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The Lajes’ Protocol: Known Nunes and Unknown Nunes

As Betty wrote this morning, and as I’ve written about here and here, Congressman Nunes and his staff have put together a cherrypicked memo, based on classified information provided to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence by the Department of Justice and the FBI. They are threatening to release it against the objections of the DOJ and the FBI. The purpose of the memo, and the selected leaking by Congressman Nunes and his partners in crime – Congressman Meadows and Jordan of the Freedom Caucus, Congressman Gaetz and DeSantis of Florida, and others –  is to accuse senior career officials of the the DOJ and FBI of acting improperly in an attempt to undermine these two agencies and by extension Special Prosecutor Mueller and his investigation. From yesterday’s reporting we now have confirmation that the central charge of Nunes as stated in his memo involves now Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein’s allegedly using information from the Steele Dossier to get a FISA warrant for Carter Page. Either Congressman Nunes, despite chairing the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, doesn’t understand how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) approves or extends warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or he’s being disingenuous in pursuit of political objectives.

Former FBI Special Agent Asha Rangappa, who worked counterintelligence investigations, has done a couple of twitter postings explaining the process. She also went on CNN today to explain how this all works. The video and the timelines are below, but the Bottom Line Up Front, is that the DOJ and FBI have an internal team that vets FISA warrant applications for warrants and extensions to approved warrants before they’re brought before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. One of the reasons that the FISC approves over 90% of the warrant applications brought before it, is because the ones that don’t survive a high level of presubmission review scrutiny don’t make it to the FISC.

Here’s the video:

Here are the narrative explanations, but for those that would rather not read tweet storms, she also wrote an explainer about this at Just Security.

This first one is in regard to the overall FISA warrant application process:

This second one is basically the narrative rundown of the video above:

Stay frosty!

Open thread.



Release The Memo Metastasizes

The release the memo attempt to discredit the career prosecutors at the DOJ and agents and analysts at the FBI, as well as personnel in the US intelligence community, has metastasized as Special Counselor Mueller’s investigation has gotten closer to the President.

There is now a fake British GCHQ surveillance request memo making the rounds. This is not the Nunes’ memo, which was created by Congressman Nunes and his staff by cherry picking information from classified materials provided to his committee by the DOJ and FBI in order to implicate the DOJ and FBI in some sort of conspiracy against the President. The fake GCHQ memo appears to have been mainstreamed from an article here that is just a hot mess.

I know it is hard to read, but if you look closely at paragraph 3 you can see a reference to MI5 agent Michael Steele.

This is Michael Steele:

He’s from Maryland. Was the Maryland lieutenant governor. He also used to be the chair of the Republican National Committee and is now a contributing political analyst at NBC/MSNBC.

This is also Michael Steel (no finale e):

He was a senior advisor for the Jeb! 2016 campaign, was Speaker Boehnnor’s spokesperson, and is also a contributing political analyst for NBC/MSNBC. They do try not to book them at the same time so as not to confuse anyone (because they were clearly separated at birth!).

This is Christopher Steele:

Christopher Steele is the retired MI6 officer, and former head of their Russia Desk, who was hired by Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research during the 2016 campaign.

One final note, MI5 is Britain’s domestic security service, roughly equivalent to the FBI. Michael Steele, Michael Steel, and Christopher Steele never worked for MI5.

Aside from this easily debunked mess of a forged GCHQ request memo, apparently the FBI Special Agent Strzok and FBI attorney Page saga has also metastasized. According to Senator Johnson, he has whistleblower testimony that there is a secret society within the FBI. And it was meeting off site from FBI headquarters to plot something having to do with preventing the President from becoming the President or to overthrow him now that he is President or something. The FBI secret society conspiracy theory developed out of text messages sent between Strzok and Page on their work phones while having an affair during the 2016 election. My best guess is someone overheard Strzok and Page, who were planning to get together, because they were having an affair, with reference to their “place” or their “secret place” or their “secret site” and decided that 2+2 = 763. Or it may be that Senator Johnson is just making it up completely.

And, because where would we be without an Alex Jones-Rush Limbaugh meeting of the minds, Jones did a show yesterday claiming to have Nunes’ memo. What Jones actually had was a 99 page declassified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion in regard to Section 702 violations. It has been declassified and posted online since April 2016 and served as the basis for several breathless conspiracy mongering articles by John Solomon and Sara Carter in an attempt to gin up an Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign scandal. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court memo says no such thing. It is basically a catalogue of 702 violations, when they happened, by which agency, and the Court’s position on what needed to be done to rectify the violations. That’s it. (This is also a good example of just how the oversight rules for Section 702 work and what the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court does when violations are discovered.)

Limbaugh has decided to follow Jones’ lead and gone full tin foil (Never go full tin foil! Unless you’re a baked potato.) He’s now claiming that the deep state fabricated the WMD intelligence to destroy President Bush (43). And that this somehow ties into support for President Obama, who was a state senator at the time, and President Obama’s conspiracy with former FBI Director Comey to protect Secretary Clinton and sabotage the current President and his campaign. Or something like that, because honestly I’ve read the transcript three times and I’m still not sure I’ve got it right. I’m beginning to wonder what is actually in those cigars Limbaugh smokes all the time.

What we’re seeing here is an attempt to throw every type of wild, crazy, and half baked conspiracy theory at the wall in an attempt to discredit the Department of Justice, the FBI, the US intelligence community, and by extension Special Counselor Mueller and his team. We now know, because Fox News reporters actually did reporting, that it wasn’t just the information on Strzok’s and Page’s FBI issued Samsung work phones that wasn’t captured by the DOJ/FBI information archiving system. Rather thousands of cell phones issued to FBI personnel had the same problem.

Just don’t expect to see this get much coverage after 5 PM on Fox News. Or by Limbaugh. Or by Solomon and Carter. Or on Sinclair’s local news media holdings. Or mentioned by any GOP members of the House Special Committee on Intelligence. Or by members of the House Freedom Caucus. Or Senator Johnson. The closer it appears that Mueller is getting, the more of this insanity we’re going to see. I honestly never thought I’d live long enough to see Republican elected and appointed officials, as well as their proxies from a variety of conservative organizations, media outlets, and think tanks turn on the FBI and the US intelligence committee. If they ever figure out that 16 of the 18 agencies within the US intelligence community are US military agencies, I expect they’ll finally turn on the troops. Or their heads will explode.

Updated at 5:50 PM EST:

Commenter lgerard makes a good catch that I’d missed. The source for the fake GCHQ memo is Hal Turner:

Hal Turner, a former FBI agent who worked with the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) between 2003-2008, explains that contacts in the international Intelligence Community (IC) provided him with the leak.

“In that role, I worked with many people in the Intelligence Community (IC) including folks in the military and law enforcement, in many countries around the world.  The relationships I forged with these folks endure to this day.

“Thanks to my contacts in the IC, I have now obtained the TOP SECRET MEMO from inside British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) proving the facts laid out about above concerning spying on President Trump.”

Stay frosty!

Open thread.