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Paul Schmehl @PaulSchmehl
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The Lawfare blog has come out in defense of the FISA warrants. What to Make of the Carter Page FISA Applications… It’s pretty weak tea.
It begins by reviewing the history leading up to the release of the applications, verifications and warrants, including the Nunes and Dem memos. It goes without saying that they defend the Democrat version since they are leftists themselves.
But then he begins his argument by discussing the footnote revealing Steele’s bias.
“As someone who has read and approved many FISA applications and dealt extensively with the FISA Court, I will anticipate and reject a claim that the disclosure was somehow insufficient because it appeared in a footnote; in my experience, the court reads the footnotes.”
Of course this is a strawman. No one has claimed that putting the information in a footnote means that the court won’t read it. But, it’s important to address what that footnote says. He does that without quoting the footnote.
“Now we can see that the footnote disclosing Steele’s possible bias takes up more than a full page in the applications, so there is literally no way the FISA Court could have missed it. The FBI gave the court enough information to evaluate Steele’s credibility.”
Actually, the court would have to take the FBI’s word for Steele’s credibility, because the FBI merely stated that he’d been credible before. The question is, why is the dossier credible? That question is never answered. Let’s look at what the footnote says.
“…& has been an FBI source since… Source #l's reporting has been corroborated & used in criminal proceedings
and the FBI assesses Source #1 to be reliable. Source #1 has been compensated…by the FBI and the FBI is unaware of any derogatory information pertaining to Source #1.”
“Source #1, who now owns a foreign business/financial intelligence
firm, was approached by an identified U.S. person, who indicated to Source #1 that a
Where, in that footnote, is Steele’s bias revealed or discussed? Here? “Notwithstanding Source #l's reason for conducting the research into Candidate #l's ties to Russia,” Now, perhaps the reason mentioned here is included in the redacted section. But we can’t know that.
And neither can he. So to claim it’s adequately addressed is to overstate the case.
“While I am sure people will try, my initial impression is that with all the redactions it is going to be very tough to figure out the full scope of information supporting the Court’s repeated finding of probable cause to believe that Carter Page was an agent of Russia.”
It may be difficult to determine the entire scope, but it’s quite easy to see that the “salacious and unverified dossier” was used as probable cause to obtain the warrant.
Andy McCarthy, who seems quite shaken by the revelations in this release, asks a very astute question. If the FISA Court would approve THiS, what would they NOT approve? Given their track record, that’s an important question.…
He closes his article with an appeal to authority that is quite laughable.
“But it is worth noting that—and as the Democrats previously pointed out—the judges who signed off on these four FISA applications were all appointed by Republican presidents…” Big deal. Does he really want to argue that ALL GOP-appointed judges are above reproach?
The evidence we have before us is four applications. It’s hard to judge based on only four, but if these four are any indication, the FISA court should be demolished. Either that or sufficient checks and balances should be instituted to ensure it never again does this.
No matter what you say about the FBI and the DoJ, it is inexcusable that a court of law, especially a secret court where the subject has no voice at all, would approve a warrant without any corroborating evidence from a single eyewitness.
When a law enforcement agency approaches a court for a warrant, the court needs to challenge the affiant to prove that the probable cause claim is based on more than hearsay. Hearsay is all that is offered in these applications. They should have been rejected out of hand.
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