The former FBI director knew exactly what his agency had on Carter Page and, contrary his assertion, it’s incredibly easy to get a FISA warrant.
By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News
Former FBI Director James Comey gave an interview this week to journalist Chris Wallace on Fox News in which he made one of the most disingenuous and dissembling statements I’ve heard in years, one that screams out for correction and real Congressional oversight.
When asked about Justice Department Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz’s report, which found “17 significant errors and omissions” by the FBI when it began investigating alleged Russian involvement with the 2016 Trump campaign and it applied for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, Comey said that he had been “overconfident” when he defended the FBI’s use of FISA.
Overconfident! Comey ignored the fact that the FBI repeatedly renewed the warrant against Page, whom the FBI suspected was working for Russian intelligence, even if it had no evidence to indicate that was the case. He downplayed the fact that an FBI attorney illegally changed an FBI report to indicate that Page was not working for the CIA, when the FBI knew for a fact that he was.
Perhaps most disingenuously, Comey told Wallace that, “I thought the FBI had gone about this in a thoughtful and appropriate way. He’s (Horowitz) right. I was wrong. I was overconfident as director in our procedures…It’s incredibly hard to get a FISA.”
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Comey downplayed the fact that this all happened on his watch. The buck was supposed to stop with him. He was the boss, the commander, the one giving the orders. He knew exactly what the FBI had on Page and what it did not. And the truth was that it had nothing.
Comey’s Lie About a FISA Warrant
Even more importantly, at least for the American people as a whole, is Comey’s lie that “it’s incredibly hard to get a FISA.” It’s actually incredibly easy to get a FISA. Over its 33-year lifespan, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has issued 33,942 warrants. It has denied 12. In fact, between the court’s creation in 1986 and 2003, it didn’t deny a single request for a warrant. Those numbers simply don’t support Comey’s odd contention that it’s “incredibly hard” to get a FISA. He’s lying to us.
And the truth of the matter is that the FISA court isn’t really a court at all. It meets in secret. A “defendant” has no idea that the government is asking for a warrant against him. The defendant has no attorney to represent his interests before the court.
All that happens — literally — is that the FBI, usually with CIA or NSA information, goes before a FISA judge and says, “We think person X is dangerous or working for the Russians or is a terrorist or finances terrorists or is a spy and we want a secret warrant to tap his phones, intercept his emails, collect his metadata, and put physical surveillance teams on him.” Out of 33, 960 requests, the court has approved 33,942 of them. “Incredibly hard” indeed.
There is talk of reform, however. In a rare public order this week, the FISA court condemned the FBI for the errors and omissions that led to the warrant being issued (and reissued) against Page, and the court gave the FBI until Jan. 10 to come up with a list of reforms to prevent such an event from happening again.
The senior judge wrote:
“The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable. Therefore, the Court orders that the government shall, no later than January 10, 2020, inform the Court in a sworn written submission of what it has done, and plans to do, to ensure that the statement of facts in each FBI application accurately and completely reflects information possessed by the FBI that is material to any issue presented by the application.”
That’s a start. But real reform has to be more than just a list by Jan. 10. The American people must see real reform. We need to see that more than 0.03 percent of warrant requests are denied. We need to see fewer overall requests. And most importantly, we need to see that the congressional oversight committees are doing their jobs. The statistics on warrants requested and warrants granted are unacceptable.
It’s Congress’s job to protect our civil rights and civil liberties. We need to see proof it’s happening.
John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act—a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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The trump case is not the first case of malfeasance and it pales next to cases like 911, the Vince foster case and so many others ie jfk assassination an fbi man resigned 25 years ago said to me. “It’s bad. They’re really bad.” The fisa judge is full of baloney. They barely look. And these stupid corrupt men know it. Clean out that nest of insects
What will happen to Comey? The same that happened to James Jesus Angleton In 1976, Nothing.
Look kids this is all just a bucket of horse manure.
One would think that when dealing with such sensitive important national issues these fools at the FISA court and FBI would have a fail safe computer system monitored by some high up yucky yuck whose job is to make sure these “technical failures” never happen.
Hesus Criminie is that expecting too much? You got any idea just how much money is wasted when these faux pas occur? And that is to say nothing about to dismal state of the U.S. justice system.
