Obama and the FISA Court
A 2 February 2018 Wall Street Journal article delves into three of the most compelling reasons for accepting the message of the Nunes memo.
First and most importantly, Mr. Freeman delves into the standards of journalism that most papers seem to have lost.
This column is trying to imagine how an editor at The Wall Street Journal would treat a draft article alleging a political campaign adviser was secretly working for a foreign government if the story featured uncorroborated opposition research paid for by a rival campaign. If the writer of the draft article assured the editor that readers would not be told where the information originated, it’s a safe bet this would not increase the chances of publication.
This column is also trying to imagine the conversation that would ensue if a reporter or writer then tried to persuade the editor by appealing to the authority of Yahoo News.
Of course the Journal isn’t the only media outlet that enforces standards. Many organizations strive to ensure basic accuracy and fairness. Can it possibly be true that the evidentiary standards for obtaining a federal warrant allowing the government to spy on the party out of power are significantly lower than in a professional newsroom?
Today the American people are finally able to see the memo from the majority staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence alleging abuse of government surveillance powers during the last presidential campaign. Many will be appalled that, at least according to the memo, on October 21, 2016 the Department of Justice and the FBI obtained a court order authorizing electronic surveillance on a Trump campaign volunteer without telling the court that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee had paid for at least some of the research presented.
Considering the fact that barely a peep has been uttered by the press regarding Obama’s regular violation of Americans’ rights (from wiretapping Fox News reporters\AP reporters to using the IRS to deny free speech to conservative groups), one would think that the press has lost its journalistic standards and replaced it with a Democrat party membership card.
From this first point, Freeman goes on to refute Orin Kerr’s dubious claim that the process of ascertaining the validity of the dossier was a non-issue. In making this second point, he quotes a former government official with experience in court cases and points out the absurdity of excusing a dishonest FBI just because they are dishonest. So, in opposition to Mr. Kerr’s claim that the court should have expected the information to be politically-slanted drivel because it was provided by Mr. Steele (supposedly known as a biased hack, according to Kerr), we must insist on truth as the only standard for our courts.
Finally, Mr. Freeman ends his excellent article with one final example of Democrat duplicity that demonstrates why we must doubt these double-dealing devils. During the Bush administration, one Democrat complained about the surveillance authority used to locate and track potential terrorists.
In March of 2007, he announced that he was “deeply troubled” by what he called “abuses of authority” by the FBI in acquiring personal information on U.S. citizens. Over the years, he urged various restrictions on the ability of the executive branch to get information on Americans’ phone calls. In order “to protect privacy and increase transparency” he sought in various ways to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court—the very court that approved the electronic surveillance of a Trump associate for reasons that are still not entirely clear.
Way ahead of the news, this particular lawmaker specifically introduced the “Ending Secret Law Act” which according to a press release from his office, “would require the Attorney General to declassify significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions, allowing Americans to know how the Court has interpreted” its legal authorities.
This lawmaker said that his legislation “will help ensure we have true checks and balances when it comes to the judges who are given the responsibility of overseeing our most sensitive intelligence gathering and national security programs.”
His name is Adam Schiff, and he is now the ranking member on House Intelligence. But oddly he doesn’t seem to want to take credit for his early concern for civil liberties.
(Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal)
If there were a real journalist in the main stream media, someone other than this one writer at the Wall Street Journal would have mentioned standards in reporting. Someone would have refuted the banality of arguing that the court should have known that the information backing the FISA warrant was created by Democrat hacks. If there were any real journalists, there should be another reference to Rep. Schiff’s hypocritical stance on the workings of the Intelligence committee.
The Nunes memo
For those of us who see the media as a necessary evil, the good people at Politico provided a full-text copy of the Nunes memo on FBI surveillance. That full-text, PDF version of the memo was introduced with:
With President Donald Trump’s blessing, Republican lawmakers on Friday released a classified GOP-drafted memo that alleges misconduct by senior FBI officials investigating Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Trump on Friday declassified the GOP-authored memo. White House counsel Don McGahn sent a letter to the House Intelligence Committee that included a declassified copy of the memo, according to a White House official.
If the press had integrity, they would be asking why Comey signed three FISA warrents related to the Steele dossier. They would demand answers as to why Andrew McCabe, Sally Yates, Dana Boente, and Rod Rosenstein also each signed a FISA warrent for the same Steele dossier.
If the press weren’t just covering for Hillary, they would ask why she violated 2 USC 441e when she accepted the work of Christopher Steele to her campaign.
Text messages between Strzok & Page POTUS (Obama) “wants to know everything”
A 7 February 2018 Fox News article provides links to and commentary on the texts between FBI agents/Democrat activists Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
Newly revealed text messages between FBI paramours Peter Strzok and Lisa Page include an exchange about preparing talking points for then-FBI Director James Comey to give to President Obama, who wanted “to know everything we’re doing.”
The message, from Page to Strzok, was among thousands of texts between the lovers reviewed by Fox News. The pair both worked at one point for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Page wrote to Strzok on Sept. 2, 2016, about prepping Comey because “potus wants to know everything we’re doing.” According to a newly released Senate report, this text raises questions about Obama’s personal involvement in the Clinton email investigation.
In texts previously revealed, Strzok and Page have shown their disdain for Republicans in general, as well as Trump, calling him a “f—ing idiot,” among other insults.
Among the newly disclosed texts, Strzok also calls Virginians who voted against then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s wife for a state Senate seat “ignorant hillbillys.” (sic)
That text came from Strzok to Page on Nov. 4, 2015, the day after Jill McCabe lost a hotly contested Virginia state Senate election. Strzok said of the result, “Disappointing, but look at the district map. Loudon is being gentrified, but it’s still largely ignorant hillbillys. Good for her for running, but curious if she’s energized or never again.”
