“Lots of discussions amid multiple circles about what West Texas USAO John Bash might be looking into. Is he looking back in time into the FISA(702) abuses that took place during the 2016 primary season?…. That would be in addition to the familiar “unmasking” aspect?… and, if yes, what would that indicate?
Short answer is: no-one is certain. AG Barr did mention that Bash is looking backward on the unmasking issues beyond the timeline scope of the 2016 presidential election. That would indicate surveillance “unmasking” and FISA “minimization” would meld because essentially the terms are synonymous depending on the type of intelligence exploitation.
Prior Obama officials were “unmasking” names associated with FBI investigations simply to dirty them up to give fuel to the fraudulent basis of “Trump-Russia”; that’s the political weaponization of intelligence. This did happen and Bash is cited with authority to review this carve-out of the ongoing DOJ investigation into DOJ/FBI intelligence manipulation.
However, if Bash is going into the issues of the NSA database being exploited for political opposition research via FISA-702 authorities (the intentional extraction of information with intentional non-minimization) well, that’s a more expansive kettle-of-fish than would seem to be possible to fully outline before the November election.
FISC presiding judges Rosemary Collyer (2016) and James Boasberg (2018) have already outlined the continued use of the NSA database for ‘unauthorized’ purposes. [Use Site Search Tool for details]
Is this something that AG Barr would authorize USAO Bash to pursue?… that’s a big question without an answer. We would hope yes, but think about the scale of that in totality to the interests of DC writ large… Ergo, I’m not confident.
Unmasking and Non-Minimization are essentially the same issues. The former has to do with actual FBI and intelligence investigations; the latter has to do with using the NSA database to extract information (mostly unlawful use). Unfortunately, the general belief is that FISA(702) and NSA metadata collection, which includes the ability to review information on all citizens, are critical to national security.
Even with the findings of former NSA Director Mike Rogers about the systemic abuse he was not supportive of shutting the programs down. So, with that in mind, would AG Barr want to undermine an operational tool that is vital to the function of national security (as defined by the total apparatus) by having a U.S. attorney expose abuses? See the issue….
Tangentially related to this NSA database aspect, it seems clear the exploitation is not just about targeting political adversaries. This is about money and power. While there is no direct evidence the NSA database was being used to make money, the mere fact that Crowdstrike was a contracting agency with access points to a more financially motivating aspect.
Were these “contractors” extracting corporate, business, and financial secrets to sell and or trade and make money? Is this the ultimate insider trading scheme in Washington DC? The answer is actually in the question. What entity would not eventually use that access for this purpose… it is just too easy to make money.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 8/03/2020) (Archive)