Confusing Dossier Chaff with Wheat
A hallmark of the Democrats – and the Clintons in particular – is that, with the aid of a complaisant press, they hide their wrongdoings with countless obfuscations and distractions so that the truth of consequential matters is buried in chaff and hard to see. This week, we can look forward to an effort to clear away the chaff and reveal the wheat.
Tomorrow, we expect the Department of Justice's inspector general to release the first part of his report to congressional investigators. The report is expected to cover the alleged bias and malfeasance by the FBI, among other things.
- Allegations that Department or FBI policies or procedures were not followed in connection with, or in actions leading up to or related to, the FBI [d]irector's public announcement on July 5, 2016, and the [d]irector's letters to Congress on October 28 and November 6, 2016, and that certain underlying investigative decisions were based on improper considerations;
- Allegations that the FBI [d]eputy [d]irector should have been recused from participating in certain investigative matters;
- Allegations that the Department's [a]ssistant [a]ttorney [g]eneral for [l]egislative [a]ffairs improperly disclosed non-public information to the Clinton campaign and/or should have been recused from participating in certain matters;
- Allegations that Department and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public information; and
- Allegations that decisions regarding the timing of the FBI's release of certain Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents on October 30 and November 1, 2016, and the use of a Twitter account to publicize same, were influenced by improper considerations.
The most significant portions of the report, to my mind, will be who illegally accessed the NSA (National Security Agency) and FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) databases (billions of emails, texts, phone calls) and who unmasked and publicized the information there, plus the relationship of the FBI with Fusion GPS and other outside contractors – and on what basis did the foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issue a warrant to surveil the Trump campaign?
The short explanation of this is Sharyl Attkisson's (unedited):
First, intel agencies werent supposed to surveil US citizens. But they did. Then they werent supposed to "store" it. But they did. Then they werent supposed to search it. But they did. Then they werent supposed to "unmask" it. But they did. Then they werent supposed to leak it...
All last week, Conservative Treehouse has been offering up far longer, more detailed explications of what occurred and suppositions about who did what. While the explanations seem credible, we may have to wait to see if they are correct. It remains a most valuable – if hard to read – source. Here is one part of a recent report from there which forms a useful base from which to view what will surely be coming in the following days:
If a search is conducted from an intelligence agency of the U.S. government whose objective is to ensure "[n]ational [s]ecurity" there are different FISA rules [from the ones for] a search from an intelligence agency not engaged in "[n]ational [s]ecurity[.]" ...
When a FISA-702 search is conducted based on the need for "national security" no approval from the FISA court is needed. Search away. If the FISA search is because of a "vital national security interest" the resulting search data can be opened without seeking permission from the FISA court.
♦ A "FISA-702(16)" Search Result – would be a search result of the FBI (counter[-]terrorism) database or NSA database that returns an American person as a result of a "To" or "From" (16) type data search.
EXAMPLE: Querying phone data (phone number) TO: Mohammed BadGuy or FROM: Mohammed BadGuy – might return a list of phone numbers that also contains an American person[']s phone number. That American person is protected by the [F]ourth [A]mendment. To look at the "upstream" connections of the American [p]erson to other people, likely Americans, the search operator would need to ask permission of the FISA Court to review the upstream results.
[NOTE: *Exception* – the search was vital to national security. If so, the upstream phone numbers could be reviewed without asking FISA permission.]
♦ A "FISA-702(17)" Search Result – would be a search result of the FBI (counter[-]terrorism) database or NSA database that returns an American person (702) as a result of an "ABOUT" (17) type data search.
EXAMPLE: Querying everything in email ABOUT: Mohammed BadGuy – might return communication of an American who wrote a letter about Mohammed BadGuy or maybe he told a friend in a text to check out a media story about Mohammed BadGuy. To look at the email or text of the American, the search operator would need to ask permission of the FISA Court to see the email/text content. Someone inside the FBI was giving FISA-702 search results on U.S. individuals to a private entity that had nothing to do with government. Those 702 (American [c]itizen) results were not "minimized" and exposed the private data of the American citizen(s).
In addition, NSA [d]irector Mike Rogers, who is also in charge of Cyber Command, discovered people within the intelligence community were doing "searches" of the NSA and FBI database that were returning information that had nothing to do with "Foreign Individuals[.]" ...
Mike Rogers discovered FBI contractors doing FISA-702 "About Searches" that resulted in returns providing information on Americans. Those results were passed on to people outside government.
We do not yet know who these independent contractors were who were allowed to riffle through the NSA database, or why the FBI shared the results with them. Nor can we imagine why the FBI even hired outside contractors for such work. But the supposition is that these independent contractors were Fusion GPS, a dirt-digging opposition research firm paid by Hillary Clinton and apparently President Obama (through hired counsel), and even the FBI or others subcontracted by them were working in league with them. Should that prove true, we have the worst political scandal in U.S. history: a weaponization of our law enforcement agencies to assist one candidate and destroy her opponent. Summarizing the Conservative Treehouse offerings, my Facebook friend Harry Lewis notes in relevant part:
[Obama] and his allies tried to strangle the new Trump [a]dministration in its crib. Those efforts continue to this date.
According to the website, ... Fusion [GPS] already was working as a private contractor for the FBI before April 18, 2016, and was given access, through the FBI, to the NSA database. If true, that means that the FBI, certainly through the level of [a]ssistant FBI [d]irector McCabe, and probably up to the level of FBI [d]irector Comey, already was engaged in spying on the Trump campaign by early April. The "about queries" are Google-style searches of the NSA database containing intercepted electronic communications. If the intercepts are of foreigners, then no FISA warrant is required. If [U.S.] persons are talking to foreigners, then their conversations are intercepted "incidentally[,]" and the identity of the [U.S.] person is masked (concealed) by NSA.
