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Monday, April 13, 2020

What's Next: Intel, Lawyers, And The Rot At The FBI

I want to highly recommend two video interviews with Tony Shaffer. They're fairly lengthy--the first is about 41 minutes long and the second is about 30 minutes--but there's really no down time. It's all substance. 

Shaffer understands the legal and constitutional undergirdings of our Intelligence Community. In my own posts here I've tended to emphasize statutes and guidelines, but Shaffer goes behind that and relates it to Executive Order 12333, which controls most of our intelligence and counterintelligence activities. Without an understanding of this it's difficult to understand what AG Bill Barr means when he refers to the Durham investigation as "sprawling." I've drawn attention to Barr's choice of words several times because the scope of Dem criminality is far, far beyond what most people can readily imagine. It's, well, sprawling. It sprawls across eight years at a minimum in which the structure of government combined with the Left's control of key societal institutions to wage war on our entire constitutional order.

The first of these interviews is one that I've recommended in the past:

‘No Way Obama Was Not Told’ - Former Intel Officer Tony Shaffer on Spying on Trump Campaign

This is the interview that relates what went on in the Obama Administration to Executive Order 12333. An understanding of EO 12333 is necessary in coming to the realization of why Obama would have needed to know about far more of the details than is commonly imagined. As Shaffer shows, the FBI needed authorities for the actions it undertook, especially overseas activity--remember those "OCONUS lures" from the Strzok/Page texts? OCONUS means: Outside the Continental US. As in: In the UK, in Rome, in concert with foreign intelligence agencies. If you want to understand what's coming up in the next few months, do yourself a favor and relisten.

The second interview has a title that doesn't really communicate the breadth of the topics covered. For that reason I've transcribed about 11 minutes, below--despite the title, there's not a single mention of FISA in that transcript.

Before we get to the transcript, however, I want to offer some comments on the substance of what Shaffer has to say.


First of all, spanning both interviews, there's very little that I would quibble about. Shaffer has an excellent conceptual grasp of the US intel framework, and he communicates his knowledge well. The one area in which I am skeptical is a factual one: Shaffer's acceptance of the notion that Steele was passing on "Russian disinformation." I don't doubt that Russia would have liked to influence our 2016 election, but I've seen no convincing evidence of this in the details of the Russia Hoax itself. In fact, Shaffer himself obliquely alludes to reasons for being skeptical about those claims--see if you can pick that part out.

In the transcript that follows, Shaffer begins by discussing a matter that has always irked me--the very apparent naivete of the FBI in dealing with foreign intelligence services, especially those from the UK. In my own experience, that naivete is fairly widespread within the FBI. For example, we see this crop up regularly in the Carter Page FISA application, where regular appeal is made to information deriving from a "Friendly Foreign Nation" for assertions of fact. The idea seems to be that an FFN would never play games with the FBI--and, indeed, gullible FISC judges appear to have been quite willing to swallow that dubious concept whole. Please ponder carefully what Shaffer has to say.

Next, Shaffer addresses what could be called "cultural" problems at the FBI--how and when did the rot set in? On one level Shaffer agrees with the views I expressed to Lee Smith for his book "The Plot Against The President." Like me, Shaffer traces the rot that has led the FBI to become what Joe diGenova calls "an agency in freefall" to a takeover of management by lawyers--many coming directly from DoJ to the FBI. Mueller, Comey, Andrew Weissmann, James Baker, Lisa Page, and on and on.

Yes, Chris Wray, current FBI Director, belongs in that long list, and you'll be interested to compare Shaffer's assessment to Joe diGenova's outspoken contempt for Wray.

Unfortunately Shaffer never takes his analysis further to address what I maintained was a very specific legal culture that has been inculcated in our law schools for decades--pointing to a cultural corruption that has transformed legal institutions throughout our constitutional order. The profession itself isn't the problem. The problem is the specific mindset that so many lawyers have imbibed in their formative educational years. The long march of the Left through our educational institutions has born its fruit. Shaffer, unfortunately, seems to believe that sound intelligence work can somehow be separated from the broader culture and, especially, from "politics"--whatever he understands by that word. I'm here to say that no such separation is possible, or desirable. To the extent that the US is now a deeply divided country and culture, that division will be reflected throughout our public institutions, including the intelligence agencies.

