Weeks ago, it became apparent that we were dealing with not only “mission creep” by Robert Mueller, but with “a case of creeps on a mission—to destabilize and destroy this President.”
Now our Republican congressmen who have seen “the memo” about what was really going on in President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation to damage Donald Trump are seeing more evidence it was indeed a case of “creeps on a mission.” While we are waiting for what should be a no-brainer release of the facts, please recognize that a federal court last year already found egregious and lawless deliberate abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the FBI specifically, and certainly implicating DOJ.
The court’s decision reveals that the upper echelon of the FBI (such as James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and others( deliberately gave unlimited and unsupervised access to the most private raw FISA data to a private contractor. (Can you say Fusion GPS?)
More likely parties involved, which will be apparent when #ReleasetheMemo happens, will be then Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr and others at the Department of Justice. Mr. Ohr may have been the lynchpin between Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the FBI and Fusion GPS. Ohr’s wife Nellie worked for Fusion GPS on the infamous “Steele Dossier” which, it appears, was then recycled through the FISA court to get the court’s approval for the FBI’s previous and continuing unlawful surveillance. Mr. Ohr has already been demoted twice in the Department of Justice after it was revealed that he had secret meetings with Fusion GPS Steele and Simpson during Mr. Trump’s campaign.
Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, just recently postponed Bruce Ohr’s testimony before his committee. That was either to assist in passing the latest version of the surveillance statute that was both broken and then used by the FBI and DOJ to try to cover their tracks, or because Bruce Ohr is going to take the Fifth Amendment.
How do we know there was really a problem in the FBI and the DOJ? Read the unclassified decision of the special super-secret FISA Court — especially beginning at page 83. The FISA Court oversees our spy agencies and the massive data collection operations of our federal government. It operates in utmost secrecy — too much secrecy.
The unclassified FISA court decision reveals major violations by the FBI. The FBI gave private contractors illegal access to the all of the raw data collected by the NSA. The Court noted “an institutional ‘lack of candor’ on NSA’s part and emphasized that ‘this is a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.’”
Apparently, the saga for the court began on March 9, 2016, when “DOJ oversight personnel conducting a minimization review of the FBI’s *** [redacted] learned that the FBI had disclosed raw FISA information, including but not limited to Section 702-acquired information.
Reading between the redactions, that disclosure involved an entity “largely staffed by private contractors.”
On top of that, “certain *** [redacted] contractors had access to raw FISA information on FBI storage systems. ***[redacted] the ***[redacted] contractors had access to raw FISA information that went well beyond what was necessary to respond to the FBI’s requests.”
According to the Court, the “FBI discontinued the above-described access to raw FISA information as of April 18, 2016.”
The court continued, noting “Restrictions were not in place with regard to the *** [redacted] contractors; their access was not limited to raw information for which the FBI sought assistance and access continued even after they had completed their work in response to an FBI request.
The court catalogues a separate violation by the FBI, but most of it is redacted. Footnote 68 of the Court’s decision includes the statement that “the government acknowledges that those disclosures were improper for other reasons.”
It gets worse. The court wrote in Footnote 69 that “improper access granted to the * * *[redacted] contractors . . . * * *[redacted] . . . seems to have been the result of deliberate decision-making. * * *[redacted] access to FBI systems was the subject of an interagency memorandum of understanding (presumably prepared or reviewed by FBI lawyers), no notice of this practice was given to the FISC until 2016.”
NSA Director Admiral Michal S. Rogers, whom James Clapper and others sought to have fired, deserves credit for reporting these problems to the FISA court and for stopping the use of the certain queries which facilitated the abuses of the intelligence systems.
#ReleasetheMemo is the least Congress owes to the American people.
And bureaucrats who overstep the law should be prosecuted just like anyone else.
Sidney Powell (@SidneyPowell1) is a former federal prosecutor. A veteran of 500 federal appeals, she published “Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice.” She serves as senior adviser to America First Policies and senior fellow for the London Center for Policy Research.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.