Thursday, June 08, 2017

THE FISA INQUIRY THAT WASN'T ABOUT FISA r.  McCabe, Rosenstein, Coats, Rogers

The 6-7-17 open Senate hearing was intended to quiz the Director of National Intelligence (and a few associates) specifically about FISA legislation.  Presumably, this is to lay the groundwork for how the intelligence agencies found out and validated the intel to be presented as the work goes forward on the Russia/Trump matter.  These four roles and their protocols are meant to cover the territory without interfering with each other.  The main considerations are whether someone is an American citizen, whether events happened in the USA, whether a warrant was issued to justify invasion of privacy, whether people were identifiable, and whether something was criminal or merely ill-advised.

The Senators insisted on asking for the final results.  No luck.  We're not there yet.

Daniel R. Coats is the Director of National Intelligence.
Andrew McCabe is the Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Admiral Michael S. Rogers is Director of the National Security Agency.
Rod J. Rosenstein is Deputy Attorney General of the Department of Justice.

I'm leaving the links.  I also edited. This is a labyrinth.  Use your search engine.

The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) is the United States government cabinet-level official – subject to the authority, direction, and control of the President – required by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 to:
Serve as head of the sixteen-member United States Intelligence Community,
Direct and oversee the National Intelligence Program; and
Serve as an advisor, upon invitation, to the President and his executive offices of the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council about intelligence matters related to national security;

The DNI was given overall responsibility for Intelligence Community whistleblowing and source protection.  "Under ordinary circumstances, it is desirable" that either the Director or the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence be an active-duty commissioned officer in the armed forces or have training or experience in military intelligence activities and requirements. Only one of the two positions can be held by a military officer at any given time. 

The United States Intelligence Community (IC) is a federation of 16 separate United States government agencies that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities

Defense Intelligence Agency
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
National Reconnaissance Office
National Security Agency
Military Intelligence Corps
Office of Naval Intelligence
Twenty-Fifth Air Force
Marine Corps Intelligence
Coast Guard Intelligence 
Homeland Security
Office of Intelligence and Analysis
Central Intelligence Agency
Bureau of Intelligence and Research
Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
Office of National Security Intelligence (Drug Enforcement Administration) 
Intelligence Branch (Federal Bureau of Investigation) 
Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence

This is the formal stuff, the definitions and jurisdictions that can interfere with felt justice by invoking the law.  The tension between the sense of what is right and fair as opposed to what the laws require is often troublesome and can mean the guilty go free — or the opposite.

Since all four of the FISA-related men were tight-lipped and cautious, one might wonder what the point of this panel was.  The real answers were given in closed testimony later.  Regardless of the purpose, it was a fascinating view of a world within the world, the one that governs us but constantly exempts itself, and knows very little about the rest of us anyway.  Each did a little grandstanding dance, interrupting, demanding answers, praising, summoning past connections, sneering and scoffing, showing that they — not unlike Trump — can’t distinguish between politics and governing.

Kamala Harris is an outsider determined to demand “power” and talks about giving people authority in writing. WRITTEN!!  She interrupts and, though others have previously been even worse about that, she’s the one who gets shut down.  The camera gives her no face-time.  

McCain is dozing, clearly aged, but has show-and-tell, waving the front page of the Washington Post which he says gives all the detailed information that the four Intel men are not.  He keeps emphasizing that the story is “detailed,” which to him evidently indicates truth.  (Comey, as is traditional, had already released today his basic statement answering the questions.)  When I went to WaPo, it was behind the paywall.  These guys are making a mint.

One interesting time-line sort of story is about what has been necessary to keep this legislation current and effective -- since the technology of communication has changed radically over the years -- and how FISA managers go about detecting problems with the protocols and dealing with them.  Much of it is entwined with journalism and responds to things like Nixon recording conversations or the hacking raids on data.  Some functions go back to the 19th century.

It got too repetitious and too much like listening to a clueless father demanding that his teenaged daughter “Come here right now and tell me everything! I demand respect!  I want to know it all and if you don’t stop withholding, I’m going to . . . “  There was a consciousness among these suits that they were being watched via the cameras, but not awareness of what it would mean to have some of the information involved go spilling out across the airwaves into yellow journalism and eager sensationalists.  Even endangering intel.  Nor did they seem to think we could see through their performances.  I guess not everyone can.

So then I’d begin to watch the audience.  The fashion for messed up and neglected hair on women does not flatter those who do not look like starlets.  The men's ties looked as though they’d all been selected by one person shopping at the same store.  Not as many fingers were flying over cellphones and tablets as one might expect.  Old-fashioned notebooks and binders were present.

Mostly I watched Stephen Miller, the Bannon apprentice, who has been described as the “man with the dead eyes.”  Indeed, his affect is like a person out of Star Wars, on the wrong side.  He was in the front row of the audience, directly behind the panel.  He took short notes, underlined some things three times, pressing down hard.  His assistant, alongside, was handwriting a LOT, sometimes at his prompting.

In my several incarnations as an information provider (minister, teacher, officer, phone-answerer) over and over people would be asking things that could not be explained because they didn’t have any background, any consciousness, or any view of the world except the one they learned in high school.  I was constantly reminded of the joke about the two nice ladies of little experience who took a Sunday drive out to the country to see what it was like out there.  They stopped along a field where the farmer was stacking hay to ask him some questions.  He was a pleasant fellow and polite.

“Now, sir, why is it that some of these cows have horns and some do not?”

“Wal, some cows are bred not to have horns, some are so mean that the horns were sawed off, but that there one has no horns because it is a horse.”

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