FBI

The Inspector General Report Is a Huge Blow to the FBI's Credibility. Why Is It Being Treated Like Vindication?

The government's surveillance of Carter Page might not have been improperly motivated, but it was still seriously flawed.

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The Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General released its highly anticipated report on the FBI's investigation of the Trump campaign's Russia connection on Monday.

Make no mistake: The report chronicles serious wrongdoing with respect to the FBI's surveillance of Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, and is ultimately a damning indictment of the the nation's top law enforcement agency. All Americans should have serious concerns about the FBI's respect for constitutional principles, ability to carefully evaluate conflicting information, and its competency in general.

Many in the media have focused on the fact that the OIG report failed to turn up any evidence that the FBI's investigation of the Trump campaign's possible connections to Russia was politically motivated. The Washington Post's key takeaway was that the report amounted to a "triple rebuke" of the president and his allies. CNN's article led with "conspiracy theories debunked" and called the Russia probe "legal and unbiased," before conceding "serious mistakes" that the network predominantly attributed to a "low level FBI lawyer." In general, the Trump-critical mainstream media has treated the faltering of the most fervent pro-Trump partisans' conspiracy theory about a deep state coup as some kind of full acquittal of the FBI. It's not. The OIG report is a chronicle of massive government wrongdoing.

As Scott Shackford explained in his post on this subject, the report by Michael Horowitz found 17 "serious performance failures" relating to warrants obtained by the FBI through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendment (FISA) courts for the purposes of monitoring Page. The FISA warrant, which was reauthorized three times, contained false and misleading information about Page. It omitted that he had previously disclosed his Russian contacts to a government agency; it overstated the government's confidence in the Christopher Steele dossier and ignored Steele's own doubts about one of his sources; it declined to mention that Page had said he and Paul Manafort had "literally never met"; and in general it ignored information that rendered unlikely the theory that Page was a Russian asset.

These are alarming failures. They undercut the government's position that FISA courts are a sufficient guardian of Americans' civil liberties, and that the FBI is capable of responsibly exercising the vast powers granted to it. No one should feel confident that a court would block the FBI from engaging in surveillance, even if the information was flawed or faulty.

And yet the FBI and its cable news surrogates essentially spent Monday afternoon and evening taking a victory lap. The agency itself led the charge: A spokesperson for the FBI said the report "does not impugn the FBI's institutional integrity. It doesn't doubt—or propose any changes to—the FBI's mission or our core values. It doesn't criticize—or even question—the brand that this organization has earned over 111 years."

On CNN, Erin Burnett uncritically interviewed FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who expressed great pride in his organization. "I know we didn't do anything wrong," he told her. "What we did was our job. I've known all along that we did the right thing." MSNBC had more of the same, with host Ari Melber interviewing David Kelley, an attorney for former FBI Director James Comey. The FBI's wrongdoing was mentioned, but only as an afterthought. Over and over again, the main story was the wrongness of Team Trump, and the absence of evidence that the FBI was ideologically motivated to work against the president.

Trump and his supporters were dead wrong to attribute to malice what is better explained by stupidity. But the latter is no less troubling, and it would be terrific if the media would spend more time holding the G-men's feet to the fire. It would also be terrific if Republicans could channel their momentary frustration about government surveillance programs into some sort of sustained pushback against civil liberty violations. Alas, the PATRIOT Act has been repeatedly reauthorized along mostly bipartisan lines.

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  1. Why is it being treated like vindication?

    Trump and his supporters were dead-wrong to attribute to malice what is better explained by stupidity.

    Because they were charged with malice and acquitted, at least in this report.

    1. Haha. So, the presence of stupidity rules out the motivation of malice? Hmmm….

      That’s convenient.

      1. There is great stupidity in imagining that malice didn’t motivate these “mistakes” just because hard evidence wasn’t found.

        Just imagine what the Democrats would say of such a claim if the parties were reversed!

    2. Intentional deceit to get a warrant isn’t stupid, it’s evil.

    3. If you want to spy on your political opponent, dreaming up the excuse that Trump colluded with Putin to hack the DNC and Podesta and then release his emails is very convenient in getting a FISA warrant. Let’s include the so called IC report that Russia interfered in the election (I read it, it’s based on no evidence from any of the computers involved, and it argues that Russia hacks so it must have been them).

      It was all an engineered illegal effort to create a legal basis, based on manufactured flimsy Democrat allegations. I support Trump’s efforts to get the servers involved from Ukraine’s Crowd Strike offices, in the hopes the truth can be determined. The Democrats want to impeach him, because IMHO he’s working to reveal the depths of their duplicity, including illegal actions by many of them. If they had nothing to hide, they wouldn’t be attacking him the way they are.

      1. ^this

        But… those servers aren’t in Ukraine. I assume they’ve been long destroyed

    4. Actually, the summary of the IG’s report said no political malice, but the IG contradicted himself elsewhere when he stated that he could not determine whether the FBI’s fraudulent actions were due to bias or incompetence. The claim in the summary is misleading, and, of course, the contradictory statement by the IG is ignored by Comey, McCabe, the MSM, etc.

      Who is naive enough to believe they were not acting out of political bias and malicious intent? It has been documented by journalists honest enough to speak the truth.

  2. No, Trump and his supporters weren’t “dead wrong,” because Horowitz never set out to discover whether the people he dealt with acted in bad faith – he literally took them at their word when they told him they were acting in good faith, despite ample reason to believe otherwise.

    The circumstantial evidence of bad faith is overwhelming. Horowitz documents error after error, breach after breach, all in favor of prosecuting the hypothesis that Trump’s campaign was acting in the service of a foreign adversary, despite there never being any substantiated evidence of the same, and he documents the omission of evidence which undercut their preferred course of action in their submissions to the FISA court.

    These aren’t people acting in good faith; Horowitz just isn’t willing to say so.

    1. Remember… here at Reason when it comes to the Ukraine, suppositions and opinions are evidence despite no evidence. When it comes to the FBI no opinions or suppositions are allowed because no documented or testimonial bias from agents under investigation.

      Imagine if Ukraine was ended so quickly because they just asked Trump whether he was guilty and Trump said no.

      1. This is exactly on target. How many times have we heard the brainiacs at reason and MSM go on about what the administration really wanted, despite the administration saying the opposite, without any evidence except their superior powers of deduction. Here we have clear evidence of massive abuse of power and lying that all leads to one end and those same people give them the benefit of the doubt.
        But there is no doubt to anybody looking at this with at least a little objectivity.

        1. Spot on!

      2. Too many people at Reason and mainstream Objectivists spend way too much time and give far too much credit to the veracity of the main stream media. I have been around long enough to remember Edith Efron, who had it right when she objectively measured media bias decades ago in her best seller “The News Twisters” Since then it has only gotten worse. Objectivists especially should remember the decades of lies and ‘news-twisting’ with regard to the reporting of Ayn Rand to give the main stream media any credit for objectivity, lack of bias, and honesty in reporting. Thank whatever gods there be for independent media and the Internet.

      3. Bingo! And where were all the whistleblowers in the FBI/Intel arena screaming about these process abuses if there were no bias or political agenda?

        Instead…crickets.

    2. If the FBI is as expert and as competent as they and their supporters claim FBI to be, this cannot be errors and stupidity. If it were not motivated by actual intent, just oops one mistake after another, the sheer gross amateurism and incompetence would be blameworthy.

        1. There are two choices here: The agents and their supervisors had just climbed out of a clown car – or, there was a conspiracy by them to commit a coup…

      1. Bit of a dilemma – incompetent or dishonest? Foolish clods or traitors?

    3. Sadly, we see again that the “elites” are always right and are never held to account. Until these people are held to account we will never see accountability, integrity, honesty, ethics and character and more from “politicians”. It will never happen in my lifetime.

      Read this:

      Iron Law of Bureaucracy[edit]

      In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.[42]

      He “Pournelle” eventually restated it as:
      …in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representatives who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.[43]

      1. Jerry Pournelle
        Pournelle’s iron law of bureaucracy
        42. “Current Chaos Manor mail”. Jerrypournelle.com. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
        43. “The Iron law of Bureaucracy”. Jerrypournelle.com. September 11, 2010. Retrieved August 31, 2017.

      2. Decades ago, in Canada, the new government would fire the top five thousand bureaucrats as a means of keeping the bureaucracy subservient to the elected representatives of the people. Trudeau’s dad, Pierre, put an end to that safeguard and he also permitted the government employees to unionize against their employer – the Canadian citizenry. That was the point at which the road to tyranny by bureaucracy was begun in Canada. At least the elected representatives can be thrown out, bureaucracies, it seems, are forever.