Another aspect that I want to point out is that Shaffer sees the role of "analysts" in the Intelligence Community as problematic, but doesn't appear to think that that affects the FBI. I beg to differ. I was seeing this problem increasingly toward the end of my career and, once again, we can see the evidence for that influence in what we have learned about the Russia Hoax--lawyers do seem to play an outsized role in FBI operations, but we alse see that analysts do as well. Shaffer points to the problems, but I'd like to have seen him go into more detailed discussion.

The conclusion of the transcribed portion of the Shaffer interview deals with the Hillary email case, the role of Peter Strzok, and the unresolved issues that are more crucial than ever for our national security. I suspect we can all use the reminder. Is this part of the "sprawl" that Durham is investigating?

Shocking Use of FISA by Obama's FBI to Spy on Trump Campaign - Exclusive with Tony Shaffer

12:34 - 23:18

Q: So, one of the things that really struck me when we were speaking earlier, we were talking about some opposition research that was used. Also, research that was actually done by foreign intelligence agencies--at least in part. We had current and former United Kingdom intelligence agency people basically providing information about Americans. I think many of our audience would see that as gross overreach by intelligence agencies. How do we protect Americans against this in the future? 
Shaffer: This goes back to where the FBI did violate laws, or allow the violation of laws to exist within the context of this. US citizens cannot deal legally with foreign intelligence operatives--you can't do it. The moment you do that you are in danger of violating US law. There are a number of exceptions that allow for the FBI and the Intelligence Community to spy on you. One of those is if you are dealing with a known intelligence operative of a foreign nation. That's illegal! That opens the door! But in this case it was encouraged. In this case the FBI did *not* say: 'Oh, Fusion GPS, you shouldn't be doing that!' They [the FBI] were *all in* in allowing this to be open.  
And the second point of concern is the very thing you said. Foreign intelligence services have an interest that is not generally in line with our interest. Even the British will tell you that, while we're allies, we're not necessarily in sync on every single issue. They as a nation have their own national security objectives--some overlap [with ours], and some do not. So I think this is one of the issues that we have to be aware of when we study this as an after the fact issue. The FBI knowingly permitted intelligence operatives from foreign nations with objectives that clearly were *not in the interests of the United States* to allow information to come into our system to be used as fact--which has *to this day* disrupted our political process and continues to interfere with some people's confidence in democracy. 
Q: As you mentioned earlier, you're not happy with the top brass in the FBI, but actually a lot of them--it seems--have actually been replaced or removed. I don't know how many layers, how deep that goes, but it does look like significant action has been taken. How significant is that? 
Shaffer: Not sufficient. Director Wray has been reluctant, I think, to go to the full extent of what's necessary to weed out the bad actors. The FBI did not become corrupted overnight. This was, I would argue, a process that started under the Clintons back in the 90s, where you had a series of individuals over time who came into the senior levels of the FBI who were more legally focused, more lawyers out of DoJ running it, rather than field operatives. And look, I've been an operative my entire life. I have little tolerance for analysts who want to play at operations, and I think in our Intelligence Community we have seen huge failures based on *analysts* coming in to be in charge of operations.  
This same parallel exists within DoJ and FBI. Basically, the agents who come through the field have a really good understanding of how to go about investigating, preparing evidence, and submitting it for purposes of prosecution--or, in the case of Foreign Counterintelligence, how to effectively set up Conterintelligence operations to catch spies. Lawyers who have never had any field operational experience coming in to be in charge, and overseeing that, tend to politicize the operations rather than allow them to run to the full extent of what the logical conclusion should be.  
So, what lawyers are to FBI operators, we have the same problem with analysts in the Intelligence Community--telling us as operatives what to do. So this has been a problem over time. A lot of the folks we see now *running* the FBI are very focused on legality rather than success. And the legality they often refer to has been--for example, over the last couple days, I hope you don't mind mentioning it. Lisa Page's texts which were revealed over the last 72 hours indicate that the FBI was trying to cut a deal with State Department regarding Hillary Clinton's classified emails found on the Weiner laptop. So they [the DoS] said, basically, 'If you at the FBI downgrade the classification to Unclassified we'll give you more space in our Embassies overseas.' That's payola! ...  
