Thanks to Democrats, FISA oversight is dead
Strip away all the hype, all the spin, all the "fake news" being generated about the Nunes memo and both sides are left with one, incontrovertible, undeniable fact.
The FISA warrant issued to spy on American citizen, Carter Page, was based at least, in part, on "facts" that the FBI has admitted they are unable to corroborate, from a source that was not only questionable, but demonstrably and irrevocably politically partisan in nature
That means that the FISA judge who issued the intelligence warrant that sicced the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, and other US intelligence agencies on an American citizen, to spy on him, read his mail, and invade his privacy, did not have all the facts when he made his decision.
It doesn't matter if there were other sources of intelligence that were submitted to the judge as justification for a warrant. It doesn't matter because using an uncorroborated, unverified fact source tainted the entire process.
If the Steele dossier "confirmed" other intelligence on Page that the bureau used to get a FISA warrant, the FBI wouldn't be going around the Hill telling members of Congress that the document is "unverified." Steele's accusations would have been corroborated and the entire matter wouldn't have caused much of a ripple. Instead, we can assume that the information on Page given to the FISA judge based on the dossier had little or nothing to do with other intelligence gathered by US sources, making the dossier loom large, indeed, in the decision of the judge to issue the warrant.
Liberal Democrats have been screaming for years about lax standards in justifying a FISA warrant. Now, the FBI has used questionable information to convince a judge to allow the government to spy on an American citizen.
So, doesn't the use of the Steele dossier constitute an abuse of the FISA warrant system? Let's ask the memo's most vociferous critic, Rep. Adam Schiff.
Wall Street Journal: (Paywall)
Readers concerned about the government’s surveillance authority may be interested to know about one current member of the Intelligence committee who began focusing on this issue all the way back in the George W. Bush administration.
In March of 2007, he announced that he was “deeply troubled” by what he called “abuses of authority” by the FBI in acquiring personal information on U.S. citizens. Over the years, he urged various restrictions on the ability of the executive branch to get information on Americans’ phone calls. In order “to protect privacy and increase transparency” he sought in various ways to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court—the very court that approved the electronic surveillance of a Trump associate for reasons that are still not entirely clear.
Way ahead of the news, this particular lawmaker specifically introduced the “Ending Secret Law Act” which according to a press release from his office, “would require the Attorney General to declassify significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions, allowing Americans to know how the Court has interpreted” its legal authorities.
This lawmaker said that his legislation “will help ensure we have true checks and balances when it comes to the judges who are given the responsibility of overseeing our most sensitive intelligence gathering and national security programs.”
His name is Adam Schiff, and he is now the ranking member on House Intelligence. But oddly he doesn’t seem to want to take credit for his early concern for civil liberties.
We're used to liberals virtue signalling on every conceivable topic. But this is a special kind of hypocrisy by Schiff and the Democrats because Schiff was correct - back in 2007. Of the more than 35,000 requests for a FISA warrant from intelligence judges since 1978, only 12 have been rejected. A legitimate question can be raised about many other FISA warrants and the information upon which a judge made their decision.
But the issue of FISA abuses appears to have been thrown under the bus by Democrats in service to a partisan political agenda. As the WSJ article states, "If this is accurate, and if it’s also acceptable to include uncorroborated information in warrant applications, this means that the bar for approving government spying against domestic political opponents is significantly lower than most Americans have been led to believe."
It's either significantly lower or it's been corrupted by partisan considerations. Either reason doesn't appear to bother Democrats.
Until a Democrat becomes the target of a FISA warrant. That, I assure you, will be a different story.