Free Minds & Free Markets

The Deep-State Liars of the #Resistance

Democrats are rehabilitating the deservedly poor reputations of surveillance-state officials who were caught lying to the American people

During his half-century spent defending Americans' civil liberties, here's what has changed, according to lawyer Alan Dershowitz: "Now conservatives have become civil libertarians, and liberals have become strong supporters of law enforcement, the Justice Department and the FBI," the professor and pundit said after dining with President Trump on Tuesday night.

That snorting sound you hear? That's a thousand libertarians shooting coffee through their noses at the notion that the GOP is newly sympathetic to issues of law enforcement overreach and intrusive investigative tools. Republicans had an opportunity as recently as three months ago to rein in warrantless snooping under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. What did they do? They voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize the practice for another six years: 191-45 among GOP members in the House, 43-7 in the Senate.

It's unfortunate how wrong Dershowitz is about the Republican Party. But what's also depressing is that he may be right about the Democrats. In their efforts to oust a potentially lawless president, they are exalting a rogue's gallery of surveillance-state officials who have abused their power.

Take James Clapper. The man who oversaw a vast surveillance apparatus as director of national intelligence under President Obama is now the toast of left-leaning media outlets including Salon, the Guardian and the Huffington Post for questioning Trump's "fitness to be in office," saying that Watergate "pales" in comparison to the current crisis, and quipping that Russian President Vladimir Putin treats Trump "like an asset."

California Democrat Rep. Adam B. Schiff tweeted his Clapper endorsement last year: "James Clapper is a patriot who served his country for 50 years & knows dangerous bluster when he sees it. So yes, he's an authority on DJT." But as Schiff certainly knows through his work on the House intelligence committee, Clapper straight-up lied to Congress and the American people in March 2013 when asked by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) whether the National Security Agency collects "any type of data at all" on millions of Americans. "No sir. Not wittingly," Clapper replied.

Three months later, after the revelations of phone logs and email data collected by the NSA made front pages, Clapper characterized his lame answer as the "least untruthful" way he felt he could respond. If Trump and his B-movie gang of hangers-on are eventually to be tripped up on a series of lying and obstruction-style charges, surely there are better character witnesses for the prosecution than a perjurer.

It's difficult these days to get the latest #resistance news without encountering some of Clapper's partners in government malfeasance. One of MSNBC's latest contributor hires, for example, is former Obama-administration CIA Director John Brennan. Like former FBI director James B. Comey (coming soon to a bookstore near you!) Brennan is one of the more melodramatic voices on Twitter, delivering stern lectures to a presidential interloper who dares impugn our noble intelligence state.

"When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known," Brennan tweeted at Trump last month in a characteristic effort, "you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America. ... America will triumph over you."

(McCabe, the FBI deputy director who got fired the day before his planned retirement, raised a quarter-million dollars for a legal defense fund within six hours, helped out by retweets from the likes of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.)

Brennan's moral compass has not always been so prominently displayed. During his tenure as CIA director, the agency got caught spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee's computers. When confronted by then-Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) about it, Brennan used the same how-dare-they tone he now reserves for the president: "Nothing could be further from the truth," he said at first. "We wouldn't do that. I mean, that's just beyond the scope of reason."

By uncritically cheering on such flawed actors, the Trump opposition is sending a clear if unwitting message to future abusers of power: To rehabilitate your image, simply oppose the president with enough flowery adjectives. I predict we will hear more such performances — complete with applause from progressives — during the upcoming book tours of Comey and former CIA Director Michael Hayden.

To the extent that these former officials have direct knowledge of matters relevant to the Trump/Russia investigation — and Comey, at least, certainly does — we need to hear from them. But if in these fraught political times we're taking our moral cues from a gang of former intelligence officials, then our problems run deeper than — and will outlast — the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Photo Credit: MIKE THEILER/UPI/Newscom

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  • Cy||

    I think they're all just pissed that they have more in common with DJT and they do with their voters. Every time they look at him and see he's President of the United States and they aren't it, sends them into irrational fits of rage. He is their harbinger, all they can see is the beginning of the end.

  • commentguy||

    Your post is so illogical. They weren't President during the Bush or Obama years, and never ran as a candidate, so it makes no sense to say they are only doing this because they aren't President.

  • JungleCogs||

    The Progressive Fascists worked so hard to achieve their authoritative control for so many decades; now, they see all that work may be ending and reversed. They are in a state of uncontrollable panic.

  • Michael P||

    Democrats care about getting a Republican president out of office, not about getting a "potentially lawless" one out. They were thrilled with the idea of getting career criminal Hillary Clinton into the Oval Office, even to the point of cheating and violating campaign reform laws.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    It's disappointing to see Reason publish something this anti-anti-Drumpf. But at least key #Resistance hero Robert Mueller wasn't mentioned. That man is an American hero with a flawless record of service to this country.

