Tinkering around the edges of a vitally important intelligence tool — FISA itself — will not stop someone else from abusing the system in the future
By Jon Dougherty
(TNS) The one name least heard when the subject of “Spygate” comes up is Barack Hussein Obama, and yet his should be the first one mentioned in the conversation.
Because for all the people known to have been involved in the biggest political scandal our country has ever witnessed — an actual coup attempt against a duly elected president — it was then-President Obama who had to have authorized the entire thing. We know he knew about it.
Well, President Trump, the target of “Crossfire Hurricane” and the ‘Russian collusion’ hoax spurred by the staged counterintelligence investigation, wants to make sure what happened to him doesn’t happen again to him — or any future president.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the White House is looking to make changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law spurred by Watergate that has always concerned civil libertarians for its domestic spying authorization via a federal court that operates in secret because judges deal with classified information.
It was the manipulation — and outright defrauding — of the FISA court that led to the FBI’s surveillance of Carter Page, a one-time adviser to the 2016 Trump campaign, surveillance that lasted beyond his association with the campaign and into the Trump presidency.
That Obama would ever authorize such a thing is proof of Democrat authoritarianism, not Trump authoritarianism, but that’s another subject for another day.
Senior White House officials are discussing an overhaul of the government’s surveillance program for people in the U.S. suspected of posing a national-security risk, spurred in part by President Trump’s grievances about an investigation of a 2016 campaign adviser, according to people familiar with the matter.
The effort seeks to take advantage of the looming expiration of some spying powers next month, including portions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a Watergate-era law that Mr. Trump believes was improperly used to target his campaign, these people said.
Overhauling FISA has become a rallying cry for conservatives and allies of the president in the aftermath of a watchdog report detailing several errors made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its applications for surveillance of Mr. Trump’s campaign adviser, Carter Page. Some Republicans have called for upending FISA, prompting pushback from some in the administration, including Attorney General William Barr.
The plan, which is being spearheaded by officials within the White House Domestic Policy Council, is in the early stages and could face resistance from other parts of the Trump administration, including the National Security Council, which has generally advocated maintaining or expanding surveillance powers during Mr. Trump’s presidency.
Some believe that the changes will “go too far,” the WSJ reported, but, translated, that simply means there are elements within the deep state and government intelligence bureaucracy who simply don’t want to give up any power to keep tabs Americans — you know, if they’re ‘suspected’ of being ‘Russian agents’ or something.
That said, those are legitimate concerns. FISA was authorized to grant the intelligence community powers to keep the country safe from outside threats, so to intimate it has no value whatsoever is wrongheaded and shortsighted.
“We were abused by the FISA process; there’s no question about it,” President told reporters this month. “We were seriously abused by FISA.”
Of course he’s right. And the WSJ’s framing of what certain FBI officials and agents did under the oversight of Obama, James Comey, and Andrew McCabe as simply “errors” before the FISA court is journalistic malpractice because it implies these officials just simply ‘goofed.’
They didn’t ‘goof’ anything. They plotted and schemed and carried out a phony counterintelligence operation against a presidential nominee they loathed and believed did not merit the office. In short, they purposely abused the FISA court process to target a political enemy, just like third-rate dictators do in a banana republic.
Thus, the best “reform” this White House can enact is the prosecution of everyone involved in Spygate. And if that includes a former president, then so be it.
Because tinkering around the edges of a vitally important intelligence tool — FISA itself — will not stop someone else from abusing the system in the future. Only jail time will.
This article originally appeared at The National Sentinel and was republished with permission.
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