Glenn Greenwald & the Nunes memo
I’m not sure this is of general interest, but I would like to argue (again) with Glenn Greenwald. In this tweet, he asks an interesting and important question
The FBI, and many Democrats, insisted vehemently that release of the Nunes Memo would endanger national security. Now that we’ve all read it, is there anyone who believes that this argument was even remotely true or honest?
Yes. This has been another episode of simple answers to simple questions. Now I will bore you by explaining at length.
1) One can’t conclude that something wasn’t endangered because, it the end, it wasn’t harmed. It is reckless to drive 150 mph drunk even if some people have done so and arrived alive. I don’t recall anyone saying that releasing the memo would certainly harm national security.
2) Importantly, the expressions of alarm (including the DOJ not FBI use of “extremely reckless”) came from people who had not seen the memo, who had requested a chance to examine it and whose requests had been denied by the committee. They didn’t know what was in the memo, but they knew it had been written by people who had access to classified information, that they didn’t know what was in the memo, and that it was proposed that it be released so everyone knew as soon as they did.
The argument that this violates normal procedures which are required to protect national security is clearly conventional — almost so conventional that it goes without saying. The procedures are followed not because every deviation has catastrophic consequences. That’t the way standard procedures are.
I don’t recall all the alarmed statements by Democrats, but many were made by Senators and such who had not been allowed to see the memo.
3) Finally releasing the memo clearly harmed US National Security. I get the impression that almost everyone but I has the impression that the memo didn’t contain information which was supposed to be kept secret (according to normal rules which are enforced on people who aren’t President or the majority of a House committee by the threat of prison).
There are two data in the memo which had been secret and which were kept secret for excellent reasons
a) October 21 2016 — the date of the application for a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page. This was not a request for a renewal. Now, but not last week, I can infer that Page was not under FISA surveilance say in September 2016. I didn’t know that before. If I had conspired with Page on the phone during September 2016, was asked about it by the FBI and had to decide whether to lie to them, this information would be very useful to me. it is discussed only as proof that the fall 2016 FISA surveillance of Page was *not* surveillance of the Trump-Pence 2016 campaign, since he had severed all formal links with the campaign in September. But it would also be useful if there were someone who really wants to know that the FBI knows about his or her communications with Carter Page before October 21 2016.
b) The warrant was renewed at least three times. This is discussed becuase one of the requests for renewal was approved by Rod Rosenstein and because the fact that four requests were approved is strong evidence that the surveillance revealed Page’s participation in foreign intelligence efforts. But the information would be very useful to me if I had conspired on the phone with Page in December 2016. I would know that they know about it, so I would risk prison were I to lie and deny the activity.
In spy vs spy intelligence and counter-intelligence hiding all sorts of information from the other side is key. Who is being wiretapped is a closely held secret for obvious reasons. My point is that there are similar reasons to hide who has been wiretapped (including Page as was known before the memo was released) and when they were wiretapped, If one is under investigation, it very important to know what the investigators know. If one is not supposed to obstruct justice, one should not make that information public in the name of transparency.
OK so what is going on ? I think that Greenwald has become a knee jerk critique of Democrats. Also he has long had a very sincere extremely negative view of the FBI. I think his reflexive opposition to state surveillance has caused him to automatically reject arguments based on the idea that FBI investigations are sometimes in some ways socially useful.
He isn’t a consistent anarchist, but he seems to automatically oppose state power. Thus he seems to actually support complete trasnparency in investigations. This would make wire taps worthless. I think Greenwald automatically opposes them.
On the other hand, he is a brilliant lawyer. He should understand why the facts revealed in the memo had been kept secret. Almost everyone agrees with him that no secrets were revealed by the memo. I’d guess most people just don’t understand the issue. But I guess that he understands it and is so opposed to serveillance of any kind that he genuinely can’t see how anyone would see any disadvantage in hampering it.
Permit me to go in another direction. It is clear to most of us that Nunes is a partisan liar who is serving as Trump’s stooge. But those who care about the truth need to clearly rebut this Nunes memo. How to do so without exposing sources and methods? I do not know and neither does Glenn Greenwald. Good to see Glenn assisting Nunes and Trump in their parade of dishonesty.
The follow-up tweets are interesting. Some rightfully note he is totally missing the point. Those that try to defend him are missing the point even more.
“How does it set a bad precedent? Did Ed Snowdon set a bad precedent? Shining a light on a massive abuse of power is a good thing. It also highlights how out of control the surveillance state is. I mean it clearly was used as a partisan weapon against a Presidential candidate.”
Dead Vape is a dead head. Oh yea – the civil rights of Donald Trump are being violated because we have a partisan investigation of Putin meddling in our elections. How stupid is this clown?
If the FISA warrants were invalid, which the fiction of the diossier implies, then prosecution against Page would be thrown out, not prosecuting Page or his contacts will not harm the US.
Crimes, as well as mismanagement in the case of F-35 weapons tests, against the US constitution are occasionally/often hidden in the illicit interest of preventing “damage to national security”.
