Politics

FISA Court Picks Critic of Nuness FISA Memo to Help Oversee FBI Reform

Former Department of Justice (DOJ) official David Kris was picked by the FISA surveillance court to help evaluate FBI surveillance reforms initiated after the DOJs inspector general revealed numerous issues with a FISA warrant secured against former Trump 2016 presidential campaign aide Carter Page.

Kris served in the Obama administration as the head of the DOJs National Security Division, which oversees intelligence collection under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Hes been an outspoken supporter of impeaching President Donald Trump and repeatedly criticized Rep. Devin Nunes (R-N.C.) for a 2018 memo that alleged FISA abuse by the FBI in connection with the Page warrant.

In response to the report by IG Michael Horowitz, the FISA court ordered the FBI on Dec. 17, 2019, to explain what the bureau has done or will do “to ensure the accuracy and completeness of” its FISA applications.

The FBI “provided false information” and “withheld material information” from the DOJ, the report stated, adding that when FBI personnel do so, they “equally mislead” the FISA court (pdf).

FBI Director Christopher Wray responded on Jan. 10 (pdf), expressing regret over the problems with the Page warrant, and committed to a series of process changes.

That day, presiding FISA Judge James Boasberg appointed Kris to “serve as amicus curiae … to assist the Court in assessing the governments response to the December 17, 2019, Order.”

Boasberg said, “The amicus curiae is invited to submit written views regarding the governments submission by January 31, 2020.”

Nunes Memo Criticism

Several issues with the Page FISA warrant were highlighted by Nunes in his Jan. 18, 2018, memo, including that the warrant relied heavily on the Steele dossier, a collection of unsubstantiated claims about Trump-Russia collusion put together by former British spy Christopher Steele. Nunes pointed out that the FBI mostly didnt or couldnt corroborate the dossier and the warrant didnt mention that Steele was paid for his work, through intermediaries, by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the campaign of Trumps then-opponent for the presidency, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (pdf).

Kris called the Nunes memo “dishonest” in a March 1, 2018, essay on Lawfare, a blog operated by the Brookings Institute, where Kris serves as a contributing editor and one of the directors.

He noted that the FISA application disclosed in a lengthy footnote that Steele was paid by “a known U.S. person” (Glenn Simpson, co-founder of opposition research firm Fusion GPS), who was, in turn, paid by a “U.S. law firm” (Perkins Coie).

The application also stated:

“The FBI speculates that [Simpson] was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit [Trumps] campaign.”

The Nunes memo left out that the FBI had mentioned this.

“Had the FBI done in its FISA applications what Nunes did in his memo, heads would have rolled on Pennsylvania Avenue,” Kris wrote, calling for “consequences” for Nunes.

Kris argued that what the warrant disclosed “amply satisfies the requirements” and “enabled the court to take Steeles information with a grain of salt.”

He didnt address why the warrant omitted the fact that Perkins Coie was paid by the Clinton campaign and the DNC or at least the fact that Perkins Coie has been known for being closely interRead More – Source

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