas on how to accomplish this. I have a different idea. As a former Qwest stock holder I have to wonder whether my losses were because of bad luck or illegal activities by the NSA. Here is a strange thought. If Mr. Nacchio is successful in his argument that he failed to get a fair trial because of retribution by the NSA then how long do you think it will take before some aspiring lawyer files a class action suit against the NSA for Qwest stock market losses caused by the NSA vendetta. I suspect the NSA will be more willing to look at reform as we get closer to the Presidential election and it looks like the public flogging will go on forever. Of course, that would require that the NSA turn over a new leaf and negotiate in good faith. Good luck with that!
It is my understanding that the primary purpose of this bill is to “allow the intelligence services to conduct surveillance of communications between persons located outside of the United States when the communications happen to pass through domestic networks”. With this bill the NSA can go up the road to AT&T and run a wiretap program to monitor the phone call between Osama in Pakistan and a suicide bomber in London. Without this bill the NSA or CIA has to get the cooperation of Pakistan or England to install the wiretap program in their countries. Several years ago a federal judge ruled that his court had jurisdiction over this area even though it involves communications that would not normally be under his jurisdiction because the router is located in the United States. This bill was designed to satisfy the requirements of the court and address the challenges posed by technological advancements. The legal jurisdiction of wiretaps was so much simpler to explain twenty years ago. The bill does not authorize monitoring internal communications within the United States. Monitoring internal communications within the United States falls under the jurisdiction of federal wiretap laws and the FBI.
The Senate is on the verge of passing legislation to extend the important intelligence surveillance authorities of the Protect America Act, passed six months ago. Those authorities, set to expire on February 1, allow the intelligence services to conduct surveillance of communications between persons located outside of the United States when the communications happen to pass through domestic networks.
I must admit that most of my information on this subject came from big media and their version of the issue portrayed a much different problem. This does not sound like the spying on the American people portrayed in the press.