Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Monday, July 23, 2018

Civil liberties for white Republicans

by digby

My Salon column today is about the Carter Page flap:

Late on Saturday night the government released a trove of FISA warrant documents pertaining to the surveillance of suspected Russian informant/asset and former Trump adviser Carter Page. This release was highly unusual. In fact it was unprecedented. These were unclassified by accident when the president unilaterally declassified the notorious "Nunes Memo" leaving the door open for the Freedom of Information Act request that led to this release of the highly redacted underlying documents to which it referred.

For those following the rightwing "deep state" conspiracy, this was a big moment. Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and his henchmen had charged that the FBI used the controversial Steele Dossier as the evidence to get permission to surveil Page during the presidential campaign. Their conspiracy theory is that the dossier is a partisan hit job which the FBI failed to reveal to the FISA judges and, therefore, the entire investigation into campaign interference in the 2016 election is discredited.

These documents do not prove their case. It's hard to judge specifically what evidence was presented because of the heavy redactions but one can still discern that the request was not solely based on the dossier and neither did the FBI hide the fact that it had been paid for by an opposing party. Steele had been an informant in the past and had proven to be reliable but there was plenty of evidence from other sources. Indeed, Page had been on the FBI's radar for several years as a possible Russian asset and when he started buzzing around a presidential campaign it naturally attracted their notice. In the documents, they describe him as possibly “collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.”

The FBI did not apply for permission to start surveillance until Page had left the campaign. And four successive (Republican appointed) FISA judges signed off on the warrant. There are plenty of reasons for civil libertarians to be suspicious of the FISA process but this really does not seem to be a case which merits it. A man who was long suspected of having been recruited by a foreign government was suddenly named as an adviser to a presidential campaign. The FBI would have been derelict in their duty if they hadn't looked into it.

In a sane political world Congressman Devin Nunes would be facing a world of hurt following the release of these documents and the president would be facing serious political fallout for endorsing Nunes' crude defense. But we do not live in sane world. This is what the president tweeted when the documents were released:

Yes, after having to choke out last week that the Russians did indeed interfere in the election he wound up his twitter tirade by once again saying that is all a big hoax --- and we're right back where we started.

Charlie Savage of the New York Times wrote:
Mr. Trump’s portrayal, which came as the administration is trying to repair the damage from his widely criticized meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, revived the claims put forward in February by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee. But in respect after respect, the newly disclosed documents instead corroborated rebuttals by Democrats on the panel who had seen the top-secret materials and accused Republicans of mischaracterizing them to protect the president.

It doesn't seem to matter. Page himself appeared on CNN on Sunday with a crazed smile on his face claiming that the whole thing is "spin" and that none of it was justified. After being repeatedly pressed by Jake Tapper, he admitted that he had once served as an "informal" adviser to the Russia government but that it was unreasonable to say that he was wittingly or unwittingly working for them during the campaign.

It may be that he's innocent of the charges. But after reading the warrant application there is little doubt that the government had ample reason to be suspicious. And after Trump's performance in Helsinki last week, all the suspicions about Russian involvement in the election have risen to new levels, so Page's protestations ring even more hollow.

Republicans in congress demonstrated their spinelessness once again. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) played dumb saying on Face the Nation, “if the dossier is the reason you issued the warrant, it was a bunch of garbage. The dossier has proven to be a bunch of garbage.” Obviously he hadn't read the documents or he would have known that the dossier wasn't the reason they issued the warrant. Clever of him to put it that way though.

Marco Rubio was more rational telling Jake Tapper on CNN, “I don’t think they did anything wrong. I think they went to the court. They got the judges to approve it. They laid out all the information ― and there was a lot of reasons... for why they wanted to look at Carter Page." He hemmed and hawed about the implications but at least he acknowledged reality.

Other Republicans are diving deeper into the rabbit hole. National Review's Andrew McCarthy is all the way in, calling for the investigation of the Republican judges who signed the warrants:

After years of practice, Republicans have developed a knack for inventing scandals and getting the press to buy into them. Normally such scandals only involve Democrats, but Trump's Russia collusion scandal requires a bit of fancy political jiu-jitsu. It remains to be seen whether they can pull it off. The formerly patriotic staunch defenders of law and order have had to turn on a dime and convince their voters and the media that the American justice system has engaged in a corrupt conspiracy against Donald Trump and created this Russia conspiracy theory out of whole cloth.

In this case, right-wingers latched on to an old leftist trope about the "deep state," meaning the intelligence apparatus and other aspects of permanent government, and are running with it as if they were the second coming of Noam Chomsky. They feed the press cherry-picked bits of paranoid nonsense, which are then floated into the ether, supposedly providing a basis for an "investigation." Regardless of the actual outcome, millions of people will be convinced that there is merit to the charge because "if there's so much smoke, there must be fire." Millions more will listen to Trump's lies and believe them.

If these Republicans were acting from a set of constitutional principles, these concerns about the civil liberties of Trump campaign officials might wake them up to the offenses commonly committed against Muslim suspects and the ill-treatment of immigrants as well as other outrages of the American "carceral state " Unfortunately, this is a one-time deal. It seems that wealthy Republicans are the real victims and the only true citizens whom the Bill of Rights was intended to protect.