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Friday, January 26, 2018

Dirty Tricks


You must pursue this investigation of Watergate even if it leads to the president. I'm innocent. You've got to believe I'm innocent. If you don't, take my job.
-- Richard Nixon

What do you think about this memo, Jim? You think there's anything to it?

A rather large amount of my email this week concerns The Memo.

The secret memo drafted by House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, which allegedly describes some kind of chicanery at the FBI, particularly within the Russia Investigation. The Memo was supposedly written by Nunes and his staff, and is supposedly based on "highly classified" information that only a select group of House lawmakers have access to.

Now, naturally the various and assorted frothy conservatives have seized on this supposed memo as "evidence" of some "deep state" which is somehow in some way doing something something gazpacho to undermine Trump – and therefore America.

This memo, because of its supposed high level of classification, can't be released to the public.

Thus the problem: We are so far just required to take Devin Nunes word for it.

Apparently the memo is so classified, it can't even be shown to members of the Senate. Which is currently pissing off Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr to no end. And in addition to the Senate, Nunes has apparently rejected requests from the Federal Bureau of Investigation itself and the Justice Department to view the document.

Which is damned curious.

Because it would appear a large number of Republican congressman have seen this supposedly classified memo and, like my own idiot representative Matt Gaetz from the festering carbuncle that is Florida’s District 1, they are on every talk show in the country describing how it’s finally going to take down all of their political enemies and vindicate every suspicion they ever had about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

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Gaetz isn’t on the House Intelligence Committee. Yet it would appear that he is familiar with “every bit” of this classified memo. 

In fact, a lot of Republican congressmen who aren’t on the House Intelligence Committee have, in their own words, seen this memo.

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Hell, even former White House Deputy Assistant to the President, Seb Gorka, has apparently seen this memo. Emphasis on former.

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Gorky Park here doesn’t work for the US Government any more.

Which makes me wonder how a guy who doesn’t have a clearance, got a look at this supposedly highly classified document and why we’re not investigating this blatant breach of security. It also makes me wonder why if Nunes can show this memo to Gaetz and Meadows and Gorka and any random hobo sleeping off a drunk on the Washington Mall, why he won’t show it to the Senate or the Justice Department or us, for that matter.

But I digress. Also, apologies for that crack about hobos, that was just mean to Steve Bannon for no reason.

Anyway…

Given my own background, my mail is unsurprisingly full of questions.

Do I think there’s anything to this memo?

I do.

I do think there’s something to it.

But probably not in the manner you imagine.

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What do I think?

I think the memo is bullshit, through and through.

I think the memo is bullshit written by a guy who is literally (yes, literally) an expert in shoveling bullshit. We’ll come back to that.

Oh, I'm sure there's a memo.

And I'm sure it's all kinds of damning to the FBI.

And I'm sure that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton feature prominently as villains.

And I’m sure that it says everything Republicans want it to say and more.


But I suspect that this memo is just about as reality free as any random episode of Hannity.


Let’s start here, I want you to ask yourself something: what intelligence?

What intelligence?

Ask yourself what every alleged journalist in the country should be asking Devin Nunes right now: what intelligence?

Ask yourself what every Congressman and every Senator should be openly demanding from Devin Nunes right now: what intelligence?

The memo is supposedly based on "highly classified" intelligence. What intelligence?

Where did this intelligence come from? What agency produced this intelligence?

No, that’s not a rhetorical question. It’s a damned important one and everything starts here. What agency?

What agency is tasked and empowered to investigate the FBI?

And not only investigate the FBI, but an active and ongoing FBI investigation.

Who is that?

I mean, it's not the CIA or DIA or NSA or any other federal intelligence agency. That's not their job. Their job is foreign intelligence.  They work for the Department of Defense. They don't investigate domestic law enforcement, and certainly not an agency under the Department of Justice. In fact, there are a couple of very specific laws preventing them from doing so for very good reason.

Those laws exist because once upon a time, a president used national intelligence agencies to target his political enemies. We called that Watergate. And after Nixon’s abuse of the National Security Agency, among others, laws were put in place to prevent that kind of abuse in the future.

This is that future.

So, who investigated the FBI?

The Secret Service doesn't do this kind of work.

So, who does that leave? The Department of Justice Inspector General?

Well yes, that should be the correct answer. The DOJ IG would be the only agency empowered to investigate the FBI.

But the DOJ IG answers to Jeff Sessions and ultimately to Donald Trump.

So, why would the Office of the DOJ’s Inspector General, a member of the Executive Branch turn over the results of such an investigation, assuming they actually conducted one, to the House Intelligence Committee? Who authorized that? I mean, by definition that authorization has to come from the Attorney General. So, why would Jeff Sessions have to ask Devin Nunes to see this memo? Doesn’t he already have access to the underlying intelligence? Doesn’t Trump?

And the IG is an investigatory organ, not an intelligence agency.

The only way this makes sense is if the DOJ IG wasn’t the entity who produced the intelligence.


So, where does that leave us?


Well, see, there is a difference between The Memo and the underlying intelligence that it is supposedly based on.

And there’s a difference between intelligence collection and an investigation. And so it is possible that one or more of those aforementioned national intelligence agencies did indeed produce the underlying information that Nunes used to then write his memo.

In point of fact, that’s the only possible way this information could have been produced, assuming it is in fact legitimate.

But this then becomes even more problematic and raises all kinds of red flags.

See, according to Nunes, the intelligence is highly classified. Not just the information, but how it was obtained. What the intelligence community calls method and means. Capability.

Now, any physical investigation of the FBI, by whatever agency, would have been public knowledge. Somebody would have had to authorize it. Warrants would have to be issued. And if there were inspectors interviewing FBI agents and carrying files out of FBI Headquarters, somebody would have noticed. Somebody would have said something. There would be no way to hide it. But there's been no report of any such thing, not even rumors of such.  Nor would there be any reason to classify such an investigation, because the methodology for conducting it isn’t a secret.

You starting to understand?

So, this intelligence that Nunes is protecting, information gathering of this nature would, perforce, have to be clandestine and hands-off. The FBI couldn’t know about it. The public couldn’t know about it. The method and means used to gather the information would have to be covert.

That doesn't leave a lot of options.

Either the House Intelligence Committee has a mole in the FBI's Russia investigation feeding them information (which would be illegal) …

    …OR they have access to the tools and expertise and collection capability of a certain US military intelligence agency.

One that specializes in electronic surveillance, signals and communications intelligence.

And that agency, ipso facto, would have to have the ability to monitor phone calls, emails, texts, and the internal communications of not only the FBI, but an ongoing, classified, investigation into possible government collusion with a foreign power.

And there’s only one US intelligence agency with that capability and that’s the National Security Agency, NSA.

And not only does NSA have this capability, but if what Nunes and other Republican congressmen are saying is true about the intelligence underlying this memo, then they used it.

Against the FBI.


Now, you’re going to want to think about that, take some time, and think it through all the way.


The implications are pretty damned ugly indeed.

First, who authorized this?

Who authorized a US military intelligence agency to spy on the FBI?

Somebody had to. So, who authorized NSA to monitor FBI communications?

There are only two options:

a) Either NSA was specifically tasked with monitoring the FBI, or

b) they were already doing it as part of a larger domestic collection effort.

Each option generates dozens of questions. And not one of those questions has a good answer.

