How the U.S. House Can Disclose the Tantalizing Secret Memo About Surveillance


By Robert Willmann

On Monday, 29 January 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence met for a business meeting and voted on five agenda items or motions concerning classified executive session memoranda.  This is the tantalizing matter of conduct by one or more executive branch agencies of surveillance, perhaps of president-elect Donald Trump, campaign members, and others.  Also said to possibly be involved is the secret federal court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and maybe even the bawdy paper pushed during the presidential campaign by "former" (or current?) British MI6 agent Christopher Steele about Donald Trump and Russia.  Here are the agenda items and the votes on each one by committee members–

The big one was item number four, which passed, and authorized the disclosure of one classified executive session memo.

Of equal interest is the fact that the U.S. Congress can declassify and make public a document or item that was deemed secret and not to be disclosed.  Buried in the 45 pages of fine print in the Rules of the House of Representatives is the language that is claimed to authorize the disclosure.  Rule 10 governs the organization of committees.  Section or clause 11 of Rule 10 deals with the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.  The good stuff describing the authority and procedure is on pdf pages 19 and 20 (document pages 15 and 16) of the rules, in parts 11(f) and 11(g).  You start near the bottom of the middle column with part "f" on pdf page 19 and go through part/clause 11(g)(2)(G) in the first column on pdf page 20–

That Congress can decide what is classified secret and what is not, and can authorize disclosure, is self-evident from Article 1, section 1 of the U.S. Constitution:  "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives".  However, the House rules are not legislation.  I have not yet tried to find a law passed by Congress that creates this unilateral power to declassify material, but I assume that it does exist, or it certainly should.

The members of the House intelligence committee are listed here–

One little item of interest is that committee member Will Hurd (Repub. Texas, 23rd District) is a former CIA officer.  His Congressional district includes part of the San Antonio area.  According to the committee document cited above with the motions that were voted on, he participated in all of the votes except number four, the one that starts the process to try to disclose the memo to the public.  He did not vote "present", so he may have ducked out of the room for that one.  If he has a philosophical objection to disclosing material previously designated as classified, he may not be put on the spot as the deciding vote to disclose if the whole House has to vote on that question. If the Republicans have a surplus in their majority in the House, he might either not vote at all or make a symbolic "no" vote.

If the underlying material for the memo was submitted by the "executive branch" and the executive branch requests that it be kept secret, the committee notifies the president that the vote to disclose was made.


The committee itself can disclose the memo five days after it tells the president that it took a positive vote. The day of notice was probably yesterday. If so, the fifth day is Saturday, 3 February.

The memo could be released on 4 February, just in time for the Sunday morning talk shows, if the president does not notify the select committee personally in writing "that the President objects to the disclosure of such information, provides reasons therefor, and certifies that the threat to the national interest of the United States posed by the disclosure is of such gravity that it outweighs any public interest in the disclosure".

The operative phrase is "national interest" and not "national security".

If the president objects to disclosure, the whole House has to vote positively to reveal the memo. 

A person would do well to be cautious about how powerful the memo is, because all the buildup about it is like a striptease dancer in a burlesque show. The memo itself appears not to be the evidence from which it is derived. The Democrats in the House have produced their own memo allegedly based on the same material, and it most certainly says the opposite. The Democrats will then claim that the public cannot see the evidence on which it is based and draw its own conclusions, because that evidence has to remain "classified". 

In addition, the memo and its hype should not provide misdirection from all possible problems associated with the issue of surveillance, investigations, and politics. Look at this shiny object: the memo! the FISA court! the FBI application! the Christopher Steele paper! the Justice Department maneuvers! 

The problems involved are serious soap. This is not just the Department That Calls Itself Justice, the FBI, and a lurid paper from Christopher Steele likely used to get a surveillance warrant from the FISA court. Surveillance, wiretapping, and other clandestine activities may have been done illegally by other government agencies or private persons or organizations, or done by foreign governments such as Britain or Israel, and then handed off to the CIA, FBI, or other persons or organizations to be used politically within the U.S.  

Perhaps the cellular phones that are hand-held computers the candidates and their associates were happily using were illegally being activated as tracking and listening devices. No bugs need be planted.

You can see how difficult it is to try to have a memo declassified without even getting into revealing the claimed evidence underlying it.  The bad actors in this drama hide behind forms of governmental immunity and the concept of classified information, while continuing to be paid by the taxpayers.

But in the face of that, we withdraw permission to be defeated, and take one step at a time.