They all have lied to us and it is beginning to look like part of the reason is that they don’t know what each other are doing. The other reason is that they have to lie to cover up their malpractice of the law.
They are lying liars who deserve NO second chance. The guy who gets put to death doesn’t get a second chance, nor does Julian or Snowden e.t al. get second chances at getting the part of their life back that they have spent behind bars.
I refuse to believe anything they say and I will assume that they lie constantly until they prove different.
Dogdamn what a friggin’ mess!
Mr. Kiriakou`s comments do not change the fact that FBI Comey stopped Hillary Clinton from becoming the most Corrupt President of the United States ,Ever. On Prime Time TV, Twice, he stated that the FBI were going to Investigate Hillary`s Emails, in the Trump vs Clinton Election.
MR KIRIAKOU; GET THE FISA COURT RULES CHANGED?? REALLY?? I DON’T THINK SO!! WHEN YOU HAVE A SCAM GONG AND HAVING IT BLESSED BY THE RULING BODY ,NO CHANGE WILL EVER HAPPEN! THE ENTIRE GOVERNMENT IS AN OWNED AND CONTROLLED ENTITY BY A CERTAIN GROUP OF PEOPLE. WE WILL BE ABLE TO CHANGE THE GAME IN FAVOR OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WHEN ISRAELIS NOT IN OUR LEXICON. NOT JUST ME BUT OR TOTAL LIFE IS A CONTROLLED CABAL. EDUCATION ;RELIGION; FINANCIAL ;;SOCIAL HABITS ET AL ALL PART AND PARCEL OF THIS CABAL.SO IN MY ANALYSIS NOTHING WILL HAPPEN AS THIS CABAL HAS BEEN IN DEVELOPMENT FROM THE INCEPTION OF THIS REPUBLIC AND BEFORE!!!
I’ve just finished reading ‘The Ghost the secret life of CIA spymaster James Jesus Angleton’ by Jefferson Morley (2017, Scribe Publications) – highly recommended. Over the decades there have been revelations about the dirty dealings of the CIA (and the FBI) and some revelations come via heroes like John Kiriakou but, as with all scandals in the political (Deep State) arena, it all dies down and it’s business as usual for those in power. Plus ça change …
Apr 2, 2015 Ex-CIA Officer John Kiriakou: “The Government Turned Me Into a Dissident”
In 2007, John Kiriakou became the first Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official to publicly confirm that agency interrogators waterboarded a high-value detainee, terrorism suspect Abu Zubaydah — a revelation that had previously been a closely guarded secret.
Note also that Nancy Pelosi was briefed on the torture of Zubaydah on September 4, 20o2. See, for example, Scott Horton’s 12/19/19 article at: harpers.org/blog/2009/05/pelosi-and-the-torture-briefings/ AND also his earlier articles on CIA torture at: harpers.org/blog/no-comment/
This is in contrast to Pelosi’s tortured denials that she didn’t know See: factcheck.org/2009/05/pelosis-tortured-denials/).
I’m with Jeff H. This mess is the perfect reason to open the Patriot Act to debate instead of Democrats rubber stamping extensions.
If one wished to correct a serious problem and I can think of only one other problem of such magnitude , the “Citizens United ruling by the SCOTUS, one must attack it at it’s roots.
I should be clear that democrats are currently are totally oblivious to the real problems this country has. Their senses dulled and their souls addicted to corporate money they are lost.
All the democrats need for christmas is a large infusion intestinal fortitude.
It doesn’t seem to occur to people that Democrats since the 1990s haven’t “caved.” Once you strip away the political theater, you can see how the two branches of the duopoly have successfully worked together on the same agenda.
Details matter, especially when you are calling the former FBI director a liar. As I read the IG report, Page had PREVIOUSLY provided info to the CIA — he wasn’t CURRENTLY working for the CIA:
“Omitted information the FBI had obtained from another U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Page, including that Page had been approved as an “operational contact” for the other agency from 2008 to 2013, and that Page had provided information to the other agency concerning his prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence office rs, one of which overlapped with facts asserted in the FISA application”
“Omitted Page’s prior relationship with another U.S. government agency, despite being reminded by the other agency in June 2017, prior to the filing of the final renewal application, about Page’s past status with t hat other agency; instead of including this information in the final renewal application, the OGC Attorney altered an email from the other agency so t hat the email stated that Page was ” not a source” for the other agency, which the FBI affiant relied upon in signing the final renewal application;”
Commenter Phree’s quotes are from the Executive Summary of the Inspector General’s
report of December 9, 2019, p. viii and xi of the report.
