FISA: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act 1978

You’ve heard the term  “FISA Court” bandied about consistently the last few days.  Do you know what it is, where it came from, what is its use, and who controls it?  YOU may not know, but I’m certain the politicians and news pundits who continue to howl don’t have a clue about FISA.  Ready for a history/political science lesson?

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (“FISA”) is a federal law which prescribes procedures for the physical and electronic surveillance and collection of “foreign intelligence information” between “foreign powers” and “agents of foreign powers” (which may include American citizens and permanent residents suspected of espionage or terrorism).  It has been repeatedly amended since the September attacks.   (FISA) was introduced on May 18, 1977, by Senator Ted Kennedy and was signed into law by President Carter in 1978.   The FISA resulted from extensive investigations by Senate committees into the legality of domestic intelligence activities. These investigations were as a response to President Richard Nixon’s use of federal resources to spy on political and activist groups.  The act was created to provide judicial and congressional oversight of the government’s covert surveillance activities of foreign entities and individuals in the United States, while maintaining the secrecy needed to protect national security.

The FISA statute imposes only three relevant requirements: (1) that the attorney general approve a warrant application, (2) that an official confirmed by the Senate with foreign affairs responsibility certify the foreign intelligence value of the request, and (3) that the president or attorney general adopt “minimization” procedures to ensure that surveillance is not overbroad. (For example, information gathered in the course of the eavesdropping that is not related to national security should not be retained.)  Intelligence officials at the NSA must determine that they have identified a legitimate target and request permission to begin more focused surveillance. NSA lawyers will review that request to ensure that it meets the requirements of FISA. Then Justice Department lawyers must reach the same judgment or ask for additional information. Next the Justice lawyers process the warrant application. The application goes to the attorney general, who reviews the request to determine that all the FISA requirements have been met. Then a Cabinet-level officer as well as another senior official with national security responsibility (such as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation), must also sign off on the application.

In the FISA conversations that have dominated the news in the nation the last few days, there are some very important points that need to be made and others cleared up:

  1. The Attorney General is who approves a FISA application.  Loretta Lynch as the Obama Attorney General had to approve the two FISA applications last year regarding Trump Tower surveillance;
  2. Someone else in the government was required to certify the foreign intelligence value of the request approved by Lynch;
  3. Details of the FISA warrant application had to be provided to prove the request was not a “we’re going to take a broom and just sweep the room to see what dirt there is” action.

Overlay these three requirements with the current FISA action being discussed.  Then determine (besides AG Lynch) who was involved?  Mike Rogers was NSA Director; James Comey, FBI Director;  James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence; John Brennan, CIA Director.  There are a total of 17 Intelligence agencies, believe it or not.  But the NSA, DNI, FBI, and CIA are the agencies most involved in day-to-day intelligence operations that impact these current discussions.  According to FISA regulations, at least one of these directors had to “weigh in”  to “certify the foreign intelligence value” of the two requests that were made to the FISA Court.  Who was it?

James Clapper — no longer in the government — said that DNI was not involved.  (Clapper proved to be a liar.  He lied to Congress when he stated under oath that the NSA was NOT collecting American citizens’ electronic communications)  Comey is reported (although not quoted) as saying the FBI was not involved, and John Brennan has not piped in yet about possible CIA involvement.  That leaves the NSA headed by Admiral Mike Rogers.  And I think he is a Trump insider in all this and is the one who brought the President into this process by spilling his beans.  What makes me think that?

The second FISA application was approved in October and Trump Tower was wiretapped during the balance of the campaign.  Details of those FISA applications are pending, but the fact the wiretap happened is NOT controverted.  In January, the NY TIMES ran an article and that article’s headline CONFIRMED the wiretap!  Here’s the FISA timeline for the Trump Tower wiretap:

  1.  The Intelligence Community — at the direction of President Obama — made a request to a FISA court for the NSA to spy on Donald Trump in June 2016.  It was denied;
  2. In October the Intelligence Community (NSA) — at the direction of President Obama — made a second request to the FISA court for the NSA to spy on Donald Trump.  It was approved;
  3. At around the same time (October), as the second request to FISA, (Def Sec) Ash Carter and (DNI) James Clapper tell President Obama to dump NSA Director Mike Rogers;
  4. A week after the election, Mike Rogers makes a trip to Trump Tower without telling his superior, James Clapper, which brings about new calls (November media leaks to WASHINGTON POST) for President Obama to dump Mike Rogers.

