A Cabal of Sociopaths
If we learned anything this week, we’ve learned that the continued life of this Constitutional Republic is in grave danger from the cabal of sociopaths in critical positions of power, and that it is because scaremongers and a supine press and judiciary have permitted enactment of dangerous legislation and illegal conduct to go on and on unpunished. Worse, the perpetrators are being richly rewarded for their violation of law and public trust.
Friday the FISC (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ) released a report that was written and kept under seal since last year.
It found that:
The FBI continued to abuse a powerful digital surveillance tool even after the Bureau promised reforms following its Trump-era abuses, according to a newly-unsealed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court document.
The FBI misused Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) more than 278,000 times, the Washington Post reported, “including against crime victims, January 6 riot suspects, and people arrested at protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in 2020.” In one particularly egregious case, they reportedly relied on Section 702 to spy on 19,000 donors to a congressional candidate.
Section 702 is a provision of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 that “permits the government to conduct targeted surveillance of foreign persons located outside the United States, with the compelled assistance of electronic communication service providers, to acquire foreign intelligence information.”
The law, created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, allows National Security Agency and FBI employees a to search a vast database of electronic communications and other information. The FBI is authorized to search the Section 702 database “only when agents have reason to believe such a search will produce information relevant to foreign intelligence purposes, or evidence of crimes,” according to the Post.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees Section 702, stated in the memorandum opinion that the FBI has shown “a pattern of conducting broad, suspicionless queries that violate the requirement that its queries of unminimized Section 702 information be reasonably likely to retrieve foreign intelligence information.
The FBI had earlier promised to fix the problems. It clearly did not. The Act which the FBI has continually violated comes up for reauthorization in the next congressional session and should be allowed to expire.
In another context -- the COVID-19 responses of the government and judiciary -- Justice Neil Gorsuch makes a compelling case on how fearmongering has led to great intrusions on civil liberties:
The FISA is another example, in my opinion.
Mark Wauck makes a strong case that in the absence of jailing FBI violators or repealing the Act we should just refuse to reauthorize it.
I agree with the late Judge Robert Bork that FISA is almost certainly unconstitutional. Repeal of FISA will only return the situation to the constitutional status quo, which always allowed for warrantless domestic spying based on appeals to “national security” -- regardless of what “principled constitutional conservatives” may mistakenly believe. That position has never been rejected in court. Warrantless national security surveillance was not illegal before FISA and will not be illegal if FISA is repealed. What is illegal is intentional violation of civil rights.
The crazy idea that by passing a law we can alter fundamental human behavior is as foolish as the idea that by adopting a written constitution we can institute a system of governance that will be impervious to human flaws and will be self-executing. Consider -- whatever happened to the war making power that has been, as far as I can tell, completely usurped by the ruling oligarchy. The only remedy for abuses of government authority is active and informed public participation in the electoral process, coupled with aggressive legislative oversight. The effect of a law like FISA, as Judge Bork presciently pointed out, is:
It provides an excuse for our elected representatives to look the other way most of the time;
It provides a platform upon which our elected representatives can grandstand and signal their own virtue to the general public -- that was largely what FISA was all about in the first place, and Congress left themselves a convenient loophole for emergency surveillance;
It offers the perpetrators of the abuses a ready excuse and ensures that they will, ultimately, remain unpunished and free to continue as before, based on the plea of ignorance and incompetence;
The result will always be the bandaid approach that leads to a repetition of all the above.
Retaliation Against Whistleblowers
Hearings this week revealed the Agency took draconian measures against three agents who, as the law permits them to do without retaliation, were brutally treated by the FBI for protected reporting of misconduct.
The FBI’s Washington Field Office (WFO) pressured a field office in Boston, Massachusetts, to open investigations on 138 individuals who traveled to Washington, D.C., to exercise their First Amendment rights on January 6, 2021, with no specific indication that these people were involved in any way in criminal activity. The only basis for investigating these people was that they shared buses to Washington with two individuals who entered restricted areas of the Capitol that day. Rather than limiting the investigation to just the two people who entered restricted areas, the WFO instructed the Boston Field Office to open investigations on all 140 individuals who attended the political rally.
In response to the WFO’s pressure to open investigations into all 140 individuals, the Boston Field Office asked the WFO for more evidence, including video from the Capitol, to properly predicate the investigations. The WFO provided pictures of the two individuals inside the Capitol; however, the WFO refused to provide video evidence from the Capitol out of fear it would disclose undercover officers or confidential human sources inside the Capitol.