Was there a FISA warrant? If so, what was it based on? Because FISA is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Foreign. And the only way to get a FISA warrant to monitor Americans would be if you had reliable information indicating those Americas were colluding with a foreign target. Meaning in this case, you’d have to have evidence that the FBI, specifically somebody in the Mueller investigation, was communicating with Russia. Or was this done (if it was done) under some secret provision of the Patriot Act or similar such law? Or did they just bypass the law altogether? Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is true no matter how many times you care to run the experiment. Worse, the intelligence cycle in America has been essentially broken and nonexistent since the end of the Cold War. Intelligence agencies have gone from being a supporting function which gathers information in direct response to a specific need to self-licking ice cream cones which gather information for the sake of gathering information based on their own internal tasking. And I’m not the only one who’s noticed this. This is an incredibly dangerous situation. No intelligence agency should be able to generate its own targets, that tasking should always come from an outside consumer. Because the power these agencies command is beyond anything you can imagine, the potential for abuse is almost astronomical, and the only thing holding them in check is that they must answer to higher authority. Since the end of the Cold War, that authority has become increasingly detached.

If the FBI – the FBI! – was a target of domestic spying, what other government departments are under surveillance?

When did it begin? With Bush after 9-11? With Obama? With Trump? Is this intelligence gathering against the US government by US Intelligence assets still ongoing?

What is the scope of this effort? Is monitoring of government communications part of a larger operation? One that monitors us all?

Who is the intelligence consumer? Intelligence isn’t generated in a vacuum. This kind of collection is expensive. It has to be funded. Meaning there has to be congressional appropriations. Meaning there is review and oversight (more or less, often the latter). Meaning there has to be a reason for it. Meaning there has to be a requirement. Meaning that requirement is set by a consumer. Who is that consumer? The President? Congress? NSA itself? Who? Because this very much matters.

How is the information stored? For how long? Who has access to it? What are the protocols for ensuring that it isn’t corrupted or manipulated or edited or sold to Wikileaks? 

Which ultimately brings us to the question of why this information was given to Devin Nunes and the House Intelligence Committee in the first place and apparently not the President.

Because ultimately, the President is the executive agency for any such (assumed) intelligence program.

Which is damned curious indeed.


And it gets more damned curious the more you look at it.


The President is the Executive. Tasking for all the intelligence agencies is ultimately based on his authority.

The President tasks national intelligence, not Congress.

The President is the national classification authority. In accordance with US Code and Executive Order 12356, only the President, or his delegated subordinate authority, can classify or declassify information. Only the President or his delegated subordinate authority can authorize access to classified information.

By law, Devin Nunes cannot declassify or release this memo. Only the President or his delegated subordinate authority can do so.

Nor can Nunes declassify the underlying intelligence. Only the President can authorize that.

Nor can Nunes grant access to that information. Only the President can do that.

Nor can Nunes keep the memo from the President based on “classification,” the President is the classification authority, not Nunes. Nunes doesn’t decide who gets access to classified information, that’s the President’s job.

Which brings us back around to why Devin Nunes has access to classified intelligence information that the president, apparently, does not. Because otherwise why would the Justice Department, which works directly for the President, have to ask Nunes to see the information?

And why is Nunes giving his fellow Freedom Caucus members access to it?

Well?

Now, if you’ve been paying attention, you noticed a problem with that last sentence.

As I noted up above, there’s a difference between the intelligence and a memo based on that intelligence.

And there are many layers to intelligence.

First is the method and means used to obtain the raw information, which could be anything from phone taps to intercepting texts to the metadata encapsulating electronic communications (which is separate from the actual data itself) to watching people through a telephoto lens and so on. How the information is obtained is often more classified than the actual information itself.

Next is the raw intelligence, which often makes little or no sense to those not specifically trained in its analysis or without larger context.

And finally there is the finished intelligence product, the result of analysis and validation and weighting, tailored specifically to the consumer and sanitized of anything that consumer doesn’t need to know.

Now, here’s the thing: the consumer, despite all the various cautions that come with the finished product, can draw all sorts of conclusions from intelligence, some might even be accurate. Very often, they aren’t.

Let me give you a real-world example from my own personal experience: A few days before the Iraq War began, I led a security team onboard an Iraqi flagged vessel in the Persian Gulf. That vessel had once upon a time been a fishing trawler. Now, this is important because a trawler is a very specific type of vessel. A trawler is designed to drag a large net or nets behind itself, that net is called a trawl. There are many types of trawlers, depending on the species of sea creature they’re fishing for. This particular vessel was a stern trawler. Meaning it had a large ramp called a slipway and winch assembly in the stern. In short, the ship was designed to pull a large net behind itself, then when the net was full of fish, pull that net up the slipway onto the deck so it could be emptied. Now, it had been many years since this ship had gone to sea for fish. It was old and rusting and had passed through a dozen owners, each increasingly shadier. And it was in fact, a smuggler. Running contraband into and out of Iraq in defiance of UN Sanctions – and probably a dozen other countries around the Arabian Gulf. One of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of such vessels in every size and shape; smuggling is an old and honored trade in the region. It’s illegal, but not immoral. My team inspected the ship, I spoke to the master, but they were outbound from Iraq and empty and so we let them go. So long as we didn’t catch them shipping oil or weapons or helping members of Saddam’s regime escape, they weren’t my problem.

A day later the war started.

I was a Navy intelligence officer, it was my job to pay attention to damned near everything going on. And so, between missions, I was reading through a stack of strike orders … and I saw the name of that fishing trawler come up. 

Someone had designated that ship as hostile and assigned an airstrike. And that airstrike was on the deck of the carrier preparing for launch. 

Looking at the justification for the strike, I saw that there were “reports” that the vessel was laying mines. Mines? How the hell could they be laying mines? I’d just inspected that vessel, myself, with my own eyes. There were no mines. They hadn’t returned to port. They hadn’t rendezvoused with any other vessel. So, where did they get these mines? This had to be wrong, I thought. But when I queried the strike commander, I was told there were pictures of this vessel laying mines. Well, shit. Can’t argue with hard intel like that. Okay, I thought. It’s my fault. I missed something. It was war. None of us had slept since 9-11, I think. I was running on bad coffee and catnaps. I was doing several missions a day by then and things were starting to blur together. I must have missed something. But I just couldn’t see how.

So I asked for the pictures.

Nobody could produce them.

Several senior commanders told me they’d personally seen these pictures. But when I asked for them, nobody had  a copy.

Now, we were about to kill 40 people, you’d think the intel that strike was based on would be right at the top of the queue. But it wasn’t.

And in fact, when I started pulling the thread, I could not find a source for this supposed intelligence at all.

With some considerable effort, I got the strike called off.

Instead of a bomb, we sent in a SEAL team. And instead of Saddam Fedayeen rolling mines down the stern chute and wishing death to America, they found a bunch of terrified smugglers sitting on a rusty old tub. They weren’t laying mines. They weren’t doing anything except trying desperately to stay the hell out of the line of fire.

So what happened?

What happened was that somebody read my intelligence report. They glossed over the part where we hadn’t found anything and grabbed onto the part where I’d described the vessel type: stern trawler.

Stern trawlers have slipways and winches.

Which might, maybe, sort of, somebody suggested, could be put to use for laying mines. And from there, the speculation grew among various staffers until that vessel ended up minutes away from being destroyed along with forty-three innocent (relatively speaking) Iraqi crewmen. 

It’s war. Shit happens. We were all tired and amped and we’d been told a bunch of garbage by Washington D.C, most of which turned out to be wrong. Sometimes the fog of war is made by your own people. I eventually got a commendation for saving those Iraqi lives, but that’s not the reason I tell you this story. I tell you this story in particular because it’s one of the few examples from my past that I actually can tell you about and because it so aptly illustrates how even trained military commanders can take intelligence information and filter it through their own bias and create hobgoblins where none really exist.

Now, here’s the thing: Devin Nunes doesn’t even have that. He has no intelligence training at all.