The national security issues seen by those wishing to hide Obama era malfeasance are related to a view that not impeaching Trump is a risk to the nation.
“Nunes is a partisan liar who is serving as Trump’s stooge” “Glenn assisting Nunes and Trump in their parade of dishonesty”, possibly true but irrelevant to any point about using faux “concerns for damage to Hillary Clinton as equal to damage to national security”. ad hominem alert!
“How to do so without exposing sources and methods?” The defense of the constitution is more important than hiding FBI and DoJ malfeasance. Look to the Pentagon papers. The public in a free society must demand sources and methods!
If there have been no indictments (why FISA permitted the invasion of privacy) there is no reason to believe Page or tapped associates are national security risks unless the risk is not impeaching Trump.
“Dead Vape is a dead head.”
I suspect that persons in the Obama administration, who took oaths to defend the US constitution, violated their oaths and committed politically motivated crimes against US citizens protected by the constitution.
Blither about investigating crimes and damage to national security are unfounded.
It is the US constitution not Obama nor Clinton who must be secure from further damage.
There has long been a problem of excessive classification of things in Washington that do not need to be classified. Knee jerk concern about revealing sources and methods is understandable; but, it appears to have been way overdone in this case.
As for this FISA request on Page, it was for a renewal. FBI had been watching him basically since 2013. He was under surveillance in Sept. 2016. The dossier was simply an extra support for renewing an already ongoing investigation triggered by obvious other things.
Did some editing.
“If the FISA warrants were invalid, which the fiction of the diossier implies”
I’m sorry but Islm is a Putin bot. The warrants were not invalid and the rest of his comment is nothing more than Pravda spin.
I am wrong that there was earlier official surveillance on Page, but the initial trigger for the warrant was Papadopoulos, and indeed the FBI had been more generally tracking Page since 2013.
Agree that officials who had not seen memo had legitimate concerns. But tipping off associates of Page as to the dates of survellisnce seems a small price for understanding that when really faced with using a politically generated document funded by the party then exercising federal executive authority against an associate of the opposing party’s Presidential candidate the FBI and DOJ said “yeah, we’ll do that.”
But it was not the only or even clearly rhe main supporting document for the warrant with indeed Page being paid attention to by the FBI since 2013. And offhand I would say that what is more important than any source of funding dor a document is the credibility of what is in it. As it is, without getting into the trivial sideshows about allegations of Trump involved in weird peeing exercised in hotels in Moscow, much of what is in the dossier has been shown to be true, so it indeed justified action by the FBI, which is supposed to act on likely facts not on politics, which is what Trump and pals want it to do.
First it was not necessary to publish the date October 21 2016 . Second the renewals are not at all related to the rest of the memo nor could they be related to the dossier — renewals require evidence that the FISA warrant is yielding evidence.
The date is pure carelessness. For one thing it proves that the FBI did not bug “an associate of the opposing party’s Presidential candidate” . All connections between Trump and Page were ended in September 2016.
The renewals were discussed, although they should be kept secret and are completey irrelevant to Nunes’s argument, because Rosenstein was involved. It is an attempt to find grounds to fire a Trump appointee (who is not protecting Trump).
There was a risk that the FISA application might affect the election. They are supposed to avoid that. But it was a small risk, because FISA actions are kept very secret. In fact, almost no one knew on election day.
In investigations and warrant requests biased witnesses are by no means excluded. The witnesses are often accomplices or rivals in crime of the targets.
In any case, there is very good reason to believe that the information from Steele was not needed to get the warrant. First the claim in the memo is a paraphrase of something McCabe allegedly said. It is contested. Second the application was claissified Top Secret. The dossier isn’t secret at all. The classification probably implies that the Warrant request was based on incidental collection from earlier intercepts (top secret information)
Finally, it isn’t clear that the FBI (or Steele) knew on October 21 2016 that Steele had anything to do with Clinton. I don’t remember when the identy Fusion GPS client was revealed. Fusion GPS promises absolute confidentiality and resisted revealing it.
I am not at all sure that Steele knew he had anything to do with the Clinton campaign or that any staffer of the Clinton campaign knew who Steele was.
Nunes’s logic is that Clinton is a poisonous tree and that anyone with any link to her, no matter how remote, is tainted. Fortunately he is just one representative, because such an attitude towards a major party candidate would threaten US Democracy.
In sum, I think your comment has no merits whatsoever. You assume (for no reason) that the memo couldn’t have been redacted (I read reports that it was and Trump insisted on releasing the unredacted memo). You seem to think that anyone who Hillary Clinton dislikes has immunity not only from prosecution but also from being investigated.
@Barkely I think the earlier FISA warrant lapsed. The October 21 2016 application sure doesn’t seem to be an application for renewal (which would be based on information collected through FISA wiretaps int the preceding 90 days). I think the FBI lost interest in Page. It is possible that they decided it would be improper to wiretap him while he was associated with a political campaign.
Page is now on the list of “usual suspects”+
Patriot Act was a slippery slope.
Now “national security” whims are based on association. The evidence and how it is obtained for “guilt by association” will never harm the interests of a “free people”.
