The FBI lied about RussiaGate. What does this mean?

by Fabius Maximus

Summary: The FBI Inspector General confirms long-suspected dark deeds by the FBI during the RussiaGate investigation. A judge condemns one  of the FBI’s deeds. Now comes the important part: our reaction. Here are two views of this news, optimistic and pessimistic. Read and choose! Our future depends on what happens next.

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
— Written by Benjamin Franklin for the Pennsylvania Assembly in its “Reply to the Governor” (11 November 1755).

Our forebearers paid for our liberty. Let’s not throw it away.

Marker on the Freedom Wall
The price of freedom: marker on the Freedom Wall. ID 52384264 © Bratty1206 | Dreamstime.

This week’s big headline news:
Judge blasts FBI over misleading info
for surveillance of Trump campaign adviser.

By John Kruzel at The Hill.

“In a blistering order, a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) accused the bureau of providing false information and withholding materials that would have undercut its four surveillance applications. ‘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,’ Rosemary Collyer, presiding judge with the FISC, wrote in the order released by the court. The judge gave the FBI until Jan. 10 to provide the court a sworn statement detailing how it plans to overhaul its approach to future surveillance applications.

“The order comes after the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report earlier this month on its investigation into the Trump campaign and the 2016 election, with Inspector General Michael Horowitz detailing a series of missteps taken during the investigation.”

A Federal Court has accused the FBI of serious violations in the Obama Administration’s investigation of the Trump campaign. This is especially significant since Federal officials have repeatedly denied this for three years. I consulted an expert to assess the significance of this blockbuster story. Remember, this is just one of the many dark revelations in the FBI IG’s reports.

The optimist’s perspective: something is broken.

A combat vet with deep law enforcement experience shares his analysis.

These are voices from the swamp. Both the FBI’s IG and a judge on the secretive FISC demand that the FBI, the very agency that defrauded the secretive court, fix the process for executing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). But the FBI was not the only agency at fault. The FISC failed to protect American citizens from the FBI abusing the FISA process. This was the FISC’s only job.

In my day, I wrote and applied for countless search warrants. I was always questioned about my sources and their validity. A young man I trained (well, he was young then) is on an FBI Task Force. He says this process has not changed and remains rigorous. But the approval of FISA requests is stunning and shows that it is a rubber stamp for the FBI. In 2015 and 2016, the FISC denied only 0.5% of applications. In 2017, it denied 1.5% of applications. In 2018 it denied 1.8% of the 1,833 applications, which covered 232 Americans (see the WSJ and NYT articles, and the DoJ report).

The FISC was lazy. Its judges failed to do their due diligence. Now these same judges demand that the FBI fix the FISA process, although the FBI is the agency that perverted the FISA process.

The judge could have issued bench warrants for defrauding the FISC. That would have been both deserved and sparked serious reforms. But she did not do so. Instead, the FISC’s judges trying to cover their asses. That is the swamp in action.

A pessimist (me) says that nothing is broken.

How do we know if a mechanism – physical or social – works as designed? The specifications might be misleading or faked. See what the mechanism does. More importantly, see how its designers and operators react to its results. Our leaders were happy with FISC, despite the frequent reports that it was a rubber stamp, until it became involved in RussiaGate. The FIS Courts are a powerful end-run around the Constitution. They are useful to the Deep State and will not be surrendered.

The judges are not “covering their asses.” That implies a fear of consequences. This article shows the FISC judges’ embarrassment at being publicly outed as trained dogs for the Deep State. They don’t mind being dogs, but they dislike being embarrassed in front of their peers at DC country clubs. Their butthurt will sting for a while. but they will get over it since they will suffer no serious consequences. Congress will not impeach them for dereliction of duty. None will resign in remorse. Nobody quits a Federal judgeship on principle. It is one of the best gigs in America.

The IG report is like Kabuki, a pretty public performance following rigidly specified steps. Afterwards the audience applauds and goes home. The world spins on unchanged. The IG report will have as much impact as the thousand and one similar reports going back to 1960. The Deep State has learned from squids how to respond to attacks. They spew out ink, hide, and wait for the danger to pass.

The real news, too terrifying to mention.

“Will it be sufficient to mark, with precision, the boundaries of these departments, in the Constitution of the government, and to trust to these parchment barriers against the encroaching spirit of power?”
— James Madison in The Federalist Paper #48. Now we know the answer: no.

RussiaGate began a new phase for the Republic. Obama’s people were some of the brightest and boldest the White House has seen since the Clinton era. They weaponized the Deep State (of which FISC is a part) against their political foes. That was a wacky “conspiracy theory” in 2018; it is obvious today.

Even now nobody of name objects, Democrat or Republican, other than a few outcasts. Even Trump is AOK with this. He has given no executive orders for reform and has made no proposals for reform to Congress. The few remaining well-meaning and polite hall monitors in Washington will have as much luck stopping others from using this tool as the Catholic Church had forbidding use of crossbows on Christians in the Edict of the 29th Canon of the Second Lateran Council (1123).

Nothing will happen unless the public expresses outrage, even anger. We can force the presidential candidates to promise real reforms. We can force Congress to act. Elections mean nothing unless we use them to change government policies.

Couch potato
ID 1560194 © Tom Denham | Dreamstime.

My conclusions

“{Liberty} must altogether depend on public opinion, and on the general spirit of the people and of the government. And here, after all, as intimated upon another occasion, must we seek for the only solid basis of all our rights.”
— Alexander Hamilton in #84 of The Federalist Papers.

The debate about this incident is all wrong. The institutions of the US government, with their checks and balances, adequately run the routine business of the government. The Constitution is just a “paper bullet of the brain.” The only defense of our liberty is our willingness to stand together in its defense.

If we do not do so, then others will strip away our rights – one by one – and take the reins of power. They are doing so today as a shepherd herds sheep: slowly and quietly. Too fast and they get excited, even panic. This is the Great Circle of Life: fight for liberty or lose it.

This incident is another in a series of warnings to us that the great inheritance from our forebearers slowly slides from our grasp. But the political machinery given us remains idle but potentially decisive. We need only the will and wit to use it. Let’s prove Loki wrong about us (see Loki helps us to see our true selves).

A subject of New America

Remember the news about the NSA’s spying on us!

Remember the outrage, the editorials and speeches, in 2013-14? As I predicted at the beginning, there were few (probably ineffectual) reforms.

  1. Celebrate what happened one year ago. It’s the birthday of a New America!
  2. Members of the Deep State exchange high-fives, celebrating our passivity.
  3. The Snowden affair has ended. What have we learned about ourselves, and about America?