    4. the OIG report failed to turn up any evidence that the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s possible connections to Russia was politically motivated

      Actually, just as with report on the Clinton investigation, Horowitz said he’d turned up no documentary or testimonial evidence that the investigation was politically motivated. That has been spun as “no evidence” or even “not politically motivated.” As has been noted, there’s a ton of circumstantial evidence – like about a hundred and fifty mistakes, omissions, and judgement calls, all of which happened to fall the same way.

      But what would testimonial evidence look like ? You’d have to get one ofthe conspitators to squeal, and Horowitz has no thumbscrews.

      As for documentary evidence you’d have to get a trove of messages and emails like the Page-Strzok stuff, nobody’s going to put “we need to do this to screw Trump” on the official file. And conveniently, the Mueller team destroyed a lot of Page-Strzok texts etc as soon as Horowitz told them about the ones he’d already found.

      So the idea that Horowitz would turn up documentary or testimonial evidence of political motivation is a fantasy. The only real hope of that would be Durham turning the screws on the FBI guy who was forging Carter Page emails.

      1. Good point. Strzok’s and Page’s emails showed their bias and their plan for an “insurance policy” in case Trump won in 2016. The fact that thousands of their emails were destroyed shows how this whole thing stinks like old fish. It would be interesting to see what was in them.

        BTW, IIRC, there was an email that referenced Obama knowing about the spying on the Trump campaign. I need to research that.

  3. Oh, and “P.S.” …. it’s not an exoneration unless they’re “proven innocent,” which they weren’t.

    That’s the ‘standard’ to which those hated by the left are held.

    Sauce for the Goose.

    1. This is Reason. The narrative is never forgotten.

    2. In a federal case defense attorney David Nevin asked a prospective juror, Can you withhold judgement on the guilt or innocence of my client until after you have heard all the evidence?

      Federal prosecutor Ron Howen lept up to object: The finding of the court is guilt or not guilt, never innocence.

      Once accused, your guilt is proven or your guilt is not proven; there is no innocent accused to a true prosecutor. There is never a finding of exoneration either.

      Trump has been accused. He can be found guilty, but he will never be found innocent or exonerated. NONE OF US CAN.

      1. We don’t need to be found innocent because that is our assumed status – it is the job of the legal system to prove guilt.

  4. Has anyone ever explained how Carter Page and Donald Trump hooked up?

    1. If you eat 2 pods at the same time all will be clear.

    2. Has anyone ever explained why your mother didn’t abort you after she learned you would be born with Down Syndrome?

      1. She did, this was the result.

        This is why we have to fund abortions federally. We can’t allow Planned Parenthood to keep botching abortions with these results.

        /s

    3. “Has anyone ever explained how Carter Page and Donald Trump hooked up”

      Have you provided proof that it’s true and why we should give a shit?
      No, you haven’t.
      Fuck off and die.

    4. This is, I’d guess accidentally, a good question.
      The story has always been that none of the “legit” foreign policy guys (and gals) were all taken up by other campaigns, and took themselves too seriously for Trump’s, so the campaign had to stretch to come up with a list of names to pick up token “foreign policy experts” for Team Trump.
      But we also know Trump’s knowledge coming in of people in DC was extremely limited and he had to rely on “allies” to suggest people.
      And we also know these “allies”, mostly established R politicos, gave him a lot of bad advice while he was reliant on them. It took a few years for Trump to figure out who all is competent and really on his team.
      So… what if Carter Page was less random than we thought?
      The Russia hoax started way earlier than Trump’s election. Fusion GPS, Steele, Mifsud, Downer (the latter two set up Papadopoulos) and their directors at the DNC/Hillary campaign coordinated with the Obama administration and intel agencies all along the way. We can’t forget John McCain played a role too.
      Carter Page had been a CIA source for years. So I have some questions.
      Who came up with the list of foreign policy consultants, and how did Page get on it?
      Who picked Page and/or contacted him to sign him up?
      Who was paying him both during and prior to him signing up with the Trump campaign?

      It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Page was “suggested” to Trump precisely because it was thought he had a resume that could be an easy mark for surveillance requests.
      Like the Hillary-dirt idea was planted by Mifsud in Papadopoulos to be drawn out by Downer, Carter Page was a plant to give them access to all his contacts in the campaign.

      1. As you mentioned, Carter Page was a CIA asset for years. From what I’ve read, the FBI’s position according to the IG report was that they weren’t aware of the extent of this at the time of the FISA warrant. But they became aware before the warrant renewals. Is that right?

        The “low-level lawyer” as the media calls him, falsified an email to read that Page was NOT a source when the email had said that he was a source. But supposedly there’s not evidence that particular act made any difference.

    5. Unfortunately, that is reserved for “conspiracy” territory. At least people still call it conspiracies in the mainstream. Since the initial fusion GPS leak, it was highly suspected that Carter Page was an FBI agent planted in the campaign for the purposes of highly illegal parallel investigations. Imaging entrapment on steroids. The IG report didn’t say so outright, but when the FBI continued to harass the Trump campaign with repeated contacts (to no avail) from agency assets that then served as the “basis” for the FISA warrant, what else can you call it?

      This was an actual coup. Assuming Trump gets 4 more years to investigate, don’t be surprised if there are treason charges filed against certain FBI agents.

      1. What you wrote is quite plausible except for the bit about treason. The way it’s defined in the US Constitution (How many crimes are actually defined in the US Constitution, huh?), actual shooting war would have to break out or be impending for such a charge to make sense. “Enemies” is not construed broadly.

        1. IANAL but I would argue that a rogue state is in fact a foreign power and thus conspiring with it meets the definition, similar to how Jefferson Davis was indicted.

          1. Haven’t the Dems already ‘established’ that Russia is our enemy and that Trump committed treason by conspiring with them? Else what is all this about?

          2. We’d have to declare war on them first, just like a Jefferson Davis.

  5. “Trump and his supporters were dead-wrong to attribute to malice what is better explained by stupidity.”

    So Robby saw Scotty boy being abused and said “hold my beer scott!” and is taking a victory lap for the mere fact that Horowitz found no documented or testimonial evidence? Holy shit Reason, one was enough, you are going to continue with this take?

    1. “…attribute to malice what is better explained by stupidity.”

      Why can’t it be both? Sorta seems that way.

      1. Because it would force Reason to say something positive about Trump possibly.

      2. How can you read the Strozk/Page texts and not see the malice?

        1. Or just the ridiculous conduct of Bruce Ohr.

    2. The purview of the IG does not extend into the areas that could establish the intentionality of the conspirators – that is Durham’s domain.

  6. It seems to me that, while the summary of the report says there’s no evidence, there’s a lot in the substance of the report that makes it look like there’s some bias in place.

    Then again, perhaps the standards for getting a wiretap and maintaining a wiretap are so low that the FBI is running amok. That might prove that they’re unbiased but it doesn’t exactly disprove the existence of the “Deep State.”

  7. on page xi (12 in the pdf), the report states the investigation was essentially based on lies (paragraph 2). It is the only page that is an image not text. Meaning you can’t copy and paste. This was intentional and required work to do, why this page?

    1. Why is page 12 a graphic image of a page rather than a text page?
      The large blackout maybe?
      . . . .
      We further determined that the Crossfire Hurricane team was unable to corroborate any of the specific substantive allegations regarding Carter Page contained in Steele’s election reporting which they FBI relied on in the FISA applications. We were told by the Supervisory Intel Analyst that, as of September 2017, the FBI had corroborated limited information in the Steele election reporting, and much of that was publicly available information. Most relevant to the Carter Page FISA applications, the allegations contained in Reports 80, 90, 95, and 102, which were relied upon in all four applications, remained uncorroborated and, in several instances, were inconsistent with information gathered by the Crossfire Hurricane team.

      [LARGE BLACKOUT Paragraph]

      The Three Renewal Applications for Continued FISA Authority on Carter Page

      As noted above, the FBI filed three renewal applications with the FISC, on January [blank], April [blank], and June [blank], 2017. In addition to repeating the seven significant errors contained in the first FISA application and outlined above, we identifed 10 additional significant errors in the three renewal applications, based upon information known to the FBI after the first application and before one or more of the renewals.
      . . . .

      As an experiment, I copied text with redacted text and dates from the text part of the PDF and the redacted parts were replaced by graphic characters. So whole Page 12 being a graphic rather than text was unnecessary if the goal was to prevent extracting the text under the black out.

      Anyhow, this stuff stinks.

