Crossfire Hurricane: What went wrong at the FBI?

Episode 294 of the Cyberlaw Podcast

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

In this special edition of the Cyberlaw Podcast, we've convened a panel of experts on intelligence and surveillance law to examine the many failings of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation of the Trump campaign and Russian influence. We unpack the Department of Justice Inspector General's report on the FBI's use of FISA, undercover operatives, and the Bureau's many errors in the high-stakes matter. We also ask what can be done to cure what ails the FBI—including the IG's recommendations, FBI Director Wray's response, and a public order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

If you're looking for a single episode to make sense of the investigation and its faults, you can't do better than to listen to our team of FISA aficionados. Joining me on the panel:

  • Bob Litt, former general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
  • David Kris, who wrote the book on FISA and previously headed the DOJ's National Security Division, which is responsible for FISA warrants.
  • Bobby Chesney of the University of Texas School of Law, as well as a founder of Lawfare and co-host of the National Security Law Podcast.

And with that, the Cyberlaw Podcast is going on hiatus for the holidays. We'll be back in January with more insights into the latest events in technology, security, privacy, and government.

Download the 294th Episode (mp3).

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The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, family and (mostly former) friends.

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  1. Political favors, unearned job advancements, corruption, the Obama administration, the Clinton cartel.

  2. Nothing went wrong, the FBI didn’t make any “mistakes”.

    Calling these actions “mistakes” assumes they were the result of benign incompetence. They weren’t “mistakes”, they were deliberate abuses.

    The FBI is systematically corrupt, and has been for a long time. That’s the only plausible explanation for a long list of practices, such as not recording interrogations, but instead relying on written notes made after the fact. And it’s been established from a long list of incidents.

    The only thing new here is that the FBI is now systematically partisan in addition to corrupt, so that its corruption is now in the service of one particular party, regardless of which party is occupying the White House.

    1. When I first heard of how they handle interrogations, I thought it must have been some joke, or maybe technophobes with little funding. But it didn’t take long to understand why they liked it that way, how it gave them incredible extortion power over people. 5 years for not remembering something exactly? Who wouldn’t sing like a canary! I long ago made up my mind I’d rather go to prison for shutting up than telling a lie which sent somebody else to prison too. But then, they’re unlikely to ever even talk to me, so it’s easy to be principled.

    2. Calling these actions “mistakes” assumes they were the result of benign incompetence. They weren’t “mistakes”, they were deliberate abuses.

      Let he who us has never accidentally taken an e-mail from the CIA stating that Carter Page had been an information source for them with regard to Russia, edited it to say that he “was not a source” and then passed that e-mail along to the FISA court cast the first stone!

  3. A federal police force is what went wrong.
    I am not sure there is an effective alternative, but that is what went wrong.

  4. After a century of Republican leadership at the FBI, calls for a change should not be surprising.

  5. Gee I wonder. Maybe the fact that James Comey is worse than J Edgar Hoover.

    And this:

    “There’s no big there there.” Peter Strzok, May 18, 2017

    Insurance policy, we’ll stop him, etc.

    1. Maybe read up a bit more on Hoover, there.

      The FBI now sucks, to be sure, but it’s not like the wanna-be police staters like it used to be.

  6. Simple answer in two words. Deep state.

  7. The first thing that went wrong was naming an operation Crossfire Hurricane. Whoever did that is a pretentious wanker and a war criminal in and of themselves and should be shot.

    Should have been called Operation: Overblown Ego Dogkill 3000 Exterminator Gluefix Nike

    That way we’d really get a proper idea of just how whacked up they were when they decided upon this.

  8. The FISA process has always been a crappy rubber stamp. It is not surprising that a check that isn’t functioning leads to bad behavior and negligence. Especially in the FBI, an agency crying out for more checks on it’s behavior for decades and decades.

    Also unsurprising the compentariat here is assuming a full anti-Trump scheme, when the IG report explicitly found the opposite.

  9. So, the hacks at Cyberlaw are going all in with the white heart, empty head defense for their darlings in the intelligence community.

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