In the wake of the IG report, most of the blame for the Carter Page FISA abuse has rightly landed at the feet of the FBI and its leadership. There is no doubt they actively chose to lie to the court in order to target someone they had insufficient evidence to target.
As part of the unfolding of the saga in the wake of Horowitz’s report, the FISA court itself released a denunciation of FBI procedures and asked for an audit of other warrant request to see if the problems were systematic. The tone of the letter was indignant but also smacked of trying to pass the buck. No one held a gun to the head of these FISA judges and forced them to approve 99% of warrants placed before them, including the woefully lacking Page warrant.
In fact, it’s now clear that the FISA court itself knew about these lies and omissions years ago and chose to essentially do nothing about them, perhaps even actively covering them up.
Take the response to Devin Nunes, who alerted the court to the revelations he had found regarding the Page warrant well over a year ago.
Judge Collyer blew him off. Her letter on June 15, 2018, is four lines long. She informs Mr. Nunes she’s received his letter. She says she’s also received his classified information. She says she’s instructing staff to provide his info to “the judges who ruled on the referenced matters.” She thanks him for his “interest” in the court.
Yet, Collyer had the audacity to act surprised and disturbed at what Horowitz had found in her response letter earlier this month. That’s too clever by half. Not only had Nunes told her about abuses far earlier, but all the way back in 2016, Admiral Mike Rogers had also told her about failures in procedures. Her reaction was to brush them off, not take anything they said seriously, and keep operating within the status quo.
As my colleague streiff noted at the time, the failures of the FISA court show that it shouldn’t exist in the first place. At the end of the day, these are still career government employees looking to protect themselves and their territory. They are not free of bias or selfish impulse. Collyer may act shocked now for the press but she was at the center of these abuses taking place. Her court had become a rubber stamp, free of accountability and proper use of procedures. She ignored warning after warning, only looking to take action after being exposed to the sunlight via the IG report.
Given the continual inability of these officials and judges to follow the rules (even as lax and inadequate as they were in the first place), the FISA court should be disbanded. Most Americans are not willing to give up their liberty for false promises of security.