    MAGA = Mueller Ain't Going Away

  • Presskh||

    Mueller is nothing more than a hired gun looking for anything to take down Trump, Russia-related or not. If he were legit, he would also be equally investigating the real Russian collusion - the fake dossier and Hillary's pay-for-play Uranium One deal. He should be given one more week to wrap up his "findings" and then immediately fired.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    OBL. I look forward to a time in our country's near future when people like you, and Mueller, are investigated for your communist sympathies and un-American activities. Just like American hero, Joe !McCarthy, did to your treasonous predecessors back in the day. Wherein everything you hold dear is destroyed, and personal freedom and liberty are restored.

  • commentguy||

    I'm just disappointed by the simple-minded approach to the world that says that people are either paragons of virtue or completely untrustworthy. (To paraphrase: "Because Clapper didn't disclose classified info by answering truthfully, nobody should ever be allowed to agree with what he says!") And yet at the same time I hear that liberals never give Trump credit for the good things he does, and instinctively oppose his policies without thinking. Well I support his recent announcement on marijuana laws - let's see if he sticks to a consistent line on this. (I also supported his ban on importing hunting trophies of endangered species, but it seems he's backed off on that one.) I don't support dumping mine waste into rivers, and I can't imagine how anyone could.

  • MSimon||

  • KevinP||

    Civil rights lawyer Harvey Silverglate: How Robert Mueller Tried To Entrap Me

    I have known Mueller during his career as a federal prosecutor. My experience has taught me to approach whatever he does in the Trump investigation with a requisite degree of skepticism or, at the very least, extreme caution.

    When Mueller was the acting United States Attorney in Boston, I was defense counsel in a federal criminal case in which a rather odd fellow contacted me to tell me that he had information that could assist my client. He asked to see me, and I agreed to meet. He walked into my office wearing a striking, flowing white gauze-like shirt and sat down across from me at the conference table. He was prepared, he said, to give me an affidavit to the effect that certain real estate owned by my client was purchased with lawful currency rather than, as Mueller's office was claiming, the proceeds of illegal drug activities.

    My secretary typed up the affidavit that the witness was going to sign. Just as he picked up the pen, he looked at me and said something like: "You know, all of this is actually false, but your client is an old friend of mine and I want to help him." As I threw the putative witness out of my office, I noticed, under the flowing white shirt, a lump on his back – he was obviously wired and recording every word between us.
  • Aloysious||

    Thanks for the large picture of that fuckhead Clapper.

    I'd rather look at a picture of an engorged unshaven scrotum.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Turn on talk for Tony!

  • MSimon||

    "I'd rather look at a picture of an engorged unshaven scrotum."

    A twofer then.

  • DajjaI||

    I watched several seasons of Big Brother. There's really not that many things that people need privacy for.

  • Sevo||

    As we learned this week, the gov't hates competition in the spying bizz.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    "During his half-century spent defending Americans' civil liberties"

    Say what? Alan Dershowitz is the guy who advocates, you know, torture, among other non-civil libertarian practices. These days, Dershowitz is a Likudist, not a civil libertarian. He supports anyone who will "defend" Israel, that is to say, anyone who will offer Israel unqualified support under any and all circumstances. That's why he's embracing Trump. I hold no brief for James Clapper, and the rest of the Obama Administration, which had the worst record on civil liberties of any Democratic administration since Woodrow Wilson's. But Obama did at least renounce torture, though he refused to prosecute those who practiced it--amnesty for the powerful, not for the weak. But Dershowitz is embracing Donald Trump precisely because Trump rejects the rule of law. Dershowitz believes that only a lawless regime can protect Israel. Pretending not to notice Dershowitz's motivation here is the grossest hypocrisy.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    We never tortured anyone, supporting Israel is supporting the good guys, co side ring the alternative is genocide against the Jews by murderous muslims.

    You really are on the wrong side of a lot of things. I'll bet you applaud Hamas' rocket attacks against innocent Israeli civilians too.

  • JesseAz||

    Nothing like a little antisemitism shrouded in anti-zionism to wake a liberal up in the morning.

  • BigT||

    "he Obama Administration, which had the worst record on civil liberties of any Democratic administration since Woodrow Wilson's."

    Um, 70,000 Japanese disagree.

    Has anything ever really come close to that?

  • Hank Phillips||

    This is great news! With both factions of the looter kleptocracy as clearly hostile to freedom as Europe's Hitler and Stalin factions that originated their ideologies, there is no excuse for the LP not to ramp up that spoiler vote hockey stick. A primitive sigmoid logistics curve replacement model using election results for the past 16 years suggests the LP will have half of both Hice of Congress by 2074. But long before then, spoiler votes will have caused the aggression parties to repeal bad laws in desperate gambits to retain power, just as they legalized choice, relegalized some plant leaves and quit baiting gays.