No one, not one single member, on the House Intelligence Committee is an actual intelligence expert of any kind. In fact, they're not even amateurs. Not one of them, Republican or Democrat, has any actual intelligence background, no training, no experience. Of the very few members of the committee that have served in the military, none of them served in any intelligence capacity whatsoever. Two were enlisted army grunts, one was a surgeon, one was a JAG, another was a bomber pilot.

Nunes never served in the military. He was never a civilian intelligence analyst of any kind. He certainly doesn't have any kind of degree in it. He has no intelligence background at all. 

Devin Nunes' degree, training, and experience is in agriculture. Specifically, cows.

He is quite literally an expert in bullshit.


You're going to want to think about this.


You're going to want to think about all of this.

Think about it in the context of the Constitution.

Think about it in the context of public perception.

Think about it in the context of government.

Think about it in the context of who has access to this kind of information and how that terrible power could be abused.

Think about it in the context of freedom and liberty and justice and ultimately what that means to the future of the Republic.

You're going to want to think about that, while bearing in mind the very government in question has recently taken to attacking itself, accusing various agencies of being part of some "Deep State.” Agencies such as the FBI. And suggesting that it be either dissolved or completely reorganized. Think about that in the context of this same government attacking the press, suggesting that it be shut down or even jailed for not saying what the President wants it to say.

This, this right here, is how agencies such as the Gestapo or the KGB are born and how information can be turned into a weapon to be used against a nation’s own citizens.

Which leads us to the final question, why isn’t the press asking these questions?

Why isn’t the press demanding answers to these questions?

There’s not much point in being the watchdog of freedom, if you’re going to sleep while burglars ransack liberty.

Until we have a better relationship between private performance and the public truth, as was demonstrated with Watergate, we as the public are absolutely right to remain suspicious, contemptuous even, of the secrecy and the misinformation which is the digest of our news.
-- John le Carre, British Intelligence expert, spy, author




Disclosure: I’m a retired US Navy intelligence officer. I worked in and around the National Security Agency and other various US and foreign intelligence agencies for more than 20 years. I still know many people who work for those various organizations, both civilian and military. Opinions and observations put forth in this essay are entirely my own. I would neither compromise the trust of my fellows nor betray my oath to protect my nation’s secrets. // Jim

153 comments:

  1. Second line, Jim: conerns should be concerns. I caught another typo later, but have forgotten what it was, your argumentation was that good (as usual).

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    1. The other typo was somewhere where a "could" should have been a "couldn't"...but I have to run out the door and can't find it again :)

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    2. "Those law_ exist because..." and later "And not only do does NSA have this...."

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    3. Excellent essay. I'm quickly becoming a big fan. I'm spreading the word...

      "...create hobgoblins were none really exist."

      I hate to be annoying, but "were" should be "where".

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    4. Huh? I fixed that.

      Ah, I see. I switched editors and didn't update, and so put the error back in. It's fixed. Again. Thanks // Jim

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    5. Thank you for "truth" and thank you for your knowledge and sharing it all of us. Thank you for all your service you have given to protecting,defending our land and our Constitution. I know you hear that from others,but Americans really do appreciate the feeling of being safe/protected. Love the articles you write,very meaningful. Just, a huge THANK YOU . Keep sending out the truth ,maybe it will catch on to people who were a little lost and need to find a way back to American values,morals,truth. That blinder they wore because someone said they would help,and lied to take from them when they desperately needed real help. With such hope for this all to change,and soon! Sincerely,deeply thank you joAnn

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  2. After reading this, I think I need to up my monthly donation...

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    1. See? This is the reason this comment format needs a "like" button.

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  3. I'm thinking this could be your most consequential essay so far, Mr. Wright. Much food for thought here.

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  4. God damn, this is brilliant.

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  5. And in fact, when I started pulling the thread, I could find a source for this supposed intelligence at all.

    Perhaps you intended to write "couldn't?"

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    1. It's already fixed. Thanks // Jim

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    2. Excellent. I am conservative and read your writing often. I salute you for your talent and offering up yourself for us to see.

      Compliments to this essay. In my opinion, may be your best!

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  6. I suspect this memo has about the same validity as Joseph McCarthy's list of Communists in the State Department.

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    1. And the Republicans seem to be seeking to do similar damage while they can, before it gets out and is picked apart.

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    2. "I have a list of 57 card-carrying members of the Communist Party, which have infiltrated the State Department!"

      - Senator John "Johnny" Iselin, The Manchurian Candidate (1962), after being told by his wife (and Communist handler) that even though it helps to have a single, simple number of Communists in his list, it doesn't really matter what the exact number is because the press isn't asking, "are there any Communists in the State Department?" but rather, "how *many* Communists are in the State Department?"

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  7. It's the perfect lie. Say anything you want in a memo, and claim it's based on intel that is so sensitive that even revealing the memo would compromise sources and/or methods. And then proceed to 'leak' the supposed 'conclusions' from the memo to all and sundry and get the paranoid types all lathered up because GUBMINT SEKRITS!

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  8. As bad as Nunes has been with his press conference on the White House lawn last year, I might argue that he's not much of an expert at bullshit either, but never mind.

    Well done, sir.

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  9. Hi Jim,
    Love your stuff, but hate typos.

    A couple that I noticed:

    "Those law exist because once upon a time, a president..." (laws?)

    "Someone had designed that ship as hostile..." (designated?)
    ---
    I don't know what the profiles for commenting as even mean, but my name is David Rawlins (http://www.davidrawlinsart.com/) and there's no need to actually post this, just wanted to alert you to the typos...

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    1. Refresh your browser. Already fixed // Jim

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  10. May I give you some historical context which reminds me of this situation. It comes from a Senator from Wisconsin: "I hold here in my hand a list of known Communist sympathizers working in the State Department." That list had some pretty ugly ramifications for innocent American civilians, which is surprising because only a few other people saw the list, and it was found to be bogus. It started, however, a true witch hunt.

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  11. Lgranberg773@gmail.comJanuary 26, 2018 at 5:32 PM

    I worked in kind of a classified rate in the Navy collecting intelligence. This was back in the late 60's. As a lowly enlisted person, you could report but not confirm. Multiple levels must review the intel and then make snap decisions. The lowly enlisted man did his part and reported, that was the end for him. I'm suggesting that Nunes in this case is the bottom of this intelligence line, and should have realized his inadequacy in interpretation of the intel.

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    1. I suspect that a) there never really was a classified source and b) if there was any source at all he cherry picked what he wanted to support the conclusion he was trying to reach.

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    2. But how did he get the Intel? He's a nobody with a nobody's clearance to receive or request any Intel like he claims he has.

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    3. There was a source. The dems suggested that source should also be read before reading this memo. Pubs said "No thanks". Interestingly the dems got something entirely different out of the supporting intelligence

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  12. This makes my brain hurt. Destruction of everything that keeps us free. Thank you.

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    1. Makes my brain hurt too, but it was like reading a good book, explained well, written and told like a man with the experience, knowledge and no time for bullshit!

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  13. Wow. Opened my eyes. I'm too young to remember Watergate and I knew very little about intelligence gathering beyond the fact that the VIA isn't supposed to work within the US. This is some scary shit. If the memo really does refer to actual intelligence, where the hell did it come from? Treason seems to be contagious.

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    1. Who knows. Perhaps he's still getting things handed to him from Russia.

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    2. If you are not over sixty, like me, you cannot "remember" Watergate. I was 17 when Nixon waved from the stairs of the helicopter that took him off the White House.