Lisa Page is a lawyer! What you see is lawyers coming in to "manage the process" of the whole activity. So, I don't believe for a minute Lisa Page's actions were reflective of what a field operative in the FBI would have done regarding seeking justice. I don't think a field operative would have cared about how many attache they have in Embassies overseas. They would have done their best as sworn officers--sworn law enforcement officers--to follow the information where it was. You bring in people like Lisa Page who have no interest in serving justice, trying to basically cut political deals behind the scenes. This is the illustration of my point. And, when you have this level of corruption, you gotta weed it out. And I don't believe Christopher Wray has actually gone in and done this to the level necessary to right the FBI. 
Q: Do you think he will? 
Shaffer: No. I don't. I think he is a member of the Swamp. I think, based on his actions to date, he has done what he can to stop the bleeding, but he has no interest in cutting out the cancer that's in the FBI. 
Q: OK, speaking of the email server, there's also some evidence recently unearthed that some of the emails may have been sent to a foreign-- 
Shaffer: *All* of them, except for seven. 
Q: OK can you explore that a little bit more? 
Shaffer: So, I've actually spoken to the members of DoD who discovered this flaw. This flaw was discovered by the Intelligence Community part of the Department of Defense. It was the ODNI Inspector General's office, and they did a full evaluation. They received the same copy of the email server and all the emails that the FBI had. And the purpose of the ODNI--the IG who came out of DoD--the reason they were doing this review--is because they had to make an assessment of the classification of all the email that were contained on Hillary Clinton's server.  
So it was during that review of every email--basically, they went through every email. Not only did the ODNI and the DNI guys look at every email, they looked at the metadata. So every email, as you probably know and your audience probably knows, within the data which moves the email there's router information that indicates who sent the email, when it was sent, how it was sent, what route it took, and anybody else who gets copies of it. So within this very deep metadata review the ODNI IG discovered that every email except for, like, seven were being sent to a third party.  
That third party was a, apparently, I'm told, a business that is in Manassas, Virginia, and that business is owned, or was owned, by the Chinese Intelligence Service. And there was a drop at this place, and then it was sent off to Chicago, is what I was briefed. And what's significant about this is not so much that I *know*--it's the fact that, according to the ODNI IG, Peter Strzok, the guy in charge of the Clinton email investigation within the FBI, was briefed on this *three times!* And each briefing, he was presented with this information and the question was: 'What are you gonna do about this?' And, by the way, this is now in Congressional testimony. Peter Strzok was asked this question in closed hearings. He gave one answer in closed hearings, and then he was asked again in public by Congressman Louis Gomert and he gave a different answer. So this is an unresolved issue. And, based on the information that I have from talking to people who were directly involved, *this was known to the FBI* and the FBI refused to examine it as part of their investigation. To this day I have no understanding of why Strzok did not look at this, but they did provide him, that is, the ODNI did provide Strzok this specific data from their investigation which indicated this all had occurred. 
Q: Can you comment on the National Security implications of this? 
Shaffer: Well, yeah, the two implications are, first: Anything that Hillary Clinton had on that server was compromised to the Chinese Intelligence Service, which indicates to me that, *by law,* there's supposed to be a damage assessment conducted by this compromise. That's by law. Anytime you have a compromise like this of information to a Foreign Intelligence Threat you have to do a damage assessment of what damage was done. Jim Clapper, when he was ODNI, himself, was asked about, 'Why haven't you done a damage assessment?' and he said: 'I just don't want to do it.' I don't think that's a good answer. I don't. But it needs to be done. And, again, and I've said this to a number of members of Congress and the Senate on this, 'This is not a partisan issue!' *By law,* when you have a compromise like this, it says in the law, 'You must do a damage assessment.' So the first thing you gotta do is do a damage assessment. 
Secondly, there is other evidence the Chinese have been very effective in eating our lunch. We lost a number of assets back about 2011, 2012, in Beijing. We've never recovered from that. And there are other indicators the Chinese are very effective in their intelligence collection programs against us. So I think we need to do a review of everything we're doing to figure out why the Chinese are so effective. So those are the things I think we *should* do based on this information. And, again, I'm speaking about this *purely* as an intelligence professional. You need to set aside the politics, whatever they are, and actually do the job of evaluating how this was compromised, what was compromised, and what the damage was that came from this compromise.

