I used to think that I understood the rough outline of US law and capability with regard to the intercept and collection of signals intelligence. In light of all the media reporting and accusations flying around just now I see that I was mistaken in that belief. I am in the process of sorting out the details. I ask you to help me with this:
1. Both the FBI and DoJ can go to the FISA court to ask for a broad warrant to do surveillance of communications of Americans domestically or overseas on the basis of probable cause to think that these Americans are engaged in espionage against the US or terrorism directed at the US. Such warrants are usually applicable for all communications means oof the subject(s).
2. The FBI often does not go to the FISA courts because the information gathered in that channel is often contaminated under US rules of evidence and can not be used in a criminal proceeding. Instead, the FBI, often goes to an Article 3 federal court for a non-FISA warrant. It is reported that in this case the FBI did not approach the FISA court. The DoJ in a fit of desire to please the WH evidently did that on its own hook. If that is the case, Comey is correct in saying that the FBI did not do that.
3. After yesterday we suspect that CIA has the internal capability to intercept all the Trumpworld communications that it was pleased to do. Would that have required a FISA warrant for intercept of an American's communications or to surveille him? Would the CIA have accepted such a requirement?
4. NSA surveilles just about all US communications. Under rules adopted during the Bush '43 Administration such intercepts do not require FISA warrant because, well, the government says they do not. According to Judge Napolitano (the legal sage of Fox News) POTUS can legally order intercepts of the communications of Americans by simply certifying that to be necessary to national security.
5. Because of the close cooperation between the USIC and various foreign "players" most notably the UK's GCHQ, it is possible for the leaders of the USIC to informally ask such foreign players to collect SIGINT against US domestic targets because for the foreign player these targets are not domestic to them. This procedure obviates the need for a US FISA warrant and the US IC receives the fruits of such intercepts as traffic received in liaison. It is alleged in various media reports that this "path" was followed by Clapper and Brennan in this case and that the precipitous departure of the GCHQ boss was blow back from this when Teresa May was menaced over future BREXIT aftermath cooperation by person or persons unknown. This implies a leak from the USIC to Trumpworld.
OK. Elaborate, contradict, or whatever. pl