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    3. That sir, is an uninformed and unsupported error. I was nine. I remember the entire thing fairly clearly, and the events surrounding it. I was in Germany at the time, selling nickle and copper bracelets with the names of a POW or a missing US serviceman on them to raise money and awareness. I remember Nixon wearing one. I remember my family taking the serviceman whose bracelet I wore to Garmisch to ski when he was released from Landstuhl Army Hospital.
      Never assume that personal responsibility, political awareness, memory, or a service ethic is reserved for only those that have reached a certain age.

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    4. I was 11 when Nixon resigned, and developed a very bad attitude toward politicians (and Republican ones in particular). I remember the interviews on TV (in place of my cartoons), and realizing that these supposed adults that were supposedly worthy of respect, lied like mad.

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    5. Anonymous at Jan 26 @ 5:32 PM: you wrote VIA and I suspect you meant CIA, because the CIA isn't supposed to work within the USA.

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  14. "I could find a source for this supposed intelligence at all"

    Should be couldn't, should it not?

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  15. Thank you for the explanation/analysis. I did not know any of this. So, what are the odds that Devin Nunes made the whole memo up?

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    1. What are the odds that this pencil I'm about to drop will hit the floor?

      Pretty damn good.

      Show me the paper, Nunes. Until then, as Jim pointed out, you're unwittingly right in your area of expertise.

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    2. I agree: he's talking out his ass (Nunes, not Jim), and this is why he can't show it to anyone who has two brain cells to rub together: they'll know instantly that it's bullshit.

      I WOULD be concerned if I thought the NSA had been aimed at the FBI for the purpose of discrediting stuff associated with the Russia investigation, but a) I doubt they have, and b) if they had, Nunes would be the last guy they'd tell since he's pretty clearly a wholly owned Russian subsidiary.

      tl;dr: it's a bluff. He's got nothing.

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    3. He can not show it,because the truth is in the actual classified information. They are all making a mockery of these Institutions when our AMERICAN,LOYAL EAGLES ARE THE LOOKING OUT for our Country. God Bless Smerics

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  16. Excellent explanations again, Jim. Thanks for the background. A couple of typos jumped at me 1) designed that ship -probably meant designated 2)when I started pulling the thread, I could find a source -probably should have a NOT in there.

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  17. Something's wrong with this essay. It makes sense and how can sense be made of what is happening in Washington today?

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    1. Jim's not in Washington. If he knew what was actually going on, he wouldn't be able to talk about it.

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  18. Thanks Jim this is just what people need to read. I will link this far and wide.

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  19. Typo in "And in fact, when I started pulling the thread, I could find a source for this supposed intelligence at all. "

    s/couldn't/could

    I hope this essay gains even wider readership than the original Farcebook community.

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  20. This is clear, concise, informative, and depressing as hell.
    You are to me commended, once again, for both the information that you share, and your skill in writing.

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  21. Is it possible that the national intelligence agency that collected this intelligence (assuming it exists) is a foreign government agency?

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    1. Well, I suppose that is a possibility.

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    2. If that were true, doesn't that make it even worse? Treasonous, in fact?

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    3. That thought has probably crossed the minds of any thinking person hearing about the memo. Seems pretty unlikely though, whatever you think of Nunes, I don't see a foreign government trusting him enough to feed him information (or disinformation) that blatantly.

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  22. cogent. concise. accurate. Unfortunately, none of those words describe editorial staff at Fox News.

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  23. And not only do does NSA have this capability,
    "do does"

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    1. I think you guys are having too much fun finding the typos ;)

      It's fixed. Thanks // Jim

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    2. People are polishing this gem because it needs to be seen by the powers that should be investigating!

      I'm Ann Cohrs on Facebook.

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  24. I've had no intelligence training though I think I am fairly grounded. I do have military experience, enough to understand the post, but also enough to see how anyone who has the slightest inclination to believe the memo nonsense will be able to find a reason to do so. No one like that will go through the mental gyrations required above to pierce their own preconceptions and see the absolute impossibility of the situation as presented. That or the fundamental threats to our intended way of governing.

    Recently, I've gotten more scared after watching the shutdown process, where the Democrats lost the narrative to the Republicans and were made to look like the ones holding the innocents hostage to many.

    I believe I know wrong and right for the most part. Also who represents what in today's politics, but I still feel like I/we have become untethered. And if -I- feel this way, well, I'm frightened right now.

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  25. "Someone had designed that ship as hostile"

    You probably meant "designated".

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  26. As always Jim a very good essay though I have to say scary as hell almost no matter what the actual truth is.

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  27. Please run for office. We need someone with a brain!

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  28. Thank you for clarifying a confusing situation (confusing to me). Donation sent.

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  29. It's almost like we should be expecting our officials and press to consult experts instead of holding up ignorance as a virtue.

    "Someone had designed that ship as hostile" I think you mean designated?

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  30. Wow. Some of your implications in this blog are frightening. Even more frightening is that others, who should know at least as much if not more than you and who should have information enough to control such a situation, should be howling right now. Those individuals should be screaming the questions that you pose here. Someone in one or more of the alphabet soup agencies should start blowing whistles. Until we hear those screams and whistles, we all should remain scared of and on guard against this Congress and administration. I read conservative hyperbole about this being a bigger bombshell than Watergate. No kidding, but not in the way they intended.

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    Replies
    1. They probably are screaming the questions, but they and their agencies are too professional to make it known.

      Delete
  31. Thank you for an exceptionally good piece of analysis and exposition.

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  32. Another possibility does occur to me but it is not a terribly pleasant one.

    There is another possible source of the intelligence (if we assume that it is not made of whole cloth by Nunes). While the NSA do indeed have that level of intercept capacity, so do several other nations. Is it possible that the information in the memo (with the caveat above) is actually from a foreign intercept that appears to contain US classified communications?

    For the sake of argument, imagine that a server thought to be used by Nation X was discovered and the data harvested. It contains a great deal of relatively low importance but classified documents and an item that apparently shows that the FBI were rabid democrats. Documents recovered could be checked and they would be found to be genuine. You couldn't check the incriminating evidence but you could check the rest and that might (if you were naive) make you think that the critical information was the same quality as the rest of the data.

    In that case, there are five possibilities

    1. Nunes has made up the whole thing
    2. The FBI (despite all signs to the contrary) are true blue democrats and the information is genuine.
    3. The server is a honeypot designed to slip the memo into the hands of Nunes or someone like him
    4. NSA is actively attacking the FBI and no-one has called foul
    5. Something that we haven't thought of

    I am not saying that this is an fake document from a honeypot. I have no idea if there is any information or if there is a honeypot or if the information is true although that does seem unlikely. I am suggesting that this is a possible attribution for information of that sort.

    As for whether the FBI were supporters of the Democrats and opponents of the Republicans, that seems unlikely in the extreme. As I understand it (and I am not privy to anything classified here) the FBI is a hugely bureaucratic organisation much like most civil service organisations in most western countries. I don't think that they could have that level of bias without someone noticing and raising a stink. There must be republicans in the FBI and many of them are career professionals who have served under multiple governments. Also, the whole "but there were emails" thing seems to argue very strongly against the FBI being pro-democrat.

    If we are being asked to believe something that goes against observable facts, we will require extraordinary evidence and without attribution, this is mere hearsay.

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    1. Given the observation (not mine but many others including our host some time back) that there sure seem to be a lot of Russians around the people of the current administration, do you suppose a possible source of Nunes' memo could be some of those helpful russians?

      Delete
    2. 5.A foreign nation has supplied Nunez the data.

      Delete
    3. It could be a "gift" from another nation state but it would be more likely to be considered reliable if left somewhere where it would be found. Alternatively, a turned asset could supply it if they were playing both sides. Or it could be something that Nunes wrote in crayon. All we can say as stands is that it is not trustworthy without attribution.