      “… the FBI had corroborated limited information in the Steele election reporting, and much of that was publicly available information. …”

      Taking publicly available information and adding new revelations, ala the “Killian Memos” fabricated by Bill Burkett in the 2004 RatherGate fiasco, does not make the new fabricated revelations factual.

      “… in several instances, [the allegations] were inconsistent with information gathered by the Crossfire Hurricane team.”

      So the new revelations in the Steele Dossier beyond publicly available info was inconsistent with the FBI’s investigation, but they used the Steele Dossier revelations anyway. Ah ha! The blocked out text was evidently a discussion of DoubleThink!

      Winston sank his arms to his sides and slowly refilled his lungs with air. His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink. — George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

  8. “See, we treated Trump the same way we’d treat the average citizen!”

    “Oh, good, that’s reassuring. Wait…”

  9. Is it me or is it strange a terrorist attack doesn’t even get a blog entry at Reason?

    This ‘impeachment’ is all bull shit anyway.

  10. One of them physically altered a piece of evidence. That’s not stupidity.

  11. Honestly, at this point if you truly believe there was no improper motivation you are purposefully being ignorant of the obvious.

    1. Isnt it also criminal to alter evidence

  12. All Americans should have serious concerns about the FBI’s respect for constitutional principles, ability to carefully evaluate conflicting information, and its competency in general.

    What a mess. Maybe the FBI needs to be broken up and/or reduced in size. And then repeal the Patriot Act.

    1. Yes. The FBI should be ended over this. It should be made an example

      1. I’ve thought that from the beginning.
        It was an obvious psy op the whole way

      2. I would take another look at the FISA court as well. These judges routinely trample all over our individual liberties in the name of ‘national security’. FISA should be dismantled as well.

    2. This.

      End all the alphabet agencies. They’re all terrible and total wastes of money.

      The FDA ran a sting operation to arrest Amish farmers selling raw milk to granola folks. The ATF supplied military weapons to drug cartels. The NSA spies on Americans simply for being American. The CIA breeds terrorists by being total asshats in other people’s countries. And yet all those loser agencies pale in comparison to the DEA and FBI, which are clearly the worst of the miserable bunch.

  13. Just how bad was the FBI’s Russia FISA? 51 violations and 9 false statements

    But it wasn’t out of partisan bias?

    http://johnsolomonreports.com/just-how-bad-was-the-fbis-russia-fisa-51-violations-and-9-false-statements/

    1. We’re just lucky the same anti-Trumpism that biased the rest of the media into the very thing Soave complains about here and is also rampant among HyR bloggers (their bosses, actually) was overcome by the need by Soave to react against the abuses before the FISA court, etc. enough to be able to say this much about the FBI. This article’s a compromise written in such a way as to not reveal so embarrassing a course reversal. Somehow the FBI has to be shown as having committed major wrongdoing without its being shown that Trump’s supporters were right.

  14. For anybody who’s ever heard of J. Edgar Hoover, “the FBI’s credibility” is a sick joke. College-educated white boys with buzz haircuts from the 50’s hanging around until the long-hair dirty commie hippy 70’s coupled with the TV show gave them an aura of squeaky clean choir boys they’ve never deserved. Infiltrating civil rights groups, smear campaigns against their critics, Ruby Ridge and Waco, the vaunted FBI lab with their pseudo-science “forensics”, policy of not recording interrogations so their notes are the only “facts”, never stopped a terrorist plot they didn’t hatch, confusing themselves with the CIA, Comey’s extra-Constitutional “higher loyalty” – where’s the credibility? I’d as soon trust a Chicago cop as an FBI agent.

    1. We had the Church Commission in 1978 and the FBI promised it wouldn’t do it again. But nothing changed. The entire organization is irredeemable.

  15. The Don seemed like an actor the GOP hired to bail them out after the Bush asset-forfeiture crash outed the party faithful as dangerous fanatics who wreck the economy. But the more I get confronted with the guy’s critics, the harder it is to dislike him. He turned up in an old newspaper greeting Cubans displeased with the communist government there. Is that why the Dems are so bent out of shape?

  16. Dissolve the FBI and the FISA Courts. As long as we do it without malice or bias, no harm no foul.

  17. And the FBI isn’t even out of the woods. Durham has a grand jury and access to a broader range of evidence than Horowitz, and he isn’t convinced of the conclusion.

    1. When the Muller and the Justice Department exonerated Trump, the media certainly didn’t treat it as vindication, and instead recognized the possibility that Congress could uncover more evidence.

      This is the same situation with respect to the Durham investigation, but for some reason the tone of the coverage is very different.

      1. “When the Muller and the Justice Department exonerated Trump”

        You know perfectly well Mueller didn’t exonerate Trump.

        1. Well, in this brave new world order we live in, the verdict of a prosecution is guilt proven or guilt not proven, never innocence or exoneration, just “not guilty” — guilt not proven. Left living with the accusation of guilt without redress.

        2. And you know darn well that the standard is innocent until proven guilty. They found no collusion. After years of Dems saying they saw firsthand evidence of collusion. However you want to word it is fine because the bottom line is that they found no evidence of any Americans colluding with russia to steal the election.

    2. Hell, Horowitz isn’t even done. Like I said in Shack’s post, he’s about to do a 15-year audit of the FBI’s FISA applications because they fucked this thing up so badly.

      The FBI is going to get its ass handed to it, when all is said and done here. And all because they used nothing more than some goofy collection of fan fiction as the sole basis for their FISA application (page 3 of the pdf).

      1. These decadent swamp creatures don’t know how to audible.
        Hillary was supposed to win.
        They were never supposed to have to use Brennan’s idiotic plan… but here we are.

      2. “”The FBI is going to get its ass handed to it, when all is said and done here.””

        The walls are closing in.

        You will be disappointed. It will all be swept under the rug.

  18. All Americans should have serious concerns about the FBI’s respect for constitutional principles, ability to carefully evaluate conflicting information, and its competency in general.

    Most rightwingers pegged the FBI as “jack-booted government thugs last century. Good to see you center-right market progressive “statitarians” are finally catching on.

  19. Of course you media/journalism types will go down on the secret police quicker than you can say “Kathy Scruggs”.

    1. Maybe the movie part about Kathy Scruggs sleeping with an FBI agent to get a scoop is not factual, but as out left wing betters would say, it is “poetically true” and speaks to a higher truth than mere fact. Our main stream media are whores and prostitutes (figuratively) well, no, they do it for money and for the thrill of control so they’re literally hookers with hearts of gold, hard and yellow.

  20. “The IG Report Is a Huge Blow to the FBI’s Credibility. Why Is It Being Treated Like Vindication?”

    Jesus Christ, Robby, do you have any idea how hard it is to hate your work when you write headlines like that? It’s like a breath of fresh air seeing a reporter who isn’t on some right wing network simply write the truth, too.

    Much of the news media is so heavily invested in the impeachment validation, I’m not sure they can backpedal at this point. I guess they could say they were fooled by partisan Democrats, but Comey confessed to Stephanopolous that he knew the Clinton campaign origin of the Steele Memo before it was submitted to the FISA court. They can pretend it never happened, but not forever.

    “The government’s surveillance of Carter Page might not have been improperly motivated, but it was still seriously flawed.”

    Even the sub-heading is good!

    Yeah, every effect (but one) has a cause. From the terrorists that murdered innocent people on 9/11 to the local armed robber, who was trying to get money so he could buy his kids some Christmas presents and only shot the clerk by accident, they all have their reasons–and their reasons don’t really matter. What they did was awful regardless of their motivation.

    Why is the FBI using lies of omission and opposition research to get a FISA warrant to do covert surveillance on a presidential candidate any different? When crimes are perpetrated by law enforcement, it’s worse! I’m not buying that they accidentally shit all over our democracy and the Fourth Amendment out of dumb luck, but even if they were–why is that an excuse? There is an explanation for why every single evil deed has ever been done–and plenty of them have been done for what some might consider good reasons.

    So what?

    The FBI submitted a FISA request to a judge, under oath and affirmation, that they knew was coming from an unreliable source and that they knew was paid for with opposition research–and they withheld that information from the judge. If part of the reason they did that was because they expected Hillary Clinton to win and that she would forgive them, afterward, it wouldn’t surprise me–but it doesn’t really matter what their motives were. What they did was wrong. They knew what they were doing was wrong, and they should be prosecuted for it to the fullest extent of the law–in order to protect the integrity of our democracy.

    1. It is was incompetence, why did it only happen to one side?

      1. And mistakes constantly in one direction.

      2. Just playing Devil’s advocate, here, but plenty of Democrats blame Comey’s sudden reopening of the email investigation for Hillary losing. Obviously, it couldn’t be because of the contempt both progressives and Hillary showed for average “deplorables”, so it must have been the Russians, fake news spread through Facebook, Comey, or something, anything . . . please! El Nino? Was it an El Nino year?

