Five Boneheaded Things I Hope The FBI Will Stop Doing #ReleaseTheMemo #NotGiveAWhitAboutPolitics #IfIOnlyKnew

Goddess Of Justice

I hope that releasing the memo will help the FBI and Department of Justice become the organizations that as Trey Gowdy said, “do not give a whit about politics“. To achieve that goal they have to stop doing boneheaded things. Borrowing from a Forbes article, 5 Boneheaded Ways Smart People Fail, here are some examples that might help them achieve that goal.

1. Several People In The FBI Thought They Were The Smartest Person In The Room.

Mr. Comey, Mr. McCabe, Mr. Stzrok, Mr. Ohr, and Ms. Page are all smart people but seem to be too self-absorbed to recognize how bad their actions look. As an example, Mr. Comey probably thinks he did the country a great favor by leaking information and forcing a special prosecutor to take over the investigation. While some people may approve of his actions, others will view his actions as those of a political hack using the FBI to crudely attack the President.  When you look at the actions of these four people, it is impossible to rationalize this investigation as one that does not give a whit about politics. As Travis Bradberry said in the Forbes article,

Your chance of failure is heightened when you don’t care to know what other people think.

2. The FBI Management Surrounded Themselves With Yes-men and Yes-women.

It is hard for me to imagine how Fusion GPS and the Trump dossier could have been so influential within the Department of Justice without Yes-men and Yes-women.

3. Several People In The FBI Viewed Themselves As Untouchable.

Mr. Comey and Mr. McCabe come across as people who thought they were untouchable. Mr. Comey must have thought he was pretty special after keeping his job despite antagonizing both political parties with his extra-legal actions. Then he was shocked when President Trump fired him. I am still amazed that Mr. McCabe did not recuse himself from the Clinton investigation. A lot of Clinton money went to his wife’s political campaign. As Travis said,

These unrealistic expectations made failure inevitable. Leaders must continually question their positions, especially when they’re on top.

4. Several People In The FBI couldn’t tell where they stopped and the FBI began.

The best example of this Mr. Strzok comments about an “insurance plan”. Just do your job!

5. Several People In The FBI drove past red flags and warning signs.

I think the Top Secret FISA Court Order document obtained by Judicial Watch on May 23, 2017, shows that the FISA Court was livid at the FBI. By April 18, 2016, the FBI they knew that their FISA-702 “Queries” irregularities had triggered a full Compliance Audit by the NSA. That should have been a warning sign not to mess with the FISA court. The idea that people were pushing the Trump dossier within the Department of Justice should have been a red flag. Did the FBI use it to get a FISA warrant despite its origin? As Travis said,

Some leaders are so enamored with their personal visions that they’re willing to drive the company off of a cliff in pursuit of them. Many of these leaders solicit input and suggestions, but they just can’t take their feet off the gas. Persistence is a great quality in a leader but not if it means ignoring the facts.

Was The DNC Hack Set Up By Crowdstrike?

I'm a security monitor

As an old IT guy, I keep wondering what Crowdstrike was doing during the DNC Hack? It looks like a Lifelock commercial. Here is the Crowdstrike timeline.

Crowdstrike Timeline

  1. In 2015 Crowdstrike knows that DNC information was transmitted to Russia.
  2. On April 29th, 2016, the DNC suspects they have been hacked.
  3. On May 4th, 2016, Crowdstrike installs “monitoring software”.
  4. On June 10th, 2016, Crowdstrike changes passwords at the DNC.

If Crowdstrike knew the DNC was hacked in 2015 and information was transmitted back to Russia, why did they install a security monitor in May 2016? Why did they wait until June to actually fix the problem? It looks like Crowdstrike set up the DNC network as a “bad” honeypot. Traditionally a honeypot consists of a network site that appears to be legitimate but is actually isolated, monitored, and contains non-vital data.  Crowdstrike used the real DNC network as the lure. If Fusion GPS and Crowdstrike are the private contractors who had unsupervised access to raw FISA information on FBI systems, they had to know what the Russians were doing. Were their actions negligent, stupid, or an attempt to divert the attention from the damaging Podesta emails that the Russians were boasting about? Since the Podesta emails were far more damaging to the Clinton campaign, it looks like Crowdstrike felt it was more important to attribute the hack on the Russians than to protect the DNC data.

