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Government Politics

GOP Memo Criticizing FBI Surveillance is Released ( 875

The controversial four-page memo created by Republican staffers on the House Intelligence Committee alleging abuse of surveillance authority by the Justice Department and FBI has been released Friday after being declassified by the president. The memo is unredacted. (Alternative link for the memo.) The Washington Post: The four-page, newly declassified memo written by the Republican staffers for the House Intelligence Committee said the findings "raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain (Justice Department) and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) calling it "a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process."

The memo accuses former officials who approved the surveillance applications -- a group that includes former FBI Director James B. Comey, his former deputy Andrew McCabe, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates and current Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein -- of signing off on court surveillance requests that omitted key facts about the political motivations of the person supplying some of the information, Christopher Steele, a former intelligence officer in Britain. The memo says Steele "was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations -- an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI."
The FBI Agents Association on Friday said that agents "have not, and will not, allow partisan politics to distract us from our solemn commitment to our mission." The full statement: The men and women of the FBI put their lives on the line every day in the fight against terrorists and criminals because of their dedication to our country and the Constitution. The American people should know that they continue to be well-served by the world's preeminent law enforcement agency. FBI Special Agents have not, and will not, allow partisan politics to distract us from our solemn commitment to our mission.
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GOP Memo Criticizing FBI Surveillance is Released

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  • by CajunArson ( 465943 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:15PM (#56056275) Journal

    This is a great day for the FISA court system, which has been viciously attacked for decades right here on Slashdot.

    Now that there's pretty solid evidence that the DNC basically used the DOJ to lie to the FISA courts as part of its campaign... SUDDENLY FISA IS OK! That's because the abuses were against Trump. Just remember, if it had been against a terrorist or an actual foreign spy, that would have been unconstitutional.

    But against Trump? Fuck the constitution the ends always justify the means.

    Remember, principles should be sacrificed as long as the end result is reinforcing the narrative that OMG TRUMP RUSSIA is true no matter what.

    • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @03:14PM (#56056941)

      Now that there's pretty solid evidence that the DNC ...

      You got ALL that from a 4-page memo containing information cherry-picked from 400 pages of information. You, sir, are really good at reading between the lines! Good thing this wasn't written by a high-level partisan toady, who worked for the Trump campaign, complaining about alleged partisan politics involving people investigating potentially illegal activities by his former boss and his campaign people (of which, again, he was one).

      Remember, principles should be sacrificed as long as the end result is reinforcing the narrative that OMG TRUMP RUSSIA is true no matter what.

      Or sacrificing principles, with one Mulligan after another, so you can still support someone no matter what he, and the people around him, has done - or how much they lie (every single day) about, seriously, everything. Keep a firm hold onto *your* "ends justify the means" beliefs. Your Political God will be proud of you, but the other One not so much.

      Not saying the DNC doesn't have their own problems, but anything involving Nunes at this point should be very suspect.

    • by Aqualung812 ( 959532 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @03:18PM (#56056977)

      Now that there's pretty solid evidence that the DNC basically used the DOJ to lie to the FISA courts as part of its campaign...

      Where is that solid evidence? The memo didn't include that.

  • Apparently the argument boils down to the fact that the accusations in the Steele dossier were cited as a reason to surveil Page, therefore he shouldn't have been surveilled. But it doesn't say what other reasons were cited. One of them could be "Was spotted taking a stack of cash with the note 'FOR ALL THE COLLUSION' on it from head of the KGB" for all we know.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:26PM (#56056403)

      Apparently the argument boils down to the fact that the accusations in the Steele dossier were cited as a reason to surveil Page, therefore he shouldn't have been surveilled. But it doesn't say what other reasons were cited. One of them could be "Was spotted taking a stack of cash with the note 'FOR ALL THE COLLUSION' on it from head of the KGB" for all we know.


      You seem to have missed the key point that the FBI and DoJ deliberately left out the political origins and the fact the the Steele dossier was uncorroborated from the FISA court.


      And the guy at the center of it all was Andy McCabe, whose wife got $1 million from Hillary! while he was in charge of investigating her email server.

      The same Andy McCabe who was unceremoniously dumped out of the FBI the day after the FBI director saw the memo...

      • How relevant or important is that? If they cited as a reason that "Hillary Clinton herself has stated that she thinks this man is a poopyface, and she paid me $100 to write this" that would also not mean that there could not be other, good reasons for surveilling Page listed right alongside it.

        • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashiki AT gmail DOT com> on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:59PM (#56056795) Homepage

          How relevant or important is that?