Things the gestapo did.
No one since when ever has been arrested.
The Nadler memo which rebuts the Nunes memo:
If this is about Greenwald, he fell to his own ego years ago.
In terms of the warrant, ya’ gotta love the idea of people talking about what lay behind them when it is not public knowledge what exactly was behind them.
Classic case of cherry picking by the gop on par with throwing snowballs in congress to disprove climate change.
And believed by the same people with little intelligence.
The more I dig around, the less clear is what the whole FISA situation is or was. Some are claiming that indeed this was the very first FISA warrant for Page, with Gowdy now claiming it would not have gone through without the Steele dossier, even though Gowdy is retiring from Congress. However, supposedly Page was on FBI radar screen since 2013. How much of that time if any was he being surveilled under a FISA warrant? That is now unclear, and the answer may be classified. One theory is that he was back in 2013, but proved uninteresting and so got dropped, only to reinvigorate interest after Papadopoous popped off his mouth famously in a bar in Australia in July, 2016, although FBI slow to target him during campaign while he was still officially a campaign adviser, which he was not anymore at the time the FISA warrant was issued. I suppose we shall eventually get a straight story on all this eventually.
What kind of crimes justify denying a citizen his Bill of Rights without appeal to jury of his peers?
FISA is no better than fake legal (fake and legal are repetitive I know) cover for the gestapo.
“What kind of crimes justify denying a citizen his Bill of Rights without appeal to jury of his peers?”
This is a dumb question even for you. Carter Page has not been denied any of his Bill of Rights freedoms. He is not even under indictment – YET!
I guess you would have no investigation of potential crimes – even the possibility of colluding with a hostile state.
“1. the German state secret police during the Nazi regime, organized in 1933 and notorious for its brutal methods and operations. adjective. 2. (sometimes lowercase) of or resembling the Nazi Gestapo, especially in the brutal suppression of opposition: The new regime is using gestapo tactics.”
Since ilsm keeps using the word Gestapo – I choose to provide its definition. What happened before the FISA court re Carter Page does not have anything to do with the Gestapo.
ilsm either is ignorant or his favorite term or he is blatantly lying here.
Carter Page back in 2013 was bragging he was an adviser to the Kremlin:
So it stands to reason that our government would have wanted to investigate his connections to the Putin government. Page brought this on himself.
It is strange. Politicians and other organizations don’t pay opposition research firms to write fiction. They are paid for digging up useful information on political opponents. Not everything will be true; but good opposition research will carefully qualify the information therein, so that the buyer can determine whether the information is actionable. Fusion GPS should be judged by the extent to which its product facilitates sound judgments. Provided that it does so in reasonable degree, the FBIs use of it is entirely unproblematic.
Welcome to AB. All first posts go to moderation to weed out spammers and advertising.
“The central, and most damaging, accusation in the memo published Friday by House Republicans is that the FBI failed to disclose the bias of one of its sources when it applied to wiretap Carter Page. “Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding [British agent Christopher] Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior and FBI officials,” charged the memo. That was hardly explosive, or the kind of damning failure that would send people to prison or be worse than Watergate, as Trump defenders charged. But it was something. If true.
It’s not true. As the Ellen Nakashima reported, the application to wiretap Page did disclose that one of the sources of intelligence to generate suspicion that Page might be acting illegally came from a political source. It was mentioned in a footnote on the FISA application. Nunes was asked about this on Fox & Friends. He did not deny the point. Instead he insisted that it wasn’t good enough because the disclosure was merely a footnote. “A footnote saying something may be political is a far cry from letting the American people know that the Democrats and the Hillary campaign paid for dirt that the FBI then used to get a warrant on an American citizen to spy on another campaign,” the distinguished Republican explained.
Notice how “The FBI LIED about the Steele dossier” has been scaled back to, “The FBI did not highlight the truth about the Steele Dossier in the part of the application we bothered to read.” So now the main attack on the FBI is about font size. No doubt all the subsequent memos Nunes is promising to release will have additional bombshells.”
But Trump was screwing Stormy and Melania is pissed. Wasn’t the SOTU address superior to any others in the last two decades and listened to by far more people? Barkley’s comments are some of the best I have read so far. Robert’s analysis adds a lot of dimension and depth to the pre-release of the Nunes memo.
The FBI-DoJ -ISA is gestapo without the torture chambers that is CIA and rendition usage!
You all’s are so easy to wiretap.
Page had no access to state or war monger “secrets” who he talked to could do no damage to national security.
Was planning a planning a coup?
Maybe bit it was against the neoliberal war mongers.
And nothing hacked was false or temporally flawed.
So colluding with foreigner who are not oil sheiks while not propagandizing or selling war on Iran with Netanyahu is a crime?
Yeah the Russians and Iran are your enemy, you need be afraid of more than them so you give up privacy for the neolibs!
The gravest immorality is contemplating firing 20,000 nuclear war heads so some other system does not survive the FISA republic.
A lot more than one toke over the line. Pretty sure no one has ever suggested carter page had any state secrets.
Until now of course.
Over/under in straw men in that post?