Our former FBI agent reader writes to take issue with Byron York’s assertion that the FBI wiretapped Carter Page in 2013. He says it’s much worse than that and that this is almost certainly what happened:
Back in 2013 the FBI was listening to its standard, ongoing, FISA coverage of all things Russian. They were NOT investigating or wiretapping Page. The FBI was investigating and wiretapping Russians. It had no idea who Page was. By listening to Russians, however, the FBI discovered that Page was in touch with Russians.
What they would have done next is standard operation procedure in the counterintelligence world: they did some background on Page, contacted him, and got him to cooperate against those Russians. Anyone who read the court filing in the resulting case–including the Russians–would have had no trouble figuring out that Page had been cooperating with the FBI.
The likelihood that the Russians almost certainly knew all this–and we know they characterized Page as an “idiot”–makes the notion that all of a sudden in 2016 they were using Page as some sort of master spy even more absurd than it already was on its face.
Bear in mind, the FBI can’t get a FISA warrant on a US Person just for talking to Russians. They have to show probable cause that the US Person is engaged in “clandestine intelligence activity” (i.e., real “spy stuff”) on behalf of the Russians. That’s not something that can ordinarily be established by a phone conversation or two since, by the very nature of the thing, “clandestine intelligence activity” is kept … clandestine.
Color me skeptical in the extreme that anything of the sort was presented to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. So I’d say there’s probable cause to believe that we haven’t heard the last of this, and it’s not going to get better.
Here’s a link to the Wall Street Journal article that includes a link to the complaint in the case against the Russians, the case in which Carter Page was caught up: “Former Trump Aide Carter Page Was on U.S. Counterintelligence Radar Before Russia Dossier.” I’m not the only one thinking along these lines. Bill Jacobson is spot on at Legal Insurrection:
Carter Page Was The Excuse, Not The Reason.
That a FISA warrant was issued as to Carter Page was reported last spring. So that wasn’t a surprise, but the surprise is that anyone actually cared about Carter Page. Have you seen the guy on TV? He’s on TV almost as much as Adam Schiff, and they both come across as doofuses. Carter Page was so important the FBI went out on a limb to use a questionable document in court to convince a judge to surveil him? I’m not buying it.
That Carter Page was not the real subject of the surveillance was revealed by the hyperventilated attempts to keep the memo from being released based on claims it would reveal critical sources and methods and damage national security. Now that we’ve seen the memo, we know that those protestations were false.
The surveillance of Carter Page was not about Carter Page. He’s a bit player in a larger drama, and that larger drama is what we need to understand….
Naturally I have a theory to explain this.
Carter Page is featured in the complaint paragraphs 32-24, at pages 12-13 (embedded below via Scribd). It explains exactly how the FBI learned about Carter Page. The Russians would need to be brain dead not to realize this is Page. Further, email is not exactly a “clandestine intelligence” technique. Providing one’s personal, non-expert, opinions regarding “the current and future of the energy industry” to a Russian–any Russian–doesn’t make you an agent of the Russian government. And willingness to discuss all this with the FBI is proof to the contrary.