This entry was posted in Current Affairs, government, Intelligence, Justice, Politics, Russiagate. Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to How the U.S. House Can Disclose the Tantalizing Secret Memo About Surveillance

  1. blowback says:

    Just to muddy the waters along comes another “dossier”, this time by Cody Shearer, “a controversial political activist and former journalist who was close to the Clinton White House in the 1990s”.

    The Shearer memo was provided to the FBI in October 2016.
    It was handed to them by Steele – who had been given it by an American contact – after the FBI requested the former MI6 agent provide any documents or evidence that could be useful in its investigation, according to multiple sources.
    So its existence is made public just before the release of the secret HIC memo. Are we soon to be told that this rather than the Steele Dossier, gossip passed by on the Australian HC in London, or the warning from the AIVD triggered the FISA surveillance of the Trump campaign. Someone is getting desperate.

  2. blue peacock says:

    Wray and Rosenstein were at the White House yesterday. We know that Boyd at DOJ wrote Nunes last week objecting to the release of the memo. HPSCI voted to declassify anyway. However, FBI Director Wray did read the memo on Sunday evening. Since the POTUS is the head of executive branch, all the agencies like FBI, DOJ, CIA that report to him now need to bring their concerns to him. Of course White House staff like McMaster, Kelley, White House legal staff will also weigh in. At the end the decision to object is for Trump to make. I don’t see why he would not want more sunshine. And why he would not want the spotlight to shine on the Deep State conspiracy. We’ll find out in a few days.

  3. blowback says:

    More information on Sidney Blumenthal’s mate, Cody Shearer, here.
    Someone is really f*****g desperate.

  4. The RT Crosstalk I was watching yesterday suggested that this memo is not nearly as “explosive” as the Republicans are making it out to be.
    However, it seems to me that if it clearly shows that the Steele dossier and the FBI were in collusion with Fusion GPS and the Clinton campaign and Obama used it to authorize spying on Trump in some form, then it should be another solid blow against Russiagate.
    But just like the commentators on Crosstalk, I agree that this won’t stop Russiagate from going ahead.
    The Crosstalkers suggested the Mueller investigation is merely intended to create waves until the mid-term elections with the Democrats hoping to ride into office on the basis of it, capturing Congress so they can then try impeaching Trump.
    What WOULD stop Russiagate is proof that the DNC “hack” was not a hack, but a leak. The Steele dosser is a distraction from that, unfortunately. All that bureaucratic nonsense would pale before proof that the entire “Russian hack” was a complete fraud perpetrated by the DNC, the Clinton campaign, assorted Ukrainian-Americans, and CrowdStrike – and possibly including various intelligence agencies including the FBI and the CIA.
    We may have to wait for Assange to get out of the Ecuadorian Embassy before we get the proof – or Sy Hersh’s “long form journalism” report. Proof that Seth Rich was the leaker would sandbag this entire farce.

  5. Eric Newhill says:

    Interesting. “The operative phrase is “national interest” and not “national security”.
    IMO, the memo is not what is key here. It is the material behind the memo the counts.
    I agree that the Democrats are going to play the game you suggest. They will claim the Republicans have crafted a misleading memo for partisan political reasons, that the memo is merely their (R’s) inaccurate summary of facts that cannot be released and that the truthful Democrat memo is being suppressed for the same partisan reasons. Bottom line; without release of the underlying classified material and evidence, either side (R v D) can sow confusion and doubt – the entire matter can be written off as a head scratcher and politics as usual. Same can be done to explain inconvenient realities such as McCabe’s dismissal/early retirement/whatever you elect to call it.
    However, doesn’t Trump have the power to declassify anything he wants to? If the situation is as the Rs are claiming it to be, would it not be in Trump’s best interest to declassify enough material to cover his own ass and to prove his point as well purge some enemies of the republic? Yes, Trump would take some flak for “damaging national security”, etc. from his enemies, but he takes that kind of flak all day long anyhow. Nothing to lose there.
    If Trump has the legal power that I believe he does, then we will know the truth before too long. He either declassifies underlying material that is evidence and proves he’s been right all along – or he fails to declassify evidence behind the memo and we are left to assume that the memo is as the Ds say it is.

  6. JamesT says:

    Eric Newhill
    I don’t think Trump will declassify everything right away – I think he is taking a “drip, drip, drip” approach, and I think that makes sense. Unfortunately that means that politics in the nation is going to become yet more partisan and the nation yet more divided.

