The FBI's Systematic Dishonesty

The problems revealed by the DOJ inspector general go far beyond "errors" and "sloppiness."


Former FBI Director James Comey initially portrayed last week's damning report on the bureau's investigation of alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia as a vindication. This week Comey admitted that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz discovered "real sloppiness," which is "concerning."

That characterization does not begin to cover the problems described by Horowitz, which yesterday prompted a highly unusual public rebuke from the court that reviews secret warrant applications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The FISA court called the FBI's conduct "antithetical to the heightened duty of candor" that applies in such cases.

The court cited Horowitz's report, which found egregious and persistent omissions and misrepresentations in applications for warrants that otherwise probably would not have been sought, let alone approved. While Comey may take comfort from the fact that Horowitz "did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI's decision" to eavesdrop on former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, the rest of us can hardly be reassured by the implication that the FBI is inept rather than corrupt.

Comey, who ran the FBI from September 2013 to May 2017, is not just self-interested but demonstrably untrustworthy on this subject. Last year he claimed information from former British spy Christopher Steele, which according to Horowitz "played a central and essential role" in the decision to surveil Page, was merely "part of a broader mosaic of facts" supporting the four warrants issued by FISA judges—"not all of it or a critical part of it."

Comey also said he had "total confidence that the FISA process was followed and that the entire case was handled in a thoughtful, responsible way by DOJ and the FBI." Yet Horowitz found that the first warrant application included "seven significant inaccuracies and omissions" that were not corrected in the three renewal applications, which were marred by "10 additional significant errors."

Those "errors" included blatant exaggerations of Steele's proven reliability, the failure to note that his work was opposition research commissioned by the Democratic National Committee even after that became clear, the omission of the fact that Steele himself was "desperate" to prevent Trump's election, and a false denial of Steele's contacts with the press. The FBI also neglected to mention that people who had worked with Steele questioned his judgment, that Steele's "primary sub-source" had directly contradicted claims in his "dossier," that Page had reported his contact with a Russian intelligence agent to the CIA, and that Page said he had never met key figures in the purported conspiracy described by Steele.

"FBI personnel fell far short of the requirement in FBI policy that they ensure that all factual statements in a FISA application are 'scrupulously accurate,'" Horowitz concluded. Even that assessment is charitable, especially since an FBI lawyer deliberately doctored an email to conceal Page's relationship with the CIA, which had deemed him truthful.

The pattern of these "errors" is not random, of course, since all of them served to bolster the appearance of probable cause. Horowitz told the Senate Judiciary Committee his investigators "did not receive satisfactory explanations for the errors or problems we identified," and he allowed that they might reflect "intentionality," saying "it's fair" to "look at all of these 17 events and wonder how it could be purely incompetence."

It would be reassuring, in a sense, if the FBI's misfeasance could be explained by anti-Trump bias. But as Horowitz noted in his report, the fact that "so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations," one that "was briefed to the highest levels within the FBI" and "FBI officials expected would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny," suggests a much deeper problem involving unrestrained overzealousness, confirmation bias, tunnel vision, and groupthink—tendencies that threaten all Americans who value their privacy and reputations.

Even Comey, who claims the dishonesty described by Horowitz "does not reflect the FBI culture of compliance and candor," wonders if the failure might be "systemic," meaning there could be "problems with other cases." Too bad he was never in a position to explore that issue.

© Copyright 2019 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

NEXT: The FISA Court Wants Answers About the Problems with FBI’s Carter Page Warrants

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  1. “errors.”

    1. The sloppiness all biased in one direction. Comey makes the case against himself every time the smug a—–e opens his mouth.

      1. You can say asshole here.

        1. Sometimes one has to.

        2. Or even cunt. Comey is that as well.

          1. No, he’s a bass turd.

  2. I don’t know whether it was in the Inspector General’s report, but weren’t they also found to have manufactured claims about breaking up multiple terrorist sleeper cells that were actual entrapment schemes run on dimwits that were radicalized but posed no threats on their own?

    And then there was the story reported in Reason a couple of years ago that they were actually the ones hosting child pornography servers.

    In an era where budget deficits keep growing by leaps and bounds, this seems to be an agency that could be disbanded and their budget zeroed out. Maybe they did some good work in the past catching criminals like John Dillinger (who they first promoted to public enemy status, but even if you grant them that achievement, it was almost 90 years ago. It’s time to pull the plug already.

    1. “manufactured claims about breaking up multiple terrorist sleeper cells that were actual entrapment schemes run on dimwits that were radicalized but posed no threats on their own?”

