1. Confirmation bias test? The big news today was that the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI have released the 412 page FISA application used to gain a Title I surveillance warrant against Carter Page in 2016 while he was working as a low-level unpaid adviser for the Trump campaign. The document is heavily redacted in its more than 400 pages. Carter Page himself—he was never charged or interviewed , which seems rather damning in itself–said today,
“‘You talk about misleading the courts, it’s just so misleading… It’s literally a complete joke.'”
The full pdf is available here.
Once again, it is impossible to tell what is going on by following the news media’s reports. It sure seems, however that once you block out the spinning by the mainstream media, this post regarding Devon Nunes’ much attacked memo on the topic was verified. Still, I have a low rate of patience for these things, and am not the best interpreter of documents like this, so I am only relying on second hand opinions by others who have plowed through the damn thing. I’ll wait to get some reliable readings.
It seems like the critics of the Mueller investigation and the conduct of Justice and the FBI feel confident that the materials show that indeed the warrants were acquired deceptively, meaning illegally, with the unsubstantiated Steele dossier being the crux of the justification for the warrants, also considering the fact that the Clinton campaign was behind the dossier was never revealed to the judges. [Here’s a recent example of the spin being applied to that argument. The judges were told that the dossier was paid for by a person with political motives, and the claim is that this was enough, that they could figure out that it was a tool of the Clinton campaign. I’ve never understood this argument. Why weren’t the judges informed directly, then? ] Ann Althouse commenter named Yancy Ward wrote,
Believe it or not, I read the FISA applications in less than an hour. It is 90%+ redacted, so there are about 40 pages of actual material. The bulk of the material that is redacted appears to be nothing related to Page at all — it appears in procedures, minimization, and is connect otherwise to general descriptions of what Russia is thought to do in such areas- in other words, classified means and methods. Indeed, the only portions that are unredacted are the parts related to Page.
Here is the absolute truth — all of the applications rely on the Steele Dossier and the Isikoff story from September 2016 — a story that Steele himself was the source for. Those are the only two pieces of “evidence” the FBI supplied to the FISA court that could reasonably be inferred to assign probable cause that Page was a knowing Russian agent. The only other things mentioned in regards to Page are that he lived in Russia for a time, travels there sometimes as an energy consultant, and was approached by Russian agents in the past, one of whom Page himself helped to trap and convict by serving as a willing FBI informant. That last part is incongruous with designating him as a Russian agent, but is included any way as an attempt, not to exonerate him, but to tar him.
Also, if you do a page by page comparison of all four applications, there is little material added from one to the other —if you compared the applications side by side, practically every redacted section is identical in shape and length and page designations. In other words, in each of the renewals, it is apparent that the FBI got jackshit from the surveillance — there was nothing they could add to each application, and so just mostly copied the first application serially.
In addition, none of the applications told the court that the Clinton Campaign is the one who paid Steele and FusionGPS — not a single time. Indeed, the only mention in all the applications of “Candidate 2” is in the very last renewal, and that section wasn’t discussing who hired the law firm, but was instead discussing some letters Page wrote criticizing the Clinton Campaign. The FBI knew who hired the law firm — they knew Steele (Source 1) was hired by Glenn Simpson (aka US citizen), and they knew Simpson was hired by a law firm- i.e. the FBI knew which law firm and thus it was the Clinton Campaign. The applications studiously avoid mentioning “Candidate 2” at every point they describe the chain of cutouts- always ending with “law firm”.
Finally, it clear the FBI confirmed nothing of the Steele Dossier. At no point does it appear that Steele revealed his sources to the FBI- they are always described as “subsources”- this is FBI legalese for “we don’t even know the name so that we can designate them by number”.
The House Intelligence Republican memo was correct on all counts. The Democrat memo was extremely misleading — there is nothing else other than the Steele Dossier and the story Steele sourced to Isikoff.
Nobody has successfully or convincingly punched any holes in his analysis so far.
People are seeing in the document what they want to see, however. I’m going to wait a while to see what some unbiased and trustworthy analysts think. If only I knew who they were…
More to come, I am sure….
2. Here is the kind of thing that makes it hard for me not to want to see the entire attack on the President discredited and “the resistance” humiliated before the nation...a D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 4C) has issued a petition that attempts to pull the Trump International Hotel’s liquor license, on the grounds that D.C. law requires individuals of “good character” to qualify for one. The petition is the work of Commisioner Zach Teutsch, who is grandstanding, and using his position and the Commission unethically for partisan political objectives….like so, so many others.
3. Then there is this...It may be more grandstanding, but some Democrats in Congress are talking about subpoenaing Marina Gross, the State Department translator who was the only American in the room other than President Trump during the private summit in Helsinki. Of course, and I say of course because this should be obvious, such an act would undermine U.S. diplomacy for all time, making a private, confidential, one-on-one meeting with a foreign adversary literally impossible. Also “of course” is the fact that this would be a disgraceful and irresponsible insult to President Trump. It also would do permanent harm to all professional translators, who are ethically bound to keep what they hear while translating confidential.
The Democrats don’t care. If a tactic can bring down Trump, they will damage virtually anything, abuse any traditions or principles. If it destroys a profession or makes all future Presidents weaker and unable to be effective in their interactions with foreign leaders, so be it
4. CVS again: The ACLU has publicized the story of a CVS pharmacist in Arizona who refused to fill the prescription of a transitioning transgender woman who was beginning hormone therapy treatment.(Or is the proper term transgender man? I remain respectful, but confused.) Hilde Hall says that the pharmacist did not provide me a clear reason for the refusal, just kept asking, loudly and in front of other CVS staff and customers, why she was given the prescriptions. She wrote,
Embarrassed and distressed, I nearly started crying in the middle of the store. I didn’t want to answer why I had been prescribed this hormone therapy combination by my doctor. I felt like the pharmacist was trying to out me as transgender in front of strangers. I just froze and worked on holding back the tears.
The pharmacist then refused to return her doctor’s prescription.
Hall claims that she made several attempts to complain to CVS but received no response.Now CVS says that the pharmacist has been fired for violating company policies, and it apologized “for not appropriately following up on Ms. Hall’s original complaint to CVS, which was due to an unintentional oversight.”
Apparently Arizona law now allows medical practitioners and pharmacists to deny emergency contraceptives and abortion pills based on moral and religious grounds, but not hormones for transsexual treatment. As we have discussed here many times, such laws are unethical, and what happened to Hilde Hall shows why. Either the principle is that people have to do their jobs regardless of “moral objections,” or they get to opt out whenever their moral beliefs will be violated in their personal opinion.. The dumb and unethical Arizona law appears to endorse conscience over duty, but then limits what can be valid position of conscience. In other words, the Arizona law is an anti-abortion law, masquerading as a pro-conscience law. I can see how someone might think such a law justifies any objection to any use of drugs, as long as it can be attributed to conscience rather than bigotry (which is what was obviously behind this pharmacist’s miserable behavior, whether he knew it or no.). (Pointer: valkygrrl)