By Ali Alemi

U.S. security agencies; slimmer than ever!

December 14, 2019 - 11:52

TEHRAN-In recent days, along with media leaks in the United States, US security agencies have been more critical of analysts and citizens than ever before. News and analysis in some US media shows that the CIA and FBI have been monitored and, of course, heavily criticized by American public opinion. Here's a look at some of the analysis and news:

Barr Blasts Inspector General for Whitewashing FBI

As Antiwar reported, Attorney General William Barr on Monday disparaged the long-awaited findings of the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz into FBI conduct in the investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Barr, in effect, accused Horowitz of whitewashing a litany of proven misfeasance and malfeasance that created the “predicate,” or legal justification, for investigating candidate-and-then-president Donald Trump on suspicion of being in cahoots with the Russians.In grammatical terms, there can be no sentence, so to speak, without a predicate. Trump was clearly the object of the sentence, and the sleuths led by then-FBI Director James Comey were the subjects in desperate search of a predicate. Horowitz candidly depicted the predicate the FBI requires for a counterintelligence investigation as having to meet a very low bar. The public criticism from his boss was unusual. For the tenacious attorney general, doing a serious investigation of how the FBI handled the Trump-Russia inquiry has become a case of no-holds-Barr-ed, one might say.

Particularly damning in Horowitz’s report was the revelation that the FBI kept the “Russia investigation” going well after countervailing and exculpatory evidence clearly showed that, in the unforgettable words of one senior FBI official, Peter Strzok, there was “no there there.”

As Sen. Lindsey Graham put it yesterday, FBI investigators kept running through STOP signs in hot pursuit of a needed, but ever elusive, credible predicate. At a press conference, Graham pointed to page 186 of the Horowitz report to call attention to one of the most obvious STOP signs FBI sleuths should have heeded; namely, the fact that the FBI learned in January 2017 that the primary sub-source for Christopher Steele’s “dossier” disavowed it as misstated and exaggerated – basically rumor and speculation. No problem: the FBI investigation continued.

Mincing no words, Graham called the FBI investigation into alleged Trump campaign ties with Russia a “criminal enterprise” that got off the rails. (Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of such a conspiracy.) Sparks will fly on Wednesday as Graham, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pursues the matter in more depth when Horowitz testifies before the committee. Graham emphasized yesterday that the general goal is to ensure that such a “criminal enterprise” does not happen again.He added that one of the ways to prevent a recurrence is to make sure “those who took the law into their own hands need to pay a price.” Uh-oh. I cannot remember the last time leaders of the “national-security state” had to pay a price.

Barr took unusually strong public issues with Horowitz’s conclusion that there was adequate reason to mount an FBI investigation of the Trump campaign and suspected ties to Russia. Barr issued a formal statement asserting that the Horowitz report “now makes it clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.”

US Attorney John Durham, whom Barr picked to lead what has now become a criminal investigation regarding how that FBI’s “intrusive investigation” was launched, issued his own formal statement of criticism, expressing disagreement with the IG’s findings as to the predication of the investigation and “how the FBI case opened.” Durham added that he had told the IG last month of this disagreement. In his statement yesterday, Durham spoke not of suspicions, but of evidence his ongoing investigation has already gathered “from other persons and entities both in the US and outside of the US”

Both Barr and Durham chose their words carefully, and so did former CIA Director John Brennan in his May 2017 congressional testimony about his suspicions that Trump’s campaign might have been colluding with the Russians. Soon the spotlight is likely to turn onto Brennan and his carefully parsed testimony, which fell considerably short of qualifying as a predicate for investigation (but played a key role anyway).
On May 23, 2017, Brennan told Congress:

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind about whether Russia was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.”

CNN’s coverage of Brennan’s testimony is even more revealing (of CNN’s bias) in retrospect. Moreover, Brennan famously told Congress, he doesn’t deal with evidence. That was what Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy was wondering about, when he grilled the former CIA director, also on May 23, 2017, on what evidence he had provided to the FBI to catalyze its investigation of the alleged Trump-Russia collusion. Brennan replied: “I don’t do evidence.”