  7. Fred says:

    “The bad actors in this drama hide behind forms of governmental immunity and the concept of classified information, while continuing to be paid by the taxpayers.”
    Just what governmental immunity does Obama now possess? I believe he is only hiding behind a giant smoke-screen generated by the institutional left and the walls of his DC compound.

  8. blue peacock says:

    The “he said, she said” scenario is one of the purposes of the Nunes memo, in my opinion. The Democrat & media response that the memo does not accurately reflect the underlying classified evidence is what Nunes wants. This then sets up the case for the declassification and even the appointment of another special counsel to probe and prosecute the conspiracy. The Democrat memo has not yet been made available to the entire House to review. Once they do what Nunes did, I am sure it too will be released.
    Trump of course can declassify anything that the Executive Branch classifies. That is his prerogative as POTUS. He may well do that at some point. But he has to walk a fine line as he doesn’t want to give Mueller any grounds for an obstruction of justice charge.
    The Nunes memo, IMO, should be looked at as the first of several memos. This memo if the leaks are correct will focus on FISA abuse. Others will come out emphasizing other aspects of the conspiracy. Then there is the DOJ IG report due later in Spring. That is the internal investigation conducted by the IG, who has provided Congress a million documents couple weeks ago. All that needs to be reviewed. More will be coming out as those documents get scrutinized. I am convinced the momentum behind this will become huge as we get to the fall election season. There is a decent probability that as we get further down the track, this will lead into the Obama White House and Obama himself.

  9. Martin Oline says:

    I have watched Senator Grassley over the last couple of months with alarm because it seemed that many of his speeches were made with little effect. His requests for information was consistently ignored by the FBI. I see now that he was very carefully digging a grave for those who would obstruct justice, who assumed that when Hillary was elected, their actions would be swept under the rug. This fascinating You Tube presentation, recorded by Jason Goodman interviewing Dr. Stephen is about the chronology of the memo that is in the news this week. I would encourage anyone who has the time to spare for this viewing to do so, especially the first 50 minutes. It will be worth your time and leave you feeling much better about our future.

  10. Eric Newhill says:

    blue peacock #9
    Oh, I totally agree with all you say. I didn’t mean to imply that what I described would happen this week; only that it is going to happen if there is any reality to what Trump, Nunes, Gowdy, et all imply – and, IMO, there is much reality to it. Clinton and Obama are both at risk here, as you say.
    I never thought that “lock her up” and “drain the swamp” were merely bombastic campaign sloganeering. IMO, it is a serious mistake to think Trump is just another blowhard promise forgetting politician. Trump seems to enjoy toying with his targets before zapping them when he can get away with it. I think this has been privately recognized by some of the targets. So expect frequent lunatic kamikaze attacks from the leftwing tools.

  11. turcopolier says:

    Since the system of classification exists by EO the president can de-classify anything he wishes to. pl

  12. Sid Finster says:

    Honestly, returning to my favorite “cognitive dissonance” hobbyhorse, I cannot imagine any conceivably facts derailing russiagate’s credibility among those who want so desperately to believe.

  13. Sid Finster says:

    How would declassifying information give rise to an obstruction charge?

  14. steve says:

    Trump should just declassify it. Let’s see what is in it.

  15. blue peacock says:

    Yes, Hillary Clinton & Obama and their minions in government & the media can’t be resting easy.
    The alleged Russian intelligence operation and the hacking or leaking of the DNC & Podesta emails are not the priority of the Congressional Republicans investigating these matters. They are focused on two things. One is the FBI investigation into Hillary’s mishandling of classified information. The second is the framing of Trump for collusion with the Russians and the attempted “soft coup” after his election. The Nunes memo if the leaks are accurate relates to the latter and in particular one element of that, FISA abuse.
    Recall the Loretta Lynch & Bill Clinton meeting on the tarmac to discuss “their grandchildren” and then Lynch stating that she would accept whatever recommendation Comey makes. Well, Lisa Page texted in that context at the time of Lynch’s announcement, that Lynch’s statement wasn’t any profile in courage as she already knew the outcome of the investigation. This was when the investigation was ongoing and Hillary had yet to be interviewed. This fix of the investigation is what Grassley and Goodlatte are digging into. The Hillary investigation could very well be re-opened or even a special counsel appointed. The IG report should shed more light on this FBI investigation and how Comey, McCabe, Strzok and Page among others fixed the result.
    The Democrats have intentionally not seen all the classified evidence. Schiff did not go to the White House SCIF to review the PDBs. Nunes did and noted in a subsequent press conference that he saw information about US persons, presumed to be Trump transition officials, but no information on related Russian matters. Then there is all the unmasking that Susan Rice and others did. Recall Evelyn Farkas’s interview on MSNBC around all this. This could all get unraveled and point to Obama and the White House involvement, maybe even directing the conspiracy.
    At this point we have to wait and see how this cat & mouse game between the Congressional Republican investigators and the Deep State actors evolves. Trump already knows what happened. Admiral Rogers briefed him a week after the elections. He too has to sit tight while the Mueller probe continues. Nunes, Grassley and Goodlatte already have the Deep State putschists in a tough spot. Notice all the demotions and resignations. They are slowly building their case against the big fish.

