December 7, 2019

Did FBI Violate Woods Procedures?… Title I FISA Surveillance

Exceptional Work by Sharyl Attkisson – Did FBI Violate Woods Procedures?…

Exceptional Work by Sharyl Attkisson – Did FBI Violate Woods Procedures?…

The biggest of all BIGGER story aspects to the HPSCI Memo, in the downstream coverage, has been entirely overlooked by all Main Stream Media. The Department of Justice FBI FISA request was for “Title I” surveillance authority; this is not some innocuous request for metadata exploration – the FBI said American citizen Carter Page was a “foreign agent of a hostile foreign government”; the FBI was calling Carter Page a spy.

“Title I” FISA surveillance of U.S. citizens is the most intrusive, exhaustive and far reaching type of search, seizure and surveillance authority, permitting the FBI to look at every scintilla of Mr. Page’s life. All communication, travel and contact can be opened and reviewed. All aspects of any of Mr. Page’s engagements are subject to being secretly monitored. This is an entirely different level of surveillance authority, the highest possible, and has nothing to do with FISA-702 search queries (Title VII) of U.S. persons.

To present a methaphor, under Title I FISA authority, Carter Page was essentially ‘patient zero’ in an Ebola pandemic. Labeling him as a foreign agent allowed the FBI to look at every single person he came in contact with; and every single aspect of their lives and their activities in growing and concentric circles without limits in current time or historic review.

The “Title I” designation as a foreign agent applied retroactively to any action taken by Mr. Page, and auto-generates an exponential list of other people he came in contact with. Each of those people, groups or organizations could now have their communication reviewed, unmasked and analyzed by the DOJ/FBI with the same surveillance authority granted upon the target, Mr. Page.

Because the consequences of this type of surveillance are so comprehensive; and because the severity to the immediate loss of constitutional protection (privacy and liberty) is so stark; the U.S. Government intentionally, through the FISA court, makes it very difficult to gain such Title I designated authority over a U.S. citizen.

Sharyl Attkisson picks up from there with her deep dive into exactly what protections are in place and the extraordinarily high-bar the DOJ needs to pass in order to gain Title I surveillance authority.
The point is: There are strict rules requiring that each and every fact presented in an FBI request to electronically spy on a U.S. citizen be extreme-vetted for accuracy — and presented to the court only if verified.

There’s no dispute that at least some, if not a great deal, of information in the anti-Trump “Steele dossier” was unverified or false. Former FBI director James Comey testified as much himself before a Senate committee in June 2017. Comey repeatedly referred to “salacious” and “unverified” material in the dossier, which turned out to be paid political opposition research against Donald Trump funded first by Republicans, then by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Presentation of any such unverified material to the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to justify a wiretap would appear to violate crucial procedural rules, called “Woods Procedures,” designed to protect U.S. citizens.

Yet Comey allegedly signed three of the FISA applications on behalf of the FBI. Deputy Director Andrew McCabe reportedly signed one and former Attorney General Sally Yates, then-Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein each reportedly signed one or more. (read more)

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To think that unverified claims, gossip, media reports, and generally salacious political opposition research could be included in an application to remove an Americans’ right to privacy and liberty is really the BIGGER story being clouded in this entire discussion.

And keep in mind, amid all of this exhaustive FBI surveillance and DOJ national security division digging into every aspect of his life, Mr. Carter Page has never been accused of any crime, wrongdoing, or subsequent criminal conduct.

It appears the entire reason to label Mr. Page as a Title One “foreign agent” was so the DOJ National Security Division and FBI Counterintelligence Division, could use Mr. Page’s short contact with the Trump campaign as an excuse to monitor everyone else within the campaign before, during and after the election.

 

Source: The Conservative Treehouse

Nunes Memo Raises Question: Did FBI violate Woods Procedures?

By Sharyl Attkisson

Nunes memo raises question: Did FBI violate Woods Procedures?

Nunes memo raises question: Did FBI violate Woods Procedures?

