The feigned ignorance of the “see no evil” media not withstanding, the facts are no longer in dispute. A cabal of partisans at the highest levels of the FBI used and abused their power. They bent the rules to spy on American citizens inside the Trump campaign. Their clear objective was to make certain that their favored candidate would win. Thanks to the bulldog work of investigators like Tom Fenton of Judicial Watch, we now know all of this from emails and texts which were shared among the perpetrators. They had concluded that Trump must not be allowed to win. They constructed an “Insurance Policy”. Feeling morally and intellectually superior, they looked for ways to insure their preferred outcome.
It was a classic example of a conclusion searching for a rationale.
They wanted to eavesdrop. They found a friendly portal in the FISA court.
We now know that they went to elaborate lengths to accomplish their ends. Ironically, they used both Russian and British assets to weave together their storyline that the Trump campaign was colluding with Russians. They set up an unwitting pawn with help from a sometime British spy and and an Australian Embassador. Much of their unethical deception was paid for by American taxpayers.
The lynchpin for the plot was the dossier pasted together by a former British agent, Christopher Steele. The same Steele who openly despised Donald Trump and pledged to do anything to guarantee his defeat. Top officials at the FBI had to know (thanks to Nellie Ohr and her husband) that the material was largely opposition research that had been paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. They also knew, as Director Comey later admitted, that it was both “salacious and unverified.” Assistant FBI Director, Andy McCabe acknowledged that without the dossier, there could have been no FISA requests for surveillance warrants.
Desperate times (and people) demand desperate actions. So they went ahead and filed their request with the FISA Court. Covering themselves only with a fig leaf of a less than candid footnote. Much like those footnotes you see buried deep within the software license agreements. The ones we all click past, that let Silicon Valley spy on us.
Feeding a compliant press with timely and coordinated leaks, they nourished the narrative that they were only protecting our beloved nation from the Russians and a totally unacceptable Donald Trump. Former senior officials in the Obama Administration were more than happy to fan the embers to keep the smokescreen smoldering. Remember, they re-filed requests three more times as additional information made the dossier even more suspect. Legal experts may argue as to whether they lied or simply misled the federal judges. In reality, it matters not.
All of this is well known to those who have been paying attention.
What is less well known are the origins, the makeup and the activities of the FISA Court. It doesn’t look like any other court. It was established in 1978 under the the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to “oversee requests for surveillance warrants against foreign spies inside the United States.” It is made up of eleven federal judges who are assigned on a rotating basis to review surveillance requests. The court is secreted in the bowls of the E. Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington DC. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is solely responsible for the appointment of the judges assigned to the court. He is also solely responsible for its oversight. If the court abuses its power or if the court is abused by lawless officials at the FBI and/or intelligence services, it is his job to clean things up and hold individuals accountable.
The buck stops with the Chief Justice.
But Justice Roberts has been conspicuously silent concerning the abuses that fed this silentcoup. At some point, he must do his job. He cannot plead ignorance. That his court could have been misled into allowing the surveillance of an American presidential campaign is shocking. That no one has been held accountable is inexplicable. The Congress created this monster. If Justice Roberts is unwilling or unable to provide the necessary oversight and accountability, then Congress should shut it down.
Gil Gutknecht served six terms each in the Minnesota and the U.S. House of Representatives.