  • Paradigm||

    > the LP will have half of both houses of Congress by 2074

    The LP in its current form is an absolute fantasy. You'll never get progressives because...well...small government. And you'll never get conservatives if you won't drop open borders - REALLY drop it, not pull a Republican trick and lie to get into office then throw open the floodgates. If by some miracle the LP ever does get into any national office, if they so much as sneeze that they won't enforce immigration laws, their candidate will be gone faster than Nick Gillespie can belch, "Both sides suck" (in every article).

  • Silence Dogoode||

    So, the dossier that was used to spy on Trump and his men during the election is no big deal.
    The dossier that was paid for by lying Hillary.
    Mueller going after Trump's lawyer for possible payments, even before Trump was running for office is no big deal.

    Trump is no angel, but he is going after the Swamp.

    Libertarians only seem to be against big government when Republicans are in charge. Where is the agnst against the Swamp using any and all means necessary to over throw our duly elected President?

  • Paradigm||

    Agreed. Staunch libertarians are so wedded to the both-parties-suck line, that they're willing to ignore heinous abuses of power. The funny thing is, if Gary Johnson had been elected in 2016, the media and the Democrats would have destroyed him with the tactics they're trying right now on Trump. The media would have played the tongue-out and "What is Aleppo?" videos 24x7 until Johnson was seen as Bozo the clown. The only reason they didn't destroy him in 2016 is because they didn't think he was enough of a threat to spend any money on it.

  • Silence Dogoode||

    So, the dossier that was used to spy on Trump and his men during the election is no big deal.
    The dossier that was paid for by lying Hillary.
    Mueller going after Trump's lawyer for possible payments, even before Trump was running for office is no big deal.

    Trump is no angel, but he is going after the Swamp.

    Libertarians only seem to be against big government when Republicans are in charge. Where is the agnst against the Swamp using any and all means necessary to over throw our duly elected President?

  • Jickerson||

    Trump is no angel, but he is going after the Swamp.

    By starting and continuing wars? By continuing the NSA's unconstitutional mass surveillance? By continuing the TSA, Gitmo, the drug war, and pretty much every policy that libertarians despise? He can't get rid of all these things unilaterally, but he could vehemently oppose them in public and veto/sign bills as necessary. Excellent swamp-draining, Trump!

    Libertarians only seem to be against big government when Republicans are in charge.

    That makes less than zero sense. When Obama or any other democrat is in office, the vast majority of libertarian are still vehemently opposed to their authoritarianism. Your claim is ridiculous and baseless.

  • JesseAz||

    Did you see the vote roles on the NSA 702 program?

  • Duelles||

    Huh? Where the hell have you been? Tyranny is tyranny, hard or soft and is opposed by libertarians.

  • Deplorable Victor||

    The best thing that could happen to mankind would be for DC to be NUKED - when the Trumper was in Florida...

  • MSimon||

    Robert Mueller? Whitey Bulger.

  • MSimon||

    4 men spent decades in prison because of Mueller. Two died in prison. They were awarded $100 million in part because of Mueller's obstruction.

  • JungleCogs||

    Nothing new... the Progressive Fascists always get testy when caught.

  • Duelles||

    Power and money trumps law and morality. For Whomever we vote there is this danger that we will not enter their concept of governance. We are screwed. Own something - have multiple streams of income. You are on your own.

  • tlapp||

    It's been many years since democrats were champions of civil liberties. When they controlled all 3 branches of government they renewed the Patriot Act as is with barely a word about the attack on civil liberties from the Bush administration. There are but a few libertarian leaning republicans and not nearly enough of We The People standing up to defend those rights.
    Dershowitz is trying to let people know those liberties are far more important that current politics so I'll forgive him for confusing republicans with defenders of those rights.

  • Lyle||

    Trump is the greatest libertarian President in American history. He's getting incompetent Washington deep-staters to stupidly out themselves left and right. These motherfuckers are too stupid to not tweet. Furthermore, Trump has a big cock and fucks porn stars with it. We should love him.

    My post is the most right of all the posts.

  • SukieTawdry||

    Are there any "matters relevant to the Trump/Russia investigation"?

  • pemaintoto||

    Mueller tidak lebih dari pistol sewaan mencari apa pun untuk menjatuhkan Trump, terkait Rusia atau tidak. Jika dia adalah orang yang sah, dia juga akan sama-sama menyelidiki kolusi Rusia yang sebenarnya - dokumen palsu dan transaksi Uranium One yang dibayar untuk membayar Hillary. Dia harus diberi satu minggu lagi untuk menyelesaikan "temuannya" dan kemudian segera dipecat.

  • pemaintoto||

    Sangat mengecewakan melihat Alasan menerbitkan sesuatu anti-anti-Drumpf ini. Namun setidaknya pahlawan #Resistance kunci, Robert Mueller tidak disebutkan. Pria itu adalah pahlawan Amerika dengan catatan layanan sempurna ke negara ini.

  • prediksifajar||


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