The Leaking Echo Chamber

Real Clear Investigations posted an article today about the targeted anti-Trump leaks to the press coming from the Justice Department.

The article reports:

A trail of evidence appearing in major news outlets suggests a campaign to undermine President Trump from within the government through illegal leaks of classified information, and then to thwart congressional investigators probing the disclosures.

On Monday the Justice Department released a handful of texts and other documents that included two former officials known for their anti-Trump bias – Peter Strzok and Lisa Page of the FBI – discussing the DOJ’s “media leak strategy.” Strzok now says, through his lawyer, that that strategy was aimed at preventing leaks. Nevertheless, days later he and Page approvingly mention forthcoming news articles critical of Trump associates.

“The leaks that have been coming out of the FBI and DOJ since 2016 are unconscionable,” said retired FBI supervisory special agent James Gagliano. “There’s a difference between whistleblowing and leaking for self-serving or partisan purposes.”

Past and present U.S. officials say the template for the leak campaign can be traced back to the Obama administration’s efforts to sell the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which made the press reliant on background conversations and favorable leaks from government officials. Obama adviser Ben Rhodes told the New York Times in 2016 that “we created an echo chamber” that “helped retail the administration’s narrative.”

“That same configuration,” said Michael Doran, a senior official in the George W. Bush White House, “the press, political operatives, newly minted experts, social media validators—was repurposed to target Trump, his campaign, transition team, then presidency.” The echo chamber’s primary instrument in attacking the current White House, said Doran, “is the Russia collusion narrative.”

This is the quote from the New York Times article about the echo chamber:

As Malley (Rob Malley, a favored troubleshooter who ran negotiations that could keep the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in power during the Obama administration) and representatives of the State Department, including Wendy Sherman and Secretary of State John Kerry, engaged in formal negotiations with the Iranians, to ratify details of a framework that had already been agreed upon, Rhodes’s war room did its work on Capitol Hill and with reporters. In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. “We created an echo chamber,” he admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

This is how it works. Find a cooperative person who wants to be on television as an expert. Feed him the conclusion you want him to draw. Then find another one.

The press is not currently our friend. Maybe that will change someday, but right now that is the situation. If we want to keep our representative republic, we need to vote against the political party that has consistently used government agencies and anyone in the press who was willing to cooperate for partisan purposes.

Where Is The Laptop?

On August 22, Real Clear Investigations posted an article about the investigation into material on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. There are some serious questions both about how that investigation was handled and about the current location of the laptop. I strongly suggest that you follow the link to read the entire article, but I will try to point out some of the highlights here.

This is the first curious aspect of the investigation:

When then-FBI Director James Comey announced he was closing the Hillary Clinton email investigation for a second time just days before the 2016 election, he certified to Congress that his agency had “reviewed all of the communications” discovered on a personal laptop used by Clinton’s closest aide, Huma Abedin, and her husband, Anthony Weiner.

At the time, many wondered how investigators managed over the course of one week to read the “hundreds of thousands” of emails residing on the machine, which had been a focus of a sex-crimes investigation of Weiner, a former Congressman.

Comey later told Congress that “thanks to the wizardry of our technology,” the FBI was able to eliminate the vast majority of messages as “duplicates” of emails they’d previously seen. Tireless agents, he claimed, then worked “night after night after night” to scrutinize the remaining material.

But virtually none of his account was true, a growing body of evidence reveals.

In fact, a technical glitch prevented FBI technicians from accurately comparing the new emails with the old emails. Only 3,077 of the 694,000 emails were directly reviewed for classified or incriminating information. Three FBI officials completed that work in a single 12-hour spurt the day before Comey again cleared Clinton of criminal charges.

“Most of the emails were never examined, even though they made up potentially 10 times the evidence” of what was reviewed in the original year-long case that Comey closed in July 2016, said a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation.

The article also notes some basic problems with the investigation:

Although the FBI’s New York office first pointed headquarters to the large new volume of evidence on Sept. 28, 2016, supervising agent Peter Strzok, who was fired on Aug. 10 for sending anti-Trump texts and other misconduct, did not try to obtain a warrant to search the huge cache of emails until Oct. 30, 2016. Violating department policy, he edited the warrant affidavit on his home email account, bypassing the FBI system for recording such government business. He also began drafting a second exoneration statement before conducting the search.

The search warrant was so limited in scope that it excluded more than half the emails New York agents considered relevant to the case. The cache of Clinton-Abedin communications dated back to 2007. But the warrant to search the laptop excluded any messages exchanged before or after Clinton’s 2009-2013 tenure as secretary of state, key early periods when Clinton initially set up her unauthorized private server and later periods when she deleted thousands of emails sought by investigators.

Far from investigating and clearing Abedin and Weiner, the FBI did not interview them, according to other FBI sources who say Comey closed the case prematurely.

The article then explains much of the background of the irregularities in the investigation and why the investigators need to be investigated.

The article concludes with the obvious question:

A final mystery remains: Where is the Weiner laptop today?

The whistleblower agent in New York said that he was “instructed” by superiors to delete the image of the laptop hard drive he had copied onto his work station, and to “wipe” all of the Clinton-related emails clean from his computer.

But he said he believes the FBI “retained” possession of the actual machine, and that the evidence on the device was preserved.

The last reported whereabouts of the laptop was the Quantico lab. However, the unusually restrictive search warrant Strzok and his team drafted appeared to remand the laptop back into the custody of Abedin and Weiner upon the closing of the case.

“If the government determines that the subject laptop is no longer necessary to retrieve and preserve the data on the device,” the document states on its final page, “the government will return the subject laptop.”

Wherever its location, somewhere out there is a treasure trove of evidence involving potentially serious federal crimes — including espionage, foreign influence-peddling and obstruction of justice — that has never been properly or fully examined by law enforcement authorities.

When will we have an honest enough Justice Department to investigate the mishandling of classified information and other crimes that are involved in this case?