Was Fusion GPS Allowed to Run Unsupervised FISA-702 Queries?

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled LinkSwarm, and preempt our next gargantuan Clinton Corruption update, to bring you a development that potentially dwarfs not only what we already know of the scandal, but any national American political scandal since Benedict Arnold sold the British the plans to West Point in 1780.

These claims center around a Top Secret FISA Court Order document obtained by Judicial Watch on May 23, 2017, but I first came across them last night on Twitter:

Here is the prolonged argument at Conservative Treehouse/The Last Refuge:

Ever since the transcript of Fusion-GPS Co-Founder Glenn Simpson’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee was released by Senator Dianne Feinstein, several inquisitive media outlets have begun questioning the relationship between the FBI investigators, Glenn Simpson and dossier author Christopher Steele.

What we have discovered not only highlights the answer to that question, but it also answers a host of other questions, including: Did the FBI pay Christopher Steele? Yes, but now how media thinks. Was the FBI connected to the creation of the Steele Dossier? Yes, but not in the way the media is currently outlining.

The story of how surveillance on the 2016 campaign of Donald Trump took place is simple. However, to understand the truth behind how they did it – the story it becomes more complex. Some key background understanding is necessary.

  • First, to understand what took place in 2016 we must first travel back to 2015 when Office of Inspector General (OIG) Michael Horowitz asked for approval to conduct oversight over the National Security Division of the Department of Justice.

    In 2015 Inspector General Michael Horowitz was blocked by the Department of Justice from having oversight over the DOJ-NSD. In a lengthy response to the IG’s office [Full 58 page pdf HERE] Sally Yates essentially said ‘all DOJ is subject to oversight, except the National Security Division.

  • Second, to understand how FISA is used it is CRITICAL to understand that any National Security Agency, such as the DOJ National Security Division or the FBI Counterintelligence Division, may use the NSA database -and FISA enabled inquires- with more leeway and less restrictions on access and use. In short, FISA “queries” from any national security agency within government are allowed without seeking court approval.
  • Snip.

    Understanding the scale and scope of what took place in 2016 is contingent upon understanding how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was being used. More specifically how *critical* exceptions for FISA-702 “search queries”, without judicial warrants or FISA court approvals, were permitted.

    FISA-702(17) “About Queries” from legislatively authorized national security entities did NOT require FISA court approvals.


    The recent stories about the 2016 DOJ and FBI counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign center around how the Christopher Steele ‘Russian Dossier’ was used by the DOJ/FBI in obtaining FISA approvals for surveillance of Trump campaign officials.

    Within the “Russian Dossier” back-story everyone is now familiar with the relationship between Fusion-GPS, the founder of the company, Glenn Simpson, and the author of the dossier, Christopher Steele. Additionally, the relationship between the Clinton campaign and Fusion GPS is now well known.

    In/around April of 2016 the Clinton campaign entered into a financial relationship with Fusion-GPS. Team Clinton paid Fusion-GPS for information on candidate Donald Trump. That agreement led to Fusion-GPS hiring sub-contractor Christopher Steele, which eventually led to the creation of the ‘Steele Dossier’.

    Yesterday, it was reported that the ‘Steele Dossier’ was used as the underlying foundation for the DOJ and FBI to seek FISA Court Approvals to monitor the communications of the Trump campaign.

    In essence, as of yesterday, the FBI used contracted Clinton opposition research -via Fusion GPS- on candidate Donald Trump to generate surveillance authority over her political opponent.

    That sounds bad, but what we have discovered is even worse.

    Dates are critical because they build the circumstantial case amid a story clouded in obfuscation and convenient FISA secrecy.

    We know NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers became aware of an issue with unauthorized FISA-702(17) “About Queries” early in 2016. Due to a FISA court ruling that was declassified in May of 2017 we were able to piece that specific timeline together.

    After discovering the FISA-702(17) “About Query” concerns, NSA Director Rogers initiated a full FISA-702 compliance review.


    During the exact same time-frame that Christopher Steele was assembling his dossier information (May-October 2016), the NSA compliance officer was conducting the internal FISA-702 review as initiated by NSA Director Mike Rogers.

    The NSA compliance officer briefed Admiral Mike Rogers on October 20th 2016.

    On October 26th 2016, Admiral Rogers informed the FISA Court of numerous unauthorized FISA-702(17) “About Query” violations.

    Subsequent to that FISC notification Mike Rogers stopped all FISA-702(17) “About Queries” permanently. They are no longer permitted.

