OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Posts Tagged ‘FISA’

Are We Still A Nation of the Rule of Law? A Serious Question – Part III

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on March 5, 2018

A few weeks ago I published two posts about the FISA Gate scandal of the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice apparently using the false and politically motivated “Steel Dossier” to obtain a FISA warrant on one time Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. Here are links to them: Link 1  & Link 2. At the time of publication the “Nunes” or Republican memo had just been de-classified and released while we were awaiting the Democrats or “Schiff” memo’s release.  The Schiff memo has now been released (with some redactions) and it confirms one thing I stated in my prior posts – the American people deserve to see the entire Carter Page FISA application and the three renewals that were presented to the FISA court.  This has all become too much of a partisan back and forth.

First here is a link to the Schiff Memo: hpsci_redacted_minority_memo.  Then here is a link to an excellent analysis by Andrew McCarthy of the National Review in which he debunks most of the claims made by Adam Schiff and his Democratic friends.

However all of the partisan rankling over the memos does not answer or resolve an extremely important problem – the FBI and the DOJ were apparently willing to break the law and their own rules before a Federal Court Judge (or Judges) to obtain a warrant to surveil (spy on) an American citizen who had been previously part of an opposing political campaign.  As Mr. McCarthy pointed out, the FBI did not need to get a FISA warrant to surveil Mr. Page.  He had previously cooperated with the FBI in a prior investigation of an alleged Russian spy and they could have gone back to him again and asked him about what he knows.  Since he apparently had cooperated and helped them in the past, what did they believe had occurred by 2016 that forestalled their going to Mr. Page again before getting a FISA warrant?  For a full impact / understanding of this read Mr. McCarthy’s article linked above. As Mr. McCarthy explains, this point is very critical and is another reason why the public needs to be allowed to see the application and renewals to the FISA Court.

With the atrocious massacre at the high school in Florida, the school safety and gun control debate this has started and now the President’s trade tariff announcement it is natural for people to have “moved on” from FISA Gate.  But this violation of the 4th Amendment is a critical issue – if law enforcement at the highest level of our country can lie to a Federal Court judge(s) to get a warrant like it did here and it is allowed to go unanswered and unpunished, what is the stop them from doing this again and again and again?

What’s next?  I suspect the next shoe to drop in this scandal will be the report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz.  When will that come out?  I do not know but not fast enough for me.  When it does I will publish a Part IV here.  It would be far better for the country for the FISA application and renewals to be released to the public now.

Craig P. Alexander is an attorney and principal of the Law Offices of Craig P. Alexander in Dana Point, California.  A large part of his legal practice is regarding the California Public Records Act to obtain documents from state and local governments (the state version of the Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents from the Federal government).

 

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Are We Still A Nation of the Rule of Law? A Serious Question – Part I

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on February 8, 2018

Is our country still a nation of the rule of law or are we now under the rule of men? This is now a very serious question facing the American people. At the beginning of our Republic the Founders instituted the U.S. Constitution with the original 10 amendments. One of them is the 4th Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure. It states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue,     but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

One of the main reasons the Founders insisted on the inclusion of the 4th Amendment was to be rid of the British practice of issuing “general warrants” that allowed British officials to invade and search randomly vast numbers of homes and farms on no evidence of wrongdoing by those being searched.  Of course the Founders did not have “telecommunications” where our conversations, plans, information gathering, etc. is done over the telephone and the Internet.  However the Courts and Congress have recognized and applied 4th Amendment protections to those methods of communication and information gathering.

Today we are faced with a very serious challenge to our rights as Citizens of this Republic regarding our 4th Amendment rights with the recent revelation of abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (or FISA) laws being used against US Citizens by the FBI and the Dept. of Justice.

As you know the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have released the “Nunes Memo” which, if accurate, details serious misuse and maybe outright fraud upon the FISA court on at least one application – to surveil Carter Page, a onetime volunteer adviser to the Trump campaign.  Here is a link to the Nunes Memo.  It is important that people read this short three and one half page document.  Another important thing to read and understand is the timeline of these events.  Thomas Del Baccaro has put together that timeline in his article which appeared in Political Vanguard. Here is the link. One thing important to note from the timeline – the 2016 FISA warrant application and order were after Carter Page left the Trump campaign.  Also importantly Senator Charles Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham have released a letter to the DOJ (with some redactions) for potential criminal prosecution of Christopher Steele.  That letter confirms much of the Nunes Memo. Here is the link to that letter.

At the time of my writing this post the White House is reviewing the Democratic memo by Congressman Adam Schiff for release, release with redactions, etc.  I suspect it will be out soon.  Both the Nunes and Schiff memos claim to be accurate and based upon the underlying documents including the FISA application and renewal applications.   Reportedly the Schiff memo rebuts statements made in the Nunes memo.  As an aside, given that many things Adam Schiff has said have been proven to be untrue, in my opinion he is not to be trusted.

But this scandal raises serious questions: Are highly placed members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice actively misleading the FISA court to spy on American citizens?  If Carter Page was “surveilled” (spied upon), did the FBI follow others who spoke to Mr. Page such as persons in the Trump campaign separate and apart from any conversations Mr. Page had with them?  What part did the Fusion GPS “dossier” play in the FISA application?  Even if it was only a small part of the application, if the dossier was “salacious and unverified” as Former FBI Director Comey stated, why was it used in the application at all?  Did the FBI and Department of Justice attorneys withhold from the FISA court that the dossier was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC (via an illegal concealed payment to Fusion GPS by the campaign’s attorneys)?  If so, did the Court ask any questions about this either at the time of the original application or on one of the renewals of the warrant? If the origin of the dossier was disclosed to the FISA court why did it issue the warrant?  Were any other warrant applications to the FISA court by these same individuals made with tainted evidence?  Etc., Etc., Etc….There are SO MANY MORE QUESTIONS that the Nunes Memo and other information in the news regarding this scandal bring up.

One thing is certain – the American people deserve to have the entire FISA application and renewal documents (with only sparse redactions for true national security purposes) released and very soon.  Let the American people decide for themselves if the application and its renewals were done properly or not.

The fact that the FISA process, applications and courts are designed to operate in secret is no excuse for withholding this application and its renewals.  There is just too much independent evidence (such as the infamous texts between disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page) of bias investigations and abuse of the FISA process to keep this “under wraps” for any reason.  The American people have a legitimate reason to demand and receive these documents.  If it proves that Mr. Nunes is correct, then massive changes need to be made to the FISA process and certain people need, at the very least, to lose their jobs.  If the evidence is that the Nunes memo is false, the American people need to know that too.

In Part II – My Thoughts on What People Involved in this Scandal Should Do Now.

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