Streetwise Professor

February 3, 2018

Sources and Methods

Filed under: Politics — The Profesor 2 @ 6:09 pm

One of the oft’ told horror stories in the runup to the release of the House Intel Committee memo was that it would scandalously harm national security by disclosing sources and methods.

This is largely true! Not the harm national security part.  But the memo did indeed disclose that the FBI used highly disreputable and biased sources obtained by nefarious methods in order to find a backdoor to spying on a presidential campaign, and this is indeed highly scandalous.  If I were the FBI and DOJ, I would want to keep these sources and methods secret too.

It is appalling that this happened in at least one instance.  But it raises an even bigger question: was this truly a one-off (bad enough), or was it representative of a more systematic practice (which would be far worse)?

I can understand why DOJ and the FBI would fight tooth-and-nail (including, if some late reporting is correct, Rosenstein threatening to subpoena House Intel Committee member/staff text and emails) to prevent the revelation of “sources and methods” in this instance.  What was revealed when the rock was turned over was quite shocking, and it cannot rest here. It is necessary to know whether the entire FISA process is routinely corrupted.

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  1. If I were Mitt Romney I might like to know.

    Comment by dearieme — February 3, 2018 @ 6:51 pm

  2. Meanwhile, to demonstrate beyond any doubt just how ridiculous all those collusion allegations are, the Trump administration managed to copy the Kremlin’s public phone directory and the Russian Forbes list and compile them together, all in less than a year.

    Comment by Ivan — February 3, 2018 @ 7:41 pm

  3. @Ivan–Well, if you read RBC (the only real independent news outlet in Russia), you’ll see I commented on this very issue! For non-Russian readers, I said that the domestic political angle is the most important one. The administration response was a passive-aggressive response to a Congressional mandate with which it disagrees. It was basically signalling that it will run its own Russian policy, thank you very much. I also made several comments on this issue on Twitter (@streetwiseprof).

    Comment by The Professor — February 3, 2018 @ 8:59 pm

  4. Oh, I understand very well that politics first and policy be damned. But then, of course, one would have no reason to criticize Obama, who was a champion of this approach, what with the red lines and all.

    Just for some Sunday fun: in broadest terms, how do you imagine a mechanism of being an independent news outlet in Russia?

    Comment by Ivan — February 4, 2018 @ 3:28 am

  5. Much of the electorate, and all of the operatives of the state are missing the giant, 800Lb gorilla here. The problem is not the investigation, nor it’s source material, nor the findings, which led to the current anal probing of the exec. The PROBLEM is the Patriot act, which defines something called a FISA court! It’s been said that legislation contemplated and passed in the wake of tumult is the bane of a civilization. We are now living that costly result, of ever more totalitarian control over the power of the people to get the govt they need, for the benefit and consent of the governed. It’s been called the ‘deep state’, or by people over 50 it’s been called the ‘crats control. Whatever it’s called, there is a concerted effort to disassociate the wishes of the people from the levers of power in govt. The FISA court flies directly in the face of the 4th, 5th, and 14th amendments. How the SCOTUS has allowed this to stand says much about the corruption of the entire system. We now have all three branches of govt working directly for the benefit of the state, under the guise of ‘security’ to the detriment of the citizens. The majority of the Patriot act, including the FISA court needs to be excised from the fed register, or SCOTUS needs to go back and read the BOR more carefully.

    Comment by doc — February 4, 2018 @ 9:29 am

  6. It is an 800 pound gorilla, especially when we have people in DC with the attitude that government agencies are standalone entities and should not be subject to Congressional oversight, as we have seen with the incredibly arrogant attitude and actions by various jerks from the FBI and DOJ high-ranking echelons.

    To review:

    Generally, the statute permits electronic surveillance in two different scenarios.

    Without a court order

    The President may authorize, through the Attorney General, electronic surveillance without a court order for the period of one year, provided that it is only to acquire foreign intelligence information,[5] that it is solely directed at communications or property controlled exclusively by foreign powers,[6] that there is no substantial likelihood that it will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party, and that it be conducted only in accordance with defined minimization procedures.[7]

    The code defines “foreign intelligence information” to mean information necessary to protect the United States against actual or potential grave attack, sabotage or international terrorism.[5]

    With a court order
    See also: Masking and unmasking by intelligence agencies

    Alternatively, the government may seek a court order permitting the surveillance using the FISA court.[18] Approval of a FISA application requires the court find probable cause that the target of the surveillance be a “foreign power” or an “agent of a foreign power”, and that the places at which surveillance is requested is used or will be used by that foreign power or its agent.[2][19] In addition, the court must find that the proposed surveillance meet certain “minimization requirements” for information pertaining to U.S. persons.[20] Depending on the type of surveillance, approved orders or extensions of orders may be active for 90 days, 120 days, or a year.[21]

    Comment by elmer — February 4, 2018 @ 11:35 am

  7. We live in the times of tectonic shift.

    Comment by ETat — February 4, 2018 @ 8:31 pm

  8. 35,529 FISA warrants requested since 1978. 12 denials. TWELVE warrants declined. Something gotta change.

    Comment by doc — February 5, 2018 @ 5:04 pm

  9. Independent or not quite, RBC is hardly a mouthpiece of the Kremlin. Curiously, some of the semi-independent Russian media, while critical of the Kremlin’s line on most domestic issues, view American politics through the eyes of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the like.

    Comment by Alex K. — February 5, 2018 @ 11:54 pm

  10. I believe they do this all the time. FBI/CIA/NSA are a police state apparatus focused entirely on getting blackmail materials on regime enemies.

    Comment by Thomas Jefferson — February 6, 2018 @ 12:15 pm

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