      Delete
    4. Perhaps the Russians are the source...🤔🙄😳

      Delete
  33. It says a lot about the current state of chaos we are living in, that I have largely ignored this whole "release the memo" thing since there is almost literally too much information coming out of what passes for our government these days. This essay made my skin crawl. Scary as hell. Thank you so much for being out there like the other great journalists who have risen to the occasion and are making sure we get the information we really need to understand exactly where our attention should be trained.

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  34. I must tell you that while your essays alway entertain and often inform me on their subject, this one in particular enlightened me to information that I need, that I can use to my benefit when trying to decipher what might be actually going on in these Untied States. Also a real pleasure to read. Thanks again.

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  35. I read all the rules and I know you hate Anonymous but I can't figure out any of the other choices. I don't even know what they mean. It's Tracy Smith, your FB friend or @processfairy on Twitter ... what profile of the choices below, do I use? I don't have a webpage. How will I know if you answer?

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  36. I don't know if its been fixed, but personally I like the missing comma that implies Gorka is the president...

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  37. Usually your essays make me feel better about things. This one scares the living hell out of me. What I want to know is- what can we do about any of this? Is there anything at all we can do as citizens?

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  38. I think "designated"? "Someone had designed that ship as hostile and assigned an airstrike. And that airstrike was on the deck of the carrier preparing for launch." And "couldn't". "And in fact, when I started pulling the thread, I could find a source for this supposed intelligence at all."

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    1. Dude, refresh your browser. Both of those errors have been fixed for hours.

      Thanks anyway, I do appreciate it // Jim

      Delete
  39. There's a term out here in California for guys like Nunes who are from where Nunes is from in California. Can't use it here because it's an "ethnic slur," but in his case it definitely describes reality.

    Another excellent analysis sir!

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  40. This is all the more reason to keep the nuclear football away from President Numbnuts. The GOP proclivity for making shit up leads to self-vetting memes which can easily be reacted to far too easily, to the detriment of civilization.

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  41. "No one, not one single member, on the House Intelligence Committee is an actual intelligence expert of any kind"
    Well, yeah.
    Just imagine what a pain in the ass an actual expert would be when you have big politicalaiztionaling to build of of a very small pile of bullshit.

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  42. Yay, a Jim Wright essay on my birfday!

    Dammit, I’ve been trying to ignore this whole thing, because I didn’t realize its importance from a Constitutional and structural standpoint. There’s so much chaff surrounding the Trump administration that I’ve taken a roll-my-eyes approach to this issue.

    I always learn stuff when I come here, and this time was no exception. After reading your piece, I found an essay at The Intercept by Glenn Greewald. It goes hand-in-hand with your essay (sorry) but yours really digs deep into how shit (is supposed) to work. And your essay was more enjoyable to read.

    You reminded me of a Frank Herbert quote:

    “Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely, absolute power attracts the corruptible.”

    Fortunately, the corruptible in this regard seem to be a very small percentage of the human population, but like sewage, they always seem to get to the top. I was reminded of a song about power whilst writing this.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjrUOlK2714

    Ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya
    If you could blow up the world with the flick of a switch
    Would you do it?
    If you could make everybody poor just so you could be rich
    Would you do it?
    If you could watch everybody work while you just lay on your back
    Would you do it?
    If you could take all the love without giving any back
    Would you do it?
    Ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya

    And so we cannot know ourselves or what we'd really do
    With all your power
    What would you do?

    If you could make your own money and then give it to everybody
    Would you do it?
    No no no no no no no no no
    If you knew all the answers and could give it to the masses
    Would you do it?
    No, no, no, no, no, no, are you crazy?
    It's a very dangerous thing to do exactly what you want
    Because you cannot know yourself or what you'd really do
    With all your power
    ***


    Sorry, just trying to add to the ambiance. Thanks Jim for another thought-provoking piece.


    Leroy

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  43. One of your more complex analyses, and the best yet, I expect. I had to read it several times, and am hoping that I understand it fully. And in the "for what it's worth" department, I never catch the typos.

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  44. The memo seems meant for a specific audience, none of whom ever need read it--they only need to feel validated by it's implications, and enraged by any impending investigative outcomes. It's kind of a nifty dodge, really. They're claiming to have the smoking gun they've been promising, but it's just too dangerous to share with anyone (ok...well, sorta). It's like making a promise to keep a promise, while justifying why neither will ever be kept.

    As always, well done!

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  45. Thanks Jim, that is a very chilling and thought provoking essay.

    However, is there any point to it?

    (A minor nitpick: after "hobgoblin", "were" should be "where." Not important and I'll just get that out the way.)

    I ask because you are missing the obvious, and you know it, and I am not American so I don't understand if this is important. It should be, but I don't think it is.

    The obvious conclusion, the simplest answer that fits the facts is that this is all fabrication.

    Some say Trump followed Hitler's handbook for getting elected - (let's not go there, I'm not even saying that in a bad way, Hitler pulled his country out of the dumps and rebuilt the economy and the country before he plunged the world into war) - and Goebbels was Minister of Propaganda. Trump tweets. Its not certain that he can even write or even read beyond a couple of sentences. He seems to have a clear disregard for facts, education, scientific method, honest reporting and verification of facts and sources. Trump is against education, he wants it replaced by religious theory. He knows that true, honest verified reporting is slow, and that can be overcome by being swamped by an endless river of erroneous, false tweets and misinformation. The quality of the truth is irrelevant; the quantity and mass perception of the truth is more important, and if the majority of people are undereducated and receptive to what he's selling then even more so.

    When Obama was in office, there were endless claims by Republicans about his birth, about "he's going to take our guns", "He wants to murder old people," "He wants to murder unborn children" etc etc ad infinitum; all patently, obviously false. And it didn't matter.

    So yes, option A: if the memo is true, then everything you say is true, and that is very chilling. But what about option B: that this is simply yet another fabrication, another piece of propaganda? Is there any legal requirement for the President or members of Congress or the Senate to tell the truth? Does it matter if they are in power or not? Is there any way to hold them responsible for what they say? I know that Clinton was ejected from power not because he received a blow job, but because he lied about it. Does that still hold true for the incumbent?

    If there is no such legal requirement, if the only resort people have is to return to the polls in a few years time, and if propaganda is superior to the truth making winning then unlikely, then what do you suggest is the solution to this problem?

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    1. How did Clinton get ejected from power. The attempt to impeach him failed and he won a second term as President which is all that is allowed.

      Delete
    2. Clinton was impeached. Was not convicted. Was not ejected from power. He served his the two terms the constitution allows. Now if he would have been elected again if had been allowed to run for a third term? I doubt it. But, it might have depended on who the Republicans nominated. Bill Clinton against George W Bush? Would the Republicans nominated a different candidate? Who knows. Interesting scenario for an alternate history.

      Delete
  46. "Hobgoblins w(h)ere none exist"?? Is that a possible typo uncaught?

    An astounding and thought-provoking essay. I've enjoyed reading your work for a number of years. If there were any way to do it, I'd nominate you for a Pulitzer prize. Thank you for the services you have and continue to perform for this country!

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  47. Joseph McCarthy had a document, too. List of COMMUNISTS IN THE STATE DEPARTMENT!!!

    And he rode that bus till the wheels fell off.

    Curiously, Joe's document never became public...

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  48. I am glad I stumbled on your work tonight, and definitely not picking on any grammatical errors as you've been over corrected in that regard. As a former fisherman in The Bahamas faced with constant DEA flybys in the 90's and meeting some of those agents in port later, its easy to see how information gets misconstrued. You did a fine job of breaking it down and you're right, the memo is the aftermath of a bulls breakfast and I look forward to the spin when its exposed. Thank you for a fine piece of reading sir, sincerely Adrian Knowles.