      Just read through ‘terrorist plots fouled by the FBI’ on Wikipedia, and it’s pretty easy to come to the conclusion that their m.o. was: hear about some guy bitching about the government, befriend that guy to encourage his complaints, goad him into thinking about taking action, pick a target, make a plan for him, assure him you can get all the necessary weapons/supplies, and call him a pussy when he hesitates.
      Then, when he says he’s not a pussy, arrest him and claim to be a hero

      1. Hey, if you arrest everyone, then you’re sure to arrest all the criminals!

      2. While you’re on Wikipedia, you could also look up “Waco” and “Ruby Ridge”.

        1. I was about to bring that up…How fast some people forget…

          1. “How fast some people forget”

            Doesn’t that just make you furious?

            1. “Fast and furious” (albeit that was the ATF lying and cheating the system, not the FBI)

    2. The report released prior to the main report also tells of FBI instructing agents on how to avoid Brady material by not documenting exculpatory information.

      1. Brady materials (and Jenks and Giglio materials) supplied by the prosecution to the defense in the Ruby Ridge trial (exculpatory materials or impeaching the credibility of government agents) seriously undermined the charges fabricated by ATF, Marshal Service and FBI against the Weaver family.

        If you can avoid documenting exculpatory info and can fabricate incriminatory info, it’s always a win for government against people.

        As there been a federal case where at least one prosecution or defense witness has not disputed what an FBI agent wrote down in their FD-302 interview form?

        1. We will probably need a law requiring that they record all interviews to address this… because the courts will always treat the FBI version as gospel, no matter what protests are raised by the accused. The incentives to maintain the ability to fudge things said in an interview are just too great. When that 302 can become the basis for spending the rest of your life in jail for lying to federal officers, why would they forgo that privilege. That is a very powerful tool.

          1. .

  3. Former FBI Director James Comey initially portrayed last week’s damning report on the bureau’s investigation of alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia as a vindicationIT WAS ,,, of the investigation.

    This week Comey admitted that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz discovered “real sloppiness,” which is “concerning.

    Sullum sucking up to Trump again. The sloppiness was in the Carter Paide FISA warrant. Is Jacob implying the bullshit that the investigation began with Paige? If not, why else conflate the two?

    Too bad he was never in a position to explore that issue.

    He could not have explored the issue, before it was an issue. Should he be rehired?

    1. AAAK, corrected

      Former FBI Director James Comey initially portrayed last week’s damning report on the bureau’s investigation of alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia as a vindicationIT was total vindication .. of the investigation’s launch.

      This week Comey admitted that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz discovered “real sloppiness,” which is “concerning.

      Is Sullum sucking up to Trump again. The sloppiness (17 errors) was in the Carter Paige FISA warrant. By conflating the two so sloppily … the investigation and Paige’s warrants, Trumptards see vindication of their crazy bullshit that the investigation began with the Paige warrant. Why else conflate the two?

      Too bad he was never in a position to explore that issue.

      Blame Trump for firing him before it became an issue..

      1. You’re going to die, hihn.
        Just want you to know that

      2. That’s a good boy Mikey. Lick those boots until they’re nice and shiny. You’re still going to die in a taxpayer funded inpatient facility begging for the scraps of Trump’s table.

        1. You mean like Manafort dying in prison?

          1. You mean the got caught doing stuff which had nothing to do with Trump?
            Are your hands tiny enough to grasp at those sorts of straws, you pathetic piece of shit?

      3. Oh by the way learn how to spell you fucking retard. It’s Page. P-A-G-E.

      4. Is this for comic relief?

      5. Still batshit insane even when corrected.

  4. Why, it was like he should have been fired or something.

  5. And the pattern continues…

    First deny the problem. Then acknowledge the problem but claim it isn’t as bad as claimed… We’re now careening towards step three, admitting the problem is as bad or worse… This is our moment where we either shrug and tell everyone to suck it up, or we stop this shit in it’s tracks.

  6. “ doctored an email” != “fabricated false evidence”

    You should really use the right words to describe things. “Doctoring” an email might include minor tweaks to make it clearer, not literally changing it to mean the exact opposite of the truth.

  7. Hey Sullum, remember how you spent literally the entire last 3.5 years defending every single action of the FBI and intelligence community? Well, everybody else does, so you can stick your pretended principles directly up your ass.

    1. Reason as a whole.

      This magazine lost its credibility supporting the police state in their blatantly unconstitutional railroading of Trump and everyone who has ever been in his circle.

      This is not a libertarian magazine. It is a propaganda outlet designed to gaslight libertarians.

      Every one of their writers are lying, statist trash.

        1. What we are seeing now is Olympic caliber backpedaling, tinged with a dishonest bit of “actually …. we were against this all along.”

