I admit—perhaps you could tell?—I was very irritated at the former commenters here who treated me like I was Alex Jones because early on it became clear to me that the Russian Collusion coup attempt was a partisan plot, carried out by entrenched members of federal law enforcement agencies in the U.S., enabled by the Democratic party, and perhaps even Barack Obama. I remain very troubled by that experience, and am waiting for one—just one would be satisfying—to come back and have the courage and decency to write, “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to believe it. You were right.”
I have a couple of candidates who might show such integrity, and I still have hope. I will not, however, hold my breath,
I have been reluctant to write about the obvious (it seems to me) conclusions recent declassified documents point to regarding Obama’s overt and sinister efforts to undermine the Trump administration and seed the beginnings of the collusion narrative before the President had even been sworn in. The fact is, I have neither the time nor the skill to follow all those breadcrumbs and be a reliable analyst—at least not reliable enough. I have been waiting for a thorough investigation to be launched by a news organization, like the Post did on Watergate, or the Indianapolis Star did to expose the Larry Nasser/ Michigan State/U.S. Women’s Gymnastics scandal. Those things win Pulitzer prizes and enhance reputations, don’t they? Why hasn’t there been a thorough, published indictment of Obama’s perfidy? Wouldn’t there be, if the evidence is what it seems to be? Maybe I’m wrong.
It is suspicious, I have to say, how the major mainstream media outlets have been almost silent on the clear indications that Obama and Biden met with various Justice Department and FBI personnel and discussed how to “get” Michael Flynn. For one thing, the notes taken by Peter Strzok tell us that Joe Biden is lying. Don’t they care? Isn’t that important? Doesn’t democracy die in darkness? Oh, the Daily Caller and the Federalist and other “conservative” news organizations have written about it, but you know, they’re conservative. It’s all lies The claims are being fabricated by “Trumpers.”
The reactions of my Facebook friends tell me what the wider reaction would be to my connecting the dots publicly. These people are supposed to be my friends, and it is astounding how vicious—and irrational–most of them are any time I, or anyone though few now are so audacious, challenges “resistance” Big Lies and the “likes”-fertilized cant that metastasizes in their cyber-bubble. I’ve just about reached my limit, in fact. Some of these people really are friends, or I thought they were, and they are acting like, to be crude, assholes. I’m about ready to de-friend about 400 of them, including some relatives. Not only are they being crummy friends, they are bad citizens too.
Which is much worse.
I have a measure of sympathy, I suppose, because they are being misled by propaganda and the news media’s complete corruption, and are reacting to the natural human impulse to be with the “in-crowd,” like gang members and “mean girls.” But just a measure, and I’m about out. These people are smart; I don’t have many dumb friends—some, more than I thought, definitely, but not a lot.
They should be ashamed of themselves.
Today, an objective and credible commentator, a better lawyer than me and someone with more to lose professionally than me but a brave truth-teller nonetheless, came out and said what I could say and reap nothing but insults and mockery. That commentator, as you might have guessed, is Professor Jonathan Turley. He writes today in the Hill in part (read it all here):
The Washington press corps seems engaged in a collective demonstration of the legal concept of willful blindness, or deliberately ignoring facts, following the release of yet another declassified document that directly refutes past statements about the Russia collusion investigation. The document shows the FBI used a security briefing of then candidate Donald Trump and top aides to gather possible evidence for Crossfire Hurricane, its code name for the Russia investigation.
What is astonishing is that the media has refused to see what should be one of the biggest stories in decades. The Obama administration targeted the campaign of the opposing party based on false evidence. The media endlessly covered former Obama administration officials ridiculing suggestions of spying on the Trump campaign or of improper conduct in the Russia investigation. When Attorney General William Barr told the Senate last year that he believed spying did occur, he was lambasted in the media, including by James Comey and others involved in that investigation. The mocking “wow” response of the fired FBI director received extensive coverage.
The new document shows that, in the summer of 2016, FBI agent Joe Pientka briefed Trump campaign advisers Michael Flynn and Chris Christie on national security issues, a standard practice ahead of the election. It included a discussion of Russia interfering in the election. But this was different. The document detailing the questions asked by Trump and his aides and their reactions was filed a few days after the meeting under Crossfire Hurricane and Crossfire Razor, the FBI investigation of Flynn. The two FBI officials listed who approved the report are Kevin Clinesmith and Peter Strzok.
Clinesmith is the former FBI lawyer responsible for the FISA surveillance conducted on members of the Trump campaign. Clinesmith opposed Trump and sent an email after the election declaring “viva the resistance.” He is reportedly under review for possible criminal charges for altering a FISA court filing. The FBI had used Trump adviser Carter Page as a basis for the original FISA application, due to his contacts with Russians. Soon after that surveillance was approved, however, federal officials discredited the collusion allegations and noted that Page was a CIA asset. Clinesmith had allegedly changed the information to state that Page was not working for the CIA.
Strzok is the FBI agent whose violation of FBI rules led Justice Department officials to refer him for possible criminal charges. Strzok did not hide his intense loathing of Trump and famously referenced an “insurance policy” if Trump were to win the election. After FBI officials concluded there was no evidence of any crime by Flynn at the end of 2016, Strzok prevented the closing of the investigation as FBI officials searched for any crime that might be used to charge the incoming national security adviser.
Documents also show Comey briefed President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on the investigation shortly before the inauguration of Trump. When Comey admitted the communications between Flynn and Russian officials appeared legitimate, Biden reportedly suggested using the Logan Act, widely viewed as unconstitutional and never used to successfully convict a single person, as an alternative charge against Flynn. The memo of that meeting contradicts claims that Biden he did not know about the Flynn investigation.
Well, what do you know? That’s what I see as well. Now what?
As usual, Turley is infuriatingly professorial and unflappable when he needs to be flapping vigorously. The media “seems engaged in a collective demonstration of the legal concept of willful blindness, or deliberately ignoring facts”? How about, “Our nation and its form of government is being threatened by a conspiracy that includes the vast majority of our journalism establishment, aimed at undermining an elected President. The news media is indeed the enemy of the people, as extravagant as that description seems. Those citizens who want to protect and preserve the United States of America , as all citizens should, now must oppose this effort, or accept the consequences”? Because that’s what this warrants. Since 1974, we have been told that Richard Nixon’s efforts to subvert the political process and our laws posed an existential threat to America that we narrowly averted, in part because of the efforts of the Washington Post. Now Turley is alleging, and correctly, is that the news media is complicit in a similar plot by its refusal to inform and warn the public.
Why? I’m not sure. Because it involves exposing a former President whose popularity relies on emotion more than facts? Because journalists have gradually come to reject the essential ethics and mission of their own profession, and now see themselves as partisan operatives for what they have decided is the greater good? All I am certain of is that there is no longer a credible argument that their “wilful ignorance” isn’t sinister and dangerous.
So again, now what? Being passive, observational, or inertly professorial in the face of a threat to one’s nation and society is not an ethical response. I am under no illusions that writing blog posts to a limited readership is action. This is why I gave up on the formal study of ethics: ethicists are mostly inert and useless. They can cut and slice any conduct according to dozens of theories and standards, then wax philosophical for hours (or pages) on end, never reaching any definitive conclusions, and definitely not pointing the way to any productive action.
Action is needed. Sitting around and talking about democratic institutions being turned against our republic and feeling superior because we can see what is going on while so many are willfully blind is negligent. It is an abdication of the duties of citizenship. It is not enough. I know that.
But now what?