Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (D) — who has also served as director of the CIA, White House chief of staff, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and more — on Sunday sought to defend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (also called the FISA court) from President Trump's charge that it was used to manipulate the 2016 election. The Nunes memo, released Friday, says the court granted the FBI an application to spy on Carter Page, a Trump campaign aide who is an American citizen, based significantly on opposition research partially funded by a Clinton campaign lawyer.
Panetta's strategy was to talk up the FISA court's standards. "The FISA process was designed in order to make sure that we could do surveillance against potential terrorists and those who would undermine our country," Panetta said on Fox News Sunday. "It works. It has worked," he continued. "The FISA judges are no pushovers."
The important question now is how Leon Panetta defines "pushover," because the FISA judges are infamously generous with their surveillance grants. They approved 99.97 percent of spying requests in 2013 and 100 percent in 2014 and 2015. The court is widely accused of being a rubber stamp, ready to sign off on whatever snooping power federal agencies desire.
Watch Panetta's full interview below; his FISA court comments begin around the seven-minute mark. Bonnie Kristian