The big news at the moment is the memo that Republican House member Devin Nunes has written with his staff and then dangled absurdly in front of the public, making all manner of ridiculous claims about it to lather up the right wingers who are eager to undermine the Mueller investigation into the president’s wrongdoings.
All you really need to know is that Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee wrote their own memo, rebutting the Republican memo, but the Republicans have voted to release only their own memo, not the Democrats’ memo. Obviously, any sane person would want to see both. The decision to release only the Republican, not the Democratic memo, betrays this as a typical, hyper partisan exercise as the Republicans have engaged in at least since the Clinton impeachment in the 1990s.
But, for more context, it is useful to remember that no one had heard of Nunes outside of the district he represents until he went out of his way last March to run to the White House with information he had come to have about the incidental collection of information about various persons in the Trump presidential campaign and their unmasking.
This is classic Republican political obfuscation. The unmasking part was what they claimed Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, had done nefariously, when she was only doing her job. Information about the unmasking came up after the Donald made his entirely baseless allegation that Obama had “wiretapped” his office during the campaign.
The FBI uses warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to allow it to listen to communications among foreigners that might involve criminal activity that would take place in the United States or otherwise impact the nation. Inevitably, some such communication sometimes also involves citizens of the United States. By default, in deference to their right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, the identities of U.S. citizens who’s communications get picked up by the FBI through these means are “masked,” or concealed from anyone other than the person doing the initial review and masking. Certain other federal officials, including the national security adviser, for obvious reasons, may, if they see reason to do so, request the unmasking of the identities of individuals who have had communication with foreign nationals that the FBI has surveyed.
Notice what Trump and the Republicans are trying to do here: they are trying to take evidence of contact between Trump campaign personnel and currently unidentified foreign nationals – the occurrence and nature of which is the very thing Mueller is investigating – and try to make gathering information about it look nefarious.
We really should not let them get away with this.
Especially not by attacking the FBI as an institution, which is what they’re up to now. The FBI is by no means a benign organization. It has done some grossly illegal things in the past by way of surveying citizens exercising their rights to protest. We need to keep an eye on it. But on the other hand, the evidence strongly indicates that part of the reason why the 9/11 attacks were successful is that the FBI dropped the ball in cooperating with the CIA to prevent them. Like it or not, the FBI is a major player in the effort to prevent U.S. citizens from suffering harm from terrorist attacks.
Just in general, the FBI as an organization and most of its employees have vastly more integrity than either the so called president or anyone who is currently carrying water for him.
We might have disagreements over how to define it, but I can believe that most FBI agents are genuinely concerned about the security of the United States.
The so called president only cares about himself and his own, very narrow idea of his own well being and will sacrifice anything that he perceives as a barrier between him and whatever he wants at any given moment. You and me don’t matter to him a whit.
The Nunes memo is just the latest weapon in the Republican attacks on the FBI. It is a grossly, transparently partisan ploy that we should all regard with contempt.