DNC Hack Timeline

Date Incident
6/1/2015 CrowdStrike had stated in its reports that the DNC server was penetrated sometime in the summer of 2015
11/1/2015 The FBI alerted the DNC information was being transmitted back to Russia
12/15/2015 NGP VAN released a code update to their Votebuilder application that allowed Sanders team looks at Clinton data
3/1/2016 Super Tuesday
3/9/2016 DOJ finds private contractor has access to raw FISA information on FBI systems
3/19/2016 Podesta email hacked, emails released by Wikileaks in October 2016
4/18/2016 FBI discontinued allowing their sub-contracted agent access to the raw FISA information effective April 18th, 2016
4/19/2016 Large Increase in DNC emails appearing in Wikileaks
4/24/2016 Sanders: Democratic Party hasn’t been fair to me(id:5477)
4/26/2016 Clinton and Trump Have Commanding Delegate Leads
4/29/2016 DNC Suspects Hack
4/30/2016 Mr. Papadopoulos says that he had just learned from high-level Russian officials in Moscow that the Russians had “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,”
5/4/2016 Crowdstrike Installs Monitoring Software(Falcon)
5/5/2016 Marshall No Shit email(id:7643)
5/17/2016 Wasserman Schultz Damn Liar email(id:7643)
5/21/2016 Re: Sanders: If I’m elected, DNC leader would be out(id:9999)
5/21/2016 Last email on Seth Rich’s laptop
5/22/2016 Bernie Narrative(id:11056)
5/25/2016 Last DNC Hack email in Wikileaks
6/10/2016 Crowdstrike changes passwords at DNC
6/12/2016 Julian Assange announces on June 12, 2016, that he had DNC documents
6/14/2016 DNC HACK MADE PUBLIC(Washington Post)
6/15/2016 Crowdstrike Report
6/15/2016 GUCCIFER 2.0 DNC’S SERVERS HACKED BY A LONE HACKER
6/18/2016 NEW DOCS FROM DNC NETWORK: LOTS OF FINANCIAL REPORTS AND DONORS’ PERSONAL DATA
6/21/2016 DOSSIER ON HILLARY CLINTON FROM DNC
7/5/2016 Second Guccifer 2.0 Hack
7/5/2016 First Copy of NGP VAN file
7/6/2016 TRUMPOCALYPSE AND OTHER DNC PLANS FOR JULY
7/10/2016 Seth Rich Death
10/7/2016 Wikileaks posts Podesta emails
10/26/2016 Admiral Rogers informs the FISA Court of numerous unauthorized FISA-702(17) “About Query” violations.”)

Shades Of J. Edgar Hoover – #ReleaseTheMemo #Obamagate

Hoover-JEdgar-LOCThe #FISA Collusion scandal reminds me of the tactics of J. Edgar Hoover. Wikipedia describes him this way.

He was found to have exceeded the jurisdiction of the FBI,[1] and to have used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders,[2] and to collect evidence using illegal methods.[3] Hoover consequently amassed a great deal of power and was in a position to intimidate and threaten sitting presidents.[4]

Wow, doesn’t that sound familiar! Sara Carter says a classified report alleges extensive ‘FISA Abuse’ related to the controversial dossier. We already know from the Top Secret FISA Court Order that someone in the FBI allowed a private contractor run unsupervised “FISA-702 Queries”.  These are tactics J. Edgar Hoover would approve of. Maybe we can save FISA by firing some people. A good first step is to #ReleaseTheMemo.

Why Would Someone In The FBI Allow A Private Contractor Run Unsupervised FISA-702 Queries?

Goddess Of JusticeSomeone in the FBI delegated the investigation of a “National Security” issue to a private contractor running unsupervised “FISA-702 Queries”. What does that say about the FBI management? It is obvious from the Top Secret FISA Court Order document obtained by Judicial Watch on May 23, 2017, that the FISA Court was livid at the FBI, Department of Justice, and the NSA.  They broke the rules and the judges were pissed. This is a really, big deal both legally and politically. This is the type of flagrant abuse Senator Rand Paul could use to force a debate on the Patriot Act.  All of the good intelligence operations working under the auspices of the Patriot Act are threatened. So why did the FBI take the risk?

