Breaking: Secret FISA Court Makes Rare Public Statement, Chastises FBI for Misleading Them on Carter Page Warrant Applications

Former FBI director James Comey testifies before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 8, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Former FBI director James Comey testifies before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 8, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

How bad was the FBI abuse against the Trump team revealed by the IG report?

So bad that it has prompted a rare public rebuke for the secret FISA court.

In an unusual public order released on Tuesday, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court chastised the FBI
for the lies, omissions and the efforts to mislead the court in the applications for a warrant and warrant renewals for surveillance of Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser, that were outlined in great detail in the IG report released on December 9.

The court is demanding that there be reforms and giving the FBI until January 10 to propose how they intend to correct the issues and stop the abuse.

The court explained how, in order to get such a warrant, the FBI has to show probable cause that the person in question to be surveilled is an agent of a foreign power, not just “based on activities protected by the First Amendment.” The court notes that the FBI has to swear to the truth of the facts submitted.

The court noted its role is to act as a check on the executive branch/FBI possible misuse of power and to protect Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights, and because these are “ex parte” proceedings (meaning only the FBI or the surveilling party, not the surveilled is involved), it’s all the more important that the FBI adhere to their duty of “candor.”

It documents troubling instances in which FBI personnel provided information to NSD which was unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession. It also describes several instances in which FBI personnel withheld from NSD information in their possession which was detrimental to their case for believing that Mr. Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power. [….]

The FBI’s handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the OIG report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above. The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable. The FISC expects the government to provide complete and accurate information in every filing with the Court. Without it, the FISC cannot properly ensure that the government conducts electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes only when there is a sufficient factual basis.

Of course, the problem isn’t just policies, the problem is the people who simply ignored policies that were already in place in the quest to do what they wanted.

Yes, toughen up policies to prevent abuse. But you need to punish the people who are behind this abuse for it to have any teeth or make a difference. They need to suffer a consequence for what was done here, not just to Carter Page, but to every other American as well who was put through the divisive nature of this probe.