Before the FBI can take information before the FISA court, it must make sure it has followed what are called the Woods Procedures, which haven’t received much attention yet but need to. These rules are named not for actor James Woods --- who would no doubt approve of them, though --- but by Michael Woods, who as head of the Office of General Counsel’s National Security Law Unit drafted them in April, 2001, after concerns that the FBI had presented inaccurate information to the court. These rules lay out all the levels of approval that must be received at the FBI and Justice Department to make sure “evidence” presented to the FISA court is indeed true.
The sequence of steps is extremely complicated, by design.
Sharyl Attkisson, one of the finest journalists on the planet --- note I don’t have to put quotation marks around the word “journalist” when describing her --- has a great piece explaining how these rules fit into how we should view Christopher Steele’s “dossier” and the fact that it ever got in front of the FISA judges to justify spying on an American citizen and, by expansion, the Trump campaign. She does a great job in explaining all the stages of approval required under the Woods Procedures. With all the steps in the process of “verification” --- I WILL use quotes around that --- it’s mind-boggling how this particular FISA application, full of partisan opposition research we already know was described as “salacious and unverified” by then-FBI Director James Comey, made it up the chain of command. A bevy of lawyers and bureaucrats had to be smoothing its way.
Now, get ready for the kicker. Guess who was FBI Director when the Woods Procedures were put in place? Wake up and smell the irony; it was none other than Robert Mueller. Fast-forward 17 years: if it weren’t for what appear to have been multiple violations of those very rules, there would have been no use for the Steele dossier; no FISA application (that’s what Andrew McCabe has testified); no spying on Carter Page or others involved with the Trump campaign; no grand jury; and no “Robert Mueller, Special Counsel.” Given that, perhaps Mueller should just disband his team and call it a day.