        1. Hilariously, Comey actually thinks of himself as one of the good guys. So he wasn’t able to throw himself whole-heartedly into the cover-up, he had to do something to justify his self image.

          So he tried cutting the baby in half, and made nobody happy.

        2. Comey reopened it because agents in NY started asking questions why Comey wssnt investigating Humas computer after they already knew emails were there. Comey sat on the information for over a month.

          Try again.

          1. Because – de duplication. That’s a thing.

          2. Yep. Everyone in the country already believed that the FBI had whitewashed the Clinton email investigation. Even the people who supported her believed it, they just approved of the whitewash. If it came out that just a few weeks before the election, the FBI was potentially brushing new evidence under the rug, it would have made them look even worse.

            And at that point, everyone assumed Hillary would win, so it wasn’t expected to make any difference. All the pollsters were giving her a 95% chance of winning!

    2. The political bias/motive makes it a hate crime…

  21. Trump and his supporters were dead-wrong to attribute to malice what is better explained by stupidity.

    As Robbie is fluent in twitter-pidgin this is where the “why not both” girl .gif goes.

  22. It is because these deep state tools, like Horowitz and Mueller, keep saying there is no documented evidence of political bias. Of course no one in the DOJ, FBI, or CIA would have put in writing that they are taking down Trump for political reasons. Horowitz should be fired tomorrow and lose his pension.

  23. ““Trump and his supporters were dead-wrong to attribute to malice what is better explained by stupidity.””

    Except they weren’t. The statement says no political bias

  24. If the FBI knew that Carter Page had supplied info to the CIA and knew accusations against him were false, then moving forward with the surveillance certainly suggests an agenda of some kind. Maybe it wasn’t motivated by “political bias”, but it was a mission focused on an objective other than finding the truth.

    Why was the FBI so eager to convict Omar Mateen’s wife? Phone records showed she had nothing do with the shooting or any planning. She supposedly had mental issues. Despite that they tried to trick her into signing a confession with no lawyer present. Word on the street was that Lynch was interested in advancing a certain narrative. If some lefty accused them of Islamophobia and a judge cleared them of that one charge, the FBI isn’t off the hook.

    Robby is spot on here. The scorching hot take from the left is that “Right wingers lied about coup attempt, this was just general FBI incompetence and oversight”. I say we wiretap Ilhan Omar to ensure that she’s REALLY not a Qatari agent. And the FBI should be praised for bugging MLK’s phone. Because at that time, he said some nice things about commies.

  25. If you think this is bad, consider what Trump said regarding the files related to the assassination of JFK.

    (The JFK Records Act of 1992 requires full disclosure of files by 2017 related to his assassination. Unfortunately, President Trump used the one loophole in that law to continue postponement of release of the assassination records.)

    In his October 2017 White House directive, Trump stated he had “no choice” but to allow federal agencies to continue to withhold thousands of JFK assassination files from public view.

    Trump certified that disclosure would cause “???????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????? ???????? ???????????? ???????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????, ???????????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????, ???????????? ????????????????????????????????????????????, ???????? ???????????????????????????? ???????? ???????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????” ???????????? ???????????????? “???????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????? ???????? ???????? ???????????????? ???????????????????????????? ???????????????? ???????? ???????????????????????????????????? ???????????? ???????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????? ???????? ????????????????????????????????????????.”

    Funny how before JFK was assassinated, he gave a speech denouncing secrets and secret societies:

    “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings.

    We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in ensuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it.

    And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

    That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control.”

    The FBI, CIA, NSA being corrupt is nothing new. It’s only new to people who are ignorant of what has happened before.

    “THERE IS NO REMEMBRANCE OF FORMER THINGS; NEITHER SHALL THERE BE ANY REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS TO COME, WITH THOSE WHO SHALL COME AFTER.”
    (Ecclesiastes 1:11)

    1. Needs more question marks.

    2. “…If you think this is bad, consider what Trump said regarding the files related to the assassination of JFK…”

      Your tin-foil bonnet is on sale, aisle 6.

  26. (Sorry for the double post, my post was censored for some reason and there’s no option to edit replies.)

    If you think this is bad, consider what Trump said regarding the files related to the assassination of JFK.

    (The JFK Records Act of 1992 requires full disclosure of files by 2017 related to his assassination. Unfortunately, President Trump used the one loophole in that law to continue postponement of release of the assassination records.)

    In his October 2017 White House directive, Trump stated he had “no choice” but to allow federal agencies to continue to withhold thousands of JFK assassination files from public view.

    Trump certified that disclosure would cause, “AN IDENTIFIABLE HARM TO THE MILITARY DEFENSE, INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS, LAW ENFORCEMENT, OR CONDUCT OF FOREIGN RELATIONS” and that “THE IDENTIFIABLE HARM IS OF SUCH GRAVITY THAT IT OUTWEIGHS THE PUBLIC INTEREST IN DISCLOSURE.”

    Funny how before JFK was assassinated, he gave a speech denouncing secrets and secret societies:

    “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings.

    We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in ensuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it.

    And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

    That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control.”

    The FBI, CIA, NSA being corrupt is nothing new. It’s only new to people who are ignorant of what has happened before.

    “THERE IS NO REMEMBRANCE OF FORMER THINGS; NEITHER SHALL THERE BE ANY REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS TO COME, WITH THOSE WHO SHALL COME AFTER.”
    (Ecclesiastes 1:11)

    1. Generally speaking, if you have more than one link in your post, they send it to moderation hell as spam.

      Nothing gets out of moderation hell. It just sits there forever and burns.

    2. Your tin-foil bonnet is on sale, aisle 6.

    3. Well I like the Ecclesiastes quote anyway.

      One of my favorite books.

      Kohelet was a very unhappy dude. A king with all you can imagine and is unhappy. The first three chapters start that way. It is just a collection of writing.

      Some of the most well known verses. Ch 1:2

      Vanity of vanities, saith Koheleth; vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

      The word translated as “vanity” is a bit stronger than that. Hevel הֲבֵל

      It is more like “worthless” or “bullshit”.

      So the writer has an existential issue he is struggling with. Read on.

      The first eight verses of chapter 3 were a song by Pete Seeger, made into a hit by the Byrds.

      https://youtu.be/T51nmyCODHQ

      We can all find our own meaning. To me it ties nature into the problem of Kohelet. Just as the crops come and go. The sun and rain, life around us on which we depend. The time for one thing slips through our hands as one season slips into another. The writer tries to find meaning in life with all that.

      My sermon of the day for what it’s worth.

      1. Roger McGuinn on that 12 string Rickenbacker.

        Sweet Lord. Somebody must have given him a guitar and said “do this”.

        1. Thanks for sharing that link. I’ve never seen a video of that song. Such a nice performance, and I loved the three gogo dancers behind them.

  27. Just for the record, here are some excerpts from Comey’s interview with Stephanopoulos on April 15, 2018 below. Here’s the part where Comey is talking about telling President Elect Trump, for the first time, that the Russians are about to go public with the content of the Steele Dossier:

    “GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: How weird was that briefing?

    JAMES COMEY: Really weird. I mean, I don’t know whether it was weird for President-elect Trump, but I– it was almost an out-of-body experience for me. I was floating above myself, looking down, saying, “You’re sitting here, briefing the incoming president of the United States about prostitutes in Moscow.” And of course, Jeh Johnson’s voice is banging around in my head. President Obama’s eyebrow raise is banging around in my head. I just wanted to get it done and get out of there.

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Did you tell him that the Steele Dossier had been financed by his political opponents?

    JAMES COMEY: No. I didn’t– I didn’t think I used the term “Steele Dossier,” I just talked about additional material.

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Did he– but did he have a right to know that?

    JAMES COMEY: That it’d been financed by his political opponents? I don’t know the answer to that. I– it wasn’t necessary for my goal, which was to alert him that we had this information. Again, I was clear on whether it’s true or not, it’s important that you know, both because of the counterintelligence reason and so you know that this maybe going to hit the media.”

    https://abcnews.go.com/Site/transcript-james-comeys-interview-abc-news-chief-anchor/story?id=54488723

    The FBI knew the information was financed by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and they withheld that information from President Trump. In that interview, Comey also repeatedly states that he was warned not to tell the President that he wasn’t under investigation, even though he wasn’t, because the investigation they were running against his campaign staff might lead to them inadvertently picking up on the President’s conversations or that the evidence might lead them to investigate the president at some point. Our intelligence services were investigating President Trump before he was elected, still preparing to investigate him after he was elected, and it shouldn’t be any surprise that they piped up in an attempt to get him impeached on the Ukraine.

