Sunday Evening Ethics Debriefing, 7/22/18: FISA, “Resistance” Jerks, Translator Ethics And More Problems With CVS

Good evening!

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)

38 Comments

Filed under Bioethics, Business & Commercial, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

38 responses to “Sunday Evening Ethics Debriefing, 7/22/18: FISA, “Resistance” Jerks, Translator Ethics And More Problems With CVS

  1. PennAgain

    A transwoman is self-identified as being a woman who could be in process of physical transformation (including, but not restricted, to hormonal therapy); a transman, otherwise.

    Follow the opposite of the DADT rule: if you can’t tell, do Ask.

    • ”if you can’t tell, do Ask.”

      I’ll concede you have far greater experience with this than I ever will, but is that a hard and fast rule? We’re in the a hyper-sensitive era of organized touchiness, after all.

      My sense is if you ask the “wrong” person, or if a well-intended request is misinterpreted, it could get ugly quick.

      I remember my MSW Dear Mother (nursing home adminstrator, committee on aging with disabilities newsletter, etc.) telling me ~ 45 years ago that if I ever saw an abilities-challenged person struggling, I should ask if I could be of some assistance.

      Shortly thereafter, I was with a friend and we saw a wheelchair-bound guy struggling to get up an icy inclined sidewalk “apron.” I did what Mom suggested, but my friend loudly proclaimed “he needs to do it on his own.” The result was help was neither requested nor provided.

      One more example on the organized touchiness theme. Factor in I’m in the 77 Square Miles Surrounded By A Sea Of Reality, and this was still pre- trigger-warning/micro-aggression/manufactured offense.

      ~ 10 years back an incoming female U.W. (GO BADGERS!!) frosh POC went before the CommonSenseLess Council and University Administration to suggest they prohibit people from asking other people (read: her!) where they’re from.

      I can’t even recall her (IMHO) convoluted reasoning, which reason knew nothing of, but thinking at the time “this ain’t the right road to be heading down.”

      It should come as no surprise that I’m a people person, someone who’ll strike up a conversation with darn near anyone; not unlike that Marshall guy…

      Anywho, asking where someone’s from is ~ 90 % of my opening schtick; if there’s a better way to get past “so, how ’bout this weather,” I’m all ears.

      I take my good Golden Girl swimming down adjacent to a well-traveled lakeside bike/pedestrian path on campus, along which a truly international community ambles daily. Many a marvelous conversation has ensued for no other reason than that question was asked.

      /unwelcome questions tangent

      • dragin_dragon

        Probably everybody has heard this on, but. “Never ask a man where he’s from. If he is from Texas, he’ll tell you soon enough. And if he ain’t, you don’t want to embarrass him by making him admit it.”

        • Heh! Just like how can you tell if someone is a vegan?

          Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

          Or how many hands does it take to drive a Toyota Pious (sic)?

          Two; one for the steering wheel and the other to pat yourself on the back.

        • luckyesteeyoreman

          “Never ask a man where he’s from. If he is from Texas, he’ll tell you soon enough. And if he ain’t, you don’t want to embarrass him by making him admit it.”

          All the years I have lived in Texas, native-born even, and I had never heard that one until now. Seems more than plausible, though. Thanks d_d.

          (I’m more familiar with, “Ya’ll ain’t from ’round here, is ye?”)

  2. dragin_dragon

    And I will simply say that the physician, when it comes to orders (prescriptions are, in fact, medication orders) is GOD. Pharmacists do NOT get to decide which to fill nor ask the patient why it was prescribed. If he has a problem with the prescription, he calls the doctor…period. CXVS was right to fire this clown, who obviously has NO professional ethics.

    • dragin_dragon

      Typo. I meant CVS.

    • Joshua

      I worked pharmacy for five years. What the doctor writes is not in fact God. A pharmacist has every right to not fill a prescription if they deem through their professional judgment to not be a legitimate use per guidelines. As an example, slidenafil is a drug used for a heart condition. It is also known as another name in a stronger version, viagra. Doctors cannot write nor use sildenafil for erectile dysfunction due to approves uses by the FDA. I personally had to turn a script away for this as a technician.

      Hormonal medications often have specific guidelines that require a lot of documentation. Depotestosterone and testosterone require a diagnosis code(icd10) written on each prescription to be allowed to be dispensed. Often times, doctors offices have a god complex and refuse to acknowledge the laws and procedures pharmacies have to go through to fill a prescription.

      Pharmacies want to fill prescriptions. This is how they make money. Pharmacies have one of the worst cost to income markets there are. This whole situation seems to be one big gas cloud of idiocy.

      I can’t count the many times our pharmacy has saved someone’s life because of a lethal drug prescription for the patient. Whether it be drug to drug interaction, prescribing lethal dose of medication, or medication allergy, I have seen all three and more. I have seen a methylphenidate prescription for a 2 year old. That is in direct violation of the FDA and could have seriously damaged that child permanently.