24 comments:

  1. Agree 100%!

    >Chinese have been very effective in eating our lunch

    Trump is the first a President to push back, and China is having challenges dealing with this.

    And the backlash due to Covid 19 will be huge including social, economical, and political. Trump and Navarro were seen as outliers on China, and now they are mainstream. I don’t think China sees this, due to all their past successes creating hubris.

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  2. The rabbit hole goes very deep indeed and there are many branches yet to be revealed.

    MI6/GCHQ played a much larger role in the RussiaHoax than is currently known. When Obama tasked Brennan to undertake the OP in Feb 2016, Brennan reached out to the Brits for help. They acquainted him with a similar OP they had run in the 70s, and it became the model for what was to follow. And thereafter the Brits played a fundamental role in many aspect of the disinformation campaign that was used to create the illusion of complicity between the Trump Campaign and Russian intelligence. In particular, an MI6 agent operating out of the British Embassy in DC coordinated key parts of the OP via his interactions with Nelly Ohr using dead-drops and two safe house meetings.

    Another major branch of this sprawling crime wave involves pay-to-play schemes that earned huge paydays for many key players in the Obama Administration. Most of these have been hinted at in prior reporting (Clinton/Uranium One, Biden/China&Ukraine, Obama/IranDeal), but the extent of these covert deals and transactions is far, far worse than is currently known. US technology and security information was sold at enormous profit and the harm done is nearly incalculable. There is currently a very serious debate ongoing about how much of this can be revealed to the public.

    Either way, rocky road ahead. And yes, the FBI should be part of the solution, but sadly is not.

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    1. Yes, and the standard narrative that there was an organized Russian state disinformation campaign is no more than a cover for those who actually constructed that hoax. After the fact, the Brits had every reason to impugn Steele and claim that he was taken in by RIS disinformation.

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  3. I have written another blog article about Horowitz's Footnote 350.

    I now think that the footnote is based largely on a couple of interactions between NSA and President Trump shortly after he was inaugurated.

    I speculate that NSA Director Michael Rogers advised Trump to read NSA's dissent to the joint intelligence assessment (published on January 6, 2017) about alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election. When Trump read it, he focused on the mentions of his own lawyer, Michael Cohen. Therefore, Trump asked NSA to elaborate about Cohen, and he received that NSA elaboration five days later.

    Footnote 350 is based largely on that interaction between NSA and Trump a few days after the inauguration.

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    1. Mike, if you look at the actual footnote with redactions, you need to be able to substitute "NSA's Assessment" into the redacted spaces. Those spaces have room for only a very limited number of characters and I believe "NSA's Assessment" (or close variants) is too long to fit those spaces where you insert it.

      https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/puzzle-2.jpg

      I also believe that, in context, the footnote is referring to human reporting rather than a document.

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  4. I recognize that the exact words are not "NSA Assessment", but that is the sense of the redacted expression. Perhaps it is some office (NSA/XYZ) or acronym or document type.

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    1. I still believe the sense of the passage as a whole indicates that this is info received from humans. And I believe those humans were Brit intel officials doing CYA for the UK role in the Russia Hoax.

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    2. The footnote's second sentence says:

      -------
      A REDACTED 2017, report relayed information from REDACTED outlining an inaccuracy in a limited subset of Steele's reporting about the activities of Michael Cohen.
      ------

      I doubt that Brit intel officials ever did anything along the lines of outlining an inaccuracy about the activities of Michael Cohen.

      I don't imagine that Brit intel officials ever had any special knowledge about anything that Cohen ever did do or did not do.

      The footnote's main idea is that some accusation about Cohen was discredited. One reason why the accusation was discredited was that some unidentified person (most likely, Cohen himself) had denied the accusation, and his denial was convincingly corroborated.

      ======

      Another part of the footnote involves someone's claim that Russian Intelligence had infiltrated a source into some network. In response to that claim, some authority declared that there was no information that this source had special access to Russian Intelligence activities.

      ======

      The footnote refers to specific bits of evidence in a controversy about whether Russian Intelligence conducted disinformation operations in this history.

      I myself do not think there were any such disinformation operations. Evidently, however, some US Intelligence officials did argue that such operations were conducted.