© Getty Images
For all the debate over the House Republican memo pointing to alleged misconduct by some current and former FBI and Justice Department officials, one crucial point hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves.
And it relates in an unexpected way to special counsel Robert Mueller.
The point is: There are strict rules requiring that each and every fact presented in an FBI request to electronically spy on a U.S. citizen be extreme-vetted for accuracy — and presented to the court only if verified.
There’s no dispute that at least some, if not a great deal, of information in the anti-Trump “Steele dossier” was unverified or false. Former FBI director James Comey testified as much himself before a Senate committee in June 2017. Comey repeatedly referred to “salacious” and “unverified” material in the dossier, which turned out to be paid political opposition research against Donald Trump funded first by Republicans, then by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Presentation of any such unverified material to the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to justify a wiretap would appear to violate crucial procedural rules, called “Woods Procedures,” designed to protect U.S. citizens.
Yet Comey allegedly signed three of the FISA applications on behalf of the FBI. Deputy Director Andrew McCabe reportedly signed one and former Attorney General Sally Yates, then-Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein each reportedly signed one or more.
Woods Procedures 
Woods Procedures were named for Michael Woods, the FBI official who drafted the rules as head of the Office of General Counsel’s National Security Law Unit. They were instituted in April 2001 to “ensure accuracy with regard to … the facts supporting probable cause” after recurring instances, presumably inadvertent, in which the FBI had presented inaccurate information to the FISA court.
Prior to Woods Procedures, “[i]ncorrect information was repeated in subsequent and related FISA packages,” the FBI told Congress in August 2003. “By signing and swearing to the declaration, the headquarters agent is attesting to knowledge of what is contained in the declaration.”
It’s incredible to think of how many FBI and Justice Department officials would have touched the multiple applications to wiretap Trump campaign adviser Carter Page — allegedly granted, at least in part, on the basis of unverified and thus prohibited information — if normal procedures were followed.
The FBI’s complex, multi-layered review is designed for the very purpose of preventing unverified information from ever reaching the court. It starts with the FBI field offices.
According to former FBI agent Asha Rangappa, who wrote of the process last year in JustSecurity.org, the completed FISA application requires approval through the FBI chain of command “including a Supervisor, the Chief Division Counsel (the highest lawyer within that FBI field office), and finally, the Special Agent in Charge of the field office, before making its way to FBI Headquarters to get approval by (at least) the Unit-level Supervisor there.”
At FBI headquarters, an “action memorandum” is prepared with additional facts culled by analytical personnel assigned to espionage allegations involving certain foreign powers.
Next, it goes to the Justice Department “where attorneys from the National Security Division comb through the application to verify all the assertions made in it,” wrote Rangappa. “DOJ verifies the accuracy of every fact stated in the application. If anything looks unsubstantiated, the application is sent back to the FBI to provide additional evidentiary support – this game of bureaucratic chutes and ladders continues until DOJ is satisfied that the facts in the FISA application can both be corroborated and meet the legal standards for the court. After getting sign-off from a senior DOJ official (finally!).”
There’s more
But there are even more reviews and processes regarding government applications for wiretaps designed to make sure inaccurate or unverified information isn’t used.
In November 2002, the FBI implemented a special FISA Unit with a unit chief and six staffers, and installed an automated tracking system that connects field offices, headquarters, the National Security Law Branch and the Office of Intelligence, allowing participants to track the process during each stage.
Starting March 1, 2003, the FBI required field offices to confirm they’ve verified the accuracy of facts presented to the court through the case agent, the field office’s Chief Division Counsel and the Special Agent in Charge.
All of this information was provided to Congress in 2003. The FBI director at the time also ordered that any issue as to whether a FISA application was factually sufficient was to be brought to his attention. Personally.
Who was the director of the FBI when all of this careful work was done?
Robert Mueller.
Perhaps ironically, Mueller isn’t in charge of the investigation examining the conduct of FBI and Justice Department officials and whether they followed the rules he’d carefully implemented 15 years before. Instead, Mueller is leading the probe into Russia’s alleged illegal connections with Trump associates. Congress is looking at the wiretap process.
With so much information still classified, redacted and — in some cases — withheld, there is much we don’t know. Perhaps we will eventually learn that there’s a good reason unverified material was given to the court. Maybe there was no violation of rules or processes.
But there’s a reason Woods Procedures exist in the first place. They aren’t arcane rules that could have been overlooked or misunderstood by the high-ranking and seasoned professionals working under the Obama and Trump administrations who touched the four Carter Page wiretap applications and renewals. And unless they’ve secretly been lifted or amended, Woods Procedures aren’t discretionary.
In the past, when the FBI has presented inaccuracies to the FISA court, it’s been viewed so seriously that it’s drawn the attention of the Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility, which investigates Justice Department attorneys accused of misconduct or crimes in their professional functions.
 
Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) is an Emmy-award winning investigative journalist, author of The New York Times bestsellers “The Smear” and “Stonewalled,” and host of Sinclair’s Sunday TV program “Full Measure.”

Source: The Hill

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