Ten Ethics Observations On The Nunes Memo

The controversial Devon Nunes memo was released. You can read it here.

Observations:

1 The most important thing to keep in mind is that the information and conclusions in the memo are incomplete. Claims from the Right that it describes a Watergate level scandal are. at best, premature. However, the immediate and furious protests from the Left that it is a “nothingburger”—you know, like Obama IRS scandal that passed another stage today—is pretty damning. What the memo suggests is deeply disturbing, and possibly—too early to tell–frightening. For any American, and certainly for any journalist, to try to brush it off at this point as insignificant  is proof of corruption by hyper-partisanship.

2. The resistance to releasing the memo from the FBI as a danger to “national security” appears deliberately misleading, in light of the memo itself. This, in turn, unavoidably makes , or should make, any objective reader suspicious. In retrospect, the warning sure looks like a false characterization as a desperate effort to keep an unethical episode covered up. The furious FBI attacks on the memo have to be regarded in this light: if the memo was fair and accurate, would the FBI react this way? Yes. If it was unfair and inaccurate, would it react the exact same way? Yes.

3. Rep. Trey Gowdy said today that the memo in no way undermines the Mueller investigation. I don’t see how he could say that, or why. Of course it does; the memo gives credence to the accusation that the entire Russian collusion theory was nurtured by anti-Trump figures in the Justice Department and the FBI before and after the election.

4. To reduce the memo to its simplest form: The infamous Steele dossier—the one James Comey described to Congress, under oath, as “salacious and unverified”— was included as l part of the initial and all three renewal FISA applications against Carter Page. Andrew McCabe, the Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who just resigned under fire, testified that no FISA warrant would have been sought from the FISA Court without the Steele dossier information. Yet The initial application and the renewal applications did not disclose the role of the Democratic National Committee and the  Clinton campaign in generating the dossier by paying $160,000 to Christopher Steel to compile it,  nor did the applications show that Steele was working for Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson, who was paid by the law firm representing the DNC. In other words, part of the evidence presented to the court to justify surveillance of a member of the Trump campaign, and by extension the campaign itself, was created by someone   working on behalf of  the DNC and Clinton campaign.

5. The court, says the memo, in order to protect “the rights of Americans” needs to see “information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application.” I don’t see how anyone can disagree with this, or the fact that the origins of evidence being presented to justify not only surveillance of a citizen but of a Presidential campaign arose from the opposing campaign had to be presented to the court. It wasn’t. That was illegal.

6. Thus the FBI obtained permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to surveil Trump aide Carter Page based in part on information from the Christopher Steele dossier, a document commissioned by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party. Whether the dossier was the primary basis  the warrant, as the memo alleges,  or only used ‘in part, the fact the FBI chose to use it in its application creates a prima facie case that it  didn’t have enough other evidence to justify surveillance. I remember enough of my criminal law practice days to know that would be enough to invalidate a warrant and anything it uncovered. It makes the whole Mueller investigation potentially “the fruit of the poisonous tree.”

7. This places in proper perspective some of the anti-Trump spin, like this despicable tweet from Evan McMullen, the supposedly “ethical” Republican who attracted some protest votes for President in 2016:

“The inclusion of the dossier in FISA applications may represent an unprecedented collision of opposition research and national security, but remember: the cause of that was a presidential candidate’s likely collaboration with the very foreign adversary attacking our democracy.”

Nice.

This is why we have the Fourth Amendment that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, and why the exclusionary rule and “the fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrines were created by a liberal Supreme Court—to prevent law enforcement from cutting Constitutional corners and violating civil rights when they decide that a crime was “likely.” McMullen, and all the defenders of what the FBI appears to have done here, are adopting the “ends justifies the means” philosophy that liberals once opposed.

8.Kimberly Strassel at the Wall Street Journal wrote,

“Somewhat lost in this narrative is what role if any the broader Obama administration might have played with regard to the dossier. What actions were taken by former CIA Director John Brennan, or former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper? Also don’t forget Bruce Ohr, the Justice Department official whose wife worked for Fusion GPS, and who himself met with Fusion cofounder Glenn Simpson. Or the Justice Department officials who approved court filings. If there was surveillance abuse, accountability shouldn’t stop with the FBI.”

Yup. I don’t see how any fair and objective citizen can avoid wanting answers to this question.