  8. I’m pretty sure a complete and thorough investigation by the FBI will reveal the FBI was infiltrated by a lone bad apple who perhaps influenced a few other fine and noble agents into cutting a few corners here and there in ways that, while they had no actual effect in any meaningful way on any investigations, indicate some brushing-up on training on the procedures manual might be in order. We’re just lucky that the FBI’s self-policing caught this little problem before it became a significant problem and that there’s no evidence whatsoever that the same problem might have tainted the CIA, the NSA, the IRS, or any other government agency. We dodged a bullet here in that, in the words of a wise man, “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl.”

    1. Beautiful sarcasm.

  9. Its amusing watching reason give half assed condemnation of these agencies after basically following their lead and appeals of sanctity the last 3 years. Wonder if reason will ever condemn the IC as well.

    1. “The pattern of these “errors” is not random, of course, since all of them served to bolster the appearance of probable cause. ”

      Wait… but didnt we just get told this was all simple incompetence a few days ago?

      1. “It would be reassuring, in a sense, if the FBI’s misfeasance could be explained by anti-Trump bias.”

        Reassuring huh… odd word to use.

        1. Yep. It’s bad either way but not as bad if it is just because pf anti-trump bias as opposed to systemic abuse of FISA warrants going back to 1978. Either way the FBI looks terrible.

          1. If the systematic abuse has gotten so bad they now think they can utilize it against presidents for political reasons, I dont think it is worse.

            1. There’s a difference between systematic and systemic. Generally, libertarians believe the problems with government are systemic. Some people certainly seem to believe the problems are merely systematic. The idea that the FBI came up with this plan just for Trump ignores the suspicion they would do the same for anybody threatening the secret operations of the Administrative State, and perhaps have done so if you believe the Warren Commission might not have gotten quite all the facts about JFK’s assassination out in the open.

    2. +1000

  10. Can’t wait for Carter Page’s mega lawsuit to come to trial. He should be suing Comey personally.

    1. HAHaha! I see what you did there –
      oranGe-MAN BAD! to:
      G-Man Bad!

  11. “alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia”

    You can drop the alleged part. There were hundreds of links. Don Jr met with the Russian govt to exchange dirt for future official action in the form of removing sanctions. Paul Manafort was passing off polling data to the Russian govt. Cohen was part of a scheme to build Trump Tower in Moscow. Those are called links Jacob.

    1. That Steele was in the pay of a Russian oligarch likewise links Russia and the DNC in an attempt to affect the outcome of a US election.

      1. Do tell because I think you’re full of shit. Name the oligarch.

          1. You mean the oligarch who Moscow Mitch and Trump helped evade sanctions so he build an aluminum plant in Kentucky?

            The article you cited didn’t even claim Steele had ever taken money from that guy.

            1. Lol. Keep rationalizing dummy.

        1. Pod
          December.18.2019 at 9:34 am
          “Do tell because I think you’re full of shit.”

          Thinking so not required in your case; you get caught lying nearly every time you post, shit-bag.

    2. Every presidential candidate has foreign contacts dumbfuck. It is about whether they are colluding. Like paying a british spy to use russian agents for information on your opponent. Or asking a russian ambassador to tell putin to hold off on any crimea actions until after an election. Those types of things.

      1. You are never going to figure this world out. You’re going to die dumb and confused.

        1. Lol. You’re even dumber when angry.

  12. And in the broader world of police misconduct this Carter Page stuff is like jaywalking compared to the usual shit you will see every day of your life if you were to work in criminal justice.

    1. Guys it is okay the FBI pursued illegal warrants on Page! Some people did worse shit, so this is fine!

      1. Look, Orange Man is bad, the ends justify the means.

    2. “…is like jaywalking compared to the usual shit you will see every day of your life if you were to work in…”

      That doesn’t cut both ways.

    3. If the FBI did this to a prominent leader in the black community the dems would be having a fit. And rightly so.

      It’s a real abuse of power.

  13. This article strikes me as nothing more than Sullum attempting to soothe his own conscience, and ward off any creeping realization that the Obama administration actually did spy on the Trump campaign, they thought they would get away with it because they also thought Hillary would win, and the last three years of RUSSIAN COLLUSION!!! have been an attempted coup to prevent the truth from coming out.

    Sorry Jacob, the truth is out.

    1. ie. He is at the bargaining phase.

      1. He will never hit the acceptance phase.

    2. Had Hydrogen Hillary been elected she would have used this BS to start a war with Russia, remember she promised to put a no-fly zone over Syria, likely ended with war with Russia and Iran.

      1. The Russians weren’t even in Northern Syria at that time. The Syrian govt wasn’t attacking the Kurds there either. The US putting troops in the area was enough to keep the Russian and Syrian planes away.

