What you and Carter Page and Donald Trump have in common.

Any American Citizen File

Who allowed FISA surveillance abuse? New attorney general must find out

BY: FRANCEY HAKES, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR, The Hill

When I worked at the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review at the Department of Justice (DOJ), the procedure for obtaining a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant was an object lesson in checks and balances. Given the near-daily revelations about the underpinnings of the various investigations into President Trump and his inner circle, those checks and balances weren’t just ignored — they were thrown permanently out the window in the name of securing his election defeat or later removal from office.

We are privileged to live in a country where the rule of law and our tradition of professional law enforcement protect us from the kind of corruption rife in many other countries. But the conduct of the FBI and the Department of Justice in opening multiple investigations into President Trump and his inner circle calls that professionalism into question in a way that should concern us all, regardless of our political leanings.

In 1975, the Church Committee was formed by Congress to investigate whether the intelligence community was using its various surveillance technologies to target political enemies. Three major agencies — National Security Agency (NSA), CIA, and FBI — were all found to be illegally targeting Americans such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali without court supervision, permission or warrants as required by the Constitution. In response to this shocking finding, Congress in 1978 passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was designed to impose strict controls on the use of clandestine surveillance tools against Americans to ensure they were never again used for political purposes.

There were strict guidelines and procedures in place for obtaining a FISA surveillance warrant when I was on special detail to the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review inside the Department of Justice in 2004 and 2005. Before the FBI brought an application to me as the department attorney who would swear to it and present it to the FISA Court, the application went through a series of reviews inside the FBI. These reviews are designed to ensure that a neutral person agrees there is sufficient evidence that the target of the warrant is an agent of a foreign power engaging in espionage or terrorism.

Generally, these warrants are never intended for use in criminal courts. They largely are used to gather intelligence that will aid in protecting national security. They also mostly are used to target foreign nationals in this country. If the target is a U.S. person, the department attorney must establish in the application for a warrant that the person is acting as the agent of a foreign power and, additionally, that he or she likely engaged in conduct that violates U.S. criminal statutes. As with criminal warrants, the factual assertions made to support the allegation that the target is an agent of a foreign power engaged in possible criminal activity must be reliable. That is, a bare assertion is not enough; it must be supported by reliable information and evidence.

Once the review is complete at the FBI, the agent presents the application to a department attorney for review and submission to the FISA Court. At this stage, the attorney must verify every paragraph of the application. This is done in consultation with the agent. I was trained to ask the agent how he or she knew each “fact” asserted in every paragraph. Importantly, I would be swearing to the application’s accuracy before the court, so I had a critical incentive to ensure the facts were accurately portrayed. My license, my reputation were on the line.

But, I had to rely upon the representation of the agent, and the FBI, CIA or NSA, to give me accurate information. I certainly couldn’t go out and verify the assertions myself. Once I was confident that each paragraph was accurate, and that the requirements of the statute were met, that application then went through several more people above me, supervisors who also were professional DOJ career attorneys, before it reached the final level of approval by the deputy attorney general. Only then, after purportedly neutral review inside the FBI and DOJ, would a FISA application be submitted to the court for approval.

We now know that the unverified allegations in the so-called Steele dossier were asserted as reliable facts in the original FISA warrant and three renewals against former Trump campaign volunteer adviser Carter Page. Former FBI director James Comey admitted as much in testimony long after the FISA warrant was issued. How could this happen? That is what the new attorney general must find out.

How could all the controls in place to protect Americans from clandestine surveillance fail so miserably? It is important to note that many more Americans beyond Carter Page likely were surveilled by the FBI. Every person with whom Page communicated had their emails or text messages captured and reviewed, potentially going back years.

The Obama administration was unveiling the names of Americans captured in FISA surveillance at record rates. This spider web of captures and potential invasion of privacy is exactly why it is so serious to utilize clandestine surveillance tools against Americans. And, it is why there are so many steps required to surveil Americans using those tools. Regular criminal warrants against criminal suspects have disclosure requirements so targets eventually know they have been surveilled. In contrast, clandestine surveillance may go undisclosed forever. So, many Americans may never know — and likely don’t to this day in the case of those with whom Page communicated — that they have been surveilled by government agents.


