Thursday, March 23, 2017

Devin Nunes Leaks Classified Info - Sabotages House Intel Commission - To Help Trump

Image result for Devin Nunes cartoon
"I can't help it if I'm an untrustworthy, back stabbing asshole! I was born that way!"

Even reading and seeing the press conference accounts of Devin Nunes'  criminal actions to provide cover for Trump, boggles the mind, given he has also seriously compromised the ongoing House Intelligence Committee investigation in the process. As former Justice Dept. agent Matt Miller put it last night, "I've never seen a committee chairman come out in front of the press, pour gasoline all over himself and set it on fire, which is basically what he did

Miller added:

"If you look at what he did today; One,  he potentially leaked classified information and two, compromised the investigation his committee is supposedly conducting by briefing the president on it and three, he completely ruined his own credibility and exposed himself as a partisan shill. And it was all for no reason because the thing he came out and revealed doesn't even back up what the president said in his original tweet. So it's hard to know what he was even trying to accomplish."

Miller's posed quandary is shared by many, and now it is clear that only the politically suicidal Nunes can perhaps provide answers. This is given his political career has effectively been terminated with this latest stunt. Let me put it another way: his career at least as a sober investigator,  now has the half life of a gnat's lifespan.

TO shed more light, let's recall it was Nunes and his Repuke compadres (Trey Gowdy and Thomas Rooney) who did their level best in Monday's House Intel Committee hearing to steer the emphasis to leaked information rather than the actual undermining of the 2016 election.  They thus used their questions to FBI Director  Comey as a way to highlight only the leaks to journalists and thereby to criticize the news coverage about the Russia investigation. Nunes at one point even bellowed:

"We aim to determine who has leaked or facilitated leaks of classified information so that these individuals can be brought to justice."

The sheer irony now that  Nunes has become the paramount leaker of classified files is whether he will bring himself to justice.. To quote Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee:  “Representative Nunes’s statements would appear to reveal classified information, which is a serious concern." In effect, Devin Nunes, in a desperate move to provide cover for Trump, has committed a felony in order to sabotage the commission he chairs.  Undoubtedly, to obstruct it moving forward given that after James Comey's remarks Monday, he can sense the noose tightening around his master's neck.

So, will Nunes now do us the favor of bringing himself to justice?  He ought to! That is,  if he has any sense of principle, pride or consistency. But then, since we all know the 'pukes are the biggest hypocrites on the planet, it's doubtful.  Moreover, Nunes' performance may well have been pure obstructive gamesmanship to clutter the investigative landscape and nothing more. Consider the following:

- Nunes did not release any real information, he only put up an elaborate facade or "prop"  for such which induced the media to make its own interpretations. Hence, he created a smokescreen for what he was really up to.

- Nunes hasn't shown any real information to anyone else.

- Nunes isn't even claiming he's in actual possession of real information only that he "confirmed" something about intel intercepts. Well, HOW? Where? From whom?

- Nunes isn't claiming any laws were actually broken

- While saying he's "alarmed, concerned" etc. he's not made any coherent case as to what anybody ought to be concerned about.

In the above context, perhaps the most generous characterization one can allow for Nunes's  actions is that the man himself is simply out of his depth.   Ryan & Co. have basically asked the pool guy to be the architect for a special pool -landscaped hacienda. After all, Devin clearly doesn't know the difference between actual surveillance and collection of data - a passive activity for which one doesn't need a FISA warrant. Also, one doesn't need to redact names on the intel products or reports if it's simple collection.  (This was pointed out by a FISA-surveillance specialist on MSNBC this morning.)