9. The reaction of the mainstream news media so far is almost as ominous as the matter itself, or would be, if it wasn’t so predictable by now. For example, on CNN today, Wolf Blitzer questioned GOP Congressman Chris Stewart about the memo as if the issue was entirely political maneuvering. This appears to be the media’s tactic: muddy the water, make the episode just more political back-biting and dueling narratives, and assume the public won’t have the attention span to figure it out. When Stewart asked why Blitzer was not discussing  the substance of the memo,  Blitzer answered that ” the contents of the memo, Congressman, the contents of the memo are being seen as political.” No, the news media and Democrats are trying their damnedest to make the public think it is political. They have not denied that under a Democratic administration, a piece of opposition research paid for by the campaign of the Democratic Presidential candidate counted upon to continue that administration’s policies, was used to acquire a warrant to spy on a member of the opposing party’s Presidential candidate’s campaign, without the court being informed regarding the material’s origins. The news media is taking a bad gamble if it allies itself with a partisan effort to spin this away from discovering the truth, which the public has the right to know.

10. Democrats would be  responsible, ethical and wise if they showed appropriate concern about the sequence of events in this matter, rather than trying to deflect criticism of it. The conduct of the Obama Justice Department and the FBI should be a matter of bi-partisan interest.  The argument against the memo and the issues it raises, that the public revelations demoralizes our intelligence community and undermines the public’s support and trust is the same invalid logic being used to condemn criticism of the biased news media. If these institutions are not trustworthy and acting against the interests they are pledged to protect, then the public must know. If the conduct of the intelligence community shows that it isn’t trustworthy, there is nothing wrong, and everything right, about exposing it. The Onion’s satirical headline makes the point beautifully:

FBI Warns Republican Memo Could Undermine Faith In Massive, Unaccountable Government Secret Agencies.

 

46 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

46 responses to “Ten Ethics Observations On The Nunes Memo

  1. “9. The reaction of the mainstream news media…”

    This, I suspect, is at least part of the (wise) tactical decision of the Repubs to not let the Dems release a memo of their own at the same time. We can be sure, had that happened, that all the attention of most of the press would have focused on searching for anything in the opposition memo that could be tortured into being presented as damaging to Trump. This would have enabled them to push the issue of the FISA malfeasance even further into the shadows.

    • I think this is going to be hard to bury. Checking the various news sources and sites, it seems that the Democrats have settled on the “this plays into Putin’s hands by undermining faith in our institutions” trope. Seriously? Seriously? An Obama law enforcement agency, during a Presidential campaign, takes Democratic Party opposition research that it has not verified and uses it to get warrants to spy on the Republican campaign, without telling the court its origins! Any collapse in faith in the FBI and Justice Department, not to mention Obama and the Democratic Party, created by that conduct is not the fault of those who bring it to light. What an insulting and cynical tactic: How dare you let the American people know how slimy the FBI is, and how these institution misused their power! Seriously? That’s the defense?

      It won’t work. Every day, Americans trust this party a little less. And more and more I am coming to believe that the “deplorables” who decided to give these arrogant and dishonest people a kick in the teeth were embodying the strength of American democracy, not its weakness.

      • Isaac

        But the same strategy it DID work, more or less, in regards to Hillary’s private server, didn’t it? Most people don’t even know or remember the mountains of dirt on the DNC that became publicly available over a year ago through Hillary and Podesta’s emails. Instead we spent 2017 clutching pearls over those terrible Russians for showing us things we weren’t supposed to see. And surely Trump had something to do with it! Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Find out whose payroll Toto was on!

        I wouldn’t be surprised if they doubled down and made a huge stink about any possible unethical action or thought taken in the actual discovery of the secrets in the memo, real or imagined. Maybe Nunes will become the new Trump and we’ll spend a billion dollars investigating every friend and family member of his while the media repeats the word “possible Republican corruption” until we all forget what the memo was about in the first place.

        • No, it didn’t work. Hillary paid for her lies, The Democrats were wiped out in the election, and the Democratic party is falling apart in chunks, while its only loyalists are crazies seeking a coup.

      • Chris marschner

        If anything plays into Putin’s hands is the abject animus some people have against Trump. That includes a news media that cannot wait to cover impeachment hearings and those within government that need to protect their roles in shadow government. I have said before Putin only needed to create disension between the various factions here. He did not care who won. The only ones who are undermining the full faith of the American people are those hell bent on nullifying the election.