        1. It is amazing how wrong you are on everything. Did you forget Obama’s deal with Russia to “destroy” chem weapons in 2015 which led to Russias entry into Syria? My god man, stop saying stupid things. From Wiki:

          “Russia has supported the incumbent Bashar al-Assad government of Syria since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011: politically, with military aid, and since 30 September 2015 also through direct military involvement. “

        2. Remember when Trump bombed the airbase? Not only did Hillary agree with it, she criticized Trump for not going far enough.

  14. And that kinda pisses me off because you have cops murdering witnesses, planting evidence, judges doing crazy crooked shit and hiding some insane thing absolute immunity and it’s this shit that sets their hair on fire? Please mfer spare me it.

    1. Pod is at the anger stage still, obviously.

      1. Pod is simply delusional.

        He’s Queeg without the precipitating stressors.

    2. How could this possibly compare to violations of the Logan act, or the emoluments clause?

      1. Or, by God, the Hatch act?

        How can we let ourselves get distracted with the FBI deceitfully wiretapping our democracy, when people out there are violating the Hatch Act?

    3. Pod
      December.18.2019 at 9:31 am
      ‘And bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit,’

      Keep throwing stuff at the wall, shitbag. Maybe *something* will stick.

      “Please mfer spare me it.”
      Please, shitbag, go and die where we can’t smell you.

  15. why is what Comey says anything? dude should be gagged by his defense attorney where’s that guy?

    1. It’s too late for that. Comey has no choice at this point but to go down with the ship.

  16. It’s quite telling how the usual suspects tried to spin this report as a “vindication.”

    1. These are not the droids you are looking for.

  17. Can’t wait for the moment when all the sophisticated brainiacs at Reason finally stop with their compulsion to assure everybody that they despise Trump and all that he stands for and start talking about the incredible and far reaching scandal that is unfolding in front of us. A scandal that should warm the hearts of every freedom thinking Libertarian (or person) in the country because the truth is finally being revealed.
    There has absolutely been a concerted effort by a large coalition of like minded people in power to literally fabricate evidence and charges against the administration starting before they even took office. That is the story that should be pursued and it should be done with as much energy and enthusiasm as was thrown into tracking down (ridiculous) stories of peeing hookers.
    We get it, you don’t like Trump. You REALLY don’t like Trump. You REALLY, REALLY don’t like Trump. But get your heads out of your trump hating asses and recognize the real story here.

    1. ^^^^^^^^^^^^ Preach it Rev!!

    2. Not going to happen. And not because the Trump hatred is too strong, but mostly because it would require admitting that Chocolate Jesus was worse than Nixon.

    3. I’m sure reason will apologize just like all the other leftist media. Any day now.

  18. It is entirely possible that you undersell the level of dishonesty.

    Carter Page has told us that he was working with the CIA and the FBI for years. He met with the FBI about a case the day before they began investigating him. At that meeting he told them he was going to start volunteering for the Trump campaign. They ran to open an investigation the next day – with emails asking what sort of investigation should it be….

    And we know that the pretext for investigating Papadopoulos was comments at a bar to a foreign diplomat who was a spy for the FBI/CIA. But what the IG report did not investigate was…. where did Papadopoulos get the information?

    The allegation that has been circulating is that it came from a CIA agent. That has been reported for years now… and never confirmed by the government, to my knowledge.

    Can it be confirmed? I don’t know.

    But if it is….

    Then the entire thing is not “sloppy”. There is no argument about trying to protect democracy. There is no “flimsy” predicate.
    Since that one conversation is the only actual actionable thing they had…

    The entire house of cards collapses. The protestations of “no provable political motivation” falls aside.

    That is the only leg they have left to stand on. I guess we shall see how good the CIA is at covering their tracks.

  19. I won’t be satisfied until I see that slimeball Comey and that asshole McCabe sitting in a prison cell. Strozok can join them.

    1. I’m betting that Comey will be the first one in prison.

  20. From one of America’s most conservative pollsters: If the 2020 election was held today

    Along with all top five Dem candidates (many other pollsters)

  21. Systematic and systemic dishonesty.
    No moderate or conservative should ever trust the FBI again. You should assume everything they produce has a leftist spin applied to it.

    1. No moderate or conservative one should ever trust the FBI again.

      Fixed it.

  22. The whole good cop/bad cop question can be disposed of much more decisively. We need not enumerate what proportion of cops appears to be good or listen to someone’s anecdote about his Uncle Charlie, an allegedly good cop. We need only consider the following: (1) a cop’s job is to enforce the laws, all of them; (2) many of the laws are manifestly unjust, and some are even cruel and wicked; (3) therefore every cop has agreed to act as an enforcer for laws that are manifestly unjust or even cruel and wicked. There are no good cops.” ~Robert Higgs

    “Free election of masters does not abolish the masters or the slaves.” Herbert Marcuse

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