The Woods Procedures

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…”
When Robert Mueller—where have I heard that name before?— was head of the FBI, here was the process that he insisted that his agency go through before it could meet the Woods Procedures with appropriate confidence:

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.

 Attkisson cocludes,

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.

16 Comments

Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, Social Media

16 responses to “The Woods Procedures

  1. “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.”

    See, when I hear this, I hear someone just got done telling his street thugs and active resistance to make preparations and get ready to riot.

  2. Other Bill

    I just don’t get this ‘constitutional crisis” Democrat talking point that all these people are tossing around like a hand grenade. What do they mean? The head of the executive branch fires an employee in the executive branch and that’s a constitutional crisis? It might be a political crisis, I suppose. But how does it jeopardize the Constitution? And Obama’s over reach with executive orders didn’t run afoul of the Constitution? Because he was thinking of the children?

    • joed68

      Well, you know how democrats are such sticklers for adherence to the constitution.

    • It’s funny, because it’s almost certainly the opposite.

      Democrats are saying, for instance, that firing James Comey was obstruction and impeachable, not only is that not true because the investigation continued immediately without Comey, but also because Comey had thoroughly debased himself.

      See… I, like Pepperidge Farms, remember longer than 12 hours ago, so I remember when Democrats were outraged that Comey had, just off the top of my head, torpedoed Clinton’s campaign, possibly costing her the election, and were calling for him to be fired. This was just after, off the top of my head, Republicans were outraged that he couldn’t find it in himself to even try for a negligence charge regarding her server, you know… When he basically created from whole cloth a legal requirement for negligence that does not exist, and they were calling for him to be fired. I don’t think there was a single elected official that had a consistent support for Comey over the past 18 months that didn’t involve the position of “Fire Him”. So pretending now that removing Comey from his position created a constitutional crisis rings…. hollow.

      But let’s say for a moment that all that wasn’t true. The fact of the matter is that the constitution clearly gives the POTUS the ability to fire certain people, which includes both the director of the FBI and the DAG. In fact, to the best of my understanding, the constitution gives no one else the ability to do so, and so this pretension on the part of Democrats that not only can Trump not do the things that the constitution explicitly allows him to do, but if he tries they will impeach him for it, creates a constitutional crisis because they are removing the checks and balances from these positions. If they aren’t accountable to the POTUS, they aren’t accountable to anyone.

  3. DaveL

    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

    … and whatever came of that? Did anybody responsible suffer any meaningful consequences as a result?

    • THIS.

      It is like there are two tiers of justice, or something.

      If I betray a ‘confidence’ that I acquired while under my TS clearance 20 plus years ago, I will go to jail. Hillary breathes free air to this day.

  4. Jarrett’s sources are…? If we hold NYT and other publications accountable for quoting sources, we must do the same with Fox.

    “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”

    True. I just learned the FBI had quite the dossier on MLK Jr. that was released last year and it was completely dismissed by most socialists…I mean Democrats. This cognitive dissonance thing has got to be getting old by now.

    • The Democrats never seem to believe that the things they pull will be used against them later on, when the wind shifts.

      YES they will

      This is the nature of the game, in the Trump era. Our Republic weeps.

  5. Steve-O-in-NJ

    Trump needs to call Rosenstein into his office ASAP, with Devin Nunes right there, and ask him point blank what he said. If he comes clean, let him “retire” in a month or two “to spend more time with his family.” If he lies or dissembles, sack him publicly.

    I hate the idea of investigating investigators, because it smacks of a retaliatory investigation, but I hate the idea of a Department of Justice “Star Chamber” abusing their power to lean on members of two branches of government even more. The FBI isn’t supposed to be a shadowy agency that pulls embarrassing texts between an Assistant Defense Secretary and her husband as her marriage hits a rough spot, or takes pictures of a single Congressman out to dinner with an Asian woman half his age, then keeps them to threaten to release if either of them step away from the line they establish. That’s not the behavior of a law enforcement agency. That’s the behavior of a legalized Mafia.

    I alluded in the threads regarding the sacking of Comey to what a rogue FBI Director could do – opening and closing investigations at will, leaking information, just implying someone is being looked at, that could do all kinds of damage. I don’t even need to talk speculation – J. Edgar Hoover’s conduct is widely known, Mark Felt may have been a patriot…or he may have been a bitter revenge seeker angry he didn’t get the top spot, and let’s not forget Robert Hanssen’s famous “breach.” Three men, three different times, all of whom did a LOT of damage. Are we really willing to accept a “cadre” sprinkled throughout the agency, serving their own vision of policy by extrajudicial use of power? If so, just how much extrajudicial power can we tolerate? Shadow prosecutions? John Doe warrants? SWATing? Assassinations? That’s not how it’s supposed to work and you know it.

    Trump needs to burn this Hydra now, before it grows enough heads to really become a problem, not just for him, but for all presidents to follow.

  6. Steve-O-in-NJ

    P.S. What’s really rich is that the New York Times just teed up to go after Trump for initiating a “war on law enforcement” for these very reasons. After Obama’s support, both tacit and overt, for anti-police activists and failure to respond in any meaningful way to the flood of anti-police MURDERS that began after Ferguson and at one point saw 8 officers murdered in 7 days, that shows a TREMENDOUS amount of gall.

  7. jwest877

    “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.”

    No doubt the Democrats would like to see a return to the constitutional crisis inducing Tenure of Office Act.

  8. adimagejim

    This is far more than a Constitutional crisis; it is nationally existential. Some old famous guy once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Yup, sounds right.

  9. Glenn Logan

    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.

    What has also occurred in the very recent past has been another bureaucratic agency engaging in partisan political abuse of its power in favor of the Democrat party. That agency bears the initials I-R-S.

    What all this says to me is that agencies are comfortable wielding their power even in the face of political firestorms. Rosenstein apparently does not fear losing his job, and feels confident that if he does, he’ll be able to bring the presidency down with him, and he just might be right.

    To paraphrase Theoden from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, “What can men do against such reckless abuse of power?” Dick Durbin’s challenge effectively suggests the Democrats will do anything, use any excuse, to bring Trump down, and Rosenstein seems to believe that insulates him from being fired for cause (unless, of course, some sexual impropriety on his part is alleged, then all bets are off).

    The tragedy for us all is, he may well be exactly right. Trump may lack the political will to fire Rosenstein, and the Republicans may lack the political will to defend him if he does.

  10. Chris

    We have no way of knowing if the FISA warrant against Page broke these rules until we see the FISA warrant application.

    Why isn’t anyone here but me asking to see this?

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