        • The Russian “interference” consists entirely, at most, of helping the voting public learn how corrupt the DNC and Clinton were based on actual e-mails. The dumb fake news on Facebook and the rest was non-material. Russia did Americans a favor. I have yet to comprehend how “They would have never learned how bad we were without the Russians!” is supposed to be a persuasive complaint.

          Trump’s polls are rising, and Democratic approval is dropping, while the news media is trusted less and less and Hollywood, the NFL and the entertainment industry is losing public support That’s what the effort to topple Trump is accomplishing, and it can’t be blamed on Trump.

          Idiots. Idiots!

          Trump’s super-power is that he makes his opponents destroy themselves.

          • Chris marschner

            Yes I agree that Putin helped expose certain elements as being corrupt. But, I don’t believe that was the objective. Sowing internal distrust in our institutions gives him a strategic advantage as we focus on our infighting which weakens us while giving him opportunities to solidify power globally.
            He adroitly exploited our internal partisan factions and our penchant for identity politics.
            He knows that a house divided cannot stand. Trump’s superpower may be to get his opponents to destroy themselves, but we should not rule out Putin’s power may be getting Americans to destroy themselves.

            For all those worried about Russian involvement why are they working to undermine the presidency by using Stalinist tactics?

          • Glenn Logan

            Russia did Americans a favor. I have yet to comprehend how “They would have never learned how bad we were without the Russians!” is supposed to be a persuasive complaint.

            Heh. You made me laugh there, and cut straight to the bone at the same time.

            For the record, I am still highly dubious the DNC was hacked by Russian state actors. There is defensible (but far from dispositive) evidence it was an inside job.

            Trump’s super-power is that he makes his opponents destroy themselves.

            The most amazing thing is that he does it where the lefties live — on Twitter. His troll level is Galactic Overlord, and he’s pushing Universal Megamaster really hard.

            But a lot of it is his willingness to discard norms in order to achieve his ends. I think most ethical people universally despise that method, but it seems to be the only thing that can disrupt the constant stream of emotion-laden lefty trope that’s traditionally been so hard for the right to fight, and force them to expose the bankruptcy of their positions and their desire for authoritarian power.

            • Matthew B

              For the record, I am still highly dubious the DNC was hacked by Russian state actors. There is defensible (but far from dispositive) evidence it was an inside job.

              Halon’s Razor applies: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

              As stupid as the Democrat party is behaving right now, it’s not a stretch to assume they’re strife with stupidity.

  2. Well done.

    I eagerly await my email notifications exploding later today when other commenters read this post.

  3. The Federalist lists more of the damning elements of the memo that I intentionally omitted to keep attention on the directly damning and shocking major point, without details that people like—well, you know—will try to attack to distract from reality: The Obama administration’s Justice Department used opposition research, funded by Obama’s party, that has substantially been discredited BY THE SAME agency that used it, to spy on the Republican Presidential campaign and did so by misrepresenting their evidence repeatedly to the court. Nah, nothing suspicious and illegal about that—what a nothingburger! And since those basic facts can’t be rebutted the tactic I’m watching on CNN right now is to try to point in different directions: This undermines our institutions! This is an attempt to obstruct the Mueller investigation! The warrant didn’t depend on that one bad piece of information! Look over there…no, over there! It looks desperate because it is desperate, and as I said, the spinners among the Democrats and journalists are making a bad bet that the public is incredibly stupid and gullible, when they should be 100% on the side of rejecting what the FBI and Obama’s Justice Department did and ask instead (borrowed in part from Chris Buskirk), the questions that are related to the larger picture:

    What role did Hillary Clinton play?
    Was Attorney General Loretta Lynch involved with these efforts to surveil associates of the Trump campaign and, if so, to what extent?
    We know that Susan Rice and Samantha Power were both involved in unmasking the names of U.S. citizens who were being targeted in this surveillance. Were they coordinating with elements within the FBI and/or the Justice Department? Were they coordinating with the DNC and Clinton campaign to give Hillary an electoral advantage?
    What did Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton really discuss during their tarmac meeting in Phoenix on June 27, 2016.
    Did Barack Obama know about and/or participate in the effort to use the police and surveillance powers of the federal government to undermine Donald Trump’s campaign?
    Has there been an ongoing cover-up, including the false claim that the memo endangered “national security”?

