Victor Davis Hanson via Facebook

Conspiracy theorist Victor Davis Hanson has a piece in the Washington Times (AKA The Moonie Daily) titled: “Why FISA-gate is scarier than Watergate.” After providing some details about both the Watergate Scandal and Iran-Contra, he writes:

We are now in the midst of a third great modern scandal. Members of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice sought court approval for the surveillance of Carter Page, allegedly for colluding with Russian interests, and extended the surveillance three times.

That would be the FBI, led by Republican Jim Comey. There remains little doubt about why page was surveilled and, according to the FBI, he had been on their radar for years. We can also reasonably assume that the warrants bore fruit. Otherwise it seems unlikely that they would have been renewed. We do not know definitively and neither does Mr. Hanson. He continues:

But none of these government officials told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the warrant requests were based on an unverified dossier that had originated as a hit piece funded in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign to smear Donald Trump during the current 2016 campaign.

That is mostly false. In footnotes 8 and 18 of the original warrant request, the FBI informed the FISA Court (FISC) that Steele’s dossier was paid for by a third party for political purposes without identifying Secretary Clinton as Fusion GPS’ client. More importantly, how and why the document came into existence is unrelated to the accuracy of the information in the document. The FBI noted that Steele had been a reliable source in the past. FISC warrants are issued on the basis of probable cause. Background documents do not require verification. Moreover there is no evidence that Steele’s information could not be verified. Carter Page was known to the FBI as a probable foreign agent who did not register as such.

Hanson continues:

Nor did these officials reveal that the author of the dossier, Christopher Steele, had already been dropped as a reliable source by the FBI for leaking to the press.

That is false. In footnote 9 of the application for renewal of the warrant, the FBI disclosed that it had severed its relationship with Steele for leaking information to the press. That had no bearing on Steele’s reliabiltiy.

Nor did officials add that a Department of Justice official, Bruce Ohr, had met privately with Steele — or that Mr. Ohr’s wife, Nellie, had been hired to work on the dossier.

Assuming that is correct (and Hanson has already been wrong twice) I do not see how that is at all pertinent with respect to whether or not the FISC would issue or renew a warrant to surveil Carter Page. Nor, if that is true (and Hanson provides no link or evidence that it is), do we know why Bruce Ohr met privately with Mr. Steele.

Members of the Obama administration’s national security team also may have requested the names of American citizens connected with the Trump campaign who had been swept up in other FISA surveillance. Those officials may have then improperly unmasked the names and leaked them to a compliant press — again, for apparent political purposes during a campaign.

And I might have had chopped liver on rye for breakfast. And the administration might not (probably did not) do anything consistent with what is nothing more than conspiracy theory.

As a result of various controversies, the deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, has resigned. Two FBI officials who had been working on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in the so-called Russia collusion probe, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, have been reassigned for having an improper relationship and for displaying overt political biases in text messages to each other.

McCabe resigned because a boorish president attacked him and his wife personally and without cause. Page and Strzok were reassigned. So what? It is evidence that Mueller wants an unbiased team. It cuts against further conspiracy theories.

The new FBI director, Christopher Wray, has also reassigned the FBI’s top lawyer, James Baker, who purportedly leaked the Steele dossier to a sympathetic journalist.

Purportedly according to who exactly? The generally accepted explanation is that Wray wanted to assemble his own team and Baker was not asked to immediately step aside.

Once again, an administration is being accused of politicizing government agencies to further agendas, this time apparently to gain an advantage for Hillary Clinton in the run-up to an election.

Maybe if conspiracy theorists propping up Donald Trump would stop the bullshit there would be no one remaining who would accuse the FBI of politicizing anything or furthering nefarious agendas.

There is also the same sort of government resistance to releasing documents under the pretext of “national security.”

There is a similar pattern of slandering congressional investigators and whistleblowers as disloyal and even treasonous.

There is the rationale that just as the Watergate break-in was a two-bit affair, Carter Page was a nobody.

Trump can declassify anything he wants. It might shock Mr. Hanson but the release of some documents revealing sources or methods would compromise national security. I have no idea who has been slandered. The fact that Page is a nobody has no rational relationship to anything associated with Watergate.

Senior White House officials authorizing a break-in to obtain political secrets is not “two-bit.” Those were Nixon’s words and Nixon would not have faced most of the problems that he encountered had he not tried to cover up a crime which itself was a crime.

But there is one huge (and ironic) difference. In the current FISA-gate scandal, most of the media and liberal civil libertarians are now opposing the disclosure of public documents. They are siding with those in the government who disingenuously sought surveillance to facilitate the efforts of a political campaign.

It is not a fact that anyone disingenuously sought surveillance for political gain. It is presented as a fact when all it is is an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory without a shred of evidence.

What I see are conspiracy theories reinforcing other conspiracy theories while, at the same time, getting the facts wrong. Nice job Victor. Very compelling.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.