The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, (FISA): 50 USC secs.1801-1885 (c), provided for seven Judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and provide legal oversight to the intelligence operations of American governmental agencies including the engaging in intelligence gathering of American citizens.
FISA uses the word "warrant" for judicial authorization of government agents to install and record electronic surveillance devices (wiretaps), pen registers, effect physical searches, and compel production of tangible things.
A pen register is an electronic device that captures the telephone numbers of incoming or outgoing telephone calls. It's not a listening device per se, but skilled wiretap operators can and do listen to conversations.
The U.S. Attorney General (AG), Deputy AG, Assistant AGs, or a designated official who has been confirmed for his/her position by the Senate must sign every warrant application.
The USA Patriot Act of 2001 (Pub. Law. 107-56) among other things increased the number of FISA judges to 11, the stated Act’s purpose was to deter and punish terrorist acts in U.S. and around the world, while enhancing law enforcement investigative initiatives.
All FISA applications must use the words "agent of foreign power" or "foreign power" describing the target or targets — either person, facilities, and location.
The application must sho probable cause or in lay language, reasonable belief that the government will obtain foreign intelligence evidence person or persons are committing acts of espionage or terrorism.
"Agent"may include U.S. citizens.
The basis for a FISA warrant must be reliable, credible, and vetted information. This means the government officers signing the application must swear to the accuracy, honesty, and reliability of the information. The AG or his designee also attests to the document’s trustworthiness and honesty.
The application should establish that the suspect knew he/she is helping or aiding a foreign government or agency. Also, included should be a history of the suspect that would support proof of his/her clandestine operation.
In 2014/2016 during the Obama administration, FBI Director James B. Comey, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, Supervisory FBI Agent Peter Strozk, FBI attorneys James Baker, Lisa Page and Kevin Clinesmith; State Department official, Kathleen Kavalec, to name a few, were involved in the baseless "Page" applications. They were meant to deceive the FISA court to gain surveillance of Carter W. Page,and others.
These officials, knew or should have known, Page was not a foreign agent-provocateur.
A FISA application should go through at least 5 levels of review at the FBI and at least 3 levels at main Justice before AG or designee signs off.
The surveillance applications for Carter Page, a minor Trump campaign member, which began in October 2016 did not go through such scrutiny. Because of the nature and timing of this matter, it is likely the White House was apprised of the matter.
A FISA warrant obtained by false/fraudulent information cannot stand and "all fruit from this poisonous tree" must be dismissed. Any successful prosecutions connected with the false/fraudulent surveillance are subject to reversal.
The "Page" surveillance applications reflect that Obama State Department Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland authorized FBI to met with agent-provocateur Christopher Steele referring the discredited "Steele Dossier” to the FBI.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a Page surveillance application stating " . . . information provided by the U.S. Department of State."
The four DOJ applications for "Page" surveillance court orders were based on second, third, and fourth hand hearsay; unverified newsmedia, and the specious "the Steele Dossier." The applications failed the most basic “probable cause” requirements.
The applications were exercises in excessive verbage with no credible grounds for court authorizations to obtain surveillance warrants.
The FISA court judges should have been very careful, not accepting at face value the statements and written words of the applying agents and lawyers. An application should be signed by the agent actually presenting the paperwork to the court and counter-signed by the authorized higher authority — the attorney general or any of his designated officers.
Most Federal judges, signing wiretap orders, quiz the applying agent and the accompaning DOJ lawyer to assure the judge the law has been followed.
James H. Walsh was associate general counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1983 to 1994. Read more reports from James Walsh — Click Here Now.
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