      This footnote provides some insight into that controversy.

      Perhaps there were two sides:

      1) CIA and FBI had high confidence that Russia meddled in the election.

      2) NSA had significantly less confidence and offered an alternate explanation that Russia spread disinformation about the US election in order "to denigrate US foreign relations". In other words, NSA suggested that Russia tried to discredit US Democracy without actually meddling in our election.

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    3. The idea that Russia conducted a disinformation campaign in this history revolves around Sergei Millian.

      The idea is that Millian was a Russian Intelligence officer who arranged to become a major source for Christopher Steele. In that position, Millian told Steele various yarns, such as that Trump was videotaped watching Russian prostitutes urinate on a hotel bed.

      A major purpose of this supposed disinformation operation was to discredit the USA's Democracy. In other words, a goal was to make the US election into a laughing-stock.

      Another major purpose was to help Trump defeat Clinton by preparing an October Surprise. A lot of Clinton's e-mails would be released to the public a few days before the election. Many such e-mails would have been altered by Russian Intelligence in order to aggravate the embarrassment for Clinton.

      =====

      I myself do not think that Russia actually did conduct any such disinformation operations. Evidently, however, some officials in the US Intelligence Community have advocated arguments along those lines.

      =====

      Those officials who did argue along those lines argued specifically that Millian, in his interactions with Steele, was working actively for Russian Intelligence.

      In contrast, those officials who argued against the disinformation idea argued specifically that Millian was NOT acting for Russian Intelligence.

      Footnote 350 provides insights into that controversy within the US Intelligence Community.

      ======

      Another element in that controversy was (I think) the problem that Steele reported that Cohen had visited Prague. Eventually, everyone was compelled by the evidence to agree that Cohen had not visited Prague.

      So, there was an issue of how that false information became included in Steele's Dossier.

      Perhaps those officials who advocated the disinformation explanation suggested that Steele was a fabricator whose entire Dossier was unreliable. In particular, whatever Steele said about Russia helping Trump was fabricated nonsense. There was no actual meddling; there was only Russian mischievous disinformation about meddling.

      In contrast, the officials who believed that Russia actually had meddled in the election supposed that Steele's reports about the Prague visit were an honest mistake. They considered Steele to be essentially an honest, reliable reporter. Steele might have been mistaken about the Prague visit, but Steele was right about many other details in the history.

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    4. Re the footnote's second sentence I wouldn't be surprised if what was redacted was a long month-name, like "January," since the blacking out extends to cover where a comma might be, and there IS a comma after "2017." So: "A January, 2017, report".

      While I don't insist that the source is British, I would not discount it as you do--Brit Intel would be a pretty poor excuse for a professional intel outfit if they didn't take an interest in everybody surrounding a potential next POTUS. The UK's prospects on the world stage are far too closely linked to the US to not be interested in who the next POTUS will be. They obviously DID take a major interest in that possible development. Further, GCHQ--not NSA--is the true 800 lb. gorilla of technical collection in the world. I would never ever discount what they might know.

      I do however take back the idea that a human is named. Look at the wording:

      "A MONTH, 2017, report relayed information from SOURCE outlining an inaccuracy in a limited subset of Steele's reporting about the activities of Michael Cohen.

      "The SOURCE stated that it did not have high confidence in the subset of Steele's reporting and assessed that the referenced subset was part of a Russian disinformation campaign to denigrate U.S. foreign relations.

      "A second report from the same SOURCE five days later stated that a person named in the limited subset of Steele's reporting had denied representations in the reporting and the SOURCE assessed that the person's denials were truthful."

      The SOURCE clearly cannot be the NSA's contribution to the ICA, because the footnote speaks of a "second report" coming "five days after" the original report. The NSA did not do multiple contributions to the ICA and, in any case, Horowitz would only have seen the final ICA, not drafts of multiple submissions. Nor would the NSA have interviewed Cohen and obtained a denial that they believed--the NSA does technical collection, not human investigation.

      You also write:

      "Another part of the footnote involves someone's claim that Russian Intelligence had infiltrated a source into some network."

      Well, no. It WASN'T just "some network." It was specifically "the network of a LONG REDACTION who compiled a dossier of information on Trump's activities." Who do we know who supposedly had a "network" and who actually did compile a dossier on Trump". Steele. Do we know anyone else who did that? No.

