Tuesday, December 10, 2019

What About the FISA Court?

Ever since this dog-and-pony show culminating in today's articles of impeachment got started, something has been on my mind.

It's clear the FBI is corrupt at the upper most levels.  Chief Weasel Jim Comey, and the dishonor roll of his underlings: McCabe, Strzok, Page, and lots more are all partisan hacks.  We know this.  We know they used the absolutely bogus Steele dossier to justify the need to monitor American citizens to the FISA courts (overview).  Borepatch started the day with post that it's time to Disband the FBI.  Count me on board with that.  While, from all I know, the majority of the agents and lower level staff are still honorable, there's a saying in management classes (I originally heard it was taken from the mafia) that goes, “the fish rots from the head down.”  If there are systemic problems in an organization, the problem lies in the top management's offices.

What I've been saying since this whole mess started is “what about the FISA courts?”  In my mind, if they were honest and honorable, they'd bust the FBI like 13 year olds pretending to be college students at spring break in south Florida.* I'd very publicly and loudly tell the FBI, “you've proven you're not trustworthy.  Because of that, from now on there will be no warrants issued to you unless you bring 10 times the amount of justification we used to require, and you'd better have far more than one source.  You will be questioned about it relentlessly, and you'd better damned well have every last detail documented.”  Or something similar.  Let everybody know the FBI is getting their chops busted for their partisan politics.

The fact that this hasn't happened doesn't mean the FISA courts didn't slap down the FBI in some classified meetings that we're not allowed to know about.  The fact that it wasn't public, though, implies that the FISA court is just as rotten as the heads of the FBI fish.  They could have dressed them down in secret but made a public statement about how shocked - shocked! I tell you - and how appalled the court is at having been lied to by the FBI.  The fact that didn't happen tells you the FISA court needs to be disbanded, just like the FBI.  The whole Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act needs to be torn up and started again from blank paper. 

The FISA court in DC.  It's very secret, you know.

* Not that I would know anything about being a 13 year old trying to pass for a college freshman with the college babes at Spring Break.  I was at least 16.  Ok, 15.  But I swear I wasn't 13. 


  1. tearing it all up to start from blank paper is useless because the same players would be involved with the next iteration of FISA.
    root problem appears to be the very much lower level of evidence in order to commence surveillance activities. If such low level of evidence would not be allowed in criminal courts as they say, why is it allowed in FISA?

  2. I worked closely with the FBI for at least a decade, maybe more. I have friends there, though most have retired. Those caveats aside, I can assure you that nothing I've seen with this coup attempt and the evident rot inside the FBI has been a surprise to me. It was always there and though you can blame Hoover for institutionalizing what we see - - the individuals who work there have to take responsibility for the culture. I can point out COUNTLESS examples of similar conduct, that was whitewashed or embraced.

    FISA, the Act, was not necessary, in my opinion. Everything that the FBI or counterintelligence agencies/operators needed to obtain could have been lawfully obtained without FISA. FISA was a crutch and an end-around, and we can all see what it is. Now laid bare.

  3. As a former employee of a sub-organ of the DOJ, I can repeat the phrase "We enforce the law, we don't obey it."

  4. I am shocked -- shocked! to learn that this government is behaving much like the average behavior of every government in recorded history. The other commenters here are saying 'we have first-hand knowledge it worked exactly like that', yet they continue to support the existence of similar systems in general. I ask them, what evidence would it take for you to stop making Charlie Brown runs at "good government"? The conclusion I expect to reach is: 'the urge to organize into a great ape organizational structure is instinctually programmed, and not subject to alteration by rational thought'.

  5. The FISA courts work exactly as Judge Bork said they would when they were created. Who knew???