    The full FISC Court Ruling on the notifications from the NSA is below. And to continue the story we are pulling out a specific section [page 83, pdf] CRITICAL to understanding what was going on:

    Pg 83. “FBI gave raw Section 702–acquired information to a private entity that was not a federal agency and whose personnel were not sufficiently supervised by a federal agency for compliance minimization procedures.”

    This is where the snippet shown in the tweet comes in:

    Notice how it was an FBI “private contractor” that was conducting the unauthorized FISA-702 Queries.

    We have been tipped off that the contractor in question was, unbelievably, Fusion-GPS.

    It is almost certain this early 2016 series of FISA-702 compliance violations was the origin of NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers concern. His discovery becomes the impetus for Director Rogers requesting the 2016 full compliance audit. It appears Fusion-GPS was the FBI contracted user identified in the final FISA court opinion/ruling.

    Note the dates from the FISC opinion (above) – As soon as the FBI discovered Mike Rogers was now looking at the searches, the FBI discontinued allowing their sub-contracted agent access to the raw FISA information effective April 18th, 2016.

    [Fusion-GPS was working on behalf of the FBI? Fusion-GPS was a contractor for the FBI? Fusion-GPS was being paid by the FBI?… while using access to research Trump]

    On April 19th, 2016, the day after the FBI stopped allowing access to the FISA database, the wife of Fusion-GPS founder Glenn Simpson, Mary B Jacoby, went to the White House.

    The piece then goes on to reiterate what we already know about the Clinton/Democratic Party Fusion GPS ties, as well as ties to intelligence community figures such as Bruce and Nellie Ohr.

    Accepting the FBI was utilizing Fusion-GPS as a contractor, there is now an inherent clarity in the relationship between: FBI agent Peter Strzok, Fusion-GPS Glenn Simpson, and ‘Russian Dossier’ author Christopher Steele. They are all on the same team.

    The information that Fusion-GPS Glenn Simpson put together from his advanced work on the ‘Trump Project’, was, in essence, built upon the foundation of the close relationship he already had with the FBI.

    Simpson, Jacoby and Ohr then passed on their information to Christopher Steele who adds his own ingredients to the mix, turns around, and gives the end product back to the FBI. That end product is laundered intelligence now called “The Trump/Russia Dossier”.

    It is a circle of intelligence information.

    The FBI turn around and use the “dossier” as the underlying documents and investigative evidence for continued operations against the target of the entire enterprise, candidate Donald Trump. As Peter Strzok would say in August 2016: this is their “insurance policy” per se’.

    The explosive part of the piece is also, alas, the one that currently appears to have only anonymous sources as corroborating evidence: that Fusion GPS was the “outside contractor” allowed to run “unsupervised” FISA-702 queries. It fits the pattern and makes sense, but I have to treat it with wariness because it too neatly fits my understanding of Obama administration/Clinton campaign patterns of lawlessness, and I want to avoid the trap of confirmation bias.

    It’s an explosive charge, that the Obama Administration authorized a private company to run unsupervised queries on unmasked American citizens in order to destroy political enemies. That dwarfs Watergate. In fact, the entire unmasking scandal already dwarfed Watergate.

    But what greatly magnifies the scandal is that, at the same time they were allegedly running these unsupervised FISA-702 inquires, in addition to getting paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party, Fusion GPS was in the pay of Russian nationals who opposed the Magnitsky Act.

    If Fusion GPS was allowed to run unsupervised FISA-702 queries, it brings up a whole host of other questions, including just who in the Obama administration and/or the US intelligence community granted Fusion GPS (and why they aren’t in prison), and how such access was granted. Where they escorted to a secured terminal room in Ft. Meade and told “Have at it, boys!” Was a Virtual Private Network setup to give them a direct pipeline into U.S. intelligence data? Were they allowed access to all U.S. intelligence data (including all intercepts of American civilian communication), or just small abstract of same? Did any of the information resulting from the queries run end up in Russian hands?

    Knowing the answers to those questions would tell us how bad a breach in our security this was, and just what sort of felony charges need to be filed.

    If the worst case implications of the above are true, the Obama Administration gave unlimited, unsupervised access to America’s most sensitive national security data to a private firm in the pay of foreign powers merely to go after political enemies.

    That’s a huge, huge scandal no matter how you slice it.

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    6 Responses to “Was Fusion GPS Allowed to Run Unsupervised FISA-702 Queries?”

    1. Cbdenver says:

      Even if the contractor was not Fusion GPS, isn’t giving unfettered access to an outside contractor a bad thing? The document says the contractor was given far more data than needed to do their analysis. That’s a problem no matter who the contractor was.