      The point is to discredit Steele. We know for a fact that the Brits DID write a letter to the NSC (which Sidney Powell is trying to obtain in discovery) trashing Steele. Understandably, they wanted to give the impression that Steele had no particular contacts either with Russia or--probably more importantly--with Brit Intel. They were trying to ingratiate themselves with Trump after the fiasco of the Russia Hoax. They were lying but, hey, that's also called diplomacy. Or CYA.

      I highly recommend that you study sundance's reconstruction of footnote 350, which has much to recommend it:

      https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/puzzle-3.jpg

      He too thinks the references are to Brit Intel, and in fact the LONG REDACTION that I pointed out amply accommodates the name of Christopher Steele. The date for the report, January 12, also happens to be the date of the Brit letter to the NSC.

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    5. There are demonstrable inaccuracies in teh Steele memo re: Cohen in Prague that have to do with biographical info about the key Russian identified in the memo as a facilitator and possible attendee to the meetings in Prague.

      Anyone who can read a publicly available bio of the man ID'd in the memo should be able to figure out the crap in Steele's memo is flat wrong.

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  5. Here's a good article from Kevin R Brock, retired FBI in yesterday's Hill.

    https://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/492405-ag-barr-just-signaled-that-things-are-about-to-get-ugly-for-the-russia

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  6. Bill Barr addressed states and local governments with guidance about safeguarding the rights of the people to practice our faith, albeit with legitimate safeguards right now. But, he also stated that we can not be singled out when other activities, such as commerce, are being given exemptions and exceptions. Americans United for Separation of Church and State immediately resorted to pearl-clutching.

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  7. The Movies network ran the 1959 Jimmy Stewart picture 'The FBI Story.' In it, the g-men were the good guys, which, in days past, they might of been. But I couldn't help but think about Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Priestap, Page, Baker, Rybacki, Laufman and the other clowns.

    In one seen, Jimmy was battling the KKK. The KKK came in and smashed one man's newspaper offices. I told my wife that Comey and company are the modern day successors to the KKK along with their buddies in the Fake News, Deep State, Dems and Antifa.

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  8. test...

    (lost a big long comment)

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    1. I can't explain it. The only thing I can suggest is to type comments in a small editor--Notepad, maybe, if you use Windoze--and then copy to the comment box here.

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  9. The rot isn't just in the FBI. As Tony Shaffer mentioned in his May 2019 interview with Jekielek, one of the big problems would be finding an objective, trustworthy individual or organization with some integrity, fidelity, and bravery -- "who does the audit or investigation or both"? Well, it's over a year since that interview and we know the DOJ is doing it. The day we see Brennan, Rice, Comey, Clapper, McCabe, Stozek, Page, Preistap or any of these other CORRUPT CRIMINALS do a "perp walk", is the day I fly to the moon under my own power.

    It's may be too late, gentlemen, for our civilization. Trump may succeed in altering the course of our country for a bit. But he cannot solve this alone. Because that rot ? It's in each of us - not just our political leadership. Those of us who actually believe in our nation's founding principles have left it too long. We've been asleep at the switch and the barbarians are no longer at the gate, they are in the house.

    Don't believe that? Well, EVERY specialist I've seen interviewed (in REAL interviews) has expressed the same incredulity and in the same manner - almost identical words "this is just not how it is done" "this is beyond belief" "this is unprecedented" "this is crazy" etc-etc-etc.

    Got news people - this is reality. This is ROT.

    What our government -- be they lawyers -- be they analysts -- be they anyone -- has clearly shown us is the kind of POWER given by these EO's and Laws (FISC, Patriot Act, NSC, NSA, I.C.) CANNOT be safely used without violating our most basic Rights and the principles described in the Constitution which are DESIGNED to protect our individual freedom and liberty.
    It simply WON'T WORK because human beings are human and humans are endlessly creative -- just WHO do we put in place to watch -- who watches the watchdogs ?

    I know this conclusion will be met with skepticism and scoffing, but it is the only rational conclusion: FISA must go. The Patriot Act must be allowed to sunset permanently. If law enforcement wants to spy on a U.S. Citizen, they obtain a warrant from an Article III Court - nothing else can substitute for this.

