Once again I have to rely on the admonition of the two greatest investigators ever: “Which one of these things is not like the other?” The FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) discarded almost all of the rules to ram the Carter-Page FISA warrant through the system.
There is a long history regarding FBI and DOJ approval and FISA and Title III warrants. Compare this events related in this story from 2008 to circumstances surrounding the Carter-Page scenario.
New York Police Fight With U.S. on Surveillance
New York and NYPD have a great deal of expertise in wiretap investigations. In the the New York metro area I’m told most wiretaps are done under state law rather than under Federal jurisdiction. NYPD can be up and running in a matter of days where a federal wiretap application would take weeks or months.
In 2008 the Commissioner of NYPD Raymond Kelly objected that the FBI and DOJ were requiring a duplication of NYPD investigative efforts by Federal agents and a higher level of probable cause than necessary. This resulted in unnecessary delays. Secondly, the multiple levels of review required by the feds was unnecessary. A reviewer, at each level, had the ability to require revisions prior to forwarding.
New and Improved Review 2016
According to FBI Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson the FBI/DOJ addressed the issue of excessive review, in the Carter-Page FISA application. Anderson stated that by the time she saw the Carter-Page FISA application, her boss and her boss’ boss had already signed off on it. Here is her take on that.
But Anderson stressed “in this particular case, I’m drawing a distinction because my boss and my boss’ boss had already reviewed and approved this application.” She emphasized “this one was handled a little bit differently in that sense, in that it received very high-level review and approvals — informal, oral approvals — before it ever came to me for signature.”FBI Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson
Anderson said that FISA approvals are typically “tracked in a linear fashion” and that someone in the Senior Executive Service “is the final approver on hard copy before a FISA goes to the director or deputy director for signature.” She said the Page FISA was approved outside regular procedures.
“Because there were very high-level discussions that occurred about the FISA,” Anderson said she believed that meant “the FISA essentially had already been well-vetted all the way up through at least the Deputy Director [McCabe] level on our side and through the DAG [Yates] on the DOJ side.” Yates had already signed the application by the time it made it to Anderson’s desk.
Ask yourself, what good little bureaucrat is going to holler bullshit. The boss approved it, it must be good. Just like that no more excessive review.