      So no, I think you missed the mark with your comment that pharmacists have to do what a doctor writes no matter what and without complaint. Pharmacists have had 8+ years of knowledge on drugs and chemistry and how those chemical compounds interact with our bodies. Doctors get less than 2.

      • Glenn Logan

        I think this is right. If the doctor were the last word, we would not need degreed professionals to carry out their instructions. Pharmacists have a responsibility to ensure the doctor did not make a mistake, which as we all know, happens.

        But pharmacists do not have the right to allow their moral positions to motivate them to refuse to fill a lawfully prescribed and pharmacologically correct prescription.

      • dragin_dragon

        Glenn Logan wrote: “But pharmacists do not have the right to allow their moral positions to motivate them to refuse to fill a lawfully prescribed and pharmacologically correct prescription.”

        You’re right, I was off the mark. This is what I was trying to say. Thanks, Glenn.

  3. As we have discussed here many times, such laws are unethical, and what happened to Hilde Hall shows why.

    https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/10-22-15b.cfm

    So you support repealing federal ant-discrimination laws regarding employment.

  4. 1a) someone needs to come back and offer the entire commentariat a gigantic redaction of a year of spin or at least a major walking back of his tone.

    1n) if it turns out that the very initial act to even kick off the investigation turns out to be complete fraud, does “poisoned fruit” literally not completely erase EVERYTHING Mueller has produced?

  5. This is about the 6th outrageous CVS story I’ve read in the last 2 years without any outrageous stories hitting my radar from a single other pharmacy. I count my blessings I’ve never had to use them for a prescription and certainly now I never will, willingly.

  6. DaveL

    On a tangential note, something really needs to be done about federal agencies’ habit of reacting everything to within an inch of its life. I’ve been FBI documents where the names of agents who conducted the most prosaic interviews (i.e. “Neighbors said they didn’t see anything”) are redacted. I wouldn’t be surprised if they redacted their lunch orders.

    • valkygrrl

      You’d rather leave names out there for any crazy to make use of? Keeping the names of living Americans out of disclosures and even the original fillings whenever possible strikes me as the ethical approach.

      • DaveL

        The names of officials acting under color of law? They have plenty of protections against the crazies, far more so than you or I. Accountability demands transparency, and I think that quite clearly outweighs any remote possibility of harassment.

      • adimagejim

        Did you oppose the publishing of names financially supporting ballot measures unpopular with the left? (Those people acting as private citizens got a lot worse than harassed in some cases.)

        Not accusing; truly asking.

      • Glenn Logan

        Generally, I think this is right. There is no reason I can see to publish the names of the agents conducting the interview. Various committees can see the unredacted version or get the names if they want, and if there’s some reason (i.e. Strozk obviously asking leading questions or some such) that can be handled internally, or a specific name unredacted. Having run-of-the-mill agents harassed who might have said something the mob doesn’t like strikes me as a bad idea.

        • DaveL

          This is the same reasoning that has police going about masked, absent any specific credible threat to them as individuals. As I pointed out before, these are officials who have far greater power to punish anyone actually harasses them, and “the mob” is in fact the people they work for.

          • Glenn Logan

            No, that’s not the mob I mean. The mob I mean are activists on both sides who refuse to look at the situation objectively, and are determined to ruin every life that doesn’t toe their respective lines about how everybody should act. These are people who stir up outrage and damage lives.

            Just because some cops and FBI agents are assholes does not mean all of them are. Their power to punish does not come from their anonymity, either. Generally, agents doing interviews are not the people who decide who to charge with crimes, they are merely gathering evidence.

  7. Glenn Logan

    re: 3.

    Let us now imagine the Democrats win the house, and therefore subpoena power in the next congress. She will doubtless be subpoenaed, and will either have to testify or refuse under pain of contempt. Of course, Trump will still be the President, and if a contempt referral came to the DoJ, I feel sure it would be filed in the circular file where such a document belongs.

    But regarding your point, we know by now that there is nothing off-limits. Trump has trashed norms, now the Democrats see this as license to do anything. I guess that was inevitable. Day by day, we see the erosion of whatever comity is left in our government. Subpoenaing the translator is just the outrage du jour, because I have no doubt many more will follow.

  8. Chris Marschner_

    Point 1
    I am afraid that unless someone ore some people are charged with serious crimes neither side will admit they have been wrong. Even then we may find large numbers unwilling to admit they were in error because they have become so entrenched in their beliefs through information manipulation that they will simply say the process was corrupted by the other side. This is reminiscent of the OJ trial but with far more serious implications.

    On the CVS matter. I do not understand why a patient would allow the ACLU to broadcast (hisor her) name or want the story told if that person was so embarrassed and distressed in the store. Why magnify the embarrassment to a national audience? One should want to mitigate the damage. I just don’t get it. Without knowing what publication promoted the story, what its editorial slant may be as well as many other factors that may have been ommitted in the story it would be unethical for me to make a judgement in this case. I will say If the pharmacist had no other reason to deny filling the prescription other than conscience then he is acting unethically and would be in agreement with Jack.

