The biggest of all BIGGER story aspects to the HPSCI Memo, in all coverage, has been overlooked by all Main Stream Media. The Department of Justice FBI FISA request was for “Title I” surveillance authority. This is not some innocuous request for metadata exploration – the FBI said American citizen Carter Page was a “foreign agent of a hostile foreign government”; the FBI was calling Carter Page a spy.
“Title I” FISA surveillance of U.S. citizens is the most intrusive, exhaustive and far reaching type of search, seizure and surveillance authority, permitting the FBI to look at every scintilla of Mr. Page’s life. All communication, travel and contact can be opened and reviewed. All aspects of any of Mr. Page’s engagements are subject to being secretly monitored. This is an entirely different level of surveillance authority, the highest possible, and has nothing to do with FISA-702 search queries (Title VII) of U.S. persons.
To present a methaphor, under Title I FISA authority, Carter Page was essentially ‘patient zero’ in an Ebola pandemic. Labeling him as a foreign agent allowed the FBI to look at every single person he came in contact with; and every single aspect of their lives and their activities in growing and concentric circles; without limits to current time or historic review.
The “Title I” designation as a foreign agent applied retroactively to any action taken by Mr. Page, and auto-generates an exponential list of other people he came in contact with. Each of those people, groups or organizations could now have their communication reviewed, unmasked and analyzed by the DOJ/FBI with the same surveillance authority granted upon the target, Mr. Page.
Because the consequences of this type of surveillance are so comprehensive; and because the severity to the immediate loss of constitutional protection (privacy and liberty) is so stark; the U.S. Government -through the FISA court- intentionally makes it very difficult to gain FISA Title I surveillance authority over a U.S. citizen.
Sharyl Attkisson picks up from there with her deep dive into exactly what protections are in place, and the extraordinarily high-bar the DOJ needs to pass in order to gain Title I surveillance authority.
The point is: There are strict rules requiring that each and every fact presented in an FBI request to electronically spy on a U.S. citizen be extreme-vetted for accuracy — and presented to the court only if verified.
There’s no dispute that at least some, if not a great deal, of information in the anti-Trump “Steele dossier” was unverified or false. Former FBI director James Comey testified as much himself before a Senate committee in June 2017. Comey repeatedly referred to “salacious” and “unverified” material in the dossier, which turned out to be paid political opposition research against Donald Trump funded first by Republicans, then by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Presentation of any such unverified material to the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to justify a wiretap would appear to violate crucial procedural rules, called “Woods Procedures,” designed to protect U.S. citizens.
Yet Comey allegedly signed three of the FISA applications on behalf of the FBI. Deputy Director Andrew McCabe reportedly signed one and former Attorney General Sally Yates, then-Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein each reportedly signed one or more. (read more)
To think that unverified claims, gossip, media reports and generally salacious political opposition research, could be included in an application to remove an American’s right to privacy and liberty is really the BIGGER story being clouded in this discussion.
….And keep in mind, amid all of this exhaustive FBI surveillance and DOJ national security division digging into every aspect of his life, Mr. Carter Page has never been accused of any crime, wrongdoing, or subsequent criminal conduct.
It appears the entire reason to label Mr. Page as a Title One “foreign agent” was so the DOJ National Security Division and FBI Counterintelligence Division, could use Mr. Page’s short contact with the Trump campaign as an excuse to monitor everyone else within the campaign before, during and after the election.