Here is my synopsis of what happened in the Intelligence Community that caused NSA Director Rogers to take the actions he chose in the matter:

Admiral Michael S. Rogers

NSA Director Rogers didn’t want to participate in the spying scheme (Clapper and Brennan who had signed off on the FISA application approved by AG Lynch), which was the baseline for President Obama’s post presidency efforts to undermine Donald Trump and keep Trump from digging into the Obama labyrinth underlying his remaining loyalists.  After the October spying operation went into effect, Rogers’ unknown loyalty was a risk to the Obama objective.  10 Days after the election Rogers traveled to President-Elect Trump’s office without notifying those who were involved in the intel scheme.  I believe in that meeting Admiral Rogers detailed the action to Mr. Trump.  His meeting in New York startled the Obama Administration who immediately put into action their well oiled “discrediting machine” to discredit the Admiral especially after the recommendation Obama received to fire him.  I think in the meeting with Rogers, Trump (knowing he needed a “friend” in the intelligence community) asked Rogers to stay at NSA and let the Obama mafia know what was going to happen.  Obama then stopped short of firing Rogers.

So what has been happening with this since January?  Obama from “The Bunker” has launched an all out media war against President Trump and has had his minions who are planted throughout the Justice and State Departments strategically leak tidbits of fake news and allegations against President Trump.  The deliberate timing of these releases has been to keep the Trump Administration busy extinguishing fires and responding rather than taking an offensive stand.  It is proven that when politicians make the decision to defend attacks rather than launching attacks against their foes, usually the foes hold the upper hand.  Former National Security Advisor Flynn and Attorney General Sessions are living proof of that.  Both caved against attacks orchestrated from “The Bunker” rather than launch offensive attacks.  Both are paying the price for defense over offense.

Why the President Trump tweet Saturday at 6:30 AM that set everyone on the Left’s hair on fire over the weekend?

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

In the opinion of this humble blogger, with this tweet President Trump launched his offensive.  I think he was saying the following to Barack Obama, Loretta Lynch, Chuck Schumer, Hillary and Bill Clinton, AND to the Republican establishment:

“I have had enough of your petty D.C. politics.  I have tried to take a new tone since the election, agreeing to go softly rather than hammer those who differ with me like I did during the campaign season.  The FISA wiretap is the last straw.  Did you not think that as President and as the only one that can de-classify everything in the FISA applications I would NOT de-classify those documents and release them to the American people?  Did you not think I would expose each of you for the lies, misrepresentations and libelous allegations made in those Applications that with their false certification are felonious?  Today I am putting you on notice:  back away and let my Administration do what the American people elected me to do.  And if you don’t, I will simply expose what you have done to those same Americans you do not trust and you have conned into believing the lies of the last eight years so they can make their own determinations.  Elections have consequences.  You are about to live with yours.  I will see to that.”

I could be wrong, but here’s why I think I’m right:  Donald J. Trump as a businessman learned through the years and multiple deals to take advantage of all the roadblocks thrown into his path during transaction negotiations and turn those roadblocks into advantages in every deal.  Heck, remember “ART OF THE DEAL?”  He told Obama in the book exactly how to do it!

  1. Someone is probably going to jail over those illegal wiretaps about which the NY TIMES reported.  (The crackerjack news pundits just happened to overlook all news, didn’t they?)  And it will be interesting to see who those in “The Bunker” roll over on to take the fall.  One thing for sure:  it won’t be Obama or Valerie Jarrett.  Everyone else is in play.

Stay tuned.  This is going to be a FUN ride!!!!

 

 

 


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