The best Brennan could do was start out by repeating his well-rehearsed statement, later contradicted by Mueller’s report: “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign,” adding that “that required further investigation by the Bureau to determine whether or not US persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”

Referring to the Horowitz report yesterday, Law Professor John Turley noted:

“Despite this shockingly damning report, much of the media is reporting only that Horowitz did not find it unreasonable to start the investigation, and ignoring a litany of false representations and falsifications of evidence to keep the secret investigation going. Nothing was found to support any of those allegations, and special counsel Robert Mueller also confirmed there was no support for collusion and conspiracy allegations repeated continuously for two years by many experts and members of Congress.”

And yet “debunking” is the name of the game. A New York Times headline this morning read, “Report on F.B.I. Russia Inquiry Finds Serious Errors but Debunks Anti-Trump Plot.” And an “analysis” article by Mark Mazzetti was titled: “Another Inquiry Doesn’t Back Up Trump’s Charges. So, on to the Next.”

Mazzetti writes:
“Engage in a choreographed campaign of presidential tweets, Fox News appearances, and fiery congressional testimony to create expectations about finding proof of a “deep state” campaign against Mr. Trump. And then, when the proof does not emerge, skew the results and prepare for the next opportunity to execute the playbook.

“That opportunity has arrived in the form of an investigation by a Connecticut prosecutor [Durham] ordered this year by Attorney General William P. Barr – and the president and his allies are now predicting it will be the one to deliver damning evidence that the FBI, C.I.A. and even close American allies conspired against Mr. Trump in the 2016 election.”

Horowitz Report an ‘Appetizer?’
Mazzetti goes on to express doubt “that Mr. Durham will exhume any information that will fundamentally change the understanding of what happened in 2016.” Maybe, maybe not. It is a safe bet, though, that President Trump has better insight into this. According to Mazzetti, Trump recently had been playing down expectations about the Horowitz inquiry – indicating it was only an appetizer for what’s to come. “I do think the big report to wait for is going to be the Durham report,” he said. “That’s the one that people are really waiting for.”

The president may be expecting Mueller-inquiry-type vindication once Durham’s investigation is complete. It that proves to be the case and Trump receives post-impeachment acquittal from the Senate, as expected, he may be able to parlay that into four more years, a sobering thought.

Can we impeach the FBI now?

But American conservative reported that The release of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report, which shows that the Democrats, media, and FBI lied about not interfering in an election, will be a historian’s marker for how a decent nation fooled itself into self-harm. Forget about foreigners influencing our elections; it was us.

The Horowitz report is being played by the media for its conclusion: that the FBI’s intel op run against the Trump campaign was not politically motivated and thus “legal.” That covers one page of the 476-page document, but because it fits with the Democratic/mainstream media narrative that Trump is a liar, the rest have been ignored. “The rest,” of course, is a detailed description of America’s domestic intelligence apparatus, aided by its overseas intelligence apparatus, and assisted by its Five Eyes allies’ intelligence apparatuses. And the conclusion is that they unleashed a full-spectrum spying campaign against a presidential candidate in order to influence an election, and when that failed, they tried to delegitimize a president.

We learn from the Horowitz Report that it was an Australian diplomat, Alexander Downer, a man with ties to his own nation’s intel services and the Clinton Foundation, who set up a meeting with Trump staffer George Papadopoulos, creating the necessary first bit of info to set the plan in motion. We find the FBI exaggerating, falsifying, and committing wicked sins of omission to buffalo the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts into approving electronic surveillance on Team Trump to overtly or inadvertently monitor the communications of Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Jared Kushner, Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon, Rick Gates, Trump transition staffers, and likely Trump himself. Trump officials were also monitored by British GCHQ, the information shared with their NSA partners, a piece of all this still not fully public.

We learn that the FBI greedily consumed the Steele Dossier, opposition “research” bought by the Clinton campaign to smear Trump with allegations of sex parties and pee tapes. Most notoriously, the dossier claims he was a Russian plant, a Manchurian Candidate, owned by Kremlin intelligence through a combination of treats (land deals in Moscow) and threats (kompromat over Trump’s evil sexual appetites). The Horowitz report makes clear the FBI knew the Dossier was bunk, hid that conclusion from the FISA court, and purposefully lied to the FISA court in claiming that the Dossier was backed up by investigative news reports, which themselves were secretly based on the Dossier. The FBI knew Steele had created a classic intel officer’s information loop, secretly becoming his own corroborating source, and gleefully looked the other way because it supported his goals.

Horowitz contradicts media claims that the Dossier was a small part of the case presented to the FISA court. He finds that it was “central and essential.” And it was garbage: “factual assertions relied upon in the first [FISA] application targeting Carter Page were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time the application was filed.” One of Steele’s primary sources, tracked down by FBI, said Steele had misreported several of the most troubling allegations of potential Trump blackmail and campaign collusion.

We find human dangles, what Lisa Page referred to as “our OCONUS lures” (OCONUS is spook-speak for Outside CONtinental US) in the form of a shady Maltese academic, Joseph Mifsud, who himself has deep ties to multiple U.S. intel agencies and the Pentagon, paying Trump staffers for nothing speeches to buy access to them. We find a female FBI undercover agent inserted into social situations with a Trump staffer (pillow talk is always a spy’s best friend). It becomes clear the FBI sought to manufacture a foreign counterintelligence threat as an excuse to unleash its surveillance tools against the Trump campaign.

We learn that Trump staffer Carter Page, while under FBI surveillance, was actually working for the CIA in Russia. The FBI was told this repeatedly, yet it never reported it to the FISA court while seeking approval for its secret investigation of Page. An FBI lawyer even doctored an email to hide the fact that Page was working for the Agency and not the Russians; it was that weak a case. The Horowitz report went on to find “at least 17 significant errors or omissions” concerning FBI efforts to obtain FISA warrants against Page alone. California Congressman Devin Nunes raised these points almost two years ago in a memo the MSM widely discredited, even though we now know it was basically true and profoundly prescient.

Page was a nobody with nothing, but the FBI needed him. Horowitz explains that agents “believed at the time they approached the decision point on a second FISA renewal that, based upon the evidence already collected, Carter Page was a distraction in the investigation, not a key player in the Trump campaign, and was not critical to the overarching investigation.” They renewed the warrants anyway, three times, largely due to their value under the “two-hop” rule. The FBI can extend surveillance two hops from its target, so if Carter Page called Michael Flynn who called Trump, all of those calls are legally open to monitoring. Page was a handy little bug. Carter Page was never charged with any crime. He was blown into a big deal only by the fictional Steele Dossier, an excuse for the FBI to electronically surveil the Trump campaign.

When Trump was elected, the uber-lie that he was dirty with Russia was leaked to the press most likely by James Comey and John Brennan in January 2017 (not covered in the Horowitz Report), and a process, which is still ongoing, tying the president to a foreign power, began. “With Trump, All Roads Lead to Moscow,” writes the New York Times even today, long after both the Mueller Report and now the Horowitz Report say unambiguously otherwise. “Monday’s congressional hearing and the inspector general’s report tell a similar story,” bleats the Times, when in fact the long read of both says precisely the opposite. Michael Horowitz, the author of this current report, should be a familiar name. In January 2017, he opened his probe into the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. In a damning passage, that 568-page report found it “extraordinary and insubordinate for Comey to conceal his intentions from his superiors…for the admitted purpose of preventing them from telling him not to make the statement, and to instruct his subordinates in the FBI to do the same. By departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.”

Horowitz’s Clinton report also criticizes FBI agents and illicit lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who exchanged texts disparaging Trump before moving from the Clinton email probe to the Russiagate investigation. Those texts “brought discredit” to the FBI and sowed public doubt. They included one exchange reading, “Page: “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Strzok: “No. No, he’s not. We’ll stop it.”

If after reading the Horowitz Report you want to focus only on its page one statement that the FBI did not act illegally, you must, in turn, focus on what is “legal” in America. If you want to follow the headlines saying Trump was proven wrong when he claimed his campaign was spied upon, you really do need to look up that word in a dictionary and compare it to the tangle of surveillance, foreign government agents, undercover operatives, and payoffs that Horowitz details.

You may accept the opening lines of the Horowitz Report that the FBI did not act with political bias over the course of its investigation. Or you can find a clearer understanding in Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the Report: “that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions.” You will need to reconcile the grotesque use the information the FBI gathered was put to after Trump was elected, the fuel for the Mueller investigation, and years’ worth of media picking at the Russian scab.

The current Horowitz Report, read alongside his previous report on how the FBI played inside the 2016 election vis-a-vis Clinton, should leave no doubt that the Bureau tried to influence the election of a president and then delegitimize him when he won. It wasn’t the Russians; it was us. And if you walk away concluding that the FBI fumbled things, acted amateurishly, failed to do what some claim they set out to do, well, just wait until next time.On a personal note, if any of this is news to you, you may want to ask why you are only learning about it now. The American Conservative has been one of the few outlets that’s consistently exposed the Steele Dossier as part of an information op nearly since it was unveiled, and which has explained how the FISA court was manipulated, and which has steadily raised the question of political interference in our last election by American intelligence services. We claim no magical powers or inside information. To those of us who have been on the fringes of intelligence work, what was obvious just from the publicly available information was, well, obvious. 

If you are reading any of this for the first time, or know people who are reading bastardized MSM versions of it for the first time, you might ask yourself why those outlets went along with Steele, et al. Their journalists are no dumber or smarter than ours. They do, however, write with a different agenda. Keep that in mind as we flip the calendar page to 2020.

JEDI Mind Tricks: Amazon versus the Pentagon and Trump

Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world, boasting revenues of more than $230 billion last year. But last month the company sued the US Department of Defense over a paltry potential $10 billion spread over ten years. Amazon lost out to Microsoft in bidding for the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (yes, JEDI, because the most important part of a government program is coming up with a cool acronym) cloud computing program.

Amazon claims it lost the contract due to, well, JEDI mind tricks – “improper pressure” and “repeated and behind-the-scenes attacks” – played by US President Donald Trump on the Pentagon to set its collective mind against his perceived political opponent, Amazon president (and Washington Post owner) Jeff Bezos. If so, Trump’s mind tricks pale next to the mind tricks used to justify the notion that the Pentagon needs a billion dollars a year to buy its own specialized, proprietary cloud computing system – one that the DoD’s own fact sheet boasts is merely ” one component of the larger ecosystem that consists of different cloud models based on purpose” – from Microsoft, from Amazon, or from anyone else.

The great thing about cloud computing is that it’s a 50-year-old concept, generally available for years now in numerous off-the-shelf versions. The Pentagon doesn’t need its own cloud computing system any more than it needs its own brand of staplers.Some JEDI knights might protest that the US armed forces need sturdier security than the everyday user, justifying a proprietary system. Per the fact sheet, “NSA, CYBERCOM, and the intelligence community provided input into JEDI’s security requirements.”

I suspect we’re talking about the same NSA, CYBERCOM and intelligence community we’ve listened to whine for the last 30 years about how civilian encryption technologies and other privacy protections are just too darn good and should be artificially hobbled to make them easier to crack. Global Firepower lists 2019 defense budgets for 137 of the world’s countries. Of those countries, 61 – nearly half – spend less than $1 billion per year on their entire armed forces. That is, less than the Pentagon wants to spend per year on a single computing system. It’s not Amazon who’s getting screwed here, it’s the American taxpayer. JEDI is Pentagon budget padding at one end and corporate welfare at the other, not an essential element of a robust national defense.In other news, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper still hasn’t found the droids he’s looking for.

What’s Wrong With FISA?

Antiwar reported Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978 in response to the unlawful surveillance of Americans by the FBI and the CIA during the Watergate era. President Richard Nixon – who famously quipped after leaving office that "when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal" – used the FBI and the CIA to spy on his political opponents.

The stated reason was national security. Nixon claimed that foreign agents physically present in the U.S. agitated and aggravated his political opponents to produce the great public unrest in America in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and thus diminished Americans’ appetite for fighting the Vietnam War. There was, of course, no evidence to support that view, but the neocons in Congress and the military-industrial complex supported it even after Nixon left office.

This view – there are foreigners among us who wish us harm – came to fruition during the presidency of Jimmy Carter, who pushed for the enactment of FISA. FISA’s stated purpose was to limit – not expand – the government’s surveillance powers by requiring the intervention and permission of a judge.Wait a minute. Government surveillance is a search under the Fourth Amendment, and government searches already required warrants from judges. So, what was new about FISA?

The Constitution requires probable cause of crime to be demonstrated to a judge before the judge can sign a search warrant. That was the law of the land until FISA came along. FISA set up the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and it authorized the judges on that court to issue search warrants based on a lower standard of probable cause.Isn’t that contrary to the Constitution? Yes, it is. But a challenge has never reached a non-FISC federal court because the government has never used evidence that it admits was obtained from a FISC warrant in a criminal case for fear that a federal court will invalidate the FISA standard.

It gets worse.Because FISC meets in secret, and because only government lawyers appear before it, we have a dangerous recipe: Secrecy and no defense counsel produce tyranny. That combination has the standard for issuing search warrants sliding even further down the slope of tyranny and absurdity.FISA established probable cause of foreign agency as the standard that government lawyers must meet. That morphed into probable cause of foreign personhood. That morphed into probable cause of speaking to a foreign person. And that morphed into probable cause of speaking to any person who has ever spoken to a foreign person. All of this happened in secret.

This slow but persistent destruction of the right to be left alone, which is ostensibly guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment, came about not only by secrecy and the absence of adversaries but also by judicial gullibility and constitutional infidelity.Judges have a tendency to accept uncritically the unchallenged applications presented to them. This is an inherent defect for FISC judges, whose decisions slowly and materially weakened the already unconstitutional FISA probable cause standard. FISC judges have granted 99.97% of all applications for search warrants.

All of this is presented as historical and legal background for an understanding of the report of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice on the FBI’s use of FISA to surveil the Trump campaign in 2016 and 2017. That report, released earlier this week, concludes that the original FISA statutory standard – probable cause of foreign agency – was met when Australian intelligence agents tipped off CIA and FBI agents to the boasts of one of Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisers that he had ties to the Kremlin.

The FBI then took that tip, added to it erroneous, incomplete and unverified materials, and persuaded FISC to issue warrants to surveil the Trump adviser and the campaign.The DOJ IG found that the beginning of the investigation was lawful and nonpolitical, but its expansion and continuance manifested substantial violations of DOJ and FBI protocols.There is more. FISA is not only unconstitutional; it is also inherently corrupting of government officials.When government prosecutors seek a search warrant pursuant to the Fourth Amendment, they are careful to document all their allegations. They know that if their target is indicted, the target’s lawyers will have access to their applications for the search warrant and can challenge its issuance.In the midst of a homicide trial, I once reversed and nullified a warrant that I had issued two years earlier when I learned that the government had intentionally kept exculpatory evidence from me; evidence that, had I known of it, would have dissuaded me from issuing the warrant. That is the beauty of our due process. The adversary system exposes the truth.There is no such exposure under FISA, and FBI and National Security Agency agents know that. They also know that their methods and applications to the secret FISC will never be exposed to defense counsel or to the public.Until now.

Now, we have seen in a case involving the president of the United States, a material alteration of a document, reliance on unverified allegations, substantial omissions, agents duping one another, applications signed by senior DOJ and FBI folks who never even read, much less questioned, what they signed – all done with the false comfort that their misdeeds would not come to light.My intelligence and law enforcement colleagues tell me that two generations of FBI agents have come of age believing that if they have a weak case, if they lack enough probable cause to obtain a search warrant, they can always get one from FISC.The FISA Court is repugnant to the Constitution and to the concept of an independent judiciary, and it took an IG report on the FBI and the president to demonstrate that.

FBI agents warn of 'chilling effect' from Trump and Barr attacks

As CNN reported,Some federal law enforcement officials are warning of a chilling effect inside the FBI amid attacks by President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr over the bureau's handling of the Russia investigation.

Current and former FBI officials tell CNN they're concerned that the harsh rhetoric coming from Trump and Barr has only worsened the bureau's already tenuous standing with the President, leaving them wondering whether federal agents could be less aggressive the next time they have to pursue a sensitive investigation.

"We're constantly told to be agile and use all the legal tools available to us," said one FBI employee who works on counterintelligence matters. "But who is going to risk sticking their neck out now only to have DOJ chop it off?"

Barr this week seized on findings in a blockbuster inspector general report to scold the FBI for using "intrusive" tools with only "flimsy" evidence, and he questioned whether they'd been motivated by bias. Those attacks were particularly noteworthy given that the report found no evidence of bias or improper motivation in the FBI's decisions to use counterintelligence techniques. The report did however point out serious mistakes and mishandling of evidence by the FBI.

In his criticism, Barr has used language that hews closely to conspiracies from Trump, who maintains that his campaign was illegally spied on. During a rally on Tuesday night, Trump used the word "scum" to refer to FBI employees he believes acted improperly.

"These comments will have a chilling effect on the workforce," said one recently retired agent who has handled surveillance warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the kind abused according to the inspector general report.