Why do we care that Page and many other Americans had their emails or other messages intercepted and reviewed based upon unverified allegations? If you think President Trump and his associates are dangerous, evil, stupid, or unqualified, then you might not care. The ends justify the means to you. But what if this supposedly dangerous, evil, stupid, unqualified president uses those same failures to his advantage and against his own enemies?

The new attorney general must investigate how this happened by tracing each person in the chain of the Page FISA warrants. Each must be asked about the factual assertions made under oath.  Someone is accountable. Someone inside the Justice Department must answer for the abuse of our surveillance assets and sworn misrepresentations to the FISA Court. If they don’t, it will happen again. And again.


Francey Hakes was a prosecutor for 16 years and now consults on national security and the protection of children. As a former assistant U.S. attorney, she appeared before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, presenting applications for counterterrorism and counterespionage warrants on a special detail to the Department of Justice Office of Intelligence Policy and Review. She served as the first National Coordinator for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction from January 2010 to March 2012. Follow her on Twitter @FranceyHakes.

https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/425913-who-allowed-fisa-surveillance-abuse-new-attorney-general-must-find-out

U.S. forces Net firms to cooperate – act or NSA will

Editor’s Note – Once again we have to ask, do you believe what Washington tells you or do you need a new, more reliable source to understand what is taking place affecting our liberties and privacy? Then ask, why does our government need such widespread investigative tools when it clearly crosses the line on our freedoms?

How the U.S. forces Net firms to cooperate on surveillance

Officially, Uncle Sam says it doesn’t interfere.

But behind the scenes, the feds have been trying to browbeat Internet firms into helping with surveillance demands.

By wielding a potent legal threat, the U.S. government is often able to force Internet companies to aid its surveillance demands. The threat? Comply or we’ll implant our own eavesdropping devices on your network.nsa-square

Under federal law, the National Security Agency can serve real-time “electronic surveillance” orders on Internet companies for investigations related to terrorism or national security.

These orders, authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, are used to feed data into the NSA’s PRISM software program that was revealed last month by former intelligence analyst Edward Snowden. PRISM documents indicate that the NSA can receive “real-time notifications” of user log-ins.

Some Internet companies have reluctantly agreed to work with the government to conduct legally authorized surveillance on the theory that negotiations are less objectionable than the alternative — federal agents showing up unannounced with a court order to install their own surveillance device on a sensitive internal network. Those devices, the companies fear, could disrupt operations, introduce security vulnerabilities, or intercept more than is legally permitted.

“Nobody wants it on-premises,” said a representative of a large Internet company who has negotiated surveillance requests with government officials. “Nobody wants a box in their network…[Companies often] find ways to give tools to minimize disclosures, to protect users, to keep the government off the premises, and to come to some reasonable compromise on the capabilities.”

Precedents were established a decade or so ago when the government obtained legal orders compelling companies to install custom eavesdropping hardware on their networks.

One example, which has not been previously disclosed, arose out of a criminal investigation in which the Drug Enforcement Administration suspected a woman of trafficking in 1,4-Butanediol. The butane-derived chemical is used industrially as a solvent and recreationally as a date rape drug or sedative.

The DEA’s Special Operations Division, which includes FBI representatives, obtained a real-time intercept order — sometimes called a Title III order — against EarthLink and WorldCom, a network provider that’s now part of Verizon Business. Both companies were targeted by the order because EarthLink routed outgoing e-mail messages through equipment leased from WorldCom.

WorldCom technicians were required to help the DEA install surveillance equipment that the agency had purchased and provided. Over the course of the wiretap, the government’s hardware vacuumed up over 1,200 e-mail messages from the targeted account. EarthLink did not respond to a request for comment this week.

TECH-articleLargeFISA gives the government a powerful club to wield against Internet companies. The law requires the firms to “furnish all information, facilities, or technical assistance necessary to accomplish the electronic surveillance” as long as it can be done with a “minimum of interference” with other users.