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  49. February 9, 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy: "I have a list...."

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  50. I've changed my name to Anon for this comment, because, people.

    Very, very well done, sir. I appreciate how plainly and logically you laid this out. It's fascinating and terrifying.

    As the wife of a current AD Army intel officer (and why I went Anon), I appreciate your service. Thank you.

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  51. ".. that was just mean to Steve Bannon for no reason."

    Steve Bannon being who he is and what he's done is reason enough to be mean to him I think. By his own racist, "un-American", nasty, metaphorically if not literally treasonous words and actions.

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    1. Yeah, I'm not sure it's possible to be mean to Bannon for no reason.

      Delete
  52. Mr. Hines,

    Thank you for this excellent report on the current situation.

    Congratulations, btw, on saving innocent Iraqi lives, and more generally on your attention to detail and your commitment to the Constitution.

    I have a couple of questions:

    Regarding Rep. Nunes's sources for his memo (assuming he is speaking factually at all), is it possible that the agency investigating the FBI and providing intelligence to him is in fact foreign, for example perhaps Russian? That could certainly meet the definition of "intelligence" and "nighly classified" while not having any other US agency or military organization in questionable standing.

    You write "We were tired and amped". I suppose "amped" can hae different meanings in a military context. I gather you mean this as "stressed, excited, exhorted to push one's limits" and not, um, "pharmacologically amplified". I'm just curious to understand the context of military operation at that time, I don't judge the difficulties of military service.

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    1. Who's Mr. Hines? I think you might have me confused with somebody else.

      The intelligence could be foreign. But when it comes to things like this, Occam's Razor is usually your best guide star. The simplest and most likely answer is that the intelligence was derived from large scale domestic spying via Special Technical Operations (i.e. willing cooperation from the telecommunications companies via the provisions of the Patriot Act and the Protect America Act).

      Amped is a common slang term for stressed and excited. It comes from cranking an old fashioned tube amplifier up to "11."

      //Jim

      Delete
  53. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  54. Well, that's about *domestic* intelligence gathering.

    How about *foreign intelligence agencies* doing the gathering on behalf of the US government (after all, NATO - despite Trump's "theories" on it - is still functioning).

    Let me give you a (highly encrypted) example:

    https://www.volkskrant.nl/binnenland/waarom-zijn-de-hackers-van-de-aivd-zo-goed~a4561868/

    [ This ended up - by accident - as a comment on a different, and completely unrelated, article; please accept my excuses for that mistake. ]

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    1. The intelligence could be foreign. But when it comes to things like this, Occam's Razor is usually your best guide star. The simplest and most likely answer is that the intelligence was derived from large scale domestic spying via Special Technical Operations (i.e. willing cooperation from the telecommunications companies via the provisions of the Patriot Act and the Protect America Act).

      //Jim

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    2. Yep - sorry; I certainly believe that.

      I hoped my (very-tongue-in-cheek) remark about the "highly encrypted" article in De Volkskrant would give it away ...

      Delete
    3. Mr. Wright -


      I have an alternative theory, on which I would appreciate your analysis.

      Instead of this so-called "highly classified" information coming from either a domestic intelligence agency (illegally) or a foreign power (either as a honeypot or as _agent provocateur_) -

      What if there was a secret, *internal* investigation of some part of, or some members of, the FBI by say the Inspection Division or the Office of Integrity and Compliance? Hypothetically, they would be looking for evidence of possible partisan malfeasance on the part of those persons involved in the "Russian Investigation".

      Presumably the internal investigators would want to keep their work secret until such time as they had either collected enough evidence to present to the Director for appropriate action (presumably termination and/or legal prosecution), or had found that there wasn't anything to go forward with. If Nunes et al was given access to the work of this investigation, he could claim (misleadingly) that this was "highly classified". (Of course, not in a formal sense, but in the colloquial sense of YUGE SEEKRIT because potentially disrupting to careers, etc.)

      Your thoughts, sir?

      Delete
  55. A Minor correction: the CIA does not work for the DoD but for the executive. They report direct to the President and, thanks to the change in law resulting from the Tower commission, to the congressional oversight bodies.
    Me, I think there's not much in the way of actual intelligence product being used here, but a whole bunch of smoke and a few mirrors that are probably planted in a few questionable facts. Nunes knows full well that by peppering his memo with a few pieces of real but ambiguous intelligence information he can flog his lies to people without allowing the political opposition (or just plain ordinary nonpartisan truth seekers) to look at the core of his deception.

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    1. Where did I say the CIA works for the DOJ?

      Delete
    2. Jim

      I took these sentences to mean that CIA works for DoD:

      "I mean, it's not the CIA or DIA or NSA or any other federal intelligence agency. That's not their job. Their job is foreign intelligence. They work for the Department of Defense."

      Delete
  56. Jim,

    (We met at Sasquan, you were on a panel with a friend of mine.) Usually I'm first name with everybody, except I get formal when I address a sensitive issue with a person I'm not well acquainted with. Hope to see you at a future con (maybe San Jose).

    I'm glad you meant the standard meaning of the word. I apologize that when I talk to people in the intelligence community, paranoia rubs off and I look for layers of meaning. Thanks for not being offended by a slightly impertinent question (but that's my way).

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  57. Another brilliant essay from one of my favorite essayists. Tweeted, FB shared; it's essential reading for troubled times.

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  58. I had decided the whole memo thing was a publicity stunt to distract everyone from current scandals. Obama and Hillary make convenient bogeymen to frighten the "base". Your essay puts it in an entirely different context. And scares me to death. How do we stop this? Can we? What will it take?

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  59. Excellent work! I was so engrossed in reading that I didn't notice if there were any typos anywhere. Maybe they were already fixed, or I'm just not quite as observant as other people. Doesn't matter. What does matter is that you have presented yet another thoughtful, factual essay with your own history as background for your insight. Thank you! I always look forward to your essays, and they never disappoint.

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    1. Typos and errors are fixed as soon as they are identified. My regular readers are quite adapt at proof reading. I appreciate their assistance. // Jim

      Delete
    2. We adapt adeptly!
      Takes a lot o’ practice before you are good enough to apply for the Flying Monkey Airborne Brigades, lemme tell ya...

      Delete
  60. Marvelous piece, Jim.

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  61. Bravo Mr. Wright. I was mesmerized from end to end. I have never had anyone so clearly explain a complex scenario to me with such precision and clarity. That truly and honestly opened my eyes and I am making a commitment to you that I intend to share this posting with as many people that I possibly can and appeal to their good senses and decent souls to please, please read it, understand it, and then go share it with more and more people - because our future as free people bloody well depends on it.

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  62. This is really picky, but “increasingly shadier” (in the trawler story) is redundant. “Increasingly shady” would do,

    The essay itself is, as always, both timely and valuable.

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  63. After reading this all I could think was, "My God." But the last part--why isn't the press demanding answers to these questions--that is a cold, blunt truth.

    This one is one of your best, Jim--thank you for penning it.

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  64. Thanks for your post. Having recently taken my Derivative Classification refresher, the Nunes memo invited all sorts of questions. For example, Who was the OCA? and, it being a derivative document, What's on his list of original source documents?

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  65. I think you've gotten sidetracked by Nunes use of the word "inteligence".

    Reading today's WashPo, it seems more l8kely, at least to me, that the sources come from within the FBI or close to it. Like maybe the same bunch that forced Comey to denounce Hillary in the October letter.

    Who else would be having a cow over the FISA warrant on Trump?