If FISA-702 “Queries” do not need approvals from FISC so long as inquiries center around “National Security”, why was it being handled by a private contractor and not FBI personnel?

Lawrence Person at the BattleSwarm blog makes the argument Fusion-GPS was the private contractor. It kind of makes sense, if the contractor was charged with investigating Russian interference in the United States political process. Since they wrote the infamous Trump dossier we can safely conclude that they are familiar with the shadier side of politics. I suspect the FBI chose a private contractor so that they could compartmentalize the information and avoid allegations the FBI was being used to spy on political opponents. I have two problems with this strategy.

  1. Political interference is an important issue but it is not a “National Security” issue. If political interference was not a “National Security” issue then the unsupervised FISA-702 “Queries” were illegal. I think that was the main point the Top Secret FISA Court Order was trying to make.
  2. Allowing a private contractor with a background like Fusion-GPS run unsupervised FISA-702 queries is a really bad choice. It looks like a fox in charge of the hen house scenario. When I read the Top Secret FISA Court Order complain that “they had access to raw FISA information that went well beyond what was necessary”, I have to assume that the contractor did something illegal or unethical. It is hard to tell whether the Court is madder at the FBI or the private contractor.

Why did the FBI take the risk?

The FISA court believes that these FISA-702 “Queries” should have been supervised and probably submitted to the FISA court. The FBI probably saw the protection of the Democratic party from Russian meddling as their patriotic duty and considered the legality of their actions a minor issue. More importantly, I think the FBI took the risk because they did not think they would get caught. Even if they were caught, they believed because of their good intentions that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring a case”. The last thing they thought was that this investigation would blow up in their faces. By April 18, 2016, the FBI they knew that their FISA-702 “Queries” irregularities had triggered a full Compliance Audit by the NSA. This would lead NSA to admit a non-compliance issue to the FISA court on October 26, 2016.  The Top Secret FISA Court Order leaves no doubt that the non-compliance issue was threatening the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. The “good intentions” of the FBI had transformed a minor “National Security” issue into a major one. The only question left is with everyone’s career at the FBI on the line, would the FBI attempt a cover-up?

Coincidentally I am reading a book called “The Tyranny of Good Intentions” and it reminds us that prosecutors and bureaucrats have been trampling the Constitution in the name of justice for a very long time. In that book, they quote Joel Prentiss Bishop, an American lawyer and legal treatise writer who said, “In times of excitement when vengeance takes the place of justice, every guard against the innocent is cast down.” Mr. Comey, Mr. Strzok, and the others seem to embody this particular interpretation of the law in which “vengeance” justifies their extra-legal actions. Once they crossed the line into extra-legal actions, there was no turning back. The Trump dossier can be seen as a natural byproduct of the original crime. In for a penny, in for a pound.

The Politicization Of The FBI Has Consequences, My Position On The Patriot Act Has Evolved

Goddess of JusticeAs 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?

In the past, I was willing to believe the Department of Justice would do the right thing and not abuse the special privileges granted in the Patriot Act. My position on the Patriot Act has evolved. Last year I wondered whether the Fusion GPS Dossier Weaponize The FBI? I now believe that the primary motive for FISA warrant in October of 2016 was to discredit the Trump Campaign. The FISA warrant was not about catching spies or terrorists.  It was about using the power of the government to punish a political opponent. If the folks at the Department of Justice cannot play nicely with these powers, we need some adults in the room to keep the kids out of trouble. Now is a good time to listen to Amash, Paul, and Others Trying to Stop Congress from Expanding Domestic Surveillance Powers.

Did The Fusion GPS Dossier Weaponize The FBI?

370px-Denslow's_Humpty_Dumpty_1904 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.

Fact Checking The Hoopla Over The Violence of Lies Ad

Once again I find myself fact checking an ad. What I found most interesting was the hoopla surrounding the Violence of Lies ad. Here is what I found out.

The Ad Does Not Encourage Violence – True

I watched the ad for the first time today. It was hard hitting but advocating “to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth” hardly encourages violence like:

  1. Madonna’s thought of blowing up the White House
  2. Kathy Giffin’s depiction of a beheaded President
  3. Shakespeare in the Park depiction of President Trump being assassinated

Only in America is the “clenched fist of truth” more violent than a beheading.