  16. Keith Harbaugh says:

    As a sample of what the MSM is saying about releasing the memo,
    there is this analysis from

    Carrie Cordero, a CNN contributor who has extensive background on the subject having served as
    Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for National Security;
    Senior Associate General Counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence;
    and Attorney Advisor at the U.S. Department of Justice.
    The conclusion of her analysis:

    “Releasing the memo publicly would be a sad thing for the country.”
    Because it means that there is a real reason for Americans to have less faith that the components of their government are functioning in the American people’s best interests.
    The committee vote that already took place last night was a major crack in the credibility of an important American institution: HPSCI.
    HPSCI is one of two intelligence committees created to provide an important check on intelligence community overreach.
    The vote last night, and if this document is released by the White House this week, means that an important component of intelligence oversight is broken.

    BTW, I am not certainly not endorsing this analysis,
    merely offering it for comment.

  17. turcopolier says:

    There is no time frame. POTUS can de-classify any information he wants to at any time with the possible exception of atomic energy information for which I believe there is a specific piece of legislation. The five days that people keep talking about is a courtesy that the Congress gives him in which he can object to a de-classification before they de-classify their own document. pl

  18. Annem says:

    It has been said that the matter of FISA and the WH started way back before the Trump campaign and was not related to it at first. It seems that Carter Page had been providing material [nothing classified] on the US economy to a Russian who turned out to be one of three people in a spy cell. It had all the markings of the early stage of a recruitment effort. When Carter Page joined the campaign and then the White House alarm bells went off and led to the FISA warrant for Page’s phones, a request that was granted by a judge and as usual, had to be renewed every three months.
    The FBI, which had managed to get bugs in the Russian Embassy skif. They listened to the spies discussing their activities in the US, including with Page, with Moscow. Meanwhile, the spy cell was rolled up. Two of the three, with dip passports, fled before he could be caught. The third, who worked at a Russian bank in New York, was caught, tried and convicted and spent time in prison.
    Page continued to be a source of concern to the FBI because of trips to Russia and meetings with seemingly important people, something he tried at first to deny. If and when the FBI/DOJ informed the President about this, I do not know. They certainly got rid of Page quickly after public questions about him arose.

  19. This looks interesting if true.
    New Book: McCabe Initiated White House Meeting That Led To Leak
    The book claims that Priebus was approached by McCabe, who said one thing, and then the FBI promptly leaked the accusation to the media that Priebus was the one who initiated the contact.
    If true, this would seem to be in line with other FBI operations wherein a Trump associate is “set up”, then the FBI leak information to the media that makes it look like the associate was in violation of legality by talking to the FBI.
    Partisan operatives in or close to the FBI communicated snippets of information with reporters who didn’t demand proof or substantiation, then FBI officials denied to White House officials who knew the facts that they were seeding that information, then officials suggested that White House operatives were obstructing justice by asking for the truth to out. At a time when people are looking for patterns, this is a pattern of improper behavior that deserves focus from the media.
    End Quote
    That seems to sum it up well.

  20. blue peacock says:

    Similar to firing Comey created the hysteria around obstruction of justice and led to the Mueller special counsel appointment.
    Note that POTUS has the authority to fire any top official in the Executive Branch for any reason.