    And how can anyone continue to question the propriety of firing James Comey after this?

    • Glenn Logan

      What role did Hillary Clinton play?

      Well, she paid for the dossier, so surely she was at least aware of its existence. Perhaps a better question is why she didn’t alert the FBI as to what it was when it first showed up. That would’ve been the ethical thing to do, and for all I know, she may have. But somehow, I doubt it.

      Was Attorney General Loretta Lynch involved with these efforts to surveil associates of the Trump campaign and, if so, to what extent?

      Since the Deputy AG or acting DAG signed them, I’d say she had to be (or should’ve been) at least aware of their existence.

      We know that Susan Rice and Samantha Power were both involved in unmasking the names of U.S. citizens who were being targeted in this surveillance. Were they coordinating with elements within the FBI and/or the Justice Department? Were they coordinating with the DNC and Clinton campaign to give Hillary an electoral advantage?

      Good question, but one I suspect we’ll never know the answer to. Perhaps a better question is did either of them unmask people swept up in the Page surveillance? If so, who, and why?

      What did Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton really discuss during their tarmac meeting in Phoenix on June 27, 2016.

      I suspect it was Hillary’s non-indictment.

      Did Barack Obama know about and/or participate in the effort to use the police and surveillance powers of the federal government to undermine Donald Trump’s campaign?

      You would think he had to know. It would certainly be his job to know if there were an investigation of possible Russian involvement in an election campaign, and it’s difficult to imagine he didn’t know about a FISA warrant that affected the presidential campaign.

      Has there been an ongoing cover-up, including the false claim that the memo endangered “national security”?

      Well, we had the same question about the IRS abuse scandal. The answer there was never explicitly yes, but it’s clear there was a cover-up in the sense that all the Democrats knew to rally around their own. I suspect that’s what we have here, the Democrats and their partisans in bureaucracy rallying around their own. Calling that a “cover-up” is probably overstating the case.

      And how can anyone continue to question the propriety of firing James Comey after this?

      Signature significance.

      • I’ve been wondering if maybe the Lynch-Clinton meeting was intended to result in Lynch’s recusal. Pretend to have a ‘whoops!” moment, take the high road and recuse to the judgment of a non-political decider. It looks very good, unless you start from the position that the recuser knew the outcome before the whoops! ever occurred.

  4. Glenn Logan

    Here are my thoughts, if you can call them that:

    1 Incompleteness

    Let’s see all four of the entire FISA applications. At that point, we will know what was said, and it’s pretty clear that there is no problem with national security in this particular case. Even if there is, this secrecy is too much. We, the people MUST BE ABLE TO SEE information that directly impacts our democratic processes, however “secret.” If not, totalitarianism is already well entrenched, and just hidden from view.

    2 Resistance

    My thoughts exactly, nothing to add.

    3 Undermining Mueller

    I’m not so sure it does. As you say, our knowledge is incomplete. The Russia matter, as I understand it, was based less on the “dossier” than the intelligence community determining that Russian hackers penetrated the DNC computer system and leaked private DNC emails damning to the Clinton campaign. If that’s so, this is more a matter of an incident of FISA abuse. However, it makes me suspect that this isn’t the only one, and the Cliven Bundy recent debacle along with this mess suggests federal law enforcement has lost its way, and gone down a very dark road indeed.

    The nexus between this and the Russia scandal exists in what information was gleaned from the surveillance of Carter Page. We need to know that, and from what I see, there is no reason for us not to know. All of it.

    If the surveillance of Page was the impetus behind the Russia investigation, or a significant part of it, then yes, this definitely undermines it. If not, then perhaps it doesn’t.

    4 Form

    David French of National Review pointed out in a recent article, correctly I think, that Comey’s words “salacious and unverified” was only applied to parts of the dossier. That suggests that some of it was not unverified, at least, and the memo itself describes the dossier as “minimally corroborated.” I think it’s important to a full understanding of this matter that we know what parts were corroborated.

    I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on the first application, even if it is manifestly undeserved. But the three renewals after the full measure of the dossier’s nature was known was beyond unethical — it was probably illegal.

    Many have wondered how the democrats would’ve reacted if the exact same thing had happened back in 2008 when Obama was running. I’ll just leave that thought right here.