Dana Loesch Says The Ad First Aired In April – True

Surprisingly this ad first aired in April and had 17 national airings. The NRA ads are well done and some of them are memorable. I do not remember this ad. Why the big fuss over this ad two months after its initial airing? If this is an NRA publicity stunt, the Democrats fell for it. Here is a nice synopsis of the hoopla over the ad.

The #SethRich Story Is Boiling Over

The number of stories about the Seth Rich murder is peaking. I think the frustration over the Seth Rich murder is best explained by this quote from the Counterpunch article, “Seth Rich, Craig Murray and the Sinister Stewards of the National Security State“.

Why is it a “conspiracy theory” to think that a disgruntled Democratic National Committee staffer gave WikiLeaks the DNC emails, but not a conspiracy theory to think the emails were provided by Russia?

Why?

Which is the more likely scenario: That a frustrated employee leaked damaging emails to embarrass his bosses or a that foreign government hacked DNC computers for some still-unknown reason?

That’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?

The Washington Post is trying its best to write it off as a conspiracy theory. Recently two people gave the conspiracy pot a big stir. Kim Dotcom says he knows that Mr. Rich leaked the DNC emails to Wikileaks and a surgeon is raising questions about Mr. Richs treatment at the hospital. Since I believe that the simplest answer is probably correct, let’s look at some of the theories on Seth Rich’s murder.

The “Robbery Gone Bad” Theory

The “robbery gone bad” theory is the most popular explanation of his death. The problems with this theory are that nothing was stolen, it occurred at 4 am, and he was shot twice in the back. This looks like an unusual time for a professional or even a novice robber to be practicing their craft on the street. If you are a robber who is up at 4 am, you are probably trying to break into a house or to steal a car. A robber knows the difference between robbery and murder. Shooting someone in the back does not look like a robbery victim. Shooting someone in the back when they are trying to flee is an act of passion. The biggest problems with this scenario are why was he shot twice without a kill shot and where are the shell casings. The only reason to shoot him more than once is to make sure he does not testify. Shooting an unarmed man once can be explained as an unintended consequence of a fight. Shooting an unarmed man twice is a strong case for murder. A criminal would know this. Did the police find fingerprints on the shell casings and did they run the prints? A criminal would probably have their fingerprints in the system already.

The “Seth was assassinated” Theory

The “Seth was assassinated” theory explains the fact that nothing was stolen and the time of the shooting. There was nothing professional about this murder. Only an amateur would have left Seth alive.

The “Angry Person” Theory

A more likely scenario is that Mr. Rich got into a heated argument with a person on the street and when Mr. Rich tried to leave the fight he was shot in the back. This could be almost anyone walking the streets at 4 am with an emotional problem. The problem with this theory is imagining Mr. Rich talking with any person at 4 am. An intriguing possibility is that a person associated with the DNC found out that Mr. Rich was leaking emails to Wikileaks and went to confront him. Although this person may have been angry, they did not plan to kill him. The only person I can imagine Mr. Rich would allow getting close to him at 4 am is someone he knew. When the argument became violent and Mr. Rich tried to leave, it was in the heat of the moment that he was shot twice in the back. If you believe this theory then the list of suspects is small and this case should have been tied up before the election last year. Oops!

#ComeyFiring Why Did Director #Comey Stay On For So Long?

Jail CellIf Director Comey has as much integrity as his supporters claim then why did he not offer his resignation the day after the Presidential election regardless of who won? If Ms. Clinton won the election then it is obvious that she would request his resignation. For the good of FBI, he would comply. What is not obvious is why Director Comey stayed on after Mr. Trump won despite feeling “mildly nauseous’’ at the thought that his decisions about a probe into Hillary Clinton might have affected the outcome of the election? This sounds like a guy who is having trouble coming to work each day. After alienating both political parties and politicizing the FBI, his future was a political minefield. If he succumbed to political pressure in the Clinton email investigation, what were Republicans supposed to think about the Flynn investigation in this hyper-partisan political atmosphere? How could he satisfy either party? As long as he was there, there was no way to put a non-partisan FBI back together again. Director Comey was the weak link. The right thing for him to do was offer to resign and let someone else pick up the pieces.