A year and a half ago when the redacted FISA applications were first made public, it was obvious that the FBI relied almost entirely on Christopher Steele’s phony “dossier” and that the FISA court was being lied to. Back then, Collyer should have immediately ordered a “show cause contempt” hearing demanding that Comey, Sally Yates, Andrew McCabe, Dana Boente and Rod Rosenstein all appear before the court to explain why they should not be held in criminal contempt for deceiving judges in the four warrant applications they signed. They swore that the information was true and verified when they knew it was not. Collyer still isn’t ordering a contempt hearing. This is an appalling abdication of judicial duty.
It means that the FISA court doesn’t really care that it was lied to by the FBI. If it did, Collyer would hold these FBI & DOJ officials legally responsible for defrauding the court. The message here is this: you can lie to the FISA court and there will be no accountability or punishment. If you get caught, the court will merely demand remedies for the future.
This will not go over well in Congress among those who feel that FISA has become a serious and chronic danger to civil liberties. They are right. The currently constituted FISA court must be abolished. A new system should take its place –one that does not rely on the FBI to be honest and trustworthy because the bureau has proven that it cannot be.
The FBI was caught lying before back in 2002. In more than 75 cases, the FBI had deceived judges in sensitive surveillance warrants. Then-director Robert Mueller appeared before the FISA court and promised reforms. He vowed that it would never happen again.
Predictably, it has.