The highly anticipated release of the classified memo detailing FISA court abuses in spying on innocent Americans didn’t tell us anything new. The government is abusing everyone’s privacy all the time.
The FBI released the controversial memo Friday, along with a statement expressing its “grave concerns” about doing so.
The agency said:
The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the FISA Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professionals in the Department of Justice and the FBI. We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process.
With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.
So what exactly did we learn from the memo?
Christopher Steele’s questionable dossier on Trump was “an essential part” of the DOJ’s decision to investigate Carter Page even though officials were aware that the document stunk of a campaign hit piece funded by the Clinton campaign apparatus. The FBI knew Steele political motivations because he was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected.”
Read the full memo.
But what’s most important about the document doesn’t even pertain to the Trump situation. The true significance lies in it serving as a reminder of everything privacy advocates have been saying about government spying and the FISA court for years. It’s illegal. It’s unconstitutional. And the court is simply a rubber stamp for spy agencies.
The FBI used the Steele dossier to obtain a FISA warrant. The FBI used uncorroborated information to convince the FISA court to allow it to wiretap Trump’s campaign. The FBI lied to the FISA court, as it has lied throughout its existence.
Americans are told the nation’s vast spying machine is designed to catch terrorists. But this memo makes clear that its real purpose is to help the establishment keep a watchful eye on Americans it may need to strike down for political or other purposes.