    Liz de Calderon

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  66. Two points.
    First, I have noticed that if you correct a righty flamethrower on spelling or grammar, you get hostility in return. Your acceptance of editing comments shows me that you care about having a high quality product. You are to be commended.
    Second, I like the way your essay can stand up on its own two feet and defend itself. I did not see any loose threads that could start to unravel or seams that one could trip over.
    I read an article in SciAm a decade ago (or more) about how many nukes we really need. They took it piece by piece, building an unassailable foundation of almost axiomatic requirements and capabilities and, by the time they got to the answer, it just had to be right. There was no other candidate left standing. (The answer was 300)
    You essay has much the same, no-loose-edges quality.

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  67. Oh its probably from someone pulling a head job on nunes from the commission on 9/11 because we know they they did their job like they were told. The forces at work inside govt agencies that are designed to work to enhance security thus control what is required to further their goals, not unlike the Federal Reserve and, sorry, off the top of my mind, generally speaking the agency investigating UFO phenomena at the time. Thanks for your service. Guess Ill get their attention sometime again as well.

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  68. Hi Jim,

    Forgive me if I am wrong on this, but with regard to FISMA and warrants; if I remember right NSA doesn’t need a warrant if the information collected is six months old. A warrant is only needed for the current six-month period. Would I be wrong on this understanding?

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  69. Tsk. You always ask such inconvenient questions.

    Would that a few other people would.

    -- EMH

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  70. I just want to say that I (we) LOVED this blog post I read it out loud during Sunday brunch. (which is just like Sunday breakfast, but later) Also, can I just say that in the Golden Age of Ducking Fumb that there isn't anyone Ducking Fumber than Devan Nunes? Except that can't be true, because, Matt Gaetz. That is all.

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  71. Wow. Easily the best deconstruction of the bullshit that Nunes is pedalling that I've seen to date.

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  72. I know several people that work or have worked in the Intelligence community, and I know their answers to this question, but I'm curious as to yours. If Nunez were to release this memo, without it being properly vetted, and it does contain classified, information damaging to U.S. interests, or nation security. Wouldn't that put him in the same category as a "leaker?" If not, why?

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  73. ...and if a person doesn't have formal intelligence training, asking unbiased questions can get a person to the answers he seeks. Thank you Jim Wright for laying it out for us and giving us yet another reason to be awake at night

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  74. I haven't seen the references to what the DOJ was requesting from Devin Nunes. As you say (and I'm taking your word, as an expert, for it) the DOJ would already have access to the underlying information. The problem is that there's a shit-ton of underlying information, or information in general. So it could be (once again, I haven't seen that reporting) that what the DOJ was asking for was WHICH information Nunes was using as the basis for his "claims" (whatever the hell those claims are). Like "hey, Devin, can you give me a page number, or an index reference, or...YES, DEVIN, WE HAVE THE INFORMATION--CAN YOU NARROW IT DOWN JUST A LITTLE?"

    ...it might be that. And if so, Nunes stonewalling is just another indication that he's pulling his whole "case" out of his ass.

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  75. When Trump came up and gave his slogan "Make America Great Again", no one of any particular importance, especially those supposedly on his side of the political spectrum, and also the media in general, asked him the most obvious of questions. "What do you mean by making America "Great Again"?

    No one pressed him on this, and so here he is now as President with a "promise" that is as open ended as it gets.

    That Nunes is even doing this bullshit says a lot about the state of Trumpian politics. I've long observed that Trumpians tend to cook up fake bullshit to distract from the real questions to be asked and divert attention to their opponents instead. They did this with Obama Wiretapping, they did this with Uranium One, they did this all the way back to Benghazi and the whole Emailgate scam.

    Now they are doing it again, Memogate, and it's even MORE ludicrous than ever, a memo you can't show anyone, yet apparently so many people have allegedly seen it and thus have actually admitted they have access to CLASSIFIED INFORMATION (as Nunes puts it, because that's his excuse for not releasing the memo) that they are not authorized to. Heck even Nunes himself is unlikely to be authorized and yet they somehow all "know" what's in this "top secret classified memo" and that it is damaging to the FBI and Democrats (which is SOOO convenient for them!) and yet we don't get any details because classified, and we don't get to see the information for ourselves because classified.

    Well either they violated laws by having accessed classified information they are not authorized to or they are talking out their ass. You can guess which of the 2 is the more likely of answers.

    Yet this sort of bullcrap is not something new, it's a tried and tested method that actually worked. Near the end of the last election campaign the same happened with Clinton's "emails" a new batch was found they said, that batch was not opened or read, yet the Trumpians were already proclaiming the smoking gun as though they went through all of them and found it.

    When they actually WERE read, it was found that they were nothingburgers, but by then the initial announcement had already affected voter sentiment, and the revelation that these emails held nothing of interest no longer had any significance because the results were already out.

    The most common and ironclad of claims are ones where you do not have to prove. That's because you can then make them out to be any damned thing you want.

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  76. I didn't read all of the comments, but a skimmed through and didn't see anyone disagreeing with you. As a fellow (former) intelligence professional (28 years, former BDE S2, Division, Corps [and ISAF] Intel Planner) I have to point out that the position you stated in what appears to be your primary concern is false. Nunes wanted the memo available to the whole House. On Thursday (the day before you published this) in a strict party-line vote, Democrats voted to conceal the memo, while Republicans voted to provide it. Having the majority as the party in power, the Republicans won the vote and the memo was made available to the entire House. It can't be distributed outside the House, however, due to its classification.

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    1. I fail to see how every single House member has higher security clearance than Senators.

      Could you elaborate on how that could be the case, thanks.

      Delete
    2. Curious to know if voting took place prior to memo's being released to any of the politicians.

      Delete
  77. Directed here via Quora.
    Love your work, mate.
    Subscribed

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  78. I know this isn't the primary point of your memo, but someone pointed out to me that the House could release the memo to the public if it wanted to, under Rule X (Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence).

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  79. At one point you ask "So, why would Jeff Sessions have to ask Devin Nunes to see this memo? Doesn’t he already have access to the underlying intelligence? Doesn’t Trump?" It would seem to me quite possible that even if the Inspector General of the Department of Justice had been the source of the underlying intelligence, the DOJ or the FBI might request to see the memo in order to learn what the memo said, and whether or not it made legitimate use of the underlying intelligence.

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  80. Fewer and fewer members of Congress have served in the military. It shows. I resent the implication of conspiracy by the Federal Service and the career military. Because, like you, I have worked with them. And with few exceptions they believe their oath of service and want to do right. This Congress is seeded with loudmouths who talk a good game but seem to vote against their own constituents. Or correction to their donor class.

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  81. Great read as always, Jim. Of course, I share with some conservative "friends" and next thing I hear about discredited US Attorney Joseph DiGenova bringing up that Admiral Mike Rogers allegedly said Obama got illegal wiretaps and it's all public record gazpacho you should know (although curiously it's ENTIRELY absent from reputable news sites) and deep state treasonous Obama. This is what we're up against...best to invent a yuuuuuuge conspiracy instead of facing Occam's Razor. Sigh.

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  82. I'm certainly hoping that when I wake up in the morning the press will be asking questions, at least while they still can. This is looking like the end of the great American experiment. The GOP and it's base voters actually hate America only they are too god damned stupid to know it.

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  83. Jim? I was in Army Basic Training when Nixon resigned. My drill sergeant had tears running down her face- in shame that an American President would be so culpable. I went on to train as a linguist and then on to Berlin as an analyst - and yes, these credulous twerps clearly flunked Civics class as well as anything else reality grounded, they are so dense they don't even recognize why their oh-so-impressive-secret inspires derision AND shock at the nigh criminal implications. Thank you, I'm telling everyone I can to read this instead of watching the walking talking Agent Orange on television tonight.