    I’ve long said that we know the real problems with this country aren’t being addressed until we see hundreds of thousands of government workers protesting the president and Congress on the National Mall. We’re seeing the equivalent of that with our intelligence services. If upsetting the establishment is an indication that the president is doing something right, Donald Trump must be doing it. I suspect it’s what made John McCain go ballistic Never Trump before he was elected, too–it’s his pragmatic foreign policy. He campaigned on collaborating with Putin to destroy ISIS in Syria, and, what’s worse, he actually did it once he was elected. That was going to be the Pentagon’s, CIA’s, FBI’s next Big Idea! By destroying ISIS without much of a significant American troop presence on the ground, he ruined their next big payday.

    And I feel fine.

    1. I liked McCain, but he was very much a swamp creature, even if an atypical one.

  28. “…Many in the media have focused on the fact that the IG report failed to turn up any evidence that the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s possible connections to Russia was politically motivated…”

    Perhaps they should have focused on the reasons for that conclusion; the investigators asked and the people involved said ‘Naah, we were just incompetent, not scumbag lefties’.
    Hey, good enough for the ‘investigators’!

    1. If the FBI was trying to do the right thing, but what they did in perpetrating surveillance on a presidential candidate under false pretenses ended up being the same thing they would have done if their motives were as nefarious as possible, then that’s a pretty good indication that the FBI’s motives aren’t the issue.

      We don’t do surveillance on presidential candidates under false pretenses–no matter the motive!

      1. “We don’t do surveillance on presidential candidates under false pretenses–no matter the motive!”

        I’m in full agreement, but my argument concerns the claim of ‘proof’ that ‘convinced’ the investigators there was nothing there.
        This was less an investigation than support group.

        1. I was just reading the report. There’s this one part toward the end of the Executive Summary. I don’t think you should buy the media’s representation of it. The Executive Summary is pretty damning.

          “That so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand- picked teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations that was briefed to the highest levels within the FBI, and that FBI officials expected would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny, raised significant questions regarding the FBI chain of command’s management and supervision of the FISA process. FBI Headquarters established a chain of command for Crossfire Hurricane that included close supervision by senior CD managers, who then briefed FBI leadership throughout the investigation. Although we do not expect managers and supervisors to know every fact about an investigation, or senior officials to know all the details of cases about which they are briefed, in a sensitive, high-priority matter like this one, it is reasonable to expect that they will take the necessary steps to ensure that they are sufficiently familiar with the facts and circumstances supporting and potentially undermining a FISA application in order to provide effective oversight, consistent with their level of supervisory responsibility. We concluded that the information that was known to the managers, supervisors, and senior officials should have resulted in questions being raised regarding the reliability of the Steele reporting and the probable cause supporting the FISA applications, but did not. In our view, this was a failure of not only the operational team, but also of the managers and supervisors, including senior officials, in the chain of command. For these reasons, we recommend that the FBI review the performance of the employees who had responsibility for the preparation, Woods review, or approval of the FISA applications, as well as the managers and supervisors in the chain of command of the Carter Page investigation, including senior officials, and take any action deemed appropriate.”

          —-Department of Justice

          “Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation”

          Executive Summary, Page xiv

          https://www.justice.gov/storage/120919-examination.pdf

          The number of people and the involvement of everyone–up to and including Comey, the Director of the FBI himself–was apparently unusual. They found that it’s not just that one person made a mistake. Three teams with dozens of FBI agents all made the same 17 “mistakes” under the direction of Comey and other senior officials–and they did it on four FISA applications in a row.

          What are the odds, (1/17)^3 ?!

          That part I bolded seems to suggest that the Department of Justice doesn’t find the FBI’s explanation credible either. It was a top down operation. It’ll be interesting to see what that FBI agent who’s being investigated or prosecuted for altering one of the FISA applications has to say.

          1. “That so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand- picked teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations that was briefed to the highest levels within the FBI, and that FBI officials expected would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny, raised significant questions regarding the FBI chain of command’s management and supervision of the FISA process.”

            “…FBI officials expected would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny,”

            This is the sticker. They never expected their actions to be ‘subjected to close scrutiny’. Hillary was supposed to win and all of this was supposed to be swept under the rug.

            1. Hillary was supposed to win and all of this was supposed to be swept under the rug.

              With a subsequent narrative that “the Russians tried to hack the election” to justify god-knows-what kind of foreign policy fuckery in the aftermath, with the full-throated support of the MSM.

      2. “We don’t do surveillance on presidential candidates under false pretenses–no matter the motive!”

        No, obviously we do.

        1. Apparently, it depends on which party the candidate belongs to…..

    2. The Russian probe went on for over a year and involved multiple wiretaps. The investigation into whether “political bias” lasted….. a few weeks? What did they do exactly? Interview agents?

      1. It was an absurd request.

        How do you prove political bias?

        Some politician, or someone in the White House, must have wanted them to investigate that, but making an FBI agent admit to political bias is a fool’s errand.

        The report would have been better without that part of the investigation.

        How do you prove that your wife invited the in-laws over during the football game–just to spite you? There’s always a secondary motive, and she’s always going to deny it. It’s the same thing. Proving malice in a defamation case is tricky like that, as well. Unless the FBI wrote a memo that said, “Let’s lie on the FISA application and run interference for the Clinton campaign so that Hillary wins and Trump loses”, you have to rely on subjective interpretation of people’s motives. And that’s unnecessary when the facts on the face are bad enough–regardless of whether the bias was political.

        Like I said, I don’t think the motive was political in the sense that most people do. It wasn’t, “Let’s stop the Republicans” so much as it was, “The Trump bastard is campaigning on promises to ruin our designs on Syria”.

        1. Bias and/or malice is demonstrated by pointing out the existence of conduct that is thoroughly without a legitimate foundation. If you have multiple and repeated instances of such conduct, it is easier to prove. One accident is possible. Another departure here and there from guidelines is explainable. But a confluence of serious, successive errors is not an accident. We don’t need anybody to admit to anything because their actions and omissions speak for themselves.

          1. The bias doesn’t matter.

            What they did was wrong regardless of whether it was biased.

            It’s like proving a hate crime.

            If you beat the shit out of somebody with a baseball bat, contending that you aren’t a racist is beside the point. You beat the shit out of somebody with a baseball bat!

            The FBI effectively beat somebody up with a baseball bat. Whether they’re biased is beside the point. The fact is that what they did was wrong–regardless of motive.

        2. “How do you prove political bias?”

          Read Robby?

  29. The MSM is evil, duh.

  30. The IG Report Is a Huge Blow to the FBI’s Credibility. Why Is It Being Treated Like Vindication?

    Because Orange Man Bad. Robby, you understand that, don’t you?

    1. I came here to say exactly this.
      Why does Reason act as if MSM bias does not exist?

      1. Because “bias” was 1980. “Bias” was too weak of a term by the 90’s.

        But since 2008? No, there is no “bias” in the major TV network news departments and the major papers. Journolist was for pikers.

        All you have to do is go back and look at the interviews and coverage of Obama in 2008. The only question he got asked that wasn’t from a script handed to the reporter by the Obama press team was the one asked by Joe the Plumber – and the only one that got Obama into hot water, because he wasn’t prepared to answer it with vague platitudes that could be interpreted in any way you’d like.

        No, we are well past the era of “the 4th estate”.

        We have a propaganda machine. And we have a few small news and opinion organizations. And we have a metric crap-ton of wacky conspiracy theory sites and crazy partisan choir preaching sites. The 4th estate as once imagined is dead.

        If you brought someone from 1976 Moscow to the US today and showed them the news, it would look very familiar – except for the wacky conspiracy theory sites.

        1. The Frank Herbert novel “The Dosadi Experiment” discusses the difference between prejudice and prejudgment. Prejudice is fine – everyone has it. But prejudgement, if proven, carries the death penalty – because one can be overcome while the other cannot.

          1. It is a shame that Herbert was not able to write a third novel in that series. Some of the themes he explores are fascinating. It would have loved to see what the Dosadi people released upon the Universe would have wrought. I just yesterday gave my 15 year old daughter “Whipping Star”.

            Truly, government inertia is one of the biggest threats to individual Liberty that exist. Some type of Bureau of Sabotage would be most beneficial.

  31. NPR’s Ari ShapIiro asked Comey: “You say it’s a human organization, so it’s flawed. But this report documents a number of errors, omissions and distortions in the application to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page.”