    5 FISA requirements

    Yeah. That’s my take as well.

    6 Basis

    See my remarks under 3 above.

    7 McMullen

    I voted for that jerk, for president no less. I am absolutely ashamed.

    8 Obama officials

    You and Strassel forgot to mention former president Obama himself. Was he involved at all? You have to suspect he was at least informed. What did he know, and when?

    9 Reaction

    The reaction has shown exactly what Devin Nunes suggested when he said, “You know you’re over the target when you’re being attacked.” Exactly right.

    The news media is taking a bad gamble if it allies itself with a partisan effort to spin this away from discovering the truth, which the public has the right to know.

    Are they? They have been taking this gamble since November 8, 2016. It’s paying off with higher subscription rates, more profit, and a general payday. So far, their gamble is paying off in dollars, that’s for sure.

    As to credibility, that seems to have become a “nice to have” rather than an absolute necessity. As to what the public has a right to know, apparently we’re in Bizarro Trump World now where the left is all about secrecy and the news media about filtering what the public knows in order to protect Democrats.

    10 Democrats

    How droll is it that the same party who cheered Edward Snowden’s revelations are now trying to hide the FBI’s unethical actions from public view? Equally droll is the Republican “sunlight is the best disinfectant” position after just recently reauthorizing the law that we’re talking about the abuse of right now. Hypocrisy doesn’t begin to describe this lunacy.

    • Great comment. One point: if substantial parts of the dossier were dubious, then the whole was dubious, just as a witness who lies in his testimony won’t have other parts of his testimony used as evidence. If parts of the dossier were false, and if it was funded for political rather than law enforcement purposes, that information goes to its persuasiveness as evidence, and must be disclosed. It it had been, the court would not have accepted a “but parts of it could be true!” argument. The FBI could have taken cues from the dossier and independently confirmed matters without having to prevent the Steele hit job. So I don’t see any defense for the dossier being used at all.

      • Glenn Logan

        One point: if substantial parts of the dossier were dubious, then the whole was dubious, just as a witness who lies in his testimony won’t have other parts of his testimony used as evidence.

        Oh, I agree, but courts are less inclined to look at it that way. They are more inclined to examine the entire thing in context, and if parts actually had been corroborated, the “salacious and unverified” parts don’t automatically render the whole useless. Orin Kerr had a good piece explaining how this works the other day.

        • But Kerr is talking about bias. The source of the memo had to be disclosed, not because of possible, bias, but because of certainty of bias: the dossier was intended to be a hit piece, and Steele was hired to did up dirt. Kerr glides over this.

          My point is that the memo contained false information, or information that couldn’t be verified. Bias is another issue. That makes the whole unreliable per se. Kerr doesn’t touch this issue, and, I might ask, why not?

          • Glenn Logan

            My point is that the memo contained false information, or information that couldn’t be verified. Bias is another issue. That makes the whole unreliable per se. Kerr doesn’t touch this issue, and, I might ask, why not?

            Fair points, and I’ll concede that viewed in full context, you’d have to consider the author of the dossier unreliable and his work product dubious as evidentiary support, not only because of bias but also because there were just too many assertions that defied corroboration. Still, the courts, particularly FISA, have a history of overlooking those kinds of defects.

            Kerr wrote this before the memo came out, of course, so he didn’t know about Steele’s statement of opposition to Trump. That statement alone calls in to question the value of the dossier because it suggests he would do anything, including lie, to prevent Trump’s election. Absent that knowledge, we wouldn’t be aware of Steele’s actual motive, even though our suspicion alarms would be too loud to ignore.

            I think that might have made a difference in his analysis, although I’m not sure of it. But consider this from his closing paragraph:

            To my knowledge, Steele was not some random person motivated by an ongoing personal feud against Trump or Carter Page.

            Maybe not random, but he was clearly motivated to keep Trump from being elected. Whether or not that qualifies as a feud is subject to debate, but it’s clear that he was not just a former MI6 agent, but an active Trump opponent. That would seem to matter.

    • ”Was he involved at all? You have to suspect he was at least informed. What did he know, and when?”

      Perhaps we ought cut the 4th Estate some slack, because that may end up being the very place former President Obama finds out about all this.

