Donald Trump

Trump Defenders Should Support the N.Y. Times Effort to Unseal Secret Surveillance Documents

Why should we have to rely on Dem and GOP spin? Americans have every right to know what happened.


Carter Page
Korotayev Artyom/ZUMA Press/Newscom

The New York Times wants the goverment to do more than #ReleaseTheMemo. It's asking the federal secret surveillance court to spill much more about the information used to justify snooping on a former campaign adviser to Donald Trump.

Today the Times announced that it is asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to unseal secret documents submitted to the court by the Justice Department. These are the documents the feds used to explain why they wanted permission to wiretap Carter Page, the adviser whose communications with Russian officials were picked up by the government and subsequently leaked.

The "Nunes Memo," written by staffers for House Intelligence Committee chief Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) claims that the FBI warrants were not in good faith and that the foundation for the surveillance request was a now-infamous dossier put together and paid for as Democratic Party opposition research. The memo, which was released on Friday, says that the potential biases of the report were concealed from the court in order to get authorization to wiretap onPage.

Democratic leaders claim that the Nunes memo gets the facts wrong and that the court was informed that there were political motivations behind the dossier, though they didn't specifically mention the Democrats or Hillary Clinton's campaign. Democratic representatives on the House Intelligence Committee have produced their own memo, and now the White House says it will consider whether to release it too.

Both Nunes (who was part of Trump's transition team) and the Democrats have reasons to spin the analysis, either to suggest the FBI's investigation was never legitimate or to downplay whether the FBI omitted information that might have caused the court to reject the application. But if we, as Americans, could see the actual underlying warrant application and intelligence, we wouldn't simply have to accept the word of politicians. And more importantly, we wouldn't simply have to accept the word of the FBI, with its troubled history.

President Trump famously feuds with the press, including The New York Times. But if Republicans' claims are true, they should want this information to be released.

The Times notes that wiretapping application contents have never been made public in the history of the surveillance court. There are regular reports from FISC that may discuss (in heavily redacted fashion) these applications and their contents, but the underlying warrant applications are not released.

Read more from the Times here.

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  1. But if Republicans’ claims are true, they should want this information to be released.

    Monday Funnies:

    Picture, if you will, an elephant caricature tugging nervously on its shirt collar.

    1. Behind the elephant, Donald Trump, flushed and sweaty, with calluses on his hands and tie askew, bursts into the offices of the NYT and tells the editorial staff they’re all fired. He shoves Paul Krugman out of the way; Krugman is dressed like an old-timey hobo, with a bindlestiff on his shoulder and smudges of dirt on his face. One of the editors is trying to cover up his monitor, on which can be seen a snippet of yet another damning memo: a revelation that Hustler has purchased the film rights to the ‘pee dossier,’ and the money they paid was laundered through Cash for Clunkers.

  2. It will still be spun. Don’t be naive. Then of course, there’s the fact that no matter what it says, nothing will come of it.

    1. No kidding. The stupid memo might as well be directions for cooking oatmeal for all the good it’s going to do anyone.

    2. This isn’t your first rodeo, is it.

  3. The more I read about this memo shit, it’s pretty disturbing. The facts which AREN’T being disputed by anyone should chill most people. Yes, Reason is correct, the FISA system is what we should be focusing on. The fact that a FISA warrant was issued based on a Yahoo news story that was leaked by Steele is the same circle-jerk intelligence process they used to justify the Iraq war. Government official leaks something to the press, the press reports it, then the government uses the reports in the media to justify its actions.

  4. National Review made the call to declassify the FISA applications months ago.

    “We need to know the answer. President Trump ought to direct his Justice Department and FBI to provide the House Intelligence Committee with the FISA warrant application ? any FISA warrant application ? in which they relied on information from the Steele dossier in seeking court permission to spy on the Trump campaign. It may well be that they did not rely on the dossier. It is ridiculous, though, that we are still in the dark about this.

    1. Release all documents, all the time. No more secrets.

    2. *and Fuck the New York Times, who has spun 100 different versions of their collusion narrative over the past year, with zero interest in the underlying truth of their claims.

      if they had any interest at all in exposing what the Obama DOJ/FBI was actually doing, they could have been on top of this a year ago. instead they’ve been happy pumping their own cold-war-fantasies based on nothing but partisan anonymous leakers.

      1. Hannity rots the brain.

        1. I have only seen a single appearance of Sean Hannity in my life, and that was when he had Welch on to talk about weed legalization.

          i can only assume you’re talking about your own personal issues.

  5. Vote everyone out of office, every time.

  6. Most Trump supporters I have read and talked to were already calling for this long before the NYTimes. You are late to their parade.