          Very. They lied to the court to get the warrants, they broke multiple laws by doing so. They cast the justice system into disrepute, this is big, very big. The warrant was basically granted under false pretenses, that nulls *everything* the judge can revoke the warrant(s) and that all the evidence in that chain. That means anything tied to those fisa warrants at any level all gone. On top of that the people who filed for the warrants can be criminally charged.

          This is why you don't lie when you file for a warrant. It's why you fully state the sources. You don't smudge, you don't nudge, you don't bullshit. Democrats and progressives wanted a "true" russian investigation, and these people just fucked it all up for you - forever.

    • It is smoking gun (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      McCabe said they couldn't go to the FISA court without Steele's information (in the memo during his Congressional testimony)
      They also cites news sources (Yahoo news) writing about Steele's information, so their second source was a news report about their first source. really?

      They then renewed the FISA warrant, without additional information (illegal), even after they knew Steele was an unreliable source and was fired for it.
      It was renewed AFTER they knew the information was all false.
      They LIED to wiretap T

    • by RazorSharp ( 1418697 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:38PM (#56056531)

      I don't think that's the point. Your analysis requires nuance, and the point of the memo is to rally GOP partisans and give the talking heads on Fox News talking points that sound official. Most things that require nuance are beyond the comprehension of most voters (as the various AC posts that immediately flooded this story demonstrate), and this allows the administration to pretend to be the victim.

      Trump and his supporters want to reframe the argument. If the argument is "did Trump collude with Russian to undermine American democracy?" he's in a losing situation. If the argument is, "was Trump being unfairly investigated by intelligence agencies?" then he has a chance to discredit any questions about his campaign. By selectively declassifying information, Nunes and Trump can lie by omission, which is enough to convince those who are stupid and those who don't care if Trump colluded with the Russians so long as he enacts their desired policies.

    • by turkeyfish ( 950384 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:55PM (#56056761)

      That argument breaks down entirely given the fact that the first 2 or 3 FISA warrents on Carter Page, were initiated several months before the Steele dossier was even prepared. The FISA warrent in question was the 3rd or 4th one approved by the FISA Court. The memo also leaves out numerous accounts tha tthe Steele dossier was intially commissioned by one of the GOP presidential campaigns prior to the Clinton campaign paying to get their hands on it.

  • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:20PM (#56056319)

    FBI Warns Republican Memo Could Undermine Faith In Massive, Unaccountable Government Secret Agencies []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:21PM (#56056335)

    This release was entirely for the purpose of ANNOUNCING a big thing, TEASING a big thing, then DEBATING it as a black box, then acting as if the release was some big lesson of punishment against those that disagree with the administration.

    The actual details don't really matter, so much as they constitute an illusion that they have a big argument, and that for their captive audience on their news sources, they are winning on their terms.

    And yes, this is very much how despotic regimes have operated for centuries.

    I'm always still more than a little confused why anyone actually plays any of the particular roles in these scenarios though - does Devin Nunes think he's actually serving his own self interest in ANY way, given how basically every other person that has served Trump in this way has ended up over time?

    • by SmokeyRobot ( 1635139 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:40PM (#56056567)
      Wow. Actually for people like myself who have great concern for the surveillance state that has been erected post 9-11 this is exactly what we feared. The secret surveillance state abused and being used as a political weapon in the name of national security all without any oversight by the people of the country. You seem to think that this whole thing is partisan which means you buy into the propaganda. That isn't surprising. The media has been spinning this as a partisan attack for some time. The reality is it speaks to how easy it is to abuse the great monstrous civil rights crushing system which people like Rand Paul and Ron Wyden have been fighting to prevent. Hopefully they seize on this moment to deliver a large blow against it although the President just signed worse legislation weeks ago.
      • The memo shows no evidence that the FISA system is being used as a political weapon. Carter Page was a person of interest to the FBI in 2013. Also, FISA warrants involve judges... so a judge looked at the *ENTIRE* application and approved it. There is currently no evidence to second guess the judges decision. And, my personal opinion, *LISTEN* to Carter Page: he has wannabe criminal written all over him.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:22PM (#56056337)

    I can see why the FBI and Democrat's did not want the memo released. But some of this just confirms what some already were saying. Yes, its very much embarrassing to see what lengths were taken to try and affect the election. But more important is how any evidence Muller has obtained in his investigation that was directly or indirectly obtained through this FISA warrant is now defunct. The warrant was obtained with improper and false information already proven. Talk about collusion, now this stuff is collusion in the biggest way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CRB9000 ( 647092 )

      Everything that Muller has that came from these FISA warrants is now "fruit of the forbidden tree". That is everything that descends, any secondary, tertiary information that came from a source identified. Their problem is that there would be no collusion investigation without the Steele dossier. They cannot argue that they would have discovered the information anyway because there would have been no investigation.

