WASHINGTON, April 8, 2018: Suppose, for a moment, you are one of 11 judges sitting on a secret court. (Let’s call it the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC.”) Then suppose an administration under the control of one political party asks you to sanction a warrant allowing the running of a “counter intelligence” operation against the opposition party.
Now suppose the targets of that warrant are that party’s presidential candidate and his staff.
Wouldn’t that engender a raised eyebrow, maybe even the unfurling of a few red flags in your mind?
A den of spies? A FISC full of plotters?
And yet, when this incident actually happened, the FISC thought nothing of becoming, like the Internal Revenue Service, a weaponized arm of the Democratic Party in the 2016 presidential election.
It is the assumption among many, even Fox News’s Trump/Russia-collusion-smashing Sean Hannity, that President Obama’s Justice Department “misled” the FISC (sometimes called “the FISA Court). They did so by presenting the court with unverified sexual accusations contained in former British spy Christopher Steele’s anti-Trump dossier.
The implication was that Trump’s alleged, past sexual exploits in Russia made him a prime target for Kremlin blackmail.
Christopher Steele: A colluding British spy
Untangling this complex web of deceit has been painfully slow. Much of the investigation has focused on the so-called Trump dossier. Areas of particular interest are its creator, its enablers, and most notoriously, the source of the information contained therein. Vanity Fair’s Howard Blum notes that when Steele played 007 in Russia in 1990, a year before the collapse of the Soviet Union, “the KGB was onto him almost from the start.”
Notably, no one can say that Soviet intelligence doesn’t know a gullible rube when it sees one.
According to Blum, Steele’s dossier sources included “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure” and “a former top-level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin.”
In other words, charges of Trump/Russia collusion were wholly dependent upon… well, a Steele/Russia collusion.
Were the FISC judges dupes, or political hacks?
Two questions arise:
- Were FISC judges simply duped, like the simple-minded Steele, by wily Russians seeking to “sow discord and confusion” in the 2016 presidential election?
- Or did Steele’s flimsy evidence – partially paid for by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee – provide an expedient to launch the most elaborate political dirty-tricks campaign in U.S. history?
We may find out soon.
Getting to the bottom of a Deep State conspiracy
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes wrote a letter earlier this month to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. In it, Nunes demanded
“access to an unredacted version of an Electronic Communication (EC) related to the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign…. Be advised that failure to comply in a satisfactory manner will result in the Committee pursuing all appropriate legal remedies, including seeking civil enforcement… in federal district court.”
Last Friday, the Department of Justice announced it would grant Congress “extraordinary accommodation” in accessing the four “classified” U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) documents. But because Republicans can’t be trusted to provide competent oversight even when it is in their best interest, the government watchdogs at Judicial Watch have filed their own lawsuit against the Justice Department. They demand
“Copies of all proposed and all final signed FISA applications submitted to the FISC relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election, allegations of collusion between people associated with the Trump campaign and Russia, and any known Trump associates regardless of context.”
As Judicial Watch also noted in its press release:
“There could have been no FISA warrant without the [Steele] dossier. Which means there was no Russia collusion story without the dossier. Which means there could have been no Mueller special counsel without the Clinton-financed anti-Russia dossier.”
The closest thing to eternal life on earth
It’s a truism that federal agencies find a way to live long past their original mandates. When Congress passed The Helium Act of 1925, it was designed to conserve the “strategic” gas for its fleet of lighter-than-air military dirigibles. Unsurprisingly, even today the gasbags in Congress continue funding what his now called the Federal Helium Reserve.
As its title suggests, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was designed to help combat, among our many enemies, Russian spies operating on American soil. Now with the Cold War ended, it has morphed into a secret, extra-constitutional mechanism that threatens the legitimacy of our elections. It effectively sows discord and confusion on behalf of a Democratic Party possessing Russian disinformation.
It’s long past time for Congress to dissolve the FISC. Its weaponization by the DNC and others poses a clear and present danger to our republic.
Top image: Statue of Union Civil War General George Gordon Meade, hero of Gettysburg,
with FISA Court looming behind him.