David Harsanyi / Feb. 2, 2018

Be Cautious, but Take the Devin Nunes Memo Seriously

In another era intel abuse was a hot topic among many Democrats. Now it's a conspiracy theory.

For more than a year now, half of America has been driven into hysterics on a weekly basis by highly selective, often partisan leaks fed to it in 900-word increments by Democrats using the political media. Whether these sensationalist stories were debunked or not, no one demanded that every scrap of classified information related to those leaks be declassified immediately to ensure that the nation see the appropriate context. It’s a process, we were told.

You’ll notice that many of the same process-oriented folks, who are now preemptively dismissing a four-page memo that alleges surveillance abuses by the Justice Department and FBI as a bunch of conspiracy theories, have a different set of standards for Rep. Devin Nunes and Republicans.

“FISA warrants typically are big thick documents, 50-60 pages,” John McLaughlin, a former CIA deputy director, recently tweeted. “If the Nunes memo about one is just 4 pages, you can bet it’s a carefully picked bowl of cherries. Made all the more dishonest by holding back the minority rebuttal memo. A real debate needs both. Someone fears that.” Indeed.

McLaughlin is repeating a well-worn talking point. As far as I can tell, none of the critics of the memo have argued that the contentions are untrue, only that the contentions are out of context, misleading, cherry-picked and so on. But since the memo — which is culled from a yearlong investigation — isn’t an indictment or the entire story, there’s no real reason we shouldn’t use it to help ascertain whether there were potential abuses in intelligence gathering in the Obama administration. Once we have an outline, we can take the issues on one at a time, or disregard all of them. The FBI will be able to answer the charges and defend itself by releasing counterinformation.

However, the idea that intelligence agencies should be immune from oversight is a dangerous one. Even if texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page regarding the special counsel investigation were innocent venting that did absolutely nothing to corrode the rigid professionalism of the duo, we’re talking about an investigation that Democrats hope will lead to the impeachment and removal of the president. Logically speaking, you can’t argue that this is another Watergate and then argue that texts pertaining to the investigation of this new Watergate don’t deserve scrutiny.

Are Republicans overplaying the potential impact of the memo in the same way Democrats have overplayed the “collusion” card? It’s entirely possible. Nunes might be a hopeless Trump partisan, and the thousands of Trump supporters retweeting #ReleaseTheMemo might have irrational ideas about its importance. None of this makes the memo wholly irrelevant or a distraction.

I hate to break the news to you, but Nunes’ assertions over the past year have been just as trustworthy as any of those by his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Adam Schiff, who not only has a habit of offering the public out-of-context and misleading information but once claimed to have seen evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians without offering any of the underlying evidence to back his contention. Imagine that.

For that matter, even if President Donald Trump is guilty of colluding with the Russians, or whatever crime special counsel Robert Mueller has settled on pursuing, it doesn’t mean the Obama administration was above abusing its power to spy on opponents. It’s highly plausible, in fact, that an administration that had little compunction about spying on journalists and others and then lying about it would feel comfortable dropping standards to snoop on its political adversaries.

Even if we find out that the FISA warrant, that typically “big, thick” document with “50-60 pages,” wasn’t entirely based on the work of fabulist former British spy Christopher Steele, it could still be a scandal. It’s completely reasonable to ask how much of the administration’s investigation into collusion was precipitated by disinformation from Steele — who was hired by FusionGPS, which in turn was hired by Democrats. Such an arrangement featuring the name of Donald Trump — or any Republican, for that matter — would create a media frenzy that would swallow all of us whole.

In another era — which is to say, a little more than a year ago — intel abuse was a hot topic among many Democrats. Now it’s a conspiracy theory to wonder whether intelligence agencies might have been less than scrupulous about attaining affidavits to spy on American citizens when it was politically expedient.

Now, Trump critics who demand 24/7 devotion to the idea of Russian “meddling” are acting as if democracy were on life support because a congressional committee is exercising its rightful role in the oversight of intelligence gathering. They’re not doing it through leaks, as the minority has been doing for a year now, but rather through a legal process of declassification.

Democrats’ “rebuttal memo” is also working its way toward being made public. It should be. Both memos are a good place to start investigating wrongdoing, or dismissing those charges. There is absolutely no legal or ethical reason, however, for us not to see them.

COPYRIGHT 2018 CREATORS.COM

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.