Sheryl Attkisson, the former CBS reporter who is suing the Justice Department and others for, she says, illegally spying on her, authored a widely ignored article in the Hill that clarifies some of the problems critics have with the FISA warrants approved against Carter Page. I know that those who are determined to deny that anything is amiss regarding the FBI as long as the agency appears to be adversarial against this President don’t care about such niceties, but maybe they should stop humming with their fingers in their ears long enough to learn something.
The Woods Procedures were named for the FBI official who drafted the rules as head of the Office of General Counsel’s National Security Law Unit, Michael Woods. In April 2001. these rules were established to “ensure accuracy with regard to … the facts supporting probable cause,” after the FBI had presented inaccurate information to the FISA court several times, with “[i]ncorrect information …repeated in subsequent and related FISA packages,” the FBI told Congress in August 2003. Under the Woods procedures, each and every fact presented in an FBI request to electronically spy on a U.S. citizen must be thoroughly vetted for accuracy, and presented to the court only if verified.
As Attkisson points out, we know that this rigorous standard was not followed.
“There’s no dispute that at least some, if not a great deal, of information in the anti-Trump “Steele dossier” was unverified or false. Former FBI director James Comey testified as much himself before a Senate committee in June 2017. Comey repeatedly referred to “salacious” and “unverified” material in the dossier, which turned out to be paid political opposition research against Donald Trump funded first by Republicans, then by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign….Yet Comey allegedly signed three of the FISA applications on behalf of the FBI. Deputy Director Andrew McCabe reportedly signed one and former Attorney General Sally Yates, then-Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein each reportedly signed one or more…”
The completed FISA application requires approval through the FBI chain of command “including a Supervisor, the Chief Division Counsel (the highest lawyer within that FBI field office), and finally, the Special Agent in Charge of the field office, before making its way to FBI Headquarters to get approval by (at least) the Unit-level Supervisor there.”At FBI headquarters, an “action memorandum” is prepared with additional facts culled by analytical personnel assigned to espionage allegations involving certain foreign powers. Next, it goes to the Justice Department “where attorneys from the National Security Division comb through the application to verify all the assertions made in it,” wrote Rangappa. “DOJ verifies the accuracy of every fact stated in the application. If anything looks unsubstantiated, the application is sent back to the FBI to provide additional evidentiary support – this game of bureaucratic chutes and ladders continues until DOJ is satisfied that the facts in the FISA application can both be corroborated and meet the legal standards for the court. After getting sign-off from a senior DOJ official (finally!).” …[There are] even more reviews and processes regarding government applications for wiretaps designed to make sure inaccurate or unverified information isn’t used. In November 2002, the FBI implemented a special FISA Unit with a unit chief and six staffers, and installed an automated tracking system that connects field offices, headquarters, the National Security Law Branch and the Office of Intelligence, allowing participants to track the process during each stage.Starting March 1, 2003, the FBI required field offices to confirm they’ve verified the accuracy of facts presented to the court through the case agent, the field office’s Chief Division Counsel and the Special Agent in Charge.
After all of this was provided to Congress in 2003, and Mueller ordered that any question as to whether a FISA application was factually sufficient was to be brought to his personal attention.
But there’s a reason Woods Procedures exist in the first place. They aren’t arcane rules that could have been overlooked or misunderstood by the high-ranking and seasoned professionals working under the Obama and Trump administrations who touched the four Carter Page wiretap applications and renewals. And unless they’ve secretly been lifted or amended, Woods Procedures aren’t discretionary.
In the past, when the FBI has presented inaccuracies to the FISA court, it’s been viewed so seriously that it’s drawn the attention of the Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility, which investigates Justice Department attorneys accused of misconduct or crimes in their professional functions.
This is no “nothingburger,” and any official, pundit or Facebook friend who says otherwise is spinning, in denial, not too bright, or James Comey. There has to be an independent investigation of the conduct of the FBI now. Every American should support that.—————————————
In a related note, if you want riots in the streets, this is how you get them.Senator Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that if President Trump were to fire Rosenstein, it would cause a Constitutional crisis. This is tantamount to saying that the President cannot fire an official he has the power and the right to fire, and as I read the reporting above, may be obligated to fire. It is the position of the Democratic leadership, apparently, that even if it is shown that the current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is part of a corrupt group of high-ranking officials abusing their power, the President cannot do anything about it. This essentially dares the President to show otherwise.
In addition, we have the tweets from FOX News Legal analyst Greg Jarrett the same day that also focus attention on Rosenstein. If Jarrett’s sources are accurate (I have seen no further development on this story, if it is one), Jarrett is correct: Trump would have to fire him. Jarrett wrote…
“Abuse of power continues still at the Department of Justice. As I reported last night on Hannity, a highly reliable congressional source tells me that 3 weeks ago, on January 10, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein used the power of his office to threaten Members of Congress…In a meeting with Chairman Devin Nunes, FBI Director Christopher Wray and others, the source says that Rosenstein threatened to subpoena the texts and emails of Congress because he was”tired of dealing with the Intelligence Committee.” Nunes was exercising his constitutional oversight authority by investigating alleged wrongdoing in the FBI and DOJ. Rosenstein, according to the source, threatened to use his power to retaliate against Nunes and others in an effort to intimidate them and stop their legal efforts…A 2nd source has now confirmed to me that, in a meeting on January 10, Deputy A-G Rosenstein used the power of his office to threaten to subpoena the calls & texts of the Intel Committee to get it to stop it’s investigation of DOJ and FBI. Likely an Abuse of Power & Obstruction.”
This would seem beyond belief, except that Justice Department officials extorting elected officials and others has occurred in the past. The bottom line is that there is no reason to trust these people, and multiplying reasons not to.