In another case that was closely watched within the industry, the FBI invoked similar language to force EarthLink to install a Carnivore network monitoring device, over the company’s strenuous objections. EarthLink challenged the surveillance order in court because it was concerned that Carnivore would vacuum up more user metadata than the court order authorized.

It lost. A federal magistrate judge sided with the government, despite the fact that “Carnivore would enable remote access to the ISP’s network and would be under the exclusive control of government agents,” Robert Corn-Revere, an attorney for EarthLink, told Congress at the time.

Those legal victories allowed the government to strong-arm Internet companies into reworking their systems to aid in surveillance — under the threat of having the FBI install NarusInsight or similar devices on their networks. “The government has a lot of leverage,” including contracts and licenses, said a representative for an Internet company. “There is a lot of pressure from them. Nobody is willingly going into this.”

Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society, said, referring to the government’s pressure tactics:

They can install equipment on the system. And I think that’s why companies are motivated to cooperate [and] use their own equipment to collect for the government. They would rather help than let any government equipment on their service, because then they lose oversight and control.

In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton signed into law the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, which required telephone companies to configure their systems to perform court-authorized lawful intercepts in a standard way. In 2004, that requirement was extended to cover broadband providers, but not Web companies.

A survey of earlier litigation shows, however, that the Justice Department was able to convince courts to force companies to take steps to permit surveillance through their networks long before CALEA became law.

In 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that surveillance law is a “direct command to federal courts to compel, upon request, any assistance necessary to accomplish an electronic interception.”

Other courts followed suit. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit concluded in 1979 that the Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania must comply with a surveillance order because it would cause only “a minimal disruption of normal operations.” The Ninth Circuit ruled against Mountain Bell a year later, saying a surveillance order “recognized the practical fact that the actions ordered were technical ones which only that company could perform.”

If an Internet company offers encryption designed in such a way that even its engineers can’t access users’ files or communications, it would be unable to comply with a FISA or other surveillance order.

But with a few exceptions, such as SpiderOak and Fogpad, nearly all companies use encryption only in transit, meaning data stored on servers remains unencrypted.

That’s why Microsoft could be compelled to work with the NSA and the FBI’s Data Intercept Technology Unit to aid in surveillance of Outlook.com and Hotmail messages, a situation the Guardian disclosed yesterday, citing documents provided by Snowden.

Internet companies have, on occasion, created “teams of in-house experts” to figure out how to respond to FISA surveillance orders, The New York Times reported last month.

Microsoft’s engineers have quietly designed a system to comply with government orders, which manages to avoid having a surveillance device implanted on a internal network. (Microsoft declined to comment for this article.)

One case that used it arose out of a probe into illegal drug sales in Philadelphia. As part of that investigation, the government obtained a court order for a real-time wiretap against a Hotmail account.

Microsoft’s wiretap compliance system worked by forwarding a copy of two suspects’ e-mail messages to a “shadow account” located elsewhere on Hotmail’s servers. Each address under surveillance had a separate “shadow account” associated with it.

Every 15 minutes, an automated process logged in to these shadow accounts and transferred the retrieved e-mails into “case folders” on computers at a DEA office in Lorton, Va.

Homeland Security agents separately obtained a real-time wiretap of a Hotmail account used by a man suspected of possessing pornography involving minors. A case associated with that criminal prosecution, which might reveal more about surveillance techniques used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, remains under seal in a New Jersey federal court.

A Google spokesman declined to say this week whether the company could comply with a wiretap order targeting a Google Hangout or Google Talk conversation.

The government’s ability to perform surveillance even when armed with a court order depends in large part on the decisions engineers made when designing a product. “Many implementations include an ability to monitor sessions as a debugging tool,” one government official said this week. “Depending on how things have been built, a real-time wiretap may be nothing more than turning that on. As an example, all enterprise-grade Ethernet switches include a monitor port — not because the FBI demands it, but because sysadmins need it.”

Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, said the PRISM disclosures show Internet companies should embrace strong encryption for their users. “This is a place where the companies have an opportunity to do something that doesn’t hurt their ability to make money and [that wins] them praise,” he said.

