Third Party & Independents Archives

​Trey Gowdy's Fine with Informants - Should we be?

What was in the unredacted portions of the classified information that Devin Nunes, Paul Ryan, Trey Gowdy, and Adam Schiff, among others, viewed last week in Washington? The Weekly Standard - a rather NeverTrump outfit with Bill Kristol still lashed to the deck raging like Ahab about that darned Moby Dick in the White House - asked why Nunes had “gone quiet” after seeing the intelligence.

And now Trey Gowdy comes out and actually defends the FBI's use of an informant to spy on a presidential campaign. He qualifies his assertion with lots of prosecutorial jargon:

When the FBI comes into contact with information about what a foreign government may be doing in our election cycle, I think they have an obligation to run it out, Based on what I have seen, I don't know what the FBI could have done or should have done other than run out a lead that someone loosely connected with the campaign was making assertions about Russia, I would think you would want the FBI to find out whether there was any validity to what those people were saying.

I'm not sure the image of running out an informant like a bloodhound chasing an escaped convict is the most apt one to use when you are talking abut the decision to spy on domestic political parties, but that's how aggressive prosecutors sometimes seem to think.

So the question remains, what is there in those redacted classified reports that would justify 'running' out informants on a political campaign? Look at that key phrase in Gowdy's interview on CBS:

...other than run out a lead that someone loosely connected with the campaign was making assertions about Russia.

That would be Papadopoulos he's speaking about, apparently. But a lower-level campaign advisor ('loosely' connected) making 'assertions'? This is what gave the FBI no other option than to use an informant to gather evidence (what else does an informant do?) on the Trump campaign? If that's the threshold for launching an inquiry, then any discrete political communication potentially becomes a crime. And while Gowdy is certainly nothing like Adam Schiff - or Bill Kristol, or Jennifer Rubin etc. - there seem to be three possible reasons for his approval of the FBI's use of an informant:

Prosecutors are unwilling to show any restraint and will do anything to convict someone, anyone once they are given a team and money and Trey Gowdy is that type of prosecutor.
There is important evidence that needs to come to light.
The FBI is a non-partisan hard-working bunch of guys and gals (for the most part, they surely are) and were just honestly worried about Russia messing with the coming elections.
Gowdy seems to suggest that the third reason is why he thinks the use of an informant is fine:

I think the FBI, if they were at the table this morning, they would tell you that Russia was the target and Russia's intentions toward our country were the target.

Allow me to remain in need of a little persuasion on why spying on domestic political campaigns is in the interest of national security. Only real evidence of collusion would seem to justify that. Perhaps there is enough evidence, but that's mere speculation. We need to see as much of that unredacted intelligence as is possible. Because if it truly is about Russia and Russia's counter-intelligence and kompromat and hybrid warfare which are all a menace to America right down to the voting machines in your electoral district, then we are at war again. A hybrid, cyber-kompromat conflict.

And in war, you don't partner with your enemy to enforce deeply flawed agreements with terrorist-sponsoring regimes. In war, with the other part of the cyber-axis, China, you don't back down and compromise on trade deals. You defend America's interests in a time of war.

Funny how those howling for impeachment on the basis of FBI leaks are all for Obama's JCPOA or for a moderate, cautious approach with both China on trade and with North Korea on denuclearization. Maybe we're not quite at war, even if Russia and China are very much adversaries. But even if we were at war, an attitude like that betrayed by Gowdy is a little unsettling.

We need to see more of the intelligence that Nunes, Gowdy et al saw last week. And we need to think about prosecutorial overreach. Gowdy has unwittingly given us good reasons to consider both these things.

Posted by AllardK at May 30, 2018 10:56 PM
Comments
Comment #427498

Seriously Stephen? You’re peddling this crap in another column now?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stefan_Halper:

Halper worked as an assistant for three chiefs of staff, Alexander Haig, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney.

In 2014, Halper met General Michael Flynn and “… was alarmed by the general’s apparent closeness with a Russian woman who was also in attendance”.

In July 2016, Halper met with Carter Page at a symposium held at Cambridge regarding the upcoming United States election. At the time, Page reportedly did not view the meeting as suspicious.

In August 2016, Halper met with Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis, offering his services as a foreign-policy adviser.

In September 2016, George Papadopoulos was summoned to England by Halper, who offered to pay him to discuss energy issues involving Turkey, Israel, and Cyprus, which was Papadopoulos’ area of expertise.

On November 3, 2016, five days before the United States election, Halper was interviewed by Sputnik News and said, “I believe Hillary Clinton would be best for US–UK relations and for relations with the European Union. Clinton is well-known, deeply experienced and predictable. US–UK relations will remain steady regardless of the winner although Clinton will be less disruptive over time.”

In December 2016, former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove, Halper, and historian Peter Martland resigned from their positions at the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar (CIS), an academic forum on the Western spy world. Halper said that “unacceptable Russian influence” was the reason for his sudden resignation…..

Halper is a recipient of the State Department’s Superior Honor Award, the Justice Department’s Director’s Award, and the Defense Department’s Superior Honor Award.

Posted by: Ohrealy at May 30, 2018 11:09 PM
Comment #427530

The wiki page for Halper was deleted. Here is a summary of his book:

America alone the neo-conservatives and the global order
by Halper, Stefan A.

Summary: This book explores how George W. Bush’s election, and the fear and confusion of September 11, combined to allow a small group of radical intellectuals to seize the reins of U.S. national security policy. At this ‘inflection point’ in U.S. history, an inexperienced president was persuaded to abandon his campaign pledges (and the successful consensus-driven, bi-partisan diplomacy that managed the lethal Soviet threat over the past half-century) and adopt a neo-conservative foreign policy emphasizing military confrontation and ‘nation-building’. To date, the costs—in blood, money and credibility—have been great and the benefits few, with traditional conservatives deploring Bush’s approach. The book sets out an alternative approach emphasizing the traditional conservative principles of containing risk, consensus diplomacy and balance of power. Features: the first in-depth coverage of people controlling American foreign policy; how the Iraq War cost America blood, money, and credibility abroad and reduced freedom at home—yet, beyond toppling Saddam Hussein, brought few benefits; how neo-conservatives hijacked the war on terrorism for their own purposes; what’s at stake for America internationally and why policy changes are necessary.

Posted by: Ohrealy at May 31, 2018 6:54 PM
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Comment #428893

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