The faulty FBI wiretap application to a FISA court against Carter Page has been much discussed in the past week since the Devin Nunes memo was released. There is no need for me to go into too much detail except to remind the reader that the application leaned heavily on the infamous “Russian dossier” by ex British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. As we know, his “investigation” and dossier was largely funded by the DNC and the Clinton campaign.
In addition, we now know that the application was also “supported” by a news article by Michael Isakoff for Yahoo.com! That’s bad enough, but it also turns out that Isakoff’s article and the information contained therein regarding Mr Page was based at least largely on an interview Isakoff conducted in September 2016 with…..Christopher Steele himself! It appears the FBI used the Isakoff article, based largely on a Steele interview, to corroborate their information about Steele’s dossier itself.
Ironically, the Washington Post, now the subject of a hagiographic movie (“Post”) based on their release of the Pentagon Papers back in the Nixon era, is trying their hardest to discredit the Nunes memo. Now the Post claims that Isakoff had three other sources for his Yahoo.com article besides Steele.
As the Post itself points out, the actual application for the FISA warrant to wiretap Mr Page is still sealed. Yet, I think a couple of observations coming from a retired DEA agent are warranted. In my years as a DEA agent working drug cases exclusively, I obviously had no occasion to submit an affidavit for a wiretap to a FISA court. Our applications were made to the appropriate federal courts. I can say this, however: Had I submitted such an application in which I left out pertinent details, such as who paid for Mr Steele’s work and used a news article as corroboration without telling the judge that the article was based at least partly-in any degree- on Steele himself, I would have had Hell to pay to that judge. Again- I have not seen the application itself, but based on what has come out, it seems to me that the judge should have asked some probing questions of those who presented the affidavit. For example, even though Steele had been a British intelligence agent in the past, the Russian dossier was obviously not produced by British intelligence. Why did Steele produce this document? Who was paying him? Why is there a news article by Mr Isakoff in the affidavit, based on unnamed sources? Isakoff is not a law enforcement of intelligence professional. He is a journalist. Was the FBI in a position to insure the judge that Isakoff’s sources were “reliable”?
An application by law enforcement to conduct electronic surveillance on someone is one of the most extreme steps law enforcement can take in American society. I have engaged in wiretaps myself. I support its use for legitimate law enforcement reasons. Our legal system has-or is supposed to have- a lot of safeguards in place to prevent its abuse. I know from first-hand experience how hard it is to get a wiretap approved. Once initiated, wiretaps are labor intensive. They involve reports back to the court on a regular basis. Everything is done to ensure that we cross all the “t”s and dot all the “i”s. Again, I stress that I had no experience with FISA courts.
In my opinion, what we have here is shoddy work done for cheap political motives. I don’t hold the rank and file of the FBI responsible. They are honest and dedicated. The problem was in Washington at the highest levels. I am sure that the agents themselves would welcome a thorough housecleaning of those responsible for this disgraceful misuse of out intelligence and investigative services.
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