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  84. Just...Wow!!
    I have to say, I was so enthralled I honestly saw not one typo! Either these people are nitpics...or I was clutching my pearls a little to tight!

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  85. What, exactly, makes one an amateur intelligence analyst? Isn't amateur intelligence analysis exactly what you are speculating is occurring here?

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  86. Great stuff, Jim. I tout your site all over. I would add that we must pound in one point, right now:

    It is OKAY for investigators and prosecutors to be a bit "biased" against the person their are investigating! So long as they follow all procedures and everything they do is visible to defense counsel, you *want* them to *want* to "get that guy! As Ken Starr and his team desperately and volcanically hated Bill Clinton. The courts and judges etc have to be un-biased! And they and the public thereupon ruled the Starr mob to be a pack of baying idiots. But their eagerness was not their worst crime, by far.

    Likewise, the right's screeching snowflake howls that some FBI guys didn't like Trump are complete bull. On a fundamental level of being stupid and illogical.

    For those of you who want a different (if compatible) angle on things, come by my blog at http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/

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  87. Just landed here thanks to a link from the sci-fi writer David Brin...glad that I clicked it. But I have a twist on your analysis and am curious if you'd react to it.

    Your key question seems to be, "What agency produced this intelligence?" As you note, it would be bizarre and probably gross malfeasance if one of the other three-letter agencies had been directed to spy on the FBI. But my interpretation, as someone who's been in the Beltway for a couple of decades, that the obvious answer is, the FBI is the source of the intelligence.

    The House Permanent Select Committee has certainly subpoenaed or otherwise procured all kinds of internal documents and communications from the FBI related to its investigation of the Russia Connection. And the issue that Nunes wants to hammer on is, how did the FBI come to request a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant to spy on Carter Page, a Trump campaign associate? You can use a FISC warrant to surveil a US citizen if you suspect that the citizen is working for a foreign power.

    So Nunes and Co. have all of these internal memos, e-mails, text messages, etc. And some share of them talk about why the FBI thinks Carter Page may be either compromised or even an active collaborator. There's probably lots of those memos, and they probably talk about how the FBI goes about identifying potential foreign spies and bad actors, and therefore they are "highly classified." If someone publicized how the FBI tracks down foreign spies, then it would tell the foreign spies exactly how NOT to behave to avoid getting identified.

    For the average middle-schooler--which is about the right sophistication of Nunes--it's easy to cherry-pick excerpts out of those memos and make it LOOK like there's some dark Deep State conspiracy where the FBI was not targeting Carter Page, suspected Russian collaborator, but instead was targeting the entire Trump campaign, and possibly Candidate Trump. So you quote selectively from the memos and such to make it look like the FBI was trying to pull a fast one on the FISC because they hate Trump. You can't release the underlying memos, as they have the aforementioned methods of counterintelligence. You just release the "damning" quotes and say that everyone just has to trust whomever found those quotes in the original source memos (which wasn't even Nunes, as he's not cleared to read those memos--but one of his staffers might hold such clearance, if that person is former intel with an active clearance).

    So, Nunes is basically telling the FBI that he is going to use their own words against them, but they won't know in advance WHICH words he's going to use from the millions of words exchanged internally, and Nunes can plausibly say that he's excerpted the words because the underlying documents are still classified. And you just have to trust Nunes when he say that the words are actually IN those documents. Which you don't and I don't but a lot of people apparently do.

    So, no need for the CIA or NSA or NGA or other intel agency to be involved at all--it's FBI-sourced intel from discussions within the FBI that never should be made public, but now they will be publicized just to make the FBI look like a bunch of malicious conspirators. Which is probably what the Democratic memo was going to say, and that's why the majority have suppressed THAT memo--because, after all, "transparency" is bad except when it's used to your advantage.

    Perhaps?

    Your point about this leading to the deconstruction of the FBI and possible substitution of a new version of the GRU or Stasi as part of the U.S. government is still completely valid, and unfortunately, fairly plausible.

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  88. Oh, cripes! There are too many long responses to read through them all when I'm tired and I need to get to bed.

    In your statement: "Somebody had to. So, who authorized NSA to monitor FBI communications?

    There are only two options:

    a) Either NSA was specifically tasked with monitoring the FBI, or

    b) they were already doing it as part of a larger domestic collection effort."

    I'm wondering if you haven't overlooked a possibility. I am not conversant with all the alphabet agencies and their tasks. But I wonder if the National Security Agency in their due diligence was monitoring communications with certain foreign agencies/individuals. Is it possible they were not monitoring the FBI or conducting any domestic intelligence collection, but they were monitoring coincidentally the same people the FBI sought the FISA warrant for, which in the course of executing they found involvement by American individuals. Without seeing the FISA warrant (if any), it's impossible to say how specific it got, i.e., did they say they wanted to monitor Deripaska's communications with Trump especially? Could the NSA have been monitoring Deripaska and discovered in the course of that, that he was also being monitored by the FBI?

    Basically, what I'm asking, I guess, is have you considered that information was discovered about the FBI, but the FBI WASN'T THE TARGET?

    Feel free to tell me I'm talking out my ass and how wrong I am.

    Excellent piece, by the way. Just excellent.

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  89. Thank you so this lucid and well thought out analysis. I shall be bookmarking and following your blog in the future.
    Nathaniel Parkinson, US Army (ret.)

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  90. Fuck the typos. I'm here for your analysis, experience, and insight. As usual, you delivered, brilliantly. Bravo, Jim.

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  91. It would be terrifying, if it were true.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, it just seems more likely that Nunes made the whole thing up out of bullshit and whatever scraps of intel he had on hand. It doesn't feel like he'd be acting this way if he really did somehow commission the NSA to gather FBI kompromat.

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  92. So its released. It seemed very thin to me.

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  93. Excellent job qpening a window to how someone with an intelligence background analyzes what Nunes and comrades are up to. Couple comments:

    One is Nunes strikes me as a blunt force object. He has no sense of nuance and doesn't strike me as the sharpest tool in the shed - intracranially or politically. You may be giving him too much credit. That said, he's a tool, and someone may be puiling his strings.

    Two is I think your questioning is nore important to the FBI and DOJ "investigations" Nunes and the committee majority are pursuing. I say that because I see a couple of ways for Nunes to avoid the trap you've set.

    Part of the memo is concluding, based just on info in the FBI's files, that the FBI didn't give the FISA court information that it had that would have (in their opinion) altered the court's decision. Also, they could use solely FBI info but just cherry pick the data and (doing what they accused the FBI of doing) only provide data that aupports their case.

    Your analysis is too scary to take seriously. Which in no way means it's not what's going on. But if that happened I'd hope someone at DOJ or the FBI would have the brass eggs and sufficient death wish to run that felony up the highest flagpole.

    Thanks for the time and thought you put into this effort.

    Tiem to ready the torches and sharpen the pitch forks.

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  94. Let Mueller finish his investigation. THEN release the memo and hope something will stick. These bozos are putting the cart before the horse.

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  95. After reading the memo, it looks like you gave Nunes and his staff too much credit. This has all the same stamp as Comey's firing. Trump tells someone he want to discredit the FBI investigation and Nunes gins up a memo to help Trump out.

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  96. ""We will have a military like we've never had before."

    What does that mean?

    It means we will have a military that is top heavy, inappropriately equipped, likely to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that when they're called out on this because they're losing whatever conflict we find ourselves in next, they'll tell us that with only 50,000, no make that 75,000, no make that 200,000 more troops, they'll win the war.

    Yours crankily,
    The New York Crank

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