  21. Robert,
    One of the thing that has bugged me the most about the release the memo crowd is how many of them literally just got through voting for extending and expanding the very FISA surveillance powers they claim were abused by the FBI and DoJ. Some of them knew about this memo at the time they were arguing for and voting for giving more secret surveillance power to the government.
    As a libertarian, I can believe that the FBI is an agency that has too much power for flawed mortals, and that that power can get abused by unscrupulous individuals. But if that’s the case and they really have evidence for it, they sure aren’t voting as though they actually believe their memo…

  22. JohnB says:

    As an observer from across the pond I concur with that. Russiagate will run and run, a bit like the Mousetrap. In fact the likelihood is the believer’s will ‘double down’.
    On the subject of the memo. I suspect this won’t be anywhere near as explosive as proponents think.
    As with all these sort of things it’s never ‘black and white’ but different shades of grey. The truth will now doubt be found somewhere between the words of the Rep & Dems memo.

  23. Sen. Joe Manchin says the Nunes memo vote has “neutered the House Intel Committee’s work on Russia probe”. This is a big danger signal from a conservative Democrat who sometimes votes with Senate Republicans. Paul Ryan may be driven into letting the HPSCI minority Democrats release the counter-memo, just to prove that the GOP is fair-minded. After that point, the news cycle will be “dueling memos”, and the public will want to see the underlying classified evidence to see who is telling the truth. And that, in turn, could open a big can of worms for the GOP. So it may be Republicans, not Democrats, who are the first to claim that the public cannot see the evidence on which the memos are based to draw its own conclusions, because that evidence has to remain “classified”.

  24. blue peacock says:

    Well said Jon.
    The Republicans are no believers in the Constitution either. They made sure FISA was reauthorized before their memos were released. Although they claim that they reformed the Query procedures that make it more difficult to use 702s for domestic political purposes.
    I have always believed the Patriot Act and FISA were both unpatriotic and unconstitutional as it authorized mass surveillance and data collection as well as secret courts. What I find most disconcerting is the sophistry the courts have used to justify their constitutionality. IMO, they are the very antithesis of our founding creed. This is part and parcel of our devolution to idiocy.
    The George W. Bush administration backed by the “national security” Democrats like Hillary Clinton & Diane Feinstein brought this monstrosity. Recall when the Patriot Act was passed, only one senator, Sen. Russ Feingold (D) voted against it.
    Those that opposed this like Russ Feingold and Ron Paul were dismissed as fringe and not serious. They warned it was only a matter of time when these surveillance and data collection capabilities would be used for political purposes domestically. With the exception of a few civil libertarian types the vast majority of Americans were quite happy to voluntarily give up their liberty for perceived increased security.
    Now the genie is out of the bottle. The Obama administration weaponized law enforcement and the IC for partisan political purposes. It is only a matter of time before the tables are turned and a GOP administration does the same and probably even worse. The Democrats who all now support the lawlessness at the IC and law enforcement will rue this day.

  25. Sid Finster says:

    As a member of the Feline-American Community, my suspicion with the memo is that anything emanating from Congress that is only four pages long will at most talk about the evidence and what it is and the conclusions it might lead to, but not present the evidence itself.
    The other reason that Russiagate will continue to run is because it is useful to the Deep State. An aggressive prosecutor can always find an excuse to bring charges, especially if the target is engaged in high-level business or politics. If nothing else, all that need be done is to ask enough questions until an untruthful answer is given. Viola! Perjury or lying to investigators.
    Therefore, Russiagate can be made into a serious threat to Trump at almost any time.
    The takeaway is that as long as Trump is compliant, the Deep State need not make good on that threat. Trump will be allowed to hold office but not be allowed to hold any real power.

  26. steve says:

    We know the truth here. They want to keep the investigation going long enough to be able to interview Trump. At that point they ask him questions about this past sexual encounters. Then, they have enough to impeach him as we know they will get opposition support to impeach someone who lies about sex.

  27. jld says:

    What is the “Feline-American Community”?
    I know only of the Elephantine and the Asinine ones.

  28. robt willmann says:

    The main “executive order” about classification of information is number 13526, which I think was last amended by president Obama at the end of his first year in office and published on 5 January 2010. You can easily read it because it is only 25 pages long–
    What the so-called press and journalists, and members of Congress, and lawyers, and people on television should be doing is waving around section 1.7(a) of EO 13526–
    “Sec. 1.7. Classification Prohibitions and Limitations. (a) In no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified, or fail to be declassified in order to:
    (1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error;
    (2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency;
    (3) restrain competition; or
    (4) prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of the national security.”
    The issues from the fishy and probably illegal conduct regarding surveillance, wiretapping, the unmasking of the names of people whose communications were intercepted, and Russian this-and-that before and after the 2016 presidential election seem to fall under section 1.7(a)(1) and (2), and in some cases, (4).