      No wonder the Democrats didn't want this released. It just destroyed their narrative.

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @03:01PM (#56056819)
      You're talking like every word in there is the God's honest truth. The guy who wrote it is a full-fledged climate-change denying [] Trump supporter. He could easily have written the same nonsense for Breitbart and released it instantly. However, as head of a House committee he was instead able write his partisan screed under its aegis, get it approved on party line votes, then turn around and play like his own committees' rules are some kind of giant conspiracy of silence.
  • Mr Steele (Score:4, Informative)

    by leelapolis ( 666781 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:22PM (#56056339)

    Except for an obvious omission, when Mr Steele went to the FBI about his concerns about Trump Russian connections, the FBI said, Yep we know about already.

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:27PM (#56056417)

    The FBI used the Fusion GPS Memo, to get a FISA warrant on Carter Page, so they could spy on him and the people around him.

    If you don't like the FISA laws, this is your smoking gun of how they are abused.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:37PM (#56056519)

      No they didn't. Carter Page had been under investigation since 2013. The dossier wasn't even the reason for the warrant.

      • If they had probable cause to surveil Carter Page, then they wouldn't have included the dossier in the FISA application. The dossier is absolutely the reason that the FISA warrant was issued. Without the dossier, the warrant would not have been granted. By the way, those aren't my words.....that's what Rod Rosenstein told Congress. []
        • Nope. The FBI can put whatever is convenient in the FISA application, sufficient to met the legal standard in the eyes of the judge. If they do not like the answer from the FISA court, they will then cough up more information and try again. They did not have to.

          If they did not have Steele's dossier, maybe they would have been done. Or maybe they would have used other sources. I do not know. You do not know either. Pretending to know something you do not is just silliness, at best.

    • by mea2214 ( 935585 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:41PM (#56056571)
      Carter Page is the lynch pin that will sink Trump and his children and son in law. This memo is a looky loo to turn real criminal infractions by these people into a partisan football where facts do not matter. The Steele Dossier was merely corroborating information. The FISA application is classified so no one can dispute this memo without leaking classified information, means and methods. Trump is the true heir to P.T Barnum. Mueller's team hasn't said anything. What are they afraid of? Criminals know the crimes they committed.
  • by Oceanplexian ( 807998 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:31PM (#56056453) Homepage
    Republicans are alleging that FISA was abused. If that's true, regardless the reasons or motivations, it only re-affirms what a lot of us were thinking would happen when the warrantless wiretapping program and "unmasking" was made public back in 2005.

    Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. If you build a giant surveillance machine with limited checks and balances and without regard for the constitution, things like what the memo alleges are eventually going to occur. It's human nature. What's more disturbing than the memo is that BOTH Democrat and Republican lawmakers allowed this sort of surveillance to proceed. There is no place for a FISA (Secret Courts) in a free society.
    • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:35PM (#56056491)
      The Republican majorities in the House and Senate just renewed the FISA laws back in December, spearheaded by an impassioned speech demanding the Justice Department be allowed to do whatever it felt necessary. And impassioned speech by... Devin Nunes. Hypocrisy, thy name is Republican!
      • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )
        With a lot of Democratic votes, IIRC. I'm a registered Democrat myself, but I don't think you can fix the FISA issue with simple party-line politics. This is a PRIMARY problem, more than a general election problem. Whichever party you register with, make sure to support primary candidates who care about this issue. If they don't care, then the path of least resistance is always going to be to avoid being flanked in the next election by someone "tough on terrorisim".
    • by mi ( 197448 )

      Republicans are alleging that FISA was abused.

      ... by the corruption among top FBI officials — an important omission in your comment.

      Not to defend FISA, but corruption of law-enforcement officers is a problem civilization faced for as long as law-enforcement existed. By itself, what happened may be an argument for improving the checks-and-balances mechanisms of FISA, but not for its outright abolition.

      There is no place for a FISA (Secret Courts) in a free society.

      A dubious statement... Are you saying,

  • Cherry picking? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Friday February 02, 2018 @02:52PM (#56056713)
    A FISA request is usually in the order of 40 pages or so. This memo was only four pages. I have to wonder what justifications for what was done were intentionally left out of the shot four page summary? Indeed, Rep Nunes has the reputation, even within his own party, of being a bumbling Inspector Clouseau type of investigator. So I also have to wonder just how good this memo really is. Then there is also the fact that Rep Nunes won't answer the question of whether or not the White House helped him create the memo.

    At this point, if there is any politicization to be talked about, it is with regard to the creation and release of the memo.

Mater artium necessitas. [Necessity is the mother of invention].