On the other hand, Nunes' performance  had all the hallmarks of a classic disinformation and obfuscation hit which I've seen many times before in other investigations. They usually occur just as said "noose" is tightening or when an investigation is finally coming toward a unifying resolution.  For example, just as the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978 was finally coming to a definitive conclusion for a grassy knoll head shot in the JFK assassination, based on acoustic tests by Weiss and Barger, two MIT scientists, up pops Norman Ramsey - an outlier no one ever heard of. Never mind, Ramsey's panel (with little or no experience and background compared to the MIT team) managed to muddy the waters sufficiently by their absurd interjections. The Ramsey Panel analysis was alleged to have  'refuted' the original Weiss -Barger study, but in fact only showed that the Weiss group had omitted some considerations. The Ramsey analysis certainly does not 'nullify' the Weiss/Barger analysis since up to now it has not been  reproduced, so cannot be accepted as a bona fide scientific conclusion. (Indeed, as per an email from another acoustic researcher, W. Antony Marsh, the Ramsey team even exceeded the claimed errors of the Barger team and at a more fundamental level)

The Ramsey insinuation and deliberate muddying had the effect of forcing the HSCA to now tie itself in knots - accepting enough of the MIT analysis to find for "96 percent probability of conspiracy" but not enough to shuck the idiotic WC version for the head shot (allegedly fired from the rear and the Book Depository when the rear of the skull was blown out - a physical impossibility).

Nunes'  deceptive and misleading replies at his news conferences yesterday echoed the Ramsey playbook, though the setting and context were different.  

He said he "recently confirmed" that  "on numerous occasions the intelligence community had  incidentally collected info about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition."   Did something illegal happen? Uh, sorry, can't say for sure, maybe.  Are you saying Pres. Trump's personal communications were intercepted? Uh, no, I think when we talk about intelligence products we have to be very careful. So the answer was a 'no'. as to Trump's communications being monitored.

Kasie Hunt: "So were POTUS'  communications intercepted incidentally but not specifically targeted?"

"Uh, yes, it is possible but we won't know until we get further information on Friday."

Oh and here's the kicker from Nunes: "I believe it was all done legally". No shit, Sherlock! Especially after Comey and Rogers already went through all the ins and outs of FISA 702 provisions, etc.

Nunes - like Ramsey when he tried to zero in on the "errors" made by the MIT acoustics team- then expressed  concern that Trump's name and those of his team "were not properly redacted from the reports, thus unmasking their identities."  Failing to mention or note - after running with this to Trump- the logical reason might have been because there was an intelligence basis for such.

Now, what would a normal person of even above average intelligence make of this Nunes' dog and pony show? Well, pressed to get answers - mostly black and white- he or she would tend to leave out key details, which is just what Nunes wanted.  (E.g. he wasn't referring to actual wiretaps but failures of redaction in reports.)Again, that's why I told wifey I call it "the old Norman Ramsey false recording play".   Feed accurate information then mix it with two parts PR and BS and let the little denizens of the media have at it.

Nunes most significant violation was briefing the media and the press before telling Adam Schiff the top ranking Dem Committee member. Schiff, rightfully raised “grave doubt” over the viability of the inquiry after Nunes shared information with the White House and not their committee colleagues. In effect, not only did Nunes leak classified files but he leaked it to the very subject of his committee's investigation. In essence, behaving no differently from a prosecution lawyer in a high profile criminal trial who exposes court -sealed records to the press in order to incite a mistrial.

In this case, of course, the stakes are vastly higher as we are talking about abetting and aiding an act of treason.  Should Nunes be hung? Probably not, but he should pay dearly for obstruction of justice, meaning his chairmanship of the House Committee at the very least needs to end, given all the damage he's inflicted, all of it unnecessary.  Especially given now a special investigation may certainly be justified with appointment of an independent special prosecutor. As Matt Millter asked, why would a  guy pour gasoline all over himself and light it?

Maybe the answer lies in how things went so badly for him and his R-mutts on Monday. Just when they thought and believed they'd successfully steered the hearings into leak territory, FBI Director Jim Comey blew it to smithereens.   Comey’s  acknowledgement before the House Intelligence Committee that the FBI was conducting an active investigation into the ties between the Trump campaign and Russians blew all Nunes' leak first fantasies into a cocked hat. In essence, Comey placed a criminal investigation at the doorstep of the White House and said bluntly agents would pursue it “no matter how long that takes.”  Typically, only extraordinary conditions would see an FBI Director admitting this in an open hearing, and to quote Comey: "This is one of those circumstances.