    It is true that nobody is perfect,but, we should really strive to be!

  32. Trump and his supporters were dead wrong to attribute to malice what is better explained by stupidity.

    Let’s not take the IG report as gospel. It is a federal government product, after all. But if the FBI’s falling all over themselves procedurally and ethically to get Trump was not bias-motivated, then what does that say about the bureau and the FISA court’s likely treatment of the average person’s rights?

    1. Heh, you think average people have rights.

  33. Sᴛᴀʀᴛ ᴡᴏʀᴋɪɴɢ ғʀᴏᴍ ʜᴏᴍᴇ! Gʀᴇᴀᴛ ᴊᴏʙ ғᴏʀ sᴛᴜᴅᴇɴᴛs, sᴛᴀʏ-ᴀᴛ-ʜᴏᴍᴇ ᴍᴏᴍs ᴏʀ ᴀɴʏᴏɴᴇ ɴᴇᴇᴅɪɴɢ ᴀɴ ᴇxᴛʀᴀ ɪɴᴄᴏᴍᴇ… Yᴏᴜ ᴏɴʟʏ ɴᴇᴇᴅ ᴀ ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴜᴛᴇʀ ᴀɴᴅ ᴀ ʀᴇʟɪᴀʙʟᴇ ɪɴᴛᴇʀɴᴇᴛ ᴄᴏɴɴᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ… Mᴀᴋᴇ $80 ʜᴏᴜʀʟʏ ᴀɴᴅ ᴜᴘ ᴛᴏ $13000 ᴀ ᴍᴏɴᴛʜ ʙʏ ғᴏʟʟᴏᴡɪɴɢ ʟɪɴᴋ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏᴛᴛᴏᴍ ᴀɴᴅ sɪɢɴɪɴɢ ᴜᴘ… Yᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ʏᴏᴜʀ ғɪʀsᴛ ᴄʜᴇᴄᴋ ʙʏ ᴛʜᴇ ᴇɴᴅ ᴏғ ᴛʜɪs ᴡᴇᴇᴋ
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  34. This is not better explained by stupidity. Stupidity makes mistakes in both directions. Malice consistently makes “mistakes” only in one direction.

    Was any mistake identified that favored Trump? No. Therefore we are talking malice here, even if there was a bit of stupidity in the mix. (As there always is.)

    Nobody who paid attention to Horowitz’ report on the Clinton email investigation should have been expecting him to come out and say that the FBI is corrupt. He just doesn’t do that, he doesn’t see identifying corruption as part of his job. But by Horowitz standards, this report was vicious.

    Finally, “Why Is It Being Treated Like Vindication?”

    Robby, Robby, Robby. You know why it’s being treated like vindication. Because the media consist of about 95% Democrats, they’re functioning as an unpaid PR firm for the DNC.

    1. Yeah, that’s what’s being overlooked here because it’s being viewed from a very narrow lens. Horowitz doesn’t look for motivations; he sees his responsibility as determining where these offices didn’t properly follow their own rules and procedures, and pointing out where that took place. He leaves the question of “motivation” up to the DoJ to determine, which is why Barr and Durham are using the report as a jumping-off point for their own investigation. Don’t be fooled by this “we don’t agree with his conclusions about bias” smokescreen, because Horowitz conveniently left the texts between Page and Stzrok in the report for the DoJ to further pursue.

      People forget that Horowitz, despite being an Obama appointee to the post, actually went toe-to-toe with the administration during the Fast and Furious investigation, and subsequent fights over them stonewalling the IG on providing requested documentation over budgetary matters (the administration was blasted on August 5th, 2014 by 47 IGs for obstructing the release of financial records). He created an alliance with Congress that led to the requirement that the executive branch needs to provide the IG with requested documents, or they’re violating federal law. His fights against the administration eventually led to the Inspector General Empowerment Act of 2016.

      But this idea that he’s going to run up and down the aisle slapping handcuffs on people, or recommending indictment, is not accurate. That’s simply not the IG’s job, and the fact that Horowitz is now going to be digging into 15 years worth of FISA applications to find out where else the FBI has been fucking up does not bode well for the organization in general.

  35. Leave aside the motivations of the various people in the FBI, which is bad enough. We have bigger problems.

    First, the FBI was used as a political tool. The FBI has now spied on a presidential campaign, and lied to the FISA court – repeatedly. And they walk? Really? As an American, I question whether Christopher Wray will take bold and decisive action to put an end to this kind of behavior. Relatedly, can any American ‘trust’ any FBI employee? Not anymore, and it is horrifying that this is the case.

    Second, the FISA court has become a judicial rubber stamp for the intelligence and law enforcement communities. Of the thousands of applications from the FBI and law enforcement to spy on us, how many (what percentage) does the FISA court reject? Fewer than 1%, I’d guess. That is pretty amazing. Especially since we are being asking to assume stupidity in lieu of malice.

    Third, we have now criminalized policy differences. This is a particularly pernicious development for our Republic. This is now playing out in the impeachment imbroglio.

    1. “A” presidential campaign? Just one?

      Look, I’m assuming they spied on all the potential Republican nominees. They started spying on Trump’s campaign long before anybody would have been certain he was going to be the nominee, they probably had parallel efforts going for everybody who ran in that primary, and just dropped them as they dropped out of the race.

      1. I don’t think it’s as simple as party, but rather institutionalists vs outsiders.

        So Bill Clinton was probably investigated in 1992 when he was an outsider, but by the 2008 election Hillary was the insider, and Obama was the outsider.

        I’m not sure I’d prefer my theory to be true, but I think it more consistent with reality – at least in the past, though I’d agree it would appear to be changing.

  36. Excellent points, Robby….

    There is more, of course. But on the “didn’t find political bias” front, this is a weird thing that has happened twice now.

    I wonder what they would have accepted as proof. On the “Page and Strzok” mini-investigation they also found that there was no evidence that political bias affected the Russia investigation. This, despite having it in writing that they had extreme bias against the Trump campaign and had intentions to do “something” about it.

    It really makes one question what possibly would constitute evidence that the FBI or any other agency acted in bad faith. And that is also a strange bar.

    This reminds me very much of police shooting investigations. The internal police investigations will usually focus on the one second surrounding the decision to shoot. Take the Tamir Rice incident. They determined that it was a good shoot, because they had so little time to react – the officer saw someone holding a gun mere feet away.

    Never mind that they had been told it was probably a toy, that they drove up to within feet and the officer on the passenger side jumped out of the vehicle and placed himself within feet of a potentially armed suspect. They created the dangerous and deadly circumstances themselves…. but that wasn’t a factor. Procedures were followed.

    These internal investigations always examine each step in isolation. In Tamir Rice they had a call from dispatch. They approached the suspect with urgency because of the danger to others. They shouted commands. He moved and appeared to have a gun. They opened fire. Step by step. Never look at it as a whole – or from Rice’s point of view, where suddenly a police car comes driving up in the middle of the park where he is playing, some guy jumps out and shouts incoherently for 2 seconds and when you turn to see what is happening, they kill you.

    The same goes for this Russia investigation. The IG says the FBI had most of their paperwork in order – although there were a lot of significant “errors”.

    Nobody ever bothers to look at the big picture. Beyond the failures Soave highlights, just look at the big picture…. If you take them at their word, they had reason to believe that the Trump campaign was being targeted by Russian operatives. In response, they started a counterintelligence operation. So far, so good.
    As step one, they began spying on members of the Trump campaign. OK, maybe. That way they can find out who is trying to contact them and if they have been compromised.

    But they never do a single thing to prevent Russia from infiltrating the Trump campaign. That’s your forest. The rest of it is the trees. Once you see that they have identified a threat to national security like this, and then their only response is to attempt to entrap Americans in process crimes and find evidence they can use to prosecute Americans for any crime at all in order to “flip” them into testifying against Trump…. Well, now you can see the big picture.

    A real counter-intelligence operation should have the security of America as the top priority. They should have immediately started working with Trump and the Trump campaign to prevent Russian infiltration. But they didn’t do that. And when they couldn’t find any evidence that it was actually happening, they began setting up people like Papadopoulos and Page, even going so far as to use a honey pot and dropping off cash on the way to the airport to create process crimes out of thin air.

    There is a deficiency in how we allow our government to police itself. We have a standard of “can each action be justified” and we never look at the overarching “what are they doing” question.

    In the case of police shootings, we never look at things like “Why was a police officer threatening a small homeless man and promising to ‘fuck you up’ moments before they beat him to death”. We don’t look at the police casually stepping over his broken and dying body so that an EMT can look at a scrape on their elbow. We just look at it step by step….. he did not follow commands, he did not lay still when ordered to stop resisting (as 6 large police officers sat on him with all their weight and continued beating him in the face with the butt of a taser pistol)…. therefore each step was justified.

