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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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(THREAD) While I remain uninterested in the Trump/Nunes assault on law enforcement—and don't want to give it any more air-time—Sen. Graham calling the FISA warrant for Page "a bunch of garbage" is a bridge too far. Here's an explanation of how he and the GOP are lying to America.
1/ Not many people realize the very foundation of the Republican Party for the last 30 years has been its absolute *incompetence* at addressing crime in America—and its concurrent and dogged insistence that *no one else in America* should understand anything about crime, either.
2/ The GOP position on crime in America is *100% bullshit*—it flies in the face of everything criminal justice experts tell GOP politicians. Instead of selective decriminalization, a focus on rehabilitation, diversion programs, and gun control the GOP offers exactly the opposite.
3/ No matter what's happening to the crime rate—or increases or decreases in types of crime—in America, the GOP prescription remains the same: more jails, more police, more laws, more mandatory sentencing, more draconian measures, and more *false rhetoric* about how crime works.
4/ The typical American "anti-crime" voter hasn't read the Constitution—and wouldn't accept what the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th or 14th Amendments tell us if they did—and have what we'd call *negative knowledge* of crime in America. If they knew *nothing* it'd be more than they know now.
5/ So entire generations of—make no mistake about it—*poor whites* (along with untold poor non-whites) have been *shoveled into* an inhumane system that costs more than it needs to, helps absolutely no one (perpetrator *or* victim), and most importantly *makes us all less safe*.
6/ Republicans pump anti-crime rhetoric while making sure none of their voters understand ANYTHING about the system they're voting to make ever more expensive, byzantine, draconian, inefficient, and contrary to the desires and hard-won knowledge of criminal justice professionals.
7/ This deceit—the literal *definition* of "political correctness," as it's *always* politically expedient to write more statutes, give police military weapons, and entrench mandatory sentencing—has destroyed millions of lives. But now the GOP is benefiting on the *back* end too.
8/ Now that a rich, white, entitled, obscenely powerful career criminal is under the microscope, the same Republicans who destroyed whole generations with their lies about crime are using the very ignorance they sowed to help this poster-child for venality escape accountability.
9/ So I'm going to tell you a few things about the criminal justice system that criminal justice professionals say/believe behind the scenes but only sometimes say in public. And I'm going to note that all these things should *equally apply* to *all* Americans—*whoever* they are.
10/ The standard for getting a search warrant, PROBABLE CAUSE, is one of the two LOWEST standards of proof the law can require of law enforcement (the lowest being REASONABLE SUSPICION). In practice, the difference between probable cause and reasonable can be very hard to detect.
11/ The criminal justice system is—in ALL respects—geared toward the needs and expectations of LAW ENFORCEMENT, because no politician in America had *ever* run successfully on a "pro-criminal, anti-law enforcement" platform until whatever the hell it is Donald Trump is doing now.
12/ Judges who are biased against police lose their careers—which are often governed by politics. Money pours into the coffers of police as public defenders fight for paltry funding. Countless systemic procedures require that the courts bend over backwards for law enforcement.
13/ For instance, in my many years trying criminal cases I witnessed police officers lie on many occasions—and heard a judge call them on it 0 times. Why? Because police officers are repeat players in the system—if a judge calls them a liar they can't testify in that court again.
14/ By the same token, our bail system intentionally keeps judges *terrified*—they must set high bails even for silly nonsense, because they know their career could end immediately if even one defendant is allowed to make bail who shouldn't be and s/he goes out and hurts someone.
15/ And just as prosecutors expect grand juries to indict whoever they tell them to, prosecutors *expect* judges will issue search or arrest warrants whenever they're told to. Every time a judge resists the dramatic pull of the government's wishes, they threaten their own career.
16/ If you sat in a courtroom all day you'd be AMAZED at what folks get arrested for; how bails are set without a thought for one's ability to make bail; how draconian sentencing is; how complicated criminal cases are beyond anything you see on Law & Order or hear from a GOP pol.
17/ Three things you'd see consistently are: over 90% of defendants accept responsibility for their actions and agree to a negotiated settlement; in the federal system, the government wins at trial more than 90% of the time; and the government *rarely* loses in front of a judge.
18/ Here's what I'm trying to say, which I'll hereafter substantiate:

THE FISA WARRANT ON CARTER PAGE WAS SO FAR BEYOND IN LEVEL OF PROOF THE TYPICAL SEARCH WARRANT THAT CRITICIZING IT IS OFFENSIVE.