Klayman – Class Action Suit on NSA/PRISM – Extortion 17 Parents

Editor’s Note – Larry Klayman, the noted attorney involved in some of the most important litigation in freedom/liberty cases as well as big government issues has filed a class action suit over the PRISM/NSA revelations and has included one very important point.

That point goes to ‘Standing’ – was an individual aggrieved or injured? In this case it is one significant couple, parents of a dead warrior hero. A former DoJ lawyer, Klayman knows their game.

Now the door is open to people to join the class action should the court agree and the court will have to concede that there is ‘Standing’ This was a major issue in so many cases against several named in the suit where courts threw cases out for lack of standing. Court after court failed to allow citizens to redress their government for grievances through the courts in the past, now they must answer.

The specific persons named in the suit as litigants are Charley and Mary Ann Strange on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

They are named because of some very curious and illegal activities they endured, and you will soon learn what happened to them, and that it is directly attributable to the federal government and its overreach into the privacy of their communications.

This is doubly significant because Charley and Mary Ann are the parents of SEAL Team VI member Michael Strange – part of the group killed in Afghanistan on the Chinook CH-47 helicopter with call sign ‘Extortion 17’.

This is the incident they and other family members have been investigating in what is one of the earlier scandals committed by the Obama Administration in 2011 that remains unsolved but is beginning to become well known. Were there a few less egregious scandals, this one scandal would rise to the top where it should be in the hearts and minds of all Americans.

In the suit filed yesterday, one section stands out on ‘Standing’:

24. Plaintiffs and members of the class bring this action because they have been directly affected, victimized and severely damaged by the unlawful conduct complained herein. Their injuries are proximately related to the egregious, illegal and criminal acts of Defendants Obama, Holder, Alexander, McAdam, Vinson, Verizon, the DOJ, and the NSA, each and every one of them, jointly and severely.

The release this week of the PRISM/NSA leaks may be challenged by the government as not having gone after private citizens in public statements, but now they will have to do so under oath with the full weight of perjury and obstruction of justice hanging over their heads.

Here is the PDF of the suit as it was filed: PRISM-class action suit

For more on this, click here at Wired.

Klayman Expands Obama- NSA-Verizon Suit Into Class Action

Senator Rand Paul Expresses Support for Klayman’s Class Action Lawsuit

Posted at Yahoo News

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and now Freedom Watch and a former Justice Department prosecutor, today announced that he has expanded his lawsuit against President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, the heads of the National Security Agency (NSA) and Verizon, the entities themselves, and the federal judge, Roger Vinson, who signed the warrant allowing for the alleged illegal violation of the constitutional rights of well over a hundred million subscribers and users, to be a class action lawsuit.

The complaint, which can be found at www.freedomwatchusa.org, was amended yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. (Case No.  1:13-cv-OO851).

Importantly, and also yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Senator Rand Paul, a strict constitutionalist, expressed support for a class action lawsuit, obviously knowing that Klayman had already filed one since it has been widely reported.

“I applaud Senator Paul for effectively endorsing our lawsuit, and agree with him that it will serve as a vehicle to have tens and perhaps hundreds of millions of Americans rise up against government tyranny, which has grown to historic proportions. Even the New York Times has recently opined that the Obama administration has lost all credibility.

For this venerable newspaper to make such a strong statement shows just how serious the Obama administration’s alleged violation of the constitutional rights of citizens has become. For the issue of the preservation of civil liberties is not a left or right issue, but one for all Americans to rise up and fight for. We cannot allow a ‘Big Brother’, Orwellian government spy on the American people to access their confidential communications to effectively turn ‘citizens into its prisoners.’

That is why this class action lawsuit, which all Verizon users are welcome to join, no matter what their political persuasion, will serve as the vehicle for a second American revolution, one that is carried out peacefully and legally – but also forcefully. It now falls on a ‘jury of our peers’ to make sure that justice is done to end this illegal and coercive power grab – before it, like a malignant cancerous tumor, destroys the body politic of our great nation. Our Founding Fathers would be proud,” stated Klayman.

For information contact Klayman Lawfirm: daj142182@gmail.com or (424) 274 2579.

Media Contact: Adrienne Mazzone, 561-750-9800 ext 210, amazzone@transmediagroup.com