Obama world’s spying, obstructing, and political persecution of political opposition is worse than Watergate…
Memo Reading for Nonpartisans
Ignore the spin. When the document goes public, here’s what to look for.
The White House looks set to release the House Intelligence Committee memo on 2016 government surveillance abuses, which means the attacks on the document by Democrats, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the media are going to get wilder. To help navigate through the spin, here’s a handy guide for what to look for, and what to ignore:
• Rationale. Did the FBI have cause to open a full-blown counterintelligence probe into an active presidential campaign? That’s a breathtakingly consequential and unprecedented action and surely could not be justified without much more than an overheard drunken conversation or an unsourced dossier. What hard evidence did the FBI have?
• Tools and evidence. Government possesses few counterintelligence tools more powerful or frightening than the ability to spy on American citizens. If the FBI obtained permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Trump aide Carter Page based on information from the Christopher Steele dossier, that in itself is a monumental scandal. It means the FBI used a document commissioned by one presidential campaign as a justification to spy on another. Ignore any arguments that the dossier was not a “basis” for the warrant or only used “in part.” If the FBI had to use it in its application, it means it didn’t have enough other evidence to justify surveillance.
• Omissions and misdirection. What else did the FBI tell the court? One would presume the bureau did its due diligence and knew Mr. Steele ultimately worked for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The FISA court puts considerable emphasis on the credibility of sources. Did the FBI inform the court of the Clinton connection? Or did it lean on the claim that the Fusion project was originally funded by Republicans? Such a claim might diminish the partisan stench. But it would also be a falsehood, since the dossier portion of the project was purely funded by Clinton allies. And if the FBI didn’t bother to ask who hired Mr. Steele or Fusion, that’s a scandal all its own.