FISA Abuse: Hubbub in the US Power Corridors

By Maryam Iraj

American media is predicting the indictment of the higher-ups for Obama administration, if FISA memo is made public. FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act): a program which was first enacted in 1978 to authorize U.S. spy agencies to collect information on foreigners outside the country or within the country to protect American citizens. Initially, it was a warrant-less investigation which could be carried both physically and electronically. But, under the  Bill 702 , there are several restrictions which need to be kept in mind and cannot be violated, at any cost, by any US federal authority. In case of the violation of the Bill 702 clauses; it becomes an extremely scandalous issue, and this is where the Trump Tweets , in 2017, broke loose the hell in the power corridors of US.

Section 702 clearly articulates that:

Despite this clear statement, as claimed by the alleged dossiers: FISA memo and Trump Tweets, it is incomprehensible, apparently, how Obama administration managed to wiretap the 58-story Manhattan skyscraper, Trump Tower.
FISA warrants are not generalized, and never allow broad wiretaps to avoid the possibility of picking up an innocent third party. In this context, alleged FISA abuse, in the light of Trump tweets and media claims, would be a blatant case of legal abuse to wiretap the shared offices at Trump Towers.  But that is the picture which Trump administration is depicting. Ironically, what substantiates the claims of Trump tweets are the noteworthy events which were seminal to this (made-up or genuine) controversy prior to his win in 2017.  On 15 October 2016, the FISA request was granted to Obama administration which was denied earlier in June and July the same year. The request was made and granted by the FISA court on the evidence of the link between the two banks; SVB and Russia’s Alfa Bank, to a server in Trump Towers.

In 2017, February, Mike Flynn reports surfaced that FBI intercepted a conversation in 2016 between future National Security Adviser; Michael Flynn (then a private citizen) and Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

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Trump with Kislyak in 2018, following the 2017 electoral win

It was part of a routine spying on the Russian ambassador, Kislyak, by the US Government; not to screen the Trump campaign, as claimed by him.  In February 2017, The New York Times, claimed that Trump campaign’s four current and former American officials maintained active contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials and diplomats. Though, The New York Times,  later issued the statement that this claim could not be backed-up by any “evidence”.  In March 2017, another leading media outlet, the Washington Post, targeted the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for contacting twice the Russian ambassador during the campaign. But Sessions denied such claims on two occasions; in his senate office and in a Heritage Foundation event, publicly. During the same time, The New York Times, covered the story to claim that Obama White House hurried to “preserve” intelligence reports by literally “disseminating” them throughout the government agencies.

Nonetheless, there are serious demands by congressmen to make the memo public as the top national-priority. Famously known now as “dirty dossiers” by the Trump government officials; the four-page memo, from the Justice Department, allegedly claims that Obama administration officials wiretapped Trump communication and warranted spying on him as a candidate of the opposite party, during the 2016 elections. In response to the allegations leveled against Obama administration, Obama spokesperson, Kevin Lewis, in an interview to Politico, strongly condemned and out-rightly denied the claims of extra-judicial surveillance of any US citizens, predominantly based on the political bias.

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“President Barack Obama greets Kevin Lewis, former director of African American Media, in the Oval Office, on Dec. 7, 2016.” Source: Washington Post

National security journalist, Sara Carter, claimed in her blog on 19 January 2018 that “More than 130 congressional members have viewed the classified four-page memo detailing what senior government officials describe as “disturbing and explosive” surveillance abuse by employees of the FBI and Department of Justice under the Obama administration against President Trump and members of his campaign. […]
The classified memo was described by senior government officials as a detailed account of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the FBI and apparent FISA abuse associated with the

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“Circa News reporter Sara Carter was back on with Sean Hannity on Monday to discuss the government surveillance of Trump Tower during the 2016 election.” Source; thegatewaypundit

controversial dossier that alleged President Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election…”

Like many other politicians, House Intel Committee Republicans also want it to be released to the public, though Democrats have voted against even sharing it with non-committee-members in Congress.

Few interesting facts and developments regarding the “dirty dossier” scandal is that, on 18 January 2018, Wikileaks jumped into the proceedings to offer a “reward of up to USD 1 million to anyone who could send them a copy”, on its official Twitter page.

Reports are also circulating that Twitter hashtag calling for the memo’s public-release has been receiving a major online support by Russian Twitter accounts.

If the claims of FISA abuse, at the hands of the Obama administration, are confirmed by the counter intelligence reports, American politics will be set into clamour and commotion, for sure.

This time, explosion is from within.