  29. Jack says:

    Kelley apparently says he’s seen the memo and it will released to the public. It will be interesting to see if the Democrats push for declassification of the evidence or just play political football.

  30. Flavius says:

    The administration of justice is beginning to take on the aspect of a 3 ring circus with no ringmaster.
    As another commenter has written, the 4 page memo is of secondary importance. What matters is the evidence that supports the conclusions that the memo specifies. The key question is whether the evidence that the memo adduces makes it reasonable to suspect that a Federal violation or violations have been perpetrated and what those potential violations are – specifically.
    Trey Gowdy who is a former AUSA certainly understands what a Federal violation looks like and it appears evident that he believes that what he has seen, and included in the memo, meets the threshold.
    The materials in that memo contain nothing that was not in the possession of the FBI and the DOJ and it should not have been necessary for a Congressional Committee to formulate the predicate for the case. Nevertheless, now that it has, some responsible authority has to make the decision as to whether there is going to be a case opened and who, and how, is it going to be handled.
    The proper authority is the AG, Jeff Sessions. This has only marginal relevance to the free floating Trump/Russian collusion investigation that Mueller is running where I have yet to see precisely what laws Trump is suspected of breaking and the evidence supporting the predication. Sessions is not recused with respect to the allegations of the FBI, and potentially the CIA, being corruptly coopted to favor a candidate in a Presidential election.
    Sessions needs to get on the stick and make a decision. Having a matter of this importance play out through competing tweets, media interviews, and tweets is not going to cut it and the country and the institutions involved are being badly served.
    If Sessions isn’t up to it, Trump should find someone who is. Eventually the blame will be on them for not getting to the bottom of this mess.

  31. Anna says:

    Why Rod Rosenstein is still in the US Justice Department? Seems that he is situated at the fulcrum of the Russiagate scandal, in a position of a principal traitor to the US Constitution:
    “Allegedly the US attorney who represented the Justice Department when the application for this FISA warrant was presented to the FISA court, and who did not provide the FISA court with the information that it came from the Trump Dossier which the Democrats had paid for, was none other than Rod Rosenstein, who is now the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, and who was the Justice Department official who appointed Robert Mueller Special Counsel to investigate the Russiagate collusion allegations which are based on the Trump Dossier.”
    — Moreover (from Comment section): “I would not doubt that it is Rosenstein whole is suppressing and inhibiting the investigation of the Wasserman-Schultz spy scandal.”
    — Rod Rosenstein, the current Deputy Attorney General of the United States, has some interesting reputation.

  32. I second everyone reading Alexander Mercouris’ piece at The Duran referenced by Anna:
    Russiagate scandal approaches its implosion point
    He believes that Rosenstein – the man who appointed Mueller – will be forced to resign after the memo comes out. And with that, it is possible that Mueller will be forced to resign.
    He believes the Democratic competing memo will be released with Republican approval, albeit after being redacted since apparently it contains even more secret information than the Republican memo.
    Alexander also comments on – and pretty much dismisses – the Dutch hacking story, pointing out that it seems the Dutch may or may not have been watching the alleged Russian hackers during the period in question of the alleged DNC “hack”, as it appears they were only watching during the period 2014-2015.
    See my comment in response to that at The Duran. While it may be true that Russian intelligence uses private Russian hacking groups on occasion, as TTG insists, there is zero evidence in the article either that this is true in the current case, and still less evidence that it has anything to do with the emails received by Wikileaks.
    I continue to dismiss the Dutch story as a complete fabrication intended to bolster both Dutch intelligence and the Russiagate witch-hunt.

  33. Further comment on the Dutch hacking story from Jeffrey Carr, the primary debunker of the “DNC hack” hoax.
    From Twitter:
    When evaluating the Dutch intel services story for credibility, consider the known facts about the DNC breach by Cozy Bear / APT 29. Then decide. Will you believe what the facts say or what anon sources claim?
    The DNC: Swimming In Malware But Never Once Targeted
    Points out that the alleged groups behind the DNC hack were known for specifically targeted phishing campaign. None of that happened in the alleged DNC “hack.”
    He also, in another Twitter post, references Robert Graham’s analysis of why the North Korean WannaCry attribution is problematic.
    “Why attribution is problematic. The best reason, and the one that attribution advocates hate, is that of ‘shared assets’.
    Graham’s piece is worth reading:
    The problematic Wannacry North Korea attribution
    In particular, this quote:
    “…North Korea develops external hