Page warrant proves politics and secret courts don’t mix

Page warrant proves politics and secret courts don't mix
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If the information in the FBI’s Carter Page warrant constituted probable cause for wiretapping an American political campaign, then the process and the officials involved in it carried out one of the most significant known violations of American civil liberties in recent history. The documents released over the weekend reveal quite clearly that the only information that even remotely connected Page and the 2016 campaign to Russia came solely from Fusion GPS dossier and a Yahoo News report that was based on the same information from the same source.

The first warrant says plainly that the FBI already was convinced that the “Russian government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated” with the Trump campaign. Make absolutely no mistake. This was, from the very beginning, an investigation of the Trump campaign and anyone in it with any ties whatsoever to Russia. The FBI presented the conclusion that Page was the mastermind of this without any serious foundation beyond the Steele dossier.

If I were a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court judge, I might well have signed this one-sided warrant, too, especially given the unvarnished judgment of the FBI, and because I would not have been told that this was all really from a single source creating a vast echo chamber, and that it originated with secret funding from the Democrats.

Former British spy and dossier compiler Christopher Steele, it turns out, managed to be on the payroll of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) while also being “compensated” by the FBI, the warrant reveals. In renewals of the warrant, the FBI admits in a footnote that Steele was later fired by the FBI for lying to it, and yet the FBI maintains that his information is credible, even though the tips come from unspecified, unverified “sub sources.” The information is not first-hand from Steele, but second-hand, third-hand and fourth-hand.

In past assignments with the FBI, Steele was not working for an opposition party trying to dig up dirt on a political candidate he hated. His motivations, and those of his sources, would have been completely different. It is stunning that, even after lying to the FBI about this very matter, he was still presented to the court as a credible source. Clearly, they left the Steele material in the renewals because they needed it.

But, have no fear. Yahoo had a corroborating story that is detailed in a section of the warrant laughably titled “Page’s Denial of Cooperation.” This section is written in a deliberately misleading way since, despite the title, it simply details all of the material in the Yahoo story as corroborating information, sticking Page’s denial at the end. It is a distortion to suggest, as some Democratic…

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