Shortly after the events of January 6, 2021, Bank of America (BoA) provided the FBI with confidential customer data -- voluntarily and without any legal process. BoA gave WFO a list of individuals who had made transactions in the Washington, D.C. area using a BoA product between January 5 and January 7, 2021. Individuals who had previously purchased a firearm with a BoA product were reportedly elevated to the top of the list. [snip]
FBI leadership pressured agents to reclassify cases as domestic violent extremism (DVE), and even manufactured DVE cases where they may not otherwise exist, while manipulating its case categorization system to create the perception that DVE is organically rising around the country.
The FBI dispenses cash bonuses to local field office leadership for meeting certain arbitrary metrics and performance goals. This bonus structure creates perverse incentives for the FBI to utilize law-enforcement tools and resources where they may not be needed or appropriate in order for FBI leadership to benefit financially.
These FBI employees have come forward to blow the whistle at great personal and professional risk. Each of these whistleblowers described retaliatory conduct that they have faced after making protected disclosures about what they believed in good faith to be wrong conduct. A recurring theme is that the FBI has violated federal whistleblower protection laws and abused its security clearance review process to hamstring the brave agents who exercise their right to make protected disclosures to Congress or who dared to question agency leadership. For example:
Special Agent [Garret] O’Boyle made protected disclosures to his Supervisory Special Agent about potentially illegal activity, and the FBI transferred him to a new unit that required him to move his family across-country. When O’Boyle arrived for his first day, the FBI placed him on unpaid, indefinite suspension, effectively rendering his “family homeless” and leaving them without any personal effects -- including his young children’s clothing -- because these items were in FBI storage.
Likewise, in Special Agent [Steve] Friend’s case, the FBI suspended his security clearance after making protected disclosures. This suspension rendered Friend unable to fulfill his duties as a special agent -- thus, the FBI suspended him indefinitely. While on suspension, the FBI refused to allow Friend to obtain outside employment, leaving his family without income.
In Staff Operations Specialist Allen’s case, the FBI suspended his security clearance for simply performing duties of his job -- conducting case-related research using open-source news articles and videos and sending his search results to his task force colleagues.
The FBI leadership’s trend toward political partisanship in recent years has disturbed the ranks of front-line FBI agents like O’Boyle, Friend, and [George] Hill. In the words of one whistleblower, the current state of the FBI is “cancerous” as the Bureau has “let itself become enveloped in this politicization and weaponization.” This testimony supplements earlier disclosures from whistleblowers, highlighted in the Committee’s November 2022 report, in which whistleblowers described the FBI’s Washington leadership as “rotted at its core” and having a “systemic culture of unaccountability.”
This only underscores the observations about the likelihood of unpunished violations of citizens’ rights expressed above by Judge Bork and Mark Wauck. The Congress has ceded too much power to the Agency, repeated legal violations go unpunished, and the violations only become more egregious as a result.
The Durham Report
The Durham Report is a damning indictment of the Mueller report which preceded it. It “makes clear that the collusion probe failed to investigate how the collusion probe began as a dirty trick by the Clinton campaign and how the FBI went along for the ride.”
“The report includes evidence that those engaged in the FBI’s initial Crossfire Hurricane probe and Democratic attorneys used their positions on the Mueller investigating team to cover up the FBI mess… Mueller hired for his team FBI agent Peter Strzok, FBI analyst Brian Auten, and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, the very people who were main figures in the Crossfire fiasco.”
The Wall Street Journal uses as an example the fact that the Mueller team never were allowed to interview Democrat Charles Dolan, reportedly a source for the Steele dossier, an unfounded document that supposedly was a predicate for the investigation of “collusion.” Durham found that the Russians may have compromised Steele’s sources even before he began to write and peddle to the Democrats' press lackeys the preposterous dossier.
That was not all: Durham found that the FBI knowingly relied on Igor Danchenko. Danchenko had been undercover as a possible Russian spy yet he was hired to investigate whether Trump colluded with Russia. The notion that Mueller was compromised, drunk, or demented when he headed this investigation is hard to dismiss.
Professor Jonathan Turley likens the Durham findings to Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express: They all did it -- “the Clinton campaign, the FBI, and the media… It was a plot that required everyone to take a hand in derailing a duly elected president and effectively shutting down his administration for three years of investigations and prosecutions. In this conspiracy there were dozens of key participants in the campaign, the government, and the media.”
Durham’s operation, however, was not without its flaws. Hired as a prosecutor, he prosecuted only one member of the cabal. He never even subpoenaed key figures like Comey, McCabe, and Strzok. (I suspect because he knows the courts and jurors in the District of Columbia operate as another branch of the Democratic party -- recall that the Ken Starr team announced they believed Hillary Clinton had committed perjury but declined to indict her because they believed no D.C. jury would convict her.) Former attorney general William Barr praised the report, saying that Durham was not charged to prosecute the wrongdoers, only to investigate and find the truth, which he did.
Not only were the cabalists not prosecuted, they’ve grown rich thanks to their roles in this outrage from book deals, academic slots, and back pay from the government.