Republican criticism of it *spits in the face* of *millions* of poor people.
19/ While FISA warrants *are* more carefully prepared and scrutinized than regular search warrants, understand that NEARLY ALL FISA APPLICATIONS are eventually APPROVED. I'm not saying that a good number are, or many, or a lot—I'm saying NEARLY ALL FISA APPLICATIONS are approved.
20/ In this case the FBI had a man who:

1. ADMITTED to being a Kremlin advisor;
2. ADMITTED he'd given documents to Russian spies;
3. ADMITTED he'd previously been targeted by Russian spies as a promising Russian asset; and
4. PRESENTED in all respects as a man hiding something.
21/ But wait! There's much more. The FBI in the Page case also:

5. Were drawing from an intelligence source REPEATEDLY found to be reliable by the FBI;
6. REPEATEDLY received renewals of the warrant application, meaning a court found it had borne fruit.

But wait—that's not all.
22/ The FBI also:

7. Was ABSOLUTELY CLEAR with the FISA court that the new Page intel had been sought by an organization HOPING to find damaging information on Trump,

BUT ALSO

8. Was ABSOLUTELY CLEAR that the reliable source who COMPILED the intel did NOT know what it was for.
23/ But let me tell you something else:

9. The agents who interviewed Page would have seen what EVERY CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROFESSIONAL can see is BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS, which is that this is an EASILY CORRUPTED MAN with SOMETHING BIG TO HIDE and absolutely NO sense of legal propriety.
24/ Finally:

10. The risk of getting this case WRONG was graver for the agents who worked on it than ANY OTHER CASE they'd EVER worked on—as no less than American democracy and sovereignty was (IS!) at stake. So the idea a warrant would've been rejected on these facts is INSANE.
25/ I'm speaking *literally* here: a search warrant would've been issued for a poor black man on FIVE PERCENT of the evidence the federal government had on Carter Page in October 2016 (which, let's not forget, was AFTER he had left the Trump campaign—a fact Trump is lying about).
26/ For ANY human in law enforcement or ANY politician to even HINT that JUST THE UNREDACTED PORTION of the Page warrant WASN'T enough to meet an ENHANCED PROBABLE CAUSE STANDARD is so obscenely offensive to generations of poor folks locked in our justice system I want to SCREAM.
27/ In an essay for Boston Review (link here: bostonreview.net/us/seth-abrams…) I once wrote the following, and it's as true today as it was when I wrote it:
28/ If you don't like how the criminal justice system looks now that Donald Trump is caught up in it, where the *hell* were you THIRTY YEARS AGO when entire generations of your countrymen were getting lost in a system within which Trump is now getting the BEST POSSIBLE TREATMENT?
29/ Sen. Lindsay Graham wouldn't last ONE SECOND getting the sort of treatment our criminal justice system daily doles out to the poor, so he should be IGNORED and RIDICULED when he speaks about what is or is not "garbage" in the context of that system. He has absolutely NO IDEA.
30/ I've seen HUNDREDS of Americans get caged beyond anything they deserved because of how our system works. So if you're a GOP voter SUDDENLY WORRIED about civil liberties or how the system treats defendants because of Trump, no law of civility will keep me from saying F**K YOU.
SOURCE/ For more on all of this, see here: bostonreview.net/us/seth-abrams…
PS/ I hate when I lose my temper on the feed. I know better than most—I teach writing—it's deeply damaging to ethos. But listen: like any public defender, I've seen things I can't unsee, that gave me nightmares, that haunt me to this day. Lives destroyed. I can't be calm on this.
PS2/ If you ever wonder how our system *actually* works when it comes to searches/seizures, read US v. Arvizu, 534 US 266 (2002)—in which SCOTUS' "small-government" conservatives found that a kid waving "abnormally" to an officer as a car he was in drove by was enough for a stop.
PS3/ And if you *do* read Arvizu, please check in and explain to me what the officer meant by "methodical waving," given that waving is *definitionally methodical*. In any case, once you read it compare it to the *insane* amount of inculpatory evidence the FBI had on Carter Page.
PS4/ Sharp-eyed readers will note that I only *skimmed the surface* of the inculpatory evidence about Page in the FISA warrant on him (putting aside that *most* of the warrant—the really good stuff, almost certainly—was redacted). The downside of Twitter: enforced superficiality.
PS5/ Finally—I knew I'd forgotten something—the 4 FISA judges who granted or renewed Page's FISA warrant were all appointed by Republican presidents, and the pathological political bias of law enforcement has (since America was founded!) been considered to be *conservative*. /end
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