When we see what we already know about the reliability of Comey, Clapper and Brennan, how can we as observant members of the public ever trust the words and actions coming from our “intelligence agencies”?
Spot-on as always — and so important! Thank you John. We all know that as scary as Eisenhower’s and Truman’s concerns were then, they are a living nightmare now. These agencies (and the military) need valid, reliable, and verifiable oversight at the least. There should be random monitoring of the CIA, FBI, etc. for all emails, texts, communications, etc. In terms of the military, I believe we remain separated from them at our own peril … ALL of us should be invested, via conscription in any number of job types, in the Costs of War, Our Vets, Our Policies, and Our Future… at least until there is no more conflict.
Like Truman said of the CIA, “…The people have got a right to know what those birds are up to… You see, the way a free government works, there’s got to be a housecleaning every now and again, and I don’t care what branch of the government is involved…”
I think this is just what we “KNOW” about, regarding the FBI … Appears to be a huge cover-up in Miami, nepotism, possible interference with an investigation (between some in the FBI and outside related individuals requesting “cover”)… This is massive hell… See my site ourconstitution.info and linked book (no cost) “Absent Due Process Audacity of Evil Students Against Extrajudicial Killings: Rise of the Medical-Military Industrial – An Introduction – “.
It wouldn’t hurt to get away from our vicious, money-pit, counterproductive political duopoly as well.
It seems words may not be enough to pull us from this abyss… Demand strict oversight of all high-level biologics and lethality, as well as those with knowledge and access. Investigate and prosecute all related crimes! Protect patients NOW!! Defend Student Rights, Freedom of Speech, and Whistleblower rights – free Assange and all truth-tellers, demand Kiriakou’s record is expunged. Protest with me in Miami, or wherever you are.
To Joe Lauria:
I enjoyed your comments on Loud and Clear with John Kiriakou and Brian Becker for December 19, but disagree on one matter.
We see Trump’s request to Zelensky re Biden as clumsy and censurable etc but then again, IMV as a possibly wily maneuver, a little surprising in a man so usually clumsy. Notice he preceded that appeal to Zelensky with a request for investigation of Crowdstrike (largely staffed by anti-Putin Ukraine people). It’s interesting that there is a treaty (from the 90’s I believe, I don’t have the specifics) allowing investigation of corruption between the US and foreign states in the interests of protecting the countries involved. Therefore, Trump may have calculated the risk here on the side of blundering, as very possibly defensible (or sufficiently defensible).
Further, would we have known about the Biden & Son corruption if he had not made this request? And is it not possible that a panicked Pelosi (after her earlier denial of doing impeachment) decided a lot of noise to stir the rabble with impeachment might be effective masking-strategy, much as Russia-gate was to get heat off Hillary Clinton regarding the 2016 DNC and The Clinton Foundation?
Joe’s comments on the far more serious matters that Trump is impeachable for is much more germane and principled in trying to sort out this mess that the Democrats continue to politicize–at this time by threatening to delay sending the articles of impeachment to the senate.
For more, go to:
After Pelosi refused to impeach Trump, seven military intelligence agents (now US House Democrat members) went over Pelosi’s head and demanded impeachment. She quickly complied (Moonofalabama.org December 18, 2019).
On the day of the impeachment-generating July 25th phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and new Ukraine President Zelensky, Democrat Hunter Biden had already left the board of directors of Burisma Holdings. The $64,000 question now becomes: Why didn’t Donald Trump ask President Zelensky for the “favor” of publicly announcing to the world Zelensky’s intention of investigating Biden’s replacement, currently sitting on Burisma’s board – Republican Cofer Black?
Perhaps the most important question is why nobody in corporate media nor the U.S. government has so much as mentioned the name Cofer Black. Why the total silence? For the potential answer, perhaps it involves Mr. Black’s historical position in the Bush-Cheney administration, and most especially his role on 9/11 – September 11, 2001, the day that changed everything.
