Cold Morning! I mean, Good Morning!
Anne Frank would still read The New York Times, I guess…
(Anne Frank belongs in the Ethics Alarms Heroes Hall of Honor. I will fix that with a post this month–she probably dies in February, 1945. Don’t let me forget.)
1 “But you know what I sometimes think? I think the world may be going through a phase… It’ll pass. – I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are really good at heart.” Or maybe not. I gathered up all my idealism and hope, and thought that maybe, just maybe, after the ugly and destructive lynch mob it has constituted for over a year to try to destroy the elected President, the mainstream news media, faced with incontrovertible evidence of frightening lawlessness and an attack on democracy by the previous administration in the midst of a Presidential campaign, would finally show some integrity and do its duty.
Then I read today’s New York Times.
The headline: GOP MEMO LEADS TO FRESH JOUSTING ON RUSSIA INQUIRY.
Unbelievable. That’s the news? That there is “fresh jousting”? The memo, as I accurately explained in the previous post, shows that the Obama administration’s Justice Department knowingly used opposition research, funded by Obama’s party and its Presidential candidate, that has substantially been discredited by the FBI, the same agency that represented it to the court, as evidence justifying a FISA warrant against an American citizen and a member of the opposing party’s Presidential campaign and the Republican Presidential campaign itself.
I don’t see any mention of the Russian collusion investigation in that sentence, but that sentence still suggests a serious scandal involving abuse of civil rights and tampering with the election by law enforcement and a partisan Justice Department. If the so-called “newspaper of record” was objective and trustworthy, some version of that sentence would have been its headline, not an intentionally misleading headline stating that the “news” just is more political “jousting.”
Think about it: the Times is using a less interesting and provocative headline that the one that is justified by the facts. The only reason it would do this is misdirection born of a political agenda. No, Hanlon’s Razon does not apply here. This is not incompetence. This is malice.
2. “It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. ” Then there the Times editorials. Two days ago, the Times editors wrote this:
“In a demonstration of unbridled self-interest and bottomless bad faith, the Trump White House and its Republican minions in Congress are on the cusp of releasing a “memo” that purports to document the biggest political scandal since Watergate. To pull it off, they are undermining the credibility of the law enforcement community that Republicans once defended so ardently, on the noble-sounding claim that the American public must know the truth.”
Again, unbelievable and yet too believable. Let’s parse this one:
“In a demonstration of unbridled self-interest and bottomless bad faith,”
The Times thinks it is bad faith to inform the American public of undeniable misconduct by the FBI and the Justice Department regarding civil rights and the Presidential election. Sure.
“…the Trump White House and its Republican minions in Congress are on the cusp of releasing a ‘memo'”
An ad hominem attack (“minions”), a partisan bias-based innuendo of dishonesty ( “purports to document”) and a dishonest use of scare quotes around “memo,” as if this wasn’t a memo. It is a memo.
“…the biggest political scandal since Watergate.”
A straw man trick, exploding an assertion into its most extreme form to knock it down. The facts are the facts, and how they are characterized by some is irrelevant to what the facts show. it may not be “the biggest political scandal since Watergate” when a Democratic administration uses opposition research its party paid to have done to defeat a Republican Presidential candidate to get court authorization to spy on that campaign during the campaign. You have to admit, though, that at least sounds a little like Watergate—Presidential campaign, administration interfering with the opposition campaign, dirt tricks, misuse of government power—no? Even a little bit like Watergate is bad enough, when government and law enforcement interference with Presidential campaigns is the issue.
“To pull it off, they are undermining the credibility of the law enforcement community that Republicans once defended so ardently, on the noble-sounding claim that the American public must know the truth.”
Pull what off? That’s another bit of rhetorical dishonesty implying wrongdoing by transparency, when transparency is not wrongdoing unless it is illegal (Wikileaks, James Snowden). Then we have the cynical tack I just wrote about:
“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.”
How does the fact that the Republicans once defended the law enforcement community “ardently” change the appropriateness and necessity of revealing wrongdoing they were not previously aware of? Finally, did I really read the New York Times editors mocking the proposition (“noble-sounding”) that “the American public must know the truth”?
What a disgraceful, shocking, self-indicting paragraph.
3. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Incredibly enough, this morning’s Times editorial was more shameless and unethical than that one. The headline: “We’ve Got the Memo. Now What About Trump’s Tax Returns?”