    Yes, I.C., law enforcement, national security will lose by this. And Americans may suffer some loss if terrorist attacks are not stopped in time. But the national security apparatus will adapt and find other methods and sources and do their work. Without the threat of our own government taking our basic freedoms away.


    I hope I am wrong about the suspicion we've already lost our nation.

    If I am not, then I pray that one day this world will see another land of liberty, land of freedom whose people accept the Duties alongside the Rights. That's what we forgot in our busy lives - we have a Duty to safeguard our liberty, our freedom, our Rights. From all enemies - foreign and domestic. And perhaps our history will be the lesson this future land will not allow themselves to forget.

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    1. I understand and sympathize with what you're saying, but it's more complicated than you think. I remind you that the longstanding interpretation of the Constitution--which has never been overturned--is that the government can spy on Americans for national security reasons with NO WARRANT AT ALL. The drafters of FISA left in the emergency powers clause for warrantless spying--which Dubya made full use of--because they were afraid that FISA would be overturned by the SCOTUS if they tried to take away the President's long recognized national security power to spy. That's also why the Dems didn't try to do anything to Dubya for his wideranging use of emergency powers. If FISA is repealed we go back to the Constitution as it has always been interpreted by the SCOTUS.

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    2. Thank you. I was not aware that FISA offered some protections against spying by the Executive. But we can keep those protections while removing the "Secret Court" warrants provisioned in the Act. There is no room in a free society for Secret Courts and secret warrants.

      Any system can be corrupted. But with these secret warrants, the corruption is inevitable, given human nature and the nature of politics.

      In conscience, we must do something to remove this level of temptation for our elected, appointed, and bureaucratic officials. Else, this WILL happen again, no matter the winnowing which may be done as a "remedy".

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    3. I've spent a lot of time and effort trying to explain the problems with FISA. Framing the problem as one of "secret courts" misses the very real issues we face--and they're not easy. You write:

      "If law enforcement wants to spy on a U.S. Citizen, they obtain a warrant from an Article III Court - nothing else can substitute for this. ... There is no room in a free society for Secret Courts and secret warrants."

      Surely you don't think that arrest warrants or search or seizure warrants are obtained from Article III courts in public hearings, do you? I helped obtain many such warrants and it was always done ex parte, i.e., in secret.

      The SCOTUS has always--I repeat: ALWAYS--recognized an essential difference between the POTUS' duty to enforce the laws and his duties to defend the nation as CinC. Those national security powers are separate from enforcement of criminal laws and extend to spying to obtain intelligence of threats to our national security.

      The reason the FBI was keen to replace that constitutional system with a statutory regime (FISA) was because the statutory regime grants prior judicial approval to the spying. When was the last time you heard of any serious action taken against LE for obtaining a warrant based on false statements? Evidence may be tossed out, but serious consequences are very rare. That's exactly the system the FBI wanted for national security, and they got it with FISA.

      The FBI's concerns were actually understandable, because they were being raked over the coals for spying on radical leftists some of whom really did want to violently overthrow the government. Times have changed, and those violent radicals that the FBI was spying on now ghost write books for Dem presidential candidates. And the FBI has moved on, too, to take advantage of tech advances to leverage them for greater influence in the political sphere.

      My own fear is that a return to the Constitutional order is no longer possible because it would lead to imposition of a national security state the next time the left won an election. That's where the framers got it right--they knew that our constitutional order presupposes a virtuous citizenry, and that's what we sorely lack.

      Sorry, I have no good news here. All Trump's and Barr's efforts will go to waste in the end unless America's soul gets healed.

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  10. "My own fear is that a return to the Constitutional order is no longer possible because it would lead to imposition of a national security state the next time the left won an election. That's where the framers got it right--they knew that our constitutional order presupposes a virtuous citizenry, and that's what we sorely lack."

    Wow. Yes, what you say makes sense. And history certainly shows that successful countries descend into complacency, arrogance, godlessness, etc.

    Maybe I'm foolish but I still have some optimism. Maybe 9/11, hurricanes, Wuhan virus, etc., will wake people up. I still attend church with a lot of good Christians. We're out here.

    Then again, I could be wrong.

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    1. Depends on which side of the bed I get up on. :-)

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