90 Miles From Tyranny : Two Possibilities in Trump Wiretapping, and Neither Is Good

Friday, December 27, 2019

Two Possibilities in Trump Wiretapping, and Neither Is Good

The report of the I.G.'s findings on the use of FISA in the FBI Crossfire Hurricane investigation is an outrage. As a 22 year FBI Agent, I have personally conducted multiple investigations using both Title III "wiretaps" and FISA authorized intercepts. From this perspective, I can only see two possible interpretations of the actions of the FBI and DOJ. Either scenario should anger and frighten every fair minded citizen who takes the time to read the report and understand its implications. To comprehend the magnitude of the wrongdoing, consider the following:

First, an American citizen, Carter Page, was targeted by our government for electronic surveillance under FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). Per the Act, his Fourth Amendment guarantee of privacy was judicially "suspended" to allow law enforcement to intercept and monitor his private communications. Ostensibly, the FISA court would allow this intrusion based on presented facts that indicated that Page was participating in an activity that was reasonably considered to be a threat to national security and was, in effect, the agent of a foreign power.

According to the I.G., the determination to surveil Page was based on second hand information provided by a member of a friendly foreign government and bolstered by reporting in the "Steele dossier". Accepting the subjective judgement that the investigation was adequately predicated does not mitigate the disaster that followed.

Typically, a FISA warrant is issued to target a foreign national and, in general, the resulting intercepts come largely from overseas communications. FISA generally requires a lower evidentiary threshold than a "Title III wiretap" (used to intercept and monitor communications in domestic criminal matters). To use a FISA surveillance against a US citizen is a somewhat exceptional step. Basically, it negates Constitutional protections afforded to all Americans based on the judicial determination that the citizen is acting as an agent of a foreign power.

Because electronic surveillance (wire tap) is so intrusive, it is rightfully subject to intense judicial scrutiny. Additionally, because the evidence gathered in its use is singularly effective, law enforcement in general, and the FBI and DOJ in particular, scrupulously protect the integrity of the process. No law enforcement officer of any worth would stand before a judge and swear to an affidavit that...



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2 comments:

  1. Good article. But I don’t see it as a choice between incompetence and malevolent lawlessness. It was both. But wait you say. How can someone be both incompetent and malevolently lawless? Simple. They’re “progressives.”

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  2. lawlessness by fbi/doj in this is a given. what I cannot forgive is the FISA courts abject dumbassery of zero due diligence in approving subsequent requests. it is why the court was established and given such leeway. some agents and lawyers need to go to prison. some judges need to pursue other interests. and the "secret courts" idea needs to either be rethought or eliminated. in any case, who protects the citizens rights in the "secret" court system as established by Congress? from a purely constitutional standpoint for me, none of this is working for me.

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