    That is what this report represents. The FBI is saying “sure, there were some errors along the way”, But they never look at the overall mission. They never even note that their initial actions were highly questionable from a “is this a reasonable way to respond to this information”. They simply examine “was their a predicate for this action” at each step. This is an extremely low bar.

    It is the equivalent of the police saying the dog alerted on the side of the road. Nobody asks if it was reasonable to bring a dog. Or if the dog is even responding to anything other then his handler. Procedures were followed. It is all good. No need to ask if the overall process violated anyone’s rights, or if the overall system allows for people to substitute their biases and hunches for actual probable cause.

    1. +10, nice post

    2. Well said, sir.

    3. “It really makes one question what possibly would constitute evidence that the FBI or any other agency acted in bad faith.”

      I thought Horowitz was pretty clear about that: A signed confession.

    4. It really makes one question what possibly would constitute evidence that the FBI or any other agency acted in bad faith. And that is also a strange bar.

      It appears the bar for proving bad faith (also intent in Hillary’s email fiasco) is much much higher than the bar to get a FISA warrant (and continually renew said warrant) to spy on a Presidential campaign.

    5. I’m confused as to why this level of analysis is relegated to the comments section, while our intrepid “reports” at reason just accept the document at face value.

      1. I have been harping on exactly this for a long time. And not just at reason.

        The media has been a monolith for the most part on Russia and now Ukraine. On Russia, you’d think that someone, somewhere would have tried to make their bones on covering the “Obama Administration spies on and then sabotages Trump campaign, transition and administration.” angle. The New York Times even ran a celebratory piece, extolling the wonders of senior Obama administration officials who took classified information and distributed it around the government in order to be leaked after the inauguration and precipitate an independent counsel investigation.

        There were quite a few reporters who had information about senior Obama administration officials working to subvert the peaceful transfer of power…. and instead of digging in and publishing an expose, they applauded and joined in, publishing pieces based on leaks from these same officials that were intended to harm Trump.

        I get having a political point of view… but at some point you’d think that some newsroom would have said “We are going to expose this”. It never happened. And now that it is out in the open, most of the coverage is of the “See, Trump was lying” variety. I don’t get it.

        I fully understand Rush Limbaugh, Rachel Maddow, Sean Hannity and Chris Cuomo being partisan hacks. That’s their schtick. They don’t pretend to be anything else. But why is the entire NYT news room devoted to “getting Trump”? Not in a clandestine, “wow, cyto is being a nutty conspiracy theorist” way, but openly and proudly claiming to be part of the resistance, and openly saying that their campaign to get Trump on Russia failed, so they need to explore other avenues to get Trump, finally settling on race baiting…. again, in an open and public way.

        Woodward and Bernstein may have been “out to get” Nixon. But they surely never would have publicly said “hey, we are out to get Nixon, and if this doesn’t work, we are going to gin up something else”. At least in public, they have always maintained that they were simply reporting the story, wherever it lead.

        1. The more interesting question is whether they realize they’re political hacks, or do they truly believe they’re evaluating and reporting fairly?

          I’ve heard enough variations on “reality has a liberal bias” To suspect they really think they’re the honest and upright ones in this.

    6. Good post.

      “There is a deficiency in how we allow our government to police itself.”

      There isn’t any good way to do that. The people have to police the government. Decentralize government power, take it back from the federal government and return it to the states as originally intended. And when the people elect a new President to drain the swamp, he should be able to retire most of the federal workforce.

      1. And do that by revoking almost all federal taxes. The leviathan displacement of local jurisdictions happened because they handed off their taxing power to the feds.

        It could be as simple as a conditional bill passed by Congress along the lines of “every tax and federal program on (list) is repealed for (state) if they pass a bill that says copy federal taxes and pay them to each state.”

        Then the taxing transition happens when each state is ready for the transition to run them themselves, and then they can each decide if they want to keep the current size of government or start cancelling programs.

    7. Cyto, I don’t know how much Reason is paying you, but it isn’t nearly enough.

    8. Excellent post

  37. A new level of “vindication” being pushed by the media….. Steele was a close friend of the Trumps. This, because he knew Trump’s daughter.

    CNN was pushing this… claiming it proves he had no bias and not even any connection to the Clintons, despite the millions the Clintons and the DNC paid for the Steele opposition research dossier.

  38. What the IG report doesn’t tell us is how frequently the type of errors made in this investigation are made in other investigations. This investigation got an IG review simple because it is high profile. The real story here is that the FISA program itself needs reform. That will likely be lost in the competing narratives. Question is will some of the opponents to FISA use this to push reforms or will they simple jump on one of the two narratives. I am talking to you Rand Paul.

  39. What If …

    “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” -George Orwell (1903-1950)

    In the proceedings labelled an “official impeachment inquiry” against President Trump, what if the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives had been Chinese? What if his successor, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, had been Chinese? What if three of the four so-called legal scholars advising the latter committee had been Chinese? What if the Inspector General investigating the so-called Department of Justice, whose conclusion whitewashed some black deeds, were Chinese?

    Americans of Chinese ethnicity comprise 1.5% of the American population. Ah, but they weren’t Chinese, were they.

    https://www.nationonfire.com/jews-of-the-left/ .

  40. Robby , folks are claiming vindication because:
    Despite the mountain of evidence of political bias weasel swamp creature Horowitz concludes no bias and he’s also not sure today is Tuesday

    I will say that the report does provide the evidence excluding the laughable conclusion.

    Now will Barr/Durham actually do anything ?

    1. Horowitz made no decision on bias. He just says there was no documentation or confession of having been biased. Only the media and Robby are concluding no bias.

    2. It’s interesting that both Durham and Barr have issued statements distancing themselves from Horowitz’ no bias conclusion. The story has been mostly downplayed in the media and ignored completely by Reason but they’ve made it clear that the IG’s opinion will be inconsequential in the long term.

      1. Yeah, I was more than a little surprised when AG Barr and Mr. Durham came out publicly and stated the IG report was incomplete, and they did not agree with some of the conclusions.

        They’ve got people dead to sights….100%, no debate. Just watch.

  41. the FBI was used as a political tool

    “The FBI” is a political tool. The one in Washington is, anyway. It’s why the FBI field offices are kept separate from HQ – if there’s not an actual conflict of interest, there’s certainly a potential for and an appearance of. The investigative work is supposed to be free from the political meddling.

    Go back to when the NY field office seized Carlos Danger’s laptop, discovered Huma’s copies of Hillary’s e-mails and DC immediately bigfooted the investigation. There were people crowing that they had her now, there were too many field agents who knew the truth and if Comey tried sweeping Hillary’s dirt under the rug there would be a revolt. They knew Comey was a political creature – the same is true of the top brass in the Pentagon or any government agency – while the field agents were not. And yet Comey did indeed sweep Hillary’s dirt under the rug, and there was no revolt. It’s like the “good cops” covering up for the bad cops – if you’re not speaking out on the bad cops, you’re a bad cop too. The FBI is thoroughly rotted top to bottom.

  42. Despite what the Republicans called “spying”, they will undoubtedly vote to reauthorize the Patriot Act and fail to creat a FISA court that actually has the ability to question agencies the request surveillance under the court. Agencies going to the FISA have an a reasonable suspicion standard when requesting surveillance. This is an easily met standard and should be raised when US citizens are involved. The FISA court allowed for the collection of all US citizen cell phone records, the mass surveillance of email traffic, etc. In reality, the FISA court only exists to give some sort of credibility to the agencies that use….NOT the rights of US citizens

    1. No doubt the FISA court process sucks, but the FBI needs to be held accountable for knowingly submitting and validating false statements in warrant application–regardless of whether we change the way they go about getting their warrants.

      No matter what reforms you want to introduce, warrants can only be issued on oath or affirmation according to the Fourth Amendment. The FBI needs to be held accountable if someone or anyone knowingly presented information they knew to be false or seriously flawed in their oath or affirmation–and that’s exactly what happened in this case.

      1. There need to be negative consequences when an FBI agent effectively commits perjury.

  43. The IG and Democrat media did the expected two step with the report. The IG did not look past the denials of the bureaucrats concerning their intent and the Dem media misreported that the IG looked and found nothing. In a day or two, the Dem media will stop covering the report and go back to propagandizing for impeachment.

    The swamp wins again.

    Unless Justice indicts the perps in the Obama administration spy and dirty tricks operation against Trump, nothing will change. Actual consequences are necessary for reform and even the Democrat media cannot ignore months long prosecutions.