    The above comment is a consequence of the percieved bias in journalism on my part.

  9. #1 Related to this; it was an interesting weekend, I’m going to paraphrase a small sample of some things I heard in open conversation from a group of old friends…

    1. The DNC, the Clinton’s and Obama “knew” that they were going to loose the 2016 election, their surprise was all an act. For months before the election they tried desperately to use positive propaganda and intentional faux polling to portray that the opposite was true. By the time Bill Clinton met Lynch and subsequently Comey was trotted out to address the public in July of 2016 they “knew” they were trying to douse a wild fire with a fire brigade of mop buckets and no water.

    2. If it were possible to trace all of the faux Russian collusion conspiracy information back to their original sources you will find that it was ALL cooked up by none other than the Clinton’s themselves and those in very high places in the DNC.

    3. Those that cooked up this faux Russian conspiracy and their covert pawns were knowingly and actively searching out and colluding with known Russian agents to find ways to entrap members of the Trump campaign and anyone they opposed.

    4. Top officials in the Russian government learned of this covert pro-Clinton effort and they tried to obtain any documentation possible to prove it by hacking DNC servers. When that didn’t work, they started a propaganda campaign to try and balance the scales and smear Clinton.

    5. Intelligence operatives fiercely loyal to the Clinton’s destroyed intelligence they personally obtained that could be traced back to original sources of the Russian collusion conspiracy. All roads in an investigation into this will lead to a dead end and no one will talk.

    6. Obama knowingly turned a blind eye to what was going on behind the scenes with the Clinton’s and the DNC.

    7. You can’t trust anything at all from the left leaning media.

    8. Hope for a resolution is lost, the mid-terms will be the straw that broke the camels back.

    I can’t count the number of times I heard the phrase “it’s not a witch hunt, it’s an attempted soft coup and it’s still going on” this weekend.

    The questions that I usually ask about evidence were asked by me as usual, the answers were just like the stuff I get back from Progressive extremists when I ask for proof, more innuendo, assumptions, and attacking the messenger for asking.

    That’s all I’m willing to say about my weekend experience.

    • One thing I just remembered from this weekend is this rhetorical question I was asked;

      What if the entire Russia collusion and meddling story was fabricated as a false flag to intentionally destabilize the United States?

      False Flag: a covert operation designed to deceive; the deception creates the appearance of a particular party, group, or nation being responsible for some activity, disguising the actual source of responsibility.

      A nation that was/is terribly polarized, overly politically charged, and actively looking for a “boogy-man” could easily be susceptible to such a treacherous scheme.

  10. Zanshin

    re 3
    The video Jack used in the previous post shows a very interesting intervention by President Eisenhower

    Followed by a fascinating discussion wheter such an intervention is legit.

    Seems to me also relevant of the hearings of FBI official Peter Strzok.

    • Zanshin

      Somehow the time indication got lost.
      Eisenhower’s intervention starts at 44:52

      • luckyesteeyoreman

        If TRUMP sent a message like Eisenhower’s to Congress, he’d be impeached for obstruction of justice before the spit dried on the envelope.

  11. #3 This is a very disturbing path for the Democrats to take and if they actually accomplish subpoenaing Marina Gross, the State Department translator and force her to testify I think it will clearly show that the Democrats are literally willing to destroy the United States of America’s ability to have confidential conversations with any other country as long as President Trump is President of the Unites States of America. In fact; the Democrats just proposing such a thing has put the entire world on notice that it’s not possible for any President, especially this one, from this point on to ever expect to have a completely confidential conversation with any leader of any nation that requires a translator.

    This is the proverbial nail in the coffin as it relates to the of world diplomacy for the United States.

    Every member of congress that has suggested or actually proposed to subpoenaing Trumps State Department translator for interrogation should be censured and removed from any and all their leadership positions -0 without exception.

    • dragin_dragon

      I would hope Trump is smart enough to invoke ‘executive privilege’ on this one. If there was ever a place it could reasonably be used, this is it.

      • dragin_dragon wrote, “I would hope Trump is smart enough to invoke ‘executive privilege’ on this one. If there was ever a place it could reasonably be used, this is it.”

        Do you really think executive privilege means a damn thing to Progressives as it related to President Trump, I don’t. Executive privilege doesn’t mean squat to Progressives, they’ll just throw Marina Gross under a social justice warrior bus for not doing their bidding and continue to smear Trump with faux innuendo for trying to hide the “fact” that he’s a Putin stooge and try to impeach him because they believe all the anti-Trump innuendo is actually fact.

        Yes, I have a very bad opinion of Progressives these days and it’s getting worse every day. I’m not nearly as out there as some of the people I was talking to this past weekend but Progressives really have gone out of their way to earned my disdain.

        • dragin_dragon

          Believe it or not, Z, I wasn’t even thinking of protecting Trump from the progressive smear. This would set a horribly dangerous precedent. If Congress assumes an oversight role in foreign negotiations, it seriously erodes the principle of ‘separation of powers’. I think a case could be made for this to be un-Constitutional.

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