That operation certainly was known to Comey's superiors in the Department of Justice's National Security Division. It also was known, in turn, by Attorney General Lynch. It very likely was known to the White House. (Nellie Ohr's visit to the White House is the smoking gun for this). When ... Fusion [GPS] hired Nellie Ohr, they also were connecting to her husband, a senior Justice Department official. Ohr applied for a ham radio license, because [the] NSA isn't surveilling ham radio frequencies, and they knew that. ... When Trump hires Manafort in March 2016, ... Fusion [GPS] already knew that Manafort was dirty (was taking money from a Ukrainian dictator being propped up by the Russians; Mueller's indictment alleges money[-]laundering by Manafort) from their previous reporting on him. That's their pitch to the FBI and the Hillary campaign: exposing Manafort can bring down Trump.
What Sundance is saying is that ... Fusion [GPS] already was a private contractor for the FBI, that the operation to spy on Trump and his associates was an FBI/Justice Department/White House/Hillary Clinton/DNC operation from the beginning, and that Steele was brought in to create a "foreign" connection to all of this as cover for the FISA applications and warrants which would justify this sordid and illegal abuse of [U.S.] intelligence capabilities retroactively.
If you know about the dossier and its work only through TV and major press accounts, you know nothing. I'm sorry to say. For example, there has been a "blizzard of lies" about Christopher Steele, who was the Fusion GPS source on Russia.
Christopher Steele was Hillary's hired gun, paid gobs of money to dig up dirt on Donald Trump. Yet somehow this "brilliant" spy lacked the surveillance skills to know that Hillary had hired him. That's one of the many whoppers in the released Glenn Simpson testimony in which Steele is portrayed as a "Boy Scout" operating from the highest and purest of motives.
Steele's stenographers in the press invariably describe him as "highly regarded" and apolitical. The propagandistic omniscience behind these descriptions is laughable and amounts to nothing more than liberals presiding over a kangaroo court in which they can endlessly appeal to their own authority: we say he is "highly regarded," so he is; we say that his motives were pure, so they are; we say that parts of his report have been "corroborated," so don't question them.
The claim that Steele was operating above politics is a joke. According to the British press, he was a socialist before working for British intelligence as a Russian expert – a career path that should stimulate skepticism, or at least curiosity, in a vigilant press. Steele was the perfect counterpart to John Brennan, who entered American intelligence after supporting the American Communist Party.
Incidentally, some of the best reporting on this has been done by women – women without pink pussy hats. Catherine Herridge, Sara Carter, Kimberley Strassel, and Sharyl Attkisson come readily to mind. Kimberley Strassel warns this week about the chaff being thrown up about the dossier in an effort to keep you confused and ignorant about what went on.
There's no such thing as a coincidence in Washington, so why the sudden, furious effort by Democrats and the media to give cover to the Steele dossier? As in, the sudden, furious effort that happens to coincide with congressional investigators' finally being given access to FBI records about the Trump-Russia probe[?]
This scandal's pivotal day was Jan. 3. That's the deadline House Intelligence [c]hairman Devin Nunes gave the Federal Bureau of Investigation to turn over documents it had been holding for months. Speaker Paul Ryan backed Mr. Nunes's threat to cite officials for contempt of Congress. Everyone who played a part in encouraging the FBI's colonoscopy of the Trump campaign – congressional Democrats, FBI and Justice Department senior career staff, the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama political mobs, dossier commissioner Fusion GPS, the press corps – knew about the deadline and clearly had been tipped to the likelihood that the FBI would have to comply. Thus the dossier rehabilitation campaign.
Weeks before, the same crew had taken a desperate shot at running away from the dossier, with a New York Times special that attempted to play down its significance in the FBI probe. You can see why. In the year since BuzzFeed published the salacious dossier, we've discovered [that] it was a work product of the Clinton campaign, commissioned by an oppo research firm (Fusion), compiled by a British ex-spook on the basis of anonymous sources, and rolled out to the media in the run[-]up to the election. Oh, and it appears to continue to be almost entirely false. When the best you've got is that a campaign orbiter made a public trip to Russia, you haven't got much. ...
We don't know exactly what Congress has seen, but it's a safe bet it's hot. The media and Democrats are trashing Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham for their criminal referral of Mr. Steele to the Justice Department. But neither man would make such a move without good – and documented – cause. If anything, the referral is suggestive of FBI misbehavior. Evidently whatever Messrs. Grassley and Graham found came only at this late stage, after the bureau reluctantly made key documents available to lawmakers. The implication is that the FBI and Justice Department knew they had a problem and were concealing it from investigators....
If Mr. Steele was such a professional, why was he out spreading national security "intelligence" through the media? If Mr. Simpson was so worried for his country, why did he spend months dodging congressional requests for testimony, and refuse to name his client? If Mr. Steele was confident enough in his document to spool it to the FBI, why has he ducked every congressional request that he explain his work? And that's before Mr. Grassley's claim to have credible evidence that Mr. Steele lied to the government.
Any decent investigation of what took place should, at a minimum, involve a number of high officials in multiple counts of illegal leaking of classified information, along with perjury before Congress. At a minimum, the penalties for misusing FISA databases and a more stringent means of addressing privacy concerns should be getting far more attention in Congress than they have as it races to reauthorize FISA.