  7. Shackford is missing a bigger scandal. Democrat Rep. Jerrold Nadler released talking points in response to the Nunes memo including this gem:

    “There is no reason to dispute the Nunes memo’s assertion that the FBI was actively investigating the Trump campaign months before they approached the court about Carter Page.”

    The Democrats just told us, that the Obama administration was spying on “the Trump campaign months before” they sought the FISA warrant on Page. The FISA law allows the president to initiate surveillance, and I’d guess that’s what he did. Shouldn’t we hear about why this spying was going on, against a political opponent during an election? What was the basis for it?

    Seems like Democrats feel that spying on opponents is business as usual. Like the Jan 2017 NYT headline “Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aids” until they realized they just told the world that Obama was spying on Trump, and then they tried to take it back saying it from foreign surveillance. In which case why weren’t US names redacted in violation of the 4th amendment and why was an inquiry started on Trump’s aids?

  8. Wait, the New York Times is suddenly acting like a news organization? Wonders will never cease.

  9. Yay, New York Times!

  10. “The Times notes that wiretapping application contents have never been made public in the history of the surveillance court. There are regular reports from FISC that may discuss (in heavily redacted fashion) these applications and their contents, but the underlying warrant applications are not released.”

    This is kind of crazy and I am not sure how this is justified. To never declassify something, especially something that can possibly infringe on civil liberties, seems extremely sketchy.

    “Trust us! We are legit.”

    I understand the need to keep sources and methods from disclosure, but never is a a bit too long. Most things can be declassified no problem and is automatically declassified after 25 years, 50 years if it involves sensitive methods like human intelligence. If things like the FISA applications are eventually scheduled for release I guess that is ok, but I would like to understand the timelines and why particular timeframes are decided upon.

    1. Beyond sources and methods, they probably also contain things that will make your skin crawl. Because they are spying on people. There’s no reason to suspect that this is limited to listening in on their phone calls.

      In this case, they may include stuff about the FBI capturing the live stream as Page purchases a session with a cam girl from Russia. Or maybe they incidentally heard something about Page as they were spying on a Russian banker’s hotel room. That would reveal “sources and methods”, but it would also be deeply disturbing – not only to foreign businessmen hoping to work with American businesses, but also to Americans who like to think that the American government is different from the governments in places like Russia and China in that we wouldn’t spy on foreign businesses. Maybe they’ll show that our intelligence services routinely spy on all sorts of foreign businessmen.

      There’s lots of reasons why the government might not want these documents released. Not all of the bad ones are “we are playing politics”.

      We’ve been told that the FISC is all about terrorism and such…. but this current kerfuffle sounds a lot more like an investigation into Russian lobbying efforts and how their lobbyists are secretly avoiding paying income taxes.

      Or maybe this will demonstrate just how low the thresholds are for spying on Americans. Maybe it will reveal that “he was known to have a phone conversation with a Russian” is enough to get a pass from the court.

  11. Problem is that the alleged abusers of the process get to choose what is released and what is redacted.

    If the warrant application shows that the dossier was DNC-funded oppo research, and the Yahoo News article was recycled from the dossier, then FISC looks like assholes for approving the warrant. No way it sees the light of day.

    If the application does not mention this stuff, then FBI/DOJ look like assholes. No way it sees the light of day.

    However if the application can be redacted or selectively released to give the impression that there was more evidence supporting the warrant (whether that was true of the original application or not), then that redacted version might be released. That’s what NYT is banking on.

    1. The NYT and a handful of other outlets have seemed to have “insider knowledge” at several points along this journey. It has also always had a specific point of view – that of an Obama loyalist, Democrat partisan or #neverTrump-er.

      They had the leaks from the Obama administration from the “Unmasking” incident that ultimately led to the Mueller probe. That incident included more than one person who proudly disclosed their plan to disseminate wrongly declassified information in order to undermine Trump.

      They had leaks from the DOJ that said that Hillary wasn’t getting indicted. They had leaks from the FBI that said that people around Trump were going to get indicted. They had leaks that said that Mueller was going to seek to interview Trump….

      They’ve had quite a lot of fairly reliable sources…. but sources that pretty much always seem to be operating with an intention to push one partisan agenda.

      So what to make of this? Does this mean that there’s something embarrassing to Trump in the warrant application? Or does it mean that there’s nothing to the controversy, and it is a mundane application based on a reasonable suspicion that Page was doing something illegal?

      I dunno. But given their history, I’d bet that it means that someone told them that releasing the whole thing is good for Democrats.

  12. “People should support the actions of their ideological enemies”
    -some retarded libertarian

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