A quality Donald Trump impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate will not be complete without the vital witness testimonies of Democrat Hunter Biden and Republican Cofer Black of Burisma Holdings – the Ukraine energy giant, now familiar to billions around the world, positioned at the eye of the current historic-magnitude American political hurricane.
Comey shows the countenance of a man whose image, so carefully crafted and maintained—with his trusty Boy Scout halo of *innocence* for so many years—is now one that has seemingly finally lost its shine.
I would judge those fresh lines on his face, along with the tension projected from his eyes, as indicative of a man who has not been sleeping well for a couple of years.
Having read extensively of his past and the interesting troughs from which he’s fed—always a playah—from HSBC to a $6 million in a year stint at Lockheed, all the decades spent cycling in and out of the revolving door of the Beltway Bog—it’s seemingly finally caught up with him. His brother’s association with Clinton Inc’s *accounting* firm could be an added weight to a previously and heretofore bulletproof existence as well, it would seem.
Like Mueller, there is a lot about him that has gone unquestioned in the press, and it has served to buttress their mutual ‘Elliot Ness’ and ‘The Untouchables’ mythos. All that dirt in D.C., all of the people keeping score, ratting out or covering for each other against the possibility that some day the American public would actually wake up and go “Hey! Yeah, YOU!
Then one must ask—how far is Barr / Dunham willing to take this? That is the question. Barr’s ties and past defending the CIA during the 1975 Senator Frank Church hearings and his notoriety for crafting the pardons for the Iran Contra murderous miscreants under the maestro of Kennebunkport fairly screams for resolution whenever Jeffrey Epstein’s name gets mentioned.
But if the singing begins, and is accompanied by an aria, the echoes will be heard around the world and a somnolent public just might yet decide to water Jefferson’s Tree. To some extent, anyway.
Doubtful, I know, but we shall see. Or not. Whichever, these are the “May you live in interesting times” of the old Chinese curse.
Which reminds me of another couple of ancient Chinese adages stitched together: “When the Emperor is a good man, run to the city to assist him. When the Emperor is a bad man, stay in the country and watch from beneath a river bank tree as the bodies of your enemies float past.”
In a free country people like Comey would be hanged until dead on sedition charge. Sadly all we have is a “ land of the free and home of the brave”.
Thanks John for all your truthful efforts. Much appreciated by many of us.
The US has over 400,000 incarcerated for drug offenses. Hundreds of thousands are arrested for pot possession each year (despite it being legal in 11 states, and for medical use in over 30, it is still a Federal offense). Yet there is no accountability for our unelected bureaucrats who interfere in our Presidential politics and no accountability of our secret FISA courts for abuse and political interference. Kiriakou knows what it is like to spend years in jail. Maybe it is time for these officials to face consequences for their actions? They seem really good at inventing charges; we can surely make room in our carceral system for a few hundreds of crooked bureaucrats (and politicians).
John is way more optimistic than he should be. The senior FISA judge is prepping us for a whitewash. The chance for REAL reform is absolutely ZERO. Given John’s personal history, I would think he’d have a more realistic assessment of the power of Empire. Real reform will only come after its fall.
Jimmy Dore has a great rant Comey’s performance in the Wallace interview. You can link to it at Information Clearing House.
Methinks out of necessity the FISA court doth protest, however it doth protest too loudly.
If my understanding of the timeline is correct, Buzzfeed published the Steele dossier on the 10th January 2017 at which point it has wall to wall coverage in the press. Then on the 12th January the first renewal application went to the FISA court.
Are we supposed to accept that no one at the FISA court bureaucracy goes ‘Hang on, is this the pee tape dossier that we’ve got here supporting this application’ ?
“… calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable …” Submitting falsehood to a judge is a crime for an ordinary citizen, a prosecution could be recommended,
The actual correct answer is to abolish the FISA court. It is repugnant to every principle of a free society.
Agreed! It is like no “court” we have today, more like one in a Kafka novel. Comey is an apparatchik enabling the criminal syndicates to continue their battle over power, money and influence. So typical of last stage empires. Interesting if we weren’t just a border away.
Yes, any system of justice that depends on police or FBI or CIA to fully disclose the weaknesses in their case is doomed to these kind of omissions. It just runs completely counter to the entire mindset of the police.