    1. “The IG did not look past the denials of the bureaucrats concerning their intent”

      You think he should have ignored what they said?

      Whoever told the IG to look into whether there was political bias is an idiot. It was a fool’s errand.

      Should he have sent the intent of the FBI agents in question to a lab? Should he have had their intent weighed on a scale? How many kilograms does bad intent weigh compared to good intent?

      The intent doesn’t matter.

      What they did was wrong and probably criminal–regardless of intent.

    2. “Unless Justice indicts the perps in the Obama administration spy and dirty tricks operation against Trump, nothing will change. Actual consequences are necessary for reform and even the Democrat media cannot ignore months long prosecutions.”

      This IG report is battlespace prep for that. If Durham and Barr do bring charges against anybody, the Democrats and their media lackeys will spin it as ‘politically motivated’ and point to how the FBI has already been ‘exonerated’ by the IG.

  44. It is vindication because the fascists say so.
    Get with the program. (or else)

  45. Why Is It Being Treated Like Vindication?

    By golly, let’s have another investigation!

    1. We need a special counsel to investigate the FBI.

      1. No, we do not, Ken. We need Congress to slim down the FBI via lower appropriations. Then we need Congress to defund the FISA court.

  46. Why is it being treated like vindication? Because we’ve become so partisan that the partisans have no choice but to continue asserting their position, regardless of reality

  47. I have not seen much commentary about what this report tells us about the Mueller investigation. Specifically, the laundry list of misconduct at the beginning of the investigation likely colored his decisions in the Mueller report. Much of the “evidence” gathered before the creation of the Mueller investigation would have NEVER held up in court at all and likely all of it is fruit from a poisonous tree.

    There is also the question of why Mueller himself did not mention any of the misconduct of the investigation in his report when it was material to informing about why he did not find evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. In fact, it is curious because the misstatements, omission of exculpatory evidence, and the unreliability of sources all enforce Mueller’s findings regarding conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

    It also likely informs why Mueller refused to make a charging decision on obstruction as well. He knew in a court proceeding much of the evidence would be either inadmissible for violations in the investigation or that the sharing of other information would severely damage the government’s credibility in the case. Because he didn’t mention the IG information explicitly it looked like he was punting, but he wanted to punt and make Barr take the fall for refusing to charge someone of a crime when the investigation was riddled with holes.

    1. Much of the “evidence” gathered before the creation of the Mueller investigation would have NEVER held up in court at all and likely all of it is fruit from a poisonous tree.

      This is basically the tactic that Flynn’s legal team took when it began contesting the guilty plea–because it was all based on information from the piss dossier.

      That’s why the judge has never gotten around the sentencing him.

      1. Can you imagine going before a judge with the problems we now know existed in the formation of the case? Exculpatory evidence omitted? Evidence fabricated? Sources with extremely dubious credibility? I don’t see how any of it would be admissible and even if it were in some limited circumstances the cross examination of the evidence would be devastating.

  48. For those who are saying there is no political bias, please consider the alternative. That being the entire FISA process has violated civil rights/liberties for 15 years, how many people were wrongfully investigated(perhaps wrongfully imprisoned?) during this 15 year period, hundreds?,thousands?,tens of thousands?. I hate to say it, but I hope it was politically motivated because that means there were a few bad actors, the alternative is utterly terrifying.

    1. I think if you are an attorney working federal criminal prosecutions, at this point you should at least determine whether the government checked the procedural boxes before recommending a plea deal. This is great evidence of why the prosecutors come to you with a plea deal because they want to avoid defending the investigators and their actions in court.

    2. Both are true
      And the American people tolerating it is utterly terrifying

    3. Correction: “..I hope this was politically motivated because that would have only required scores of bad apples….”

      And remember how that adage goes – a few bad apples spoil the bunch.

  49. What it shows is that smart lawyers can build an escape plan with ‘plausible deniability ‘ that can’t be shown to be any different from rank incompetence. Either they had it in for Trump or one of our most powerful agencies is manned by a bunch of malevolent boobs. If they weren’t after Trump why were they so determined to get Carter Page?

    1. “”If they weren’t after Trump why were they so determined to get Carter Page?”””

      I recall someone saying it was always about Trump.

      They know if you want to investigate person A, find someone or move someone into person A’s circle. Then the link analysis will allow you to do electronic surveillance person A.

  50. My guess would be because the Trump people are treating this as extreme and unprecedented, and everything extreme and unprecedented was found not to be true, just leaving the same bullshit that they do every day in every case to everyone.

    Is it good, obviously not, but it’s a condemnation of the system, not a case of ‘liberals out to get Trump’. Since it was framed as ‘liberals out to get Trump’, and it wasn’t, that’s why it’s being considered vindication.

    1. I point this out elsewhere that it needn’t be partisan bias, as tunnel vision or the Greater Good causing abuse would look just the same – except for Strzok and anything he touched. That’s pretty clearly partisanship.

  51. The FBI may not have any credibility, but at least they have guns and badges.
    This way they can detain, arrest and shoot anyone with impunity.
    Isn’t Big Government wonderful?

  52. “repeatedly reauthorized along mostly bipartisan lines.”
    What does that even mean?

  53. Vindication because no one is in jail?

  54. The IG report was created by an Obama appointee. What else could anyone in America expect of the results?

    1. Yes. And he came from the Southern district of New York, reliable Democrat country.

  55. Yes these serious mistakes, lapses, errors, whatever you want to call them were all actually CHOICES. Choices made by the FBI players as they undertook this investigation. Choices they made knowing they were making them at the time, leaving out certain information that didn’t fit, minimizing or maximizing other information to give different interpretations they wanted the FISA court to see when they decided to issue the warrants.

  56. “On CNN, Erin Burnett uncritically interviewed FBI Director Andrew McCabe”

    Except that McCabe ISN’T the FBI Director! Criminy, if Soave can’t get THAT right, how are we supposed to have confidence in the rest of his writing??? Just three sentences later he wrote “David Kelley, an attorney for former FBI Director James Comey”, so he knows HOW to use the word “former”.

    Just another example of sloppy, sloppy, sloppy undermining credibility.

  57. We live in the age of The Narrative. The mainstream media already have their narrative (Trump is bad). Pretty much everything they “report” will support their narrative.

  58. “…The government’s surveillance of Carter Page might not have been improperly motivated,…”

    My grant of the benefit of the doubt doesn’t begin to stretch that far.

  59. I am going to repeat this again as I always do based on my experience with the law. Law enforcement is corrupt from the top down, from the FBI to the local po-po. Sure there are good cops, unfortunately, the ROE’s and SOP’s are corrupted by politics, “from the top-down”. Although it seems the Democrats abuse the law more than the Republicans.

  60. Does the word “evidence” have some specific meaning in the legal context that’s different from the scientific context?

    In science evidence is anything that is more likely to be true in one circumstance as opposed to another – it’s merely a hint as to the truth, it‘ doesn’t have to be complete, certain, or dispositive.

    So how does the IG conclude there was no evidence of partisanship when the report itself includes numerous examples of either partisanship, tunnel vision, or the Greater Good fallacy. That’s even setting aside Strzok’s text messages, which were explicitly partisan and in a position of power within the FBI.

    So does the government (or law) have some special definition of “evidence” they use to claim they’re always right? Or is the IGs report merely self-refuting? Or is it just being materially misreported?

  61. Robby Soave is just painfully naive if he accepts any of the report as true. And as far as assessing motivations – do you think FBI agents are going to confess to political motivation, hostility towards Trump, etc. The FBI is out of control because there is no one to restrain it. That’s the problem with “law enforcement.” They think they define right and wrong. Of course the investigation was politically motivated, courts were lied to, and rights were violated. But the IG didn’t hear anyone admit that, so he doesn’t think it occurred. The IG is part of the problem, not the solution. They do not know how to step back and see the corruption.

  62. The Inspector General cannot compel testimony and cannot subpoena documents. It’s no wonder he did not uncover proof of corruption.

    US Attorney John Durham has subpoena power and a grand jury to work through. Won’t it be a shock when he reports that he has found proof of corruption at the FBI?

  63. Maybe Jacob Sullum the Gull’em can splain it to us, Lucy.

    This comment not approved by Silicon Valley brain slugs.

  64. This is exactly the same situation as the Mueller report which we were told was total exoneration. Mueller report didn’t find Russia collusion but found other stuff. This report didn’t find political bias but found other stuff. Under Republican standards this report is total exoneration.

  65. I wouldn’t trust the FBI any longer. Not as long as Christopher Wray is the Director.

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