The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Déjà Vu

A few weeks ago, Congressional Intelligence Committee chairman, Devin Nunes, offered the suggestion, based on evidence presented to him by what many think was an intelligence agency whistleblower, that the Obama administration conducted surveillance that indirectly captured conversations of Trump campaign officials and then released surveillance reports widely across the government with the intent of precipitating leaks that would hurt the Trump administration. Upon hearing this, the Democrats do what they always do—rapidly change the subject with personal attacks (on Nunes), obfuscation ("collusion!"), and, of course, the massive help of their trained hamsters in the media.

Rather than exploring the suggestion that Obama's people did in fact set the stage for intelligence leaks in violation of the law, the Dems and their media hamsters would rather scream for a special prosecutor to investigate alleged collusion between Trump and the Russians and call for the head of Nunes. Within 24 hours, Nunes was called on by the Dems and their trained hamsters in the media to step down as committee Chairman because of partisan bias. After all, the ridiculous collusion meme was losing steam (except among unhinged Democrat partisans) and the surveillance story was starting to turn in a direction that the Democrats didn't like. Off with Nunes' head!

Victor Davis Hansen comments:
The entire Trump-collusion-with-Russia narrative has now descended into incoherence.

For five months, dating back to the heated final stretch of the 2016 election, mainstream media — in particular Obama-administration pet reporters at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the BBC — ran creepy and occasionally near-obscene stories about “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Russians. These published rumors were based on “unnamed sources” often identified generically as American intelligence officers inside the FBI, CIA, and NSA. Soon that narrative went from ominous to hysterical — but only once Hillary inexplicably lost the election.

... The lack so far of hard proof [of collusion] gradually created a boomerang effect. Attention turned away from what “unnamed sources” had alleged to the question of how unnamed sources had gathered surveillance of the Trump people in the first place — as evidenced by media reports of General Flynn’s conversations, of Trump’s private talks with foreign leaders, and of allegations of electronic contact between Russian and Trump Tower computers.

In other words, the media and their sources had gambled that congressional overseers, law enforcement, and the public would all overlook surveillance that may have been illegal or only partly legal, and they would also overlook the clearly illegal leaking of such classified information on a candidate and a president-elect — if it all resulted in a scandal of the magnitude of the Pentagon Papers or Watergate.

So far such a scandal has not emerged. But Trump’s opponents continue to push the Russian narrative not because it is believable but because it exhausts and obfuscates likely illegal surveillance and leaking. The real scandal is probably not going to be Trump’s contacts with Russians. More likely, it will be the rogue work of a politically driven group of intelligence officers, embedded within the bureaucracy, who, either in freelancing mode, or in Henry II–Thomas Becket fashion (“Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?”) with Obama-administration officials, began monitoring Team Trump — either directly or more likely through the excuse of inadvertently chancing upon conversations while monitoring supposedly suspicious foreign communications.
For those of us who have witnessed the many scandals that were stonewalled and buried during the Obama era, when no one was held accountable for serious government wrongdoing, this is déjà vu.


During the Obama years, the Democrats gained a lot of experience in burying scandals and obfuscating facts that point to scandal. Because members of the main stream media are (as Glenn Reynolds wryly notes) "Democratic Operatives with Bylines," the Dems have been remarkably successful in avoiding responsibility for really bad behavior on a governmental scale.

Kimberly Strassel comments on the latest Nunes story:
California Rep. Adam Schiff may not offer much by way of substance, but give him marks for political flimflam. The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee was so successful at ginning up fake outrage over his Republican counterpart that he successfully buried this week’s only real (and bombshell) news.

Mr. Schiff and fellow Democrats spent this week accusing Chairman Devin Nunes of carrying water for President Trump, undermining the committee’s Russia investigation, and hiding information. The press dutifully regurgitated the outrage, as well as Mr. Schiff’s calls for Mr. Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation into possible Russian electoral meddling.

All this engineered drama served to deep-six the important information Americans urgently deserve to know. Mr. Nunes has said he has seen proof that the Obama White House surveiled the incoming administration—on subjects that had nothing to do with Russia—and that it further unmasked (identified by name) transition officials. This goes far beyond a mere scandal. It’s a potential crime.

Strassel continues with some specifics:
First, there were dozens of documents with information about Trump officials. Second, the information these documents contained was not related to Russia. Third, while many reports did “mask” identities (referring, for instance, to “U.S. Person 1 or 2”) they were written in ways that made clear which Trump officials were being discussed. Fourth, in at least one instance, a Trump official other than Mr. Flynn was outright unmasked. Finally, these documents were circulated at the highest levels of government.

To sum up, Team Obama was spying broadly on the incoming administration.

Mr. Schiff’s howls about Mr. Nunes’s methods are bluster; the Republican was doing his job, and well. Mr. Nunes has spent years cultivating whistleblowers and sources as part of his oversight responsibilities, and that network scored him information that has otherwise remained hidden ...
Like Benghazi, the IRS scandal, Fast and Furious, the VA scandal and many others over the past eight years, it's very likely the Dems will escape this one. There just enough wiggle room to allow them to obfuscate, demonize, and use all of the other tactics in their playbook. Their trained hamsters in the media will help them as much as possible, and the result will be what it always seems to be—government corruption and criminality gone unpunished—as long, that is, as it's the Democrats doing the corruption and criminality.