Evidently, former FBI director and current special prosecutor in the Russia case, Robert Mueller, has some explaining to do to Congress over the secret FISA court concerning abuses back in 2002. He was hauled in front of the nation’s secret intelligence court to address a large number of instances in which the FBI cheated on sensitive surveillance warrants, according to evidence gathered by congressional investigators.
It is unknown why this has not surfaced previously. It was a closed-door meeting and the inherent secrecy of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) kept it hushed up. Recent testimony by an FBI attorney exposed the incident. Oops.
Mueller is rumored to be wrapping up the Russia probe into President Trump and alleged collusion. There has been no proof of that yet and won’t be because it does not exist. The abuses put the investigation into a new light and raise questions of Mueller’s ethics during it. It has already been contended that there were improprieties in obtaining FISA warrants during the investigation and Mueller’s track record shows a propensity for conducting his investigations this way.
At specific issue is that FBI agents applying for FISA warrants omitted material facts in sensitive counterterrorism and counterintelligence cases. Technically and ethically, since Mueller has been involved in questionable tactics before, he should have been recused from the Trump case, but that did not happen.
The FISC takes omissions very seriously. The target is not allowed to defend themselves since it is a secret court and the FBI is obligated to disclose evidence of both guilt and innocence about the target of a FISA warrant. They are not to leave out details or twist the facts in a given case.
From The Hill:
“Trisha Anderson, who recently stepped down as the FBI’s principal deputy general counsel, told House investigators late last year in an interview that early in Mueller’s FBI tenure, nearly two decades ago, the FISC summoned the new director to appear before the judges to address concerns about extensive cheating on FISA warrants.
“It preceded my time with the FBI but as I understood it, there was a pattern of some incidents of omission that were of concern to the FISA court that resulted in former Director Mueller actually appearing before the FISA court,” Anderson told Congress.
“Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller at the special counsel’s office, declined comment on Anderson’s testimony. So, too, did FBI spokeswoman Kelsey Pietranton.
“Other sources who worked for Mueller at the time told me the court’s concerns arose in 2002 and 2003 — shortly after America was stunned by the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks — when the FISC learned the FBI had omitted material facts from FISA warrant applications in more than 75 terrorism cases that dated back to the late 1990s.
“Most of the omissions occurred in FBI work that pre-dated Mueller’s arrival, the sources said. But the court wanted assurances the new sheriff in town was going to stop such widespread abuses.
“Mueller told the court the FBI had created a new system called the Woods Procedures — named for the FBI lawyer who drafted them — to ensure FISA warrant applications were accurate and did not omit material information, according to Anderson’s congressional interview.
“My understanding is he committed to the court to address the problem and then that the series of reforms that we implemented, including the use of the Woods form, were the direct result of his engagement before the FISA court,” Anderson told Congress.
“Mueller does not appear ever to have publicly addressed his appearance before the FISC. But once, in follow-up written answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he acknowledged there was a period in which the FBI was caught filing inaccurate FISA warrants.
“Prior to implementation of the so-called Woods Procedures there were instances where inaccurate information was provided by FBI field offices and headquarters personnel to the Court,” Mueller wrote to senators in 2003.”
A declassified FISC order from 2002 provides an example of how serious the omissions were. In one case the FBI failed to tell the court that the person they were seeking a FISA warrant to surveil was, in fact, one of their own informants. That is a heck of an omission and could get someone killed. The court stated that they were very concerned that “misinformation found its way into the FISA applications and remained uncorrected for more than one year despite procedures to verify the accuracy of FISA pleadings.”
When the FBI went to the FISA court to get their warrants on Carter Page, they failed to tell them that the primary evidence it used to support its warrant was the Steele dossier and that it was political opposition research produced on behalf of and paid for by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, in hopes of harming Trump’s election chances. Frankly, that should negate the whole case legally.
The FBI knowingly lied to the court when obtaining the first application warrant. They said they knew of no derogatory information about the dossier author, Christopher Steele, a retired British intelligence operative who worked simultaneously as an FBI source and a Clinton campaign opposition researcher. Senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr even warned the FBI that Steele was desperate to keep Trump from becoming president. Other evidence showed that Steele leaked to the media as well.
Congressional testimony of other FBI officials also showed that the faux dossier’s contents were not corroborated by the FBI when they made their FISA application. The FBI also had other evidence suggesting the innocence of two Trump campaign aides it targeted and that was not provided to the court either.
The only question now is whether the current FISC judges and Justice Department supervisors will uphold the rules of the FISA court and do the right thing here. If they do, they will have to acknowledge the wrongdoing and put corrective action into place. If they don’t, they will legally and in the public eye invalidate the FISA court and the FBI. Will the interests of Americans be served or those of the alphabet agencies?
Source: The Hill