By this time Nunes could only have watched the spectacle unfolding before him in sheer terror. And it went further south when Comey dismissed Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor during the campaign. Comey’s response (to Schiff's question about Trump's tweet) that "no information" was available to show any wiretapping had the analogous effect of squashing a bug with a sledgehammer.

The final blow was NSA's Mike Rogers also confirming there was no wiretap evidence, i.e. to affirm GCHQ (the Brit NSA) had assisted in any surveillance of Trump Tower. My take? Nunes quietly blew a gasket and vowed to act out, do something nuts to show he was still big man on the investigatory totem pole- oh, also Trump's little fetch doggie. (The converse idea floated by Joe Scarborough is that Trump "bullied" him into this farce. But on some reflection it is possible for both views to be valid.)

Why a fetch doggie? Because Nunes went to the White House to brief Trump, the very subject of the FBI's continuing probe, and also gave him a pseudo- basis to persist with his imbecilic wiretap claim. (Which even the otherwise reckless Nunes admitted wasn't born out by the files he released, only that certain "foreign actors were unmasked".

Never mind, the delirious Trump - like a drunk at a tavern who's downed one brewskie too many -  seized on the chairman’s comments as vindication of the Obama wiretap blather.  It also didn't help to have a brainless member of the media (CBS' Margaret Brennan) openly asking the idiot in chief if he felt "vindicated".  With this lollipop "question" tossed his way what else could Trump do but dribble all over his desk while babbling:  “I somewhat do. I must tell you I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found, I somewhat do,”   After that fiasco, Brennan ought to be put on Disneyworld animated classics duty and out of the WH scene.

In fact, the only "vindication" was that a foreign source (or sources) was picked up as sometimes occurs in NSA surveillance, especially if the sources are already persons of interest.  Even Nunes admitted the data all  “appears to be all legally collected” though in the next breath he said: "It does appear President Trump to some degree appears to be right"  when asked point blank if Trump was correct in what he tweeted- though he's not specifically right about Obama being behind  the wiretaps..    Thereby Nunes instantly catapulted his performance into an even more disreputable one than that of Norman Ramsey in his efforts to taint the 1978 MIT acoustic analysis.

Nunes by his feckless and reckless actions confirmed once and for all what many of us already believed: he is merely a Trump toady doing his master's work. After all, this turkey  served on Trump’s national security transition team, so why would he not seek to do all possible to cover for his Fuhrer? He probably figured if he got the chairmanship of the House Committee there might come a time he could blow it up, at least compromise its independence, to the point it would be next to useless.  This he did by taking the classified material he had acquired to Trump before sharing it with the committee – a decision that represented nearly a final straw for Schiff, who called for an independent commission to investigate ties between Trump and Russia.

As Schiff also put it:

"If you have a chairman who is interacting with the White House, sharing information with the White House, when the people around the White House are the subject of the investigation and doing it before sharing it with the committee, it puts a profound doubt over whether that can be done credibly."

Adding:

"The chairman will need to decide whether he's the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or if he's going to act as a surrogate of the White House. Because he cannot do both."


Even Sen. John McCain admitted being taken aback by Nunes' actions and agreed that this stunt really puts the kibosh on further House investigations. He said:

"What this now really shows is a requirement for a select committee. I believe there's a better relationship in the intelligence committee in the Senate. This just shows a tremendous chasm between the two senior members of the House intelligence committee. No longer does the congress have the credibility to handle this alone."


Joe Scarborough's take this morning may be the most percipient after replaying all of Nunes' dodgy clips back:

"It is so obvious that this guy is getting bullied by the White House. I've just never known a House intel committee chairman of either party to allow themselves to be bullied the way this guy was bullied yesterday."

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