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Will Anyone Be Held Accountable for the FISA Abuse?

Will Anyone Be Held Accountable for the FISA Abuse?

By Tuesday, 21 January 2020 04:46 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The Department of Justice Inspector General (DOJ-IG) conducted a review of the procedures used by the FBI to request court-ordered communication intercepts under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in the "Crossfire Hurricane" investigation of individuals associated with the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign.

Although both The FBI and the DOJ have both pledged to modify their procedures, the real problem is the people who were entrusted to follow these procedures violated this trust and need to be held accountable.

These are some direct quotes from the DOJ-IG report on the performance of the people conducting the “Crossfire Hurricane” Investigation:

  • the Crossfire Hurricane team failed to inform Department officials of significant information that was available to the team
  • Much of that information was inconsistent with, or undercut, the assertions contained in the FISA applications
  • factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported
  • We identified at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications
  • These errors and omissions resulted from case agents providing wrong or incomplete information
  • we also did not receive satisfactory explanations for the errors or problems we identified.
  • In our view, this was a failure of not only the operational team, but also of the managers and supervisors, including senior officials, in the chain of command.

These comments question the commitment to the FBI core values of “Uncompromising personal integrity and institutional integrity” and “Accountability by accepting responsibility for our actions and decisions and the consequences of our actions and decisions” or the Motto of “Fidelity - Bravery – Integrity.”

Attorney General Barr’s response to the DOJ-IG report included the description of the malfeasance and misfeasance: “FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information.”

In a filing with the FISA Court Christopher Wray, FBI Director, on Jan 10, 2020, states a number of Corrective Actions to procedures in the application for warrants that “will bring about the institutional reform in its FISA process.”

Gabriel Sanz-Rexach, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division, U.S. Department of Justice stated in a filing the same day, January 10, 2020, with the FISA Court “the FBI has taken, and will be taking, specific steps identified in the FBI Declaration that will reinforce compliance with existing requirements and implement new procedures that must be satisfied before FBI applications may be presented to the [FISA] Court.”

New procedures or training programs may bring about reform to process errors but they fail to address the core issue regarding the specific actions of individuals being swept under the rug.

David S. Kris’s Court-Appointed Amicus Curie brief of January 15, 2020, concluded that standards and procedure reform “cannot be allowed to substitute for a strong FBI culture of individual ownership and responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of FISA applications.”

There were plenty of checks and balances in the FISA process that were circumvented, that were “suppressed or ignored.” The problem is the integrity of the people entrusted with this process who could not provide “satisfactory explanations” for the “inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported” information; for the “17 significant errors or omissions”; for the “failure of not only the operational team, but also of the managers and supervisors, including senior officials, in the chain of command.”

Those individuals responsible for this “malfeasance and misfeasance” need to be held fully accountable to the maximum extent under the law. Any change to the process will still be dependent on the integrity of the people entrusted with following the process. That is the weak link. If they abuse the system because they are confident they will get away with it, any system no matter what the process is changed to will continue to be abused.

John M. DeMaggio retired after 30 years of service as a Captain from the U.S. Naval Reserve Intelligence Program. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Forensic Science from John Jay College and a Master’s of Science from Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins University. Privately consulting in counterterrorism, forensic science, and investigations, he also conducts international counterterrorism training, having retired as a Special Agent in Charge and serving as Co-chairman, Investigative Support and Forensic Subgroup, TSWG, developing interagency counterterrorism technology. He is also an op-ed contributor for The Hill. He previously published “Mitigation of Terrorist Effects on Victims’ Motivation” in U.S. Army Counterinsurgency Center Colloquium. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Any change to the process will still be dependent on the integrity of the people entrusted with following the process.
fisa, abuse, william barr
Tuesday, 21 January 2020 04:46 PM
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