Reno Gazette Journal February 11, 2018
During the past week, the release of a memo from the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee has caused significant consternation in the media. Politics aside, the implications of this memo and the abuse of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) is significant and deserves to be examined in detail.
FISA traces its origins to a bill authored by Senator Ted Kennedy and signed into law by President Carter back in 1978. Presently under FISA, if there is evidence of a person spying, the government may seek a court order permitting the wiretapping of that person through the FISA court. FISA court grants or denies permission for wiretapping based on the evidence presented solely by the FBI.
All of this is fine, except that in the case of wiretapping of the Trump campaign, the evidence presented to the court for approval to wiretap Trump campaign operative Carter Page was a “dossier” that was funded by the Democratic party and the Hillary Clinton campaign and produced by a foreigner with connections to Russia. In other words, Clinton campaign funded a foreign outfit (Fusion GPS) to come up with a document that is pure hearsay with absolutely no supporting evidence. That document is then used by the FBI to obtain a warrant to wiretap an American citizen on American soil.
In addition to using a hearsay document, the FBI and the Department of Justice (DoJ) also failed to disclose the Democratic party or the Clinton campaign involvement to the FISA court. There were severe conflicts of interest with spouses of high level DoJ employees who were heavily involved in the decision-making (Associate Attorney General Bruce Ohr’s wife worked for the firm which produced the “dossier”, FBI deputy Director Andy McCabe’s wife took a $700,000 campaign contribution from Hillary allies, text messages between high level FBI operatives Lisa Page and Peter Strzok indicating secret plans to stop Trump) call the DoJ’s impartiality into question.
To be sure, this is not an indictment of the FBI, as most of the FBI agents and officials are great Americans who show up to work every day, put their lives on the line, and keep us safe. We have no reason to believe that the FBI is a partisan organization. I continue to believe that the FBI is a great American institution that we should all be proud of. However, it is the leadership of the FBI, who have tarnished its reputation.
One final point: President Roosevelt once said, “If he can lie for me, he can lie to me”. If the FBI can spy on the Trump campaign, they can just as easily spy on the campaign of a future Democratic Presidential Candidate whether it is Elizabeth Warren or Corey Booker or Kirsten Gillibrand. If the FBI can spy on one American citizen presenting hearsay as evidence, they can do that to any of us. This is beyond politics, it affects both parties and all Americans. It needs to be exposed, and the perpetrators punished. I hope my Democratic friends will join me in condemning this abuse of power by the FBI leadership.