      Wait a minute, The Most Transparent Administration EVAH!!! headed by the self-anointed 4th Greates President EVAH!!! may have been “out of the loop?”

      Where have I heard that before?

      https://www.mrctv.org/blog/guess-how-obama-found-out-about-hilary-email-scandal

    • Chris marschner

      Yes I agree that Putin helped expose certain elements as being corrupt. But, I don’t believe that was the objective. Sowing internal distrust in our institutions gives him a strategic advantage as we focus on our infighting which weakens us while giving him opportunities to solidify power globally.
      He adroitly exploited our internal partisan factions and our penchant for identity politics.
      He knows that a house divided cannot stand. Trump’s superpower may be to get his opponents to destroy themselves, but we should not rule out Putin’s power may be getting Americans to destroy themselves.

      For all those worried about Russian involvement why are they working to undermine the presidency by using Stalinist tactics?

    • Another Mike

      Glenn’s #4. Patterico [patterico.com] brings up the “limited application” of the Unverified-Salacious wording in a post yesterday (2/2) versus general application to the entire dossier. He then shows how the Nunes memo wording is that the entire dossier was U-S rather than just portions of it.

      I’m not sure if it is meant as an attack on the wording of the memo or on the dossier’s use in the FISA application(s). Or it could be one of those distinctions that is not really a difference. An interesting, informative post either way.

    • Chris marschner

      On point 3. The intelligence community never independently verified the claims made by Crowdstrike who was hired by the DNC to perform a forensic analysis. The owner of Crowdstrike is a known Putin critic. To my knowledge Crowdstrike’s analysis was never independently verified. If I am wrong on this point and the FBI did do a forensic evaluation on the DNC server, I will stand corrected. My understanding is that the FBI only evaluated the Clinton email server and concluded that it was “probably compromised by hostile actors” but could not conclusively prove that Russians or anyone else gained access.

    • Greg

      The Russia matter, as I understand it, was based less on the “dossier” than the intelligence community determining that Russian hackers penetrated the DNC computer system and leaked private DNC emails damning to the Clinton campaign.

      Except that there was already very good reason to believe that, notwithstanding the pronouncements of the “intelligence community,” the Russians were not the source of the DNC emails, including the facts that (1) according to some forensic analysts, the source of the emails was clearly not an internet hack by outsiders but a download by an insider directly from the server to a thumb drive and (2) the server was so insecure that a high school student could have hacked it, so it’s safe to say that, although the Russians probably hacked it, so did the Chinese, the British, the French, the Germans, the Israelis, the Ukrainians and basically every other government and private individual in the world who was interested in doing so.

      The fact that the FBI lied to and deceived the FISA court about the dossier gives us even more reason to believe that their statements about the source of the email leak are lies and deceptions as well.

      • Glenn Logan

        Except that there was already very good reason to believe that, notwithstanding the pronouncements of the “intelligence community,” the Russians were not the source of the DNC emails, including the facts that (1) according to some forensic analysts, the source of the emails was clearly not an internet hack by outsiders but a download by an insider directly from the server to a thumb drive …

        I addressed that above, not surprised you didn’t see it since it’s part of another thread:

        For the record, I am still highly dubious the DNC was hacked by Russian state actors. There is defensible (but far from dispositive) evidence it was an inside job.

        It’s also important to note that at the time the Russia investigation was started, the evidence that both you and I are talking about had not been developed.

        The fact that the FBI lied to and deceived the FISA court about the dossier gives us even more reason to believe that their statements about the source of the email leak are lies and deceptions as well.

        I’m not sure they lied to the FISA court, but they did deceive it by not explaining the full details of the dossier, assuming the Nunes memo is accurate in that regard (and I believe it is).

        The FBI was not the only branch to assert that the DNC email leak was the Russians. This determination was made by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, with input from the FBI, NSA and CIA. Note that not all the intelligence agencies signed on to the assessment. Relevant excerpt as follows:

        We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.

        Three agencies agreed to some degree that it was Russia. We are told by all and sundry that all 17 agencies that make up the Intelligence Community are in agreement at some level that it was Russia, but the ODNI document does not say that, even though it was stated repeatedly by Democrats and the press.