Investigative tools
If there are more administrative hurdles, and concern that actions will be second-guessed, agents may decide to avoid certain investigative tools, the former agent said. That includes pursuing things like FISA warrants to surveil targets, a process that is frequently used by investigators, but was riddled with errors during the Russia investigation, the inspector general found.

As they sought to determine if members of the Trump campaign were colluding with the Russian government in the run-up to the 2016 election, FBI officials in Washington turned to what were standard measures for the bureau but that were used in extraordinary circumstances to investigate a presidential campaign.

Informants were deployed to meet and record conversations with certain campaign aides, and FISA warrants targeted Carter Page, a onetime foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, allowing the FBI to eavesdrop on his calls and look back on his messages.
While he found no evidence of political bias in the FBI's investigation, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz called out "failure" among the ranks of the FBI for making a number of "basic and fundamental errors" as they sought permission to obtain the FISA warrants.

On Wednesday Horowitz criticized the application process for the FISA warrants on Page. "Let me put it this way, I would not have submitted the one they put in," Horowitz said.

Barr, in an interview with NBC News Tuesday, heightened the failure to an accusation of civil liberties abuse.

"The greatest danger to our free system is that the incumbent government use the apparatus of the state, principally the law enforcement agencies and the intelligence agencies, both to spy on political opponents, but also to use them in a way that could affect the outcome of the election," Barr said.

As the head of the Justice Department, Barr is two steps above the FBI's director, Christopher Wray, and defenders of the agency have called Barr's pejorative use of the term "spying" inappropriate.

"For the boss of the boss of the FBI director to be criticizing how the FBI does that and to use those types of terms is not helpful," said Robert Anderson, a former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence who signed off on numerous FISA warrants before becoming a top executive under former director James Comey.

Barr was looking at the situation through a political lens, rather than strictly at the facts of the case, Anderson said.He disagreed, however, that the political rhetoric could impede the work of rank and file agents."I don't know if it has a chilling effect at the workforce level because most of the men and women, analysts and linguists, are not tied to any of the political nonsense at headquarters," Anderson said.

Ignoring the criticism
Agents and employees in the field have tried to ignore the political criticism and constant headlines, and some are disappointed in the actions of past FBI leadership, an agent told CNN."We want to be proud of our agency," the agent said, but after more than two years "we don't have time to dwell on it."

Agents continue to work their cases, putting in long hours, the agent said.

One of the concerns arising from the internal watchdog investigation is the finding of what the inspector general said were a series of missteps up and down the FBI chain of command, despite the fact officials knew the case was going to be highly scrutinized.

"You had the highest levels of the organization working on this, and they made such epic failures that they're going to bring down the entire organization because of the incompetence in how they did their jobs," the retired agent said.

FBI agents and employees are often accused of having swagger, viewing themselves as better investigators than those from other government agencies.

The problems identified in the inspector general report, along with the attacks from political leaders, hurts that pride, current and former employees say.

Panelist: one can be alarmed by misconduct of both FBI and Trump

In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Republican chairman Lindsey Graham seized on these failures in questioning Horowitz, asking him whether they representative of the bureau on the whole.

"I certainly hope that that is not the way others are following these practices," Horowitz said.

Wray's response
FBI Director Wray has sought to support the agency in the aftermath of the report with a video message that went out to staff and a letter that was sent to former employees.In a series of interviews on Monday, Wray also pointed to the fact that Horowitz found that the investigation was properly opened, though he called the problems identified in the report "unacceptable and unrepresentative of who we are as an institution."

In a response included in the report, Wray described more than 40 steps the FBI was taking to address recommendations made by the inspector general, including changes to make the processes for seeking FISA warrants "more stringent and less susceptible to mistake or inaccuracy."

At the oversight hearing Wednesday, Graham, a close Republican ally of the President, suggested a broader overhaul of the FISA system would be necessary if law enforcement wanted to keep the power."I would hate to lose the ability of the FISA court to operate at a time probably when we need it the most. But after your report, I have serious concerns about whether the FISA court can continue unless there is fundamental reform," Graham said.

David Szady, a second former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, underscored the value that law enforcement derives from FISA surveillance, but agreed that more oversight to that tool and others used by investigators in the Russia probe was a good thing.

"They're just so intrusive. You're talking about using techniques, whether they're human sources or technical sources, against a US citizen, so you want to make sure your information is as solid as possible," Szady said.


 

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