Grassley-Graham Memo Affirms Nunes Memo — Media Yawns
In a 10 February 2018 article by the National Review, the media’s lack of curiosity came center stage.
In a word, the Grassley-Graham memo is shocking. Yet, the press barely notices.
Rest assured: If a Republican administration had used unverifiable hearsay from a patently suspect agent of the Republican presidential candidate to gull the FISA court into granting a warrant to spy on an associate of the Democratic nominee’s campaign, it would be covered as the greatest political scandal in a half-century.
Instead, it was the other way around. The Grassley-Graham memo corroborates the claims in the Nunes memo: The Obama Justice Department and FBI used anonymously sourced, Clinton-campaign generated innuendo to convince the FISA court to issue surveillance warrants against Carter Page, and in doing so, they concealed the Clinton campaign’s role. Though the Trump campaign had cut ties with Page shortly before the first warrant was issued in October 2016, the warrant application was based on wild allegations of a corrupt conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Moreover, the warrant meant the FBI could seize not only Page’s forward-going communications but any past emails and texts he may have stored — i.e., his Trump campaign communications.
With its verification by the Grassley-Graham memo, the Nunes memo now has about a thousand times more corroboration than the Steele dossier, the basis of the heinous allegations used by the Justice Department and FBI to get the FISA warrants.
(Read more at the National Review)
The full-text copy of the Grassley-Graham memo
A 6 February 2018 Brietbart article introduced the full-text version of the Grassley-Graham memo by starting with these points.
Trump dossier author Christopher Steele lied to the FBI about his contact with Yahoo News, and the FBI misled a court to obtain a surveillance warrant on a former Trump campaign adviser, according to a less-redacted version of a memo by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Their memo, which was released Tuesday evening after the FBI withdrew some of its previous redactions, also reveals a number of other bombshells, and backs up assertions made in the House Intelligence Committee memo.
A newly-unredacted portion of the memo says that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley, ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Graham all saw the FISA warrant application and renewals for a surveillance warrant on Carter Page.
According to the memo, the FBI relied “heavily” on the Steele dossier, and also relied on “numerous” other FBI documents related to Steele, in order to get a surveillance warrant on Page in October 2016, and to continue surveilling him through 2017.
Then-FBI Director James Comey briefed Feinstein and Grassley in March 2017, and told them that the FBI had relied on the dossier “absent meaningful corroboration — and in light of the highly political motives surrounding its creation” because Steele himself was considered reliable due to his past work with the FBI.
The House Intelligence Committee memo asserted that the FBI had significantly relied on the dossier to get the warrant, but critics refuted that.
The Grassley-Graham memo also supports the House memo’s assertion that the FBI did not tell the FISA court (FISC) that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee were behind the dossier.
The Grassley-Graham memo spells out exactly why the two senators recommended Steele for a criminal investigation, for lying to the FBI.
(Read more at the Brietbart article)
Mueller Charges 13 Russians with Meddling in US Elections
In a 16 February 2018 Politico article, indictments of 13 Russians who purportedly turned America’s free-speech political environment into an opportunity to bend the American political system to at times support certain candidates.
If this article had been written by real journalists, it might have asked why similar indictments haven’t been handed down against foreign national Christopher Steele. More to the point, it would do more than mention of indictments of the other foreigners who contributed to the Fusion GPS dossier.
Nonetheless, it does mention the 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies who have been charged by Mueller. Sad.
Special counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities on Friday with an illegal “information warfare” scheme to disrupt the 2016 presidential election and assist the candidacy of President Donald Trump.
The dramatic indictment reveals a bold covert effort that went beyond the previously-known use of “fake news” and social media misdirection to divide American voters and harm Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
It charges that as early as 2014, Russian nationals physically entered the U.S., and, hiding their true identities, gathered intelligence, organized political rallies — and even paid Americans to assist their political sabotage. The Russians allegedly paid one American in Florida to dress up as Hillary Clinton in a prison uniform and hired another to build a cage to “imprison” the Clinton impersonator at a Florida rally.
The effort was led by the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, a notorious online misinformation operation with suspected Kremlin ties, according to the indictment, and involved what the court filing called “unwitting” U.S. citizens and Trump campaign officials.
The indictment concludes that the Internet Research Agency “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system.” While noting that the operation undermined multiple presidential candidates, including Trump GOP rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, the document says that the shadowy Russian agency’s operations “included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump… and disparaging Hillary Clinton.”
No Trump campaign officials or associates are named in the indictment, which does not address the Russian hacking and theft of Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign or the other known contacts between Trump associates and Russians.
(Read more at Politico)
If covering for Hillary and the Democrats were not such a full-time job, Politico might be able to accomplish some non-partisan reporting.
The Mueller case may unravel: Judicial order in Flynn case prompts new round of scrutiny
A 20 February 2018 article at The Hill reports Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has ruled that Mueller must provide Flynn with all information that is favorable to his own defense. This raises the possibility that Judge Sullivan believes that Mueller overstepped legal boundaries in getting the guilty plea to which Flynn has accepted.
The federal judge overseeing the criminal case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn has ordered special counsel Robert Mueller’s team to turn over any “exculpatory evidence” to his defense team.
The development generated immediate attention in conservative circles, with some seizing on the order as a potential indication that Flynn’s guilty plea had been called into question.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan filed the order on Friday, directing federal prosecutors to produce to Flynn’s legal team “any evidence in its possession that is favorable to defendant and material either to defendant’s guilt or punishment” in a timely manner.
Sullivan’s order invoked the “Brady Rule,” which requires prosecutors to disclose exculpatory evidence in their possession to the defense — that is, evidence that could prove favorable to the defendant in negating his guilt, reducing his potential sentence or bolstering the credibility of a witness.
(Read more at The Hill)