Wow. We have another certain admittee to the Whataboutism Hall of Fame. A released document reveals, again, ” that the Obama administration’s Justice Department knowingly used opposition research, funded by Obama’s party and its Presidential candidate, that has substantially been discredited by the FBI, the same agency that represented it to the court, as evidence justifying a FISA warrant against an American citizen and a member of the opposing party’s Presidential campaign and the Republican Presidential campaign itself”—never mind the other disturbing implications—and the Times’s reaction is “What about the President’s tax returns?”
What about the grassy knoll? Hey, look at the puppy! Check out the rack on that babe! Wait, is that Elvis?
This radiates desperation. So does the rest:
“Seriously? That’s all they’ve got?”
That’s all they have revealed so far, but the fact that—here we go again—“the Obama administration’s Justice Department knowingly used opposition research, funded by Obama’s party and its Presidential candidate, that has substantially been discredited by the FBI, the same agency that represented it to the court, as evidence justifying a FISA warrant against an American citizen and a member of the opposing party’s Presidential campaign and the Republican Presidential campaign itself” is plenty, unless you view your job, as the Times apparently does, as obscuring the truth and providing cover for your favorite party rather than enlightening the public.
The memo opens darkly, raising “concerns with the legitimacy and legality” of Justice Department and F.B.I. interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. What sort of illegality are they talking about? The memo doesn’t say.
But it does. We know it’s illegal to mislead a court while seeking a warrant to spy on a citizen and a presidential campaign. We know that a memo created by a the political party that controls the Executive and the Justice Department is inherently unreliable, and in this case was found to be unreliable, and that it was illegal for the FISA court not to know how unreliable it was, or have the necessary information to make its own assessment.
“Its central assertion appears to be that investigators who sought and received a warrant from the intelligence court to surveil the Trump campaign adviser Carter Page misled the court by failing to reveal the biased evidence they were relying on. First, they included in their warrant application a dossier prepared by Christopher Steele, a former British spy, without telling the court that Mr. Steele’s research was partly funded by the Clinton campaign. Second, they did not reveal that Mr. Steele had told a Justice Department official that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” The memo also notes that Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the F.B.I. who stepped down this week, testified to the Intelligence Committee in December that investigators would not have sought the warrant without the information contained in the dossier.
This is all potentially interesting information. How significant is it in context?
“Potentially interesting’???? What? That is res ipsa loquitur: it speak for itself. (It also rebuts “the memo doesn’t say.”) No context cleanses it. Then the Times starts throwing dust and spinning:
“For starters, what other evidence did the intelligence court rely on in finding probable cause to issue the warrant? The memo doesn’t say.”
It doesn’t matter. The dossier should not have been part of the process in any way.
“What about the court’s rationale for issuing three separate extensions, each of which required investigators to present new evidence beyond the dossier? The memo doesn’t say.”
The dossier was used to get court approval for all three extensions, and in all three, it was represented as reliable evidence. It would not have been used if it were not deemed necessary to acquire the warrants. It is a rebuttable presumption, therefore, that the warrants would not have been issued or re-issued without it.
“Was any significant piece of information in the dossier found to be inaccurate? The memo doesn’t say.
James Comey, who was head of the FBI at the time, described the memo to Congress, under oath, as “salacious and unverified.” Gee, I’d say that description strongly suggests that dossier was “found to be inaccurate,” wouldn’t you? Why won’t the Times? Comey’s statement was widely publicized, even in the Times. The memo doesn’t have to “say it.” We already know it—and so did the FBI, when it was using the dossier to justify domestic spying on Hillary Clinton’s opposition.
“Did the court assume bias on the part of Mr. Steele or the funders of his research, as courts regularly do when considering evidence supporting a request for a warrant? The memo doesn’t say.”
The court couldn’t consider bias, since it was not fully informed about the origins of the dossier.
4. “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” Maybe I am being too much like Anne Frank,myself, but I do believe that this effort to pretend what was done by the FBI, the Justice Department, and quite possibly the Obama Administration itself to use its power illicitly to harass and abuse the opposing party’s Presidential campaign will fail, and that there will be serious consequences to those responsible, and those, including the media, who have allied themselves with the unconscionable disinformation effort we are seeing now.