    2. Kit Carson says:

      to Conservative Treehouse:

      Go get ’em, Tiger

    3. Lloyd Martin Hendaye says:

      Quite right to eschew “confirmation bias” at all costs, omitting allegations/suppositions of this literally treasonous affair pending further credible releases.

      On ‘tother hand, given Obama’s ineffably corrupt, faithless, meretricious and malignantly anti-American thrust on every single major issue from January 2009, the Iceberg Rule applies: No matter what revelations surface, no matter how many lowlifes overturned investigative rocks reveal– in practice, no more than one part in ten of this sickening disgrace will ever come to light.

      Although this Clinton Syndicate pattern has been self-evident for twenty-five full years, Obama’s gangland modus accelerated it through Election 2016. Cynicism, appalled disbelief aside, concerned citizens can only hope these wretched thugs have finally overstepped their bounds.

    4. Bill Huber says:

      I think that cbdeaver understates the problem. Giving unfettered access to an outside contractor is a really, bad thing. Let’s look at the responses by the various organizations in the Top Secret FISA Court Order document obtained by Judicial Watch on May 23, 2017.

      On March 9th 2016, DOJ personnel notice that an unsupervised private contractor has unsupervised access to raw FISA data on FBI systems. This failure of the minimization review at the FBI is the type of scandal that could endanger the renewal Section 702 of the Patriot Act.

      On April 18th 2016, FBI discontinued allowing their sub-contracted agent access to the raw FISA information.

      Sometime between March 9th and October 20th 2016, NSA Director Rogers requests the 2016 full FISA compliance audit.

      On October 26th 2016, Admiral Rogers informed the FISA Court of numerous unauthorized FISA-702(17) “About Query” violations. Subsequent to that FISC notification Mike Rogers stopped all FISA-702(17) “About Queries” permanently. They are no longer permitted.

      Finally, the FISA court agrees to declassify the Top Secret FISA Court Order.

      To the DOJ, FBI, NSA, and the CIA this is a really, big deal. All of the good intelligence operations working under the auspices of the Patriot Act are threatened. These agencies are currently doing everything in their power to avoid the Patriot Act being formally reviewed by Congress. It is literally a matter of national security.

      Now for an interesting trip down the rabbit hole, what was GPS Fusion investigating in early 2016 that would be beneficial to the FBI that they would agree to unsupervised access to raw FISA data?

      My best guess is that GPS Fusion was investigating leaks at the DNC headquarters. In December of 2015, it was revealed that Josh Uretsky of the Sanders campaign had been accessing scores collected by the Clinton campaign. This was a big Democratic scandal at the time that contributed to the bad blood between the Sanders and Clinton campaigns. Some people thought the Russians were involved since Crowdstrike was called in for a DNC headquarters hack earlier in 2015. In this scenario, the Democratic party was spying on themselves to see if the leak was a staffer or a foreign power.

      Another speculation of mine is that GPS Fusion may have been alerted via a broader search that Podesta’s email account was hacked on March 19th 2016. It would make sense they would have this search in place since it was not until April 18th that their unsupervised access to raw FISA data was revoked. The Podesta hack emails were far more devastating to the Clinton campaign than the DNC hack emails. They were the likely source of the dirt on the Clinton campaign being offered to Papadopoulos in May 2016.

      The DNC hack emails are interesting in a different way. The emails are so unimportant compared to the Podesta emails that it makes me wonder why did someone hack the DNC headquarters? Coincidentally the DNC hack emails in Wikileaks shows a sharp increase on April 19th 2016. This is the day after the FBI discontinued allowing their sub-contracted agent access to the raw FISA information. On April 29 2016 the DNC IT team notices an intrusion. In one of the all time strange responses to an intrusion, Crowdstrike installs monitoring software on May 4, 2016, but does not change the passwords until June 10 2016. This sounds like a rejected script for a LifeLock commercial. On June 12 2016, Julian Assange announces that he had DNC documents. Was the DNC headquarters hack a false flag operation?

    5. […] Person at the BattleSwarm blog makes the argument Fusion-GPS was the private contractor. It kind of makes sense, if the contractor […]

    6. Steve says:

      I’m going to need to see some evidence that Fusion GPS was an FBI contractor before I start down that path. I’ve worked a few contract competitions for FBI work, and Fusion wasn’t on our radar. Most IT contractors, by necessity, have systems administrator access to customer IT systems. Known contractors in the IT area are: ManTech, Sotera Defense, SOSi, Technical Service Corp (TSC). Intelligence Analyst companies supporting the FBI include: Akima, Sotera and SOSi. Several of the company’s acronyms would fit the blacked-out part of the FBI document.

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