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The new chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, James Boasberg, isssued a 19 page opinion taking aim at abuses by FBI and DOJ officials in their surveillance of the Trump campaign.
This adds to the previous findings from Inspector General Michael Horowitz that the FBI mishandled the FISA process in many ways.
Perhaps now FBI and DOJ officials will be held accountable for their actions?
Check it out:
Fox News reports:
In a 19-page ruling that can be read here, Boasberg also largely approved revisions that the FBI said it would make to its process for seeking wiretaps – in reaction to a damning report from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz that detailed errors and omissions in applications to conduct surveillance on Page in 2016 and 2017.
Among the problems, Boasberg noted, were that the FBI had "omitted or mischaracterized" various "information bearing on [former British spy Christopher] Steele's personal credibility and professional judgment."
It was Steele's unsubstantiatedand largely debunked dossier that played a key role in the FBI's warrants to surveil Page, but the FBI did not advise the FISC of "inconsistencies" in claims made by Steele's sub-source and assertions made by Steele himself. The bureau also did not clearly disclose that the dossier was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence to support a slew of Steele dossier claims, including that ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague as part of a conspiracy with Russian hackers, that Page had received a large payment relating to the sale of a share of a Russian oil giant, that Russia was running a disinformation campaign through a nonexistent consulate in Miami, or that Russians possessed lurid blackmail material on the president.
"Omissions of material fact were the most prevalent and among the most serious problems with the Page applications," Boasberg wrote. The judge pointed out that the inspector general had found that the FBI did not disclose to the court that it knew Page had a prior relationship with another intelligence agency from 2008 to 2013 -- a period in which Page had voluntarily told the agency that he had contacts with Russians.
Instead, the FBI's FISA application made Page's Russian contacts seem furtive and undisclosed, even though Page had reported them.
Most egregiously, Boasberg noted, "when pressed by the FBI declarant about the possibility of a prior relationship between Page and the other agency during the preparation of the final application in June 2017, the FBI OGC [Office of General Counsel] attorney added text to an email from the other agency stating that Page was not a source."
Just The News added:
or much of the last three years, key law enforcement leaders have insisted they did nothing wrong in pursuing counterintelligence surveillance warrants targeting the Trump campaign starting during the 2016 election. And, they've added, if mistakes were made, they were unintentional process errors downstream from them and not an effort to deceive the judges.
But in a little-noted passage in a recent order, U.S. District Judge James A. Boasberg, the new chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, took direct aim at the excuses and blame-shifting of these senior Obama administration FBI and DOJ officials.
In just 21 words, Boasberg provided the first judicial declaration the FBI had misled the court, not just committed process errors. "There is thus little doubt that the government breached its duty of candor to the Court with respect to those applications," Boasberg wrote.
The no-fault mantra has been spread by everyone from President Trump's former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who insisted the DOJ took its responsibility to submit "admissible evidence, credible witnesses" very seriously, to the ex-FBI Director James Comey, who declared recently it was "nonsense" to suggest the bureau opened a probe without good cause.
Some of these defenses — including a focus on fixing process suggested by current FBI chief Christopher Wray — have persisted even after Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued a damning report in December finding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications targeting former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page were riddled with mistakes, including 17 examples of misconduct, misinformation or outright lies.
Judge Boasberg drew headlines last week for an order suspending all FBI and DOJ lawyers involved in the Russia collusion case from appearing before his court until it is determined whether they engaged in misconduct.
But of greater long-term significance was his language pinning responsibility for FISA abuses squarely on senior officials, not just lower-level line agents and lawyers who prepared the warrant applications.
"The frequency and seriousness of these errors in a case that, given its sensitive nature, had an unusually high level of review at both DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have called into question the reliability of the information proffered in other FBI applications," Boasberg wrote.
In another words, he is worried the bad conduct exhibited by the FBI may extend to more cases affecting others' civil liberties.