Saturday December 14, 2019
In a bombshell report last week, the Justice Department Inspector General found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation made “fundamental errors” and persistently deceived a secret court to authorize surveilling a 2016 Trump presidential campaign official. Inspector General Michael Horowitz did not find that the FBI’s actions were spurred by political bias but that conclusion is not necessarily shared by Attorney General William Barr. Unfortunately, this is only the latest episode of decades of FBI misconduct before America’s most powerful secret court.
Perhaps the most jolting revelations in the IG report detail the FBI’s efforts to secure a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) search warrant to use against the Trump campaign after suspicions were raised of Russian collusion. A FISA warrant is the nuclear bomb of searches, authorizing the FBI “to conduct, simultaneous telephone, microphone, cell phone, e-mail and computer surveillance of the US person target’s home, workplace and vehicles,” as well as “physical searches of the target’s residence, office, vehicles, computer, safe deposit box and US mails,” as a FISA court decision noted. The FISA court is extremely deferential, approving 99% of all search warrant requests.