        So I’m skeptical that the assessment is a lie. It may be inaccurate and even incompetent or biased, but that’s difficult to determine. I skeptical of the ODNI assessment for several reasons, not the least of which is that it isn’t likely to be that easy to catch the Russians, who are among the most talented cyber-warfare and intelligence operators in the world, probably superior even to us. The evidence cited as damning is not likely to be left behind by professionals like that.

        • CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence

          All three of those have been exposed, time and again, as being untrustworthy, no?

          How about an alternative hypothesis? Just as we now KNOW that the actors at the FBI were colluding to steal an election, and undermine an elected president, why not the same for the CIA? They are not exactly the paragon of virtue, don’t you think? The NSA just deleted ‘honesty’ and ‘openness’ from their core values… why should we trust them?

          Maybe, just like Comey, the fix was in with these agencies?

  5. Lefty’s…um…issues with the 1st & 2nd Amendments are well documented.

    Would they be advised now to take aim at the 4th?

    They’d best leave the 5th be, I have an inkling it’ll be getting invoked time-n-again before all this is said and done.

    Unless Lois Lerner & multiple ‘Platte River Networks’ employees have neutered it.

  6. Other Bill

    Great WWII strategic bombing/political flak analogy from Devin Nunes: Asked about the political hate coming his way, Nunes said, “It’s actually quite enjoyable. You know you’re over the target when you’re being attacked.”

  7. Other Bill

    Here’s some spin from a CNN guy. His argument seems to be you can get a FISA warrant issued based on a ham sandwich. No problemo.

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/02/opinions/prosecutor-take-on-nunes-memo-callan-opinion/index.html

    • AH! The Barry Bonds Hall of Fame rationalization! If you could have gotten the warrant without cheating, the cheating doesn’t count!

      • Other Bill

        Silly me. I thought a FISA judge asked to allow spying on a political campaign would insist on better evidence for a FISA warrant than a state judge would for a run of the mill arrest warrant.

  8. adimagejim

    These revelations, already suspected, have put me over the Bob Marley ‘Three Little Birds’ edge. Things are not going to be alright. I no longer have any confidence in our institutions, which are apparently systemically corrupted to the core against the republic in favor of leftist, authoritarian elites.

    This is too big and too entrenched to fight with little enclaves of human rights, decency and sense like this one.

    Hillary Clinton should be in prison. Period. Obama should have been impeached when he subverted the order of financial primacy against the legal rights of bond holders as the government bought 70% of GM with our debt. Completely illegal. Followed by at least half a dozen Constitutional violations.

    Can’t take it anymore. So, like a country completely landlocked by another, I’m running my own from now on. Eff them.

  9. Greg

    It’s worth noting that the memo confirms much of what the ranting, right-wing blogs and websites have been saying for months. This reminds me of the 1960’s, when the left-wing radicals kept claiming that the FBI was harassing, spying and planting fake evidence on them and using agent provocateurs to deliberately foment distrust and violence. Every reasonable, moderate opponent of the war recognized these accusations as crazy, paranoid and delusional, until we learned years later that they were all true.

  10. Steve

    Jack I don’t have time to put this together completely but on the 18th the Senate reauthorize the FISA act with some major changes that democrats voted for. Little news coverage on it but the changes appear to keep this abuse from occurring again. I think that these changes and the fact that democrats were on board with them lend some additional support to the veracity of the memo. Maybe?

    https://www.lawfareblog.com/summary-fisa-amendments-reauthorization-act-2017

  11. Chris marschner

    Jack,
    You may have missed one glaring observation
    Comey, pundits, and Democats decry the Nunes memo as a smear on the FBI, attempts to sully the reputations of our premier agencies but have no problem casting doubt on our electoral process, smearing a bothersome but duly elected person to the high office of president, and telling the world of his transgressions.

  12. Inquiring Mind

    I have to think that you are a little harsh on Trey Gowdy,

    The Nunes memo is not what is discrediting the Mueller investigation. What discredits the Mueller investigation is the conduct of the senior FBI and Justice Department officials, including Ohr, McCabe, Comey, Page, her illicit office romance partner, and Yates.

    The Nunes memo merely revealed the misconduct.

    • No, Gowdy is attempting to short circuit the Times narrative that I just posted about. But it’s still disingenuous. The FBI and the Justice Department appears to have conspired to get Trump, or try to. And it was this attempt that helped lead to the Special Prosecutor and the whole presumption—because that’s what it is—that Trump “colluded.”

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