Saturday, August 31, 2002

Three versions of why the Department of Justice and FBI in Washington didn't apply for a FISA warrant to search the computer of Zacarias Moussaoui:

  1. The report by the Senate Judiciary Committee is apparently going to conclude that counter-terrorism experts and lawyers were simply completely ignorant of the evidentiary requirements of obtaining a FISA warrant.

  2. John Podesta and Peter Swire in an article in The Washington Post state: "One of the alarming aspects of the FISA story is that the FBI's then-secret pattern of misbehavior had so outraged the judges by summer 2001 that prosecutors were reluctant to ask for a FISA warrant to search the computer of suspected hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui." In other words, the FBI cheating in misleading the judges in obtaining these warrants had reached the point where the judges were getting angry about it, and the FBI was afraid to press its luck on a legitimate case.

  3. As I have mentioned, there is some reason to believe that there may be a foreign intelligence agent or agents in the FBI/Department of Justice who intentionally derailed the Moussaoui investigation for the purposes of the country which is represented by this agent or agents.

The Senate Judiciary Committee theory is just another version of the usual excuse for a bureaucracy based on stupidity or lack of competence, but is implausible given the thousands of successful applications that have been made. The idea that the FBI was afraid to press its luck with Moussaoui because of past dodgy cases is interesting, but doesn't seem to apply in Moussaoui's case, where they had lots of evidence from the French that he was a suspicious character (actually, the whole FISA system almost seems custom-made for a situation like Moussaoui's). That leaves the intelligence agent theory, a theory which is consistent with the local FBI suspicion that someone must have been actively subverting their investigation, a suspicion that was so strong that they actually went to the CIA about it (Coleen Rowley's memo states: "When, in a desperate 11th hour measure to bypass the FBIHQ roadblock, the Minneapolis Division undertook to directly notify the CIA's Counter Terrorist Center (CTC), FBIHQ personnel actually chastised the Minneapolis agents for making the direct notification without their approval!"). That leaves open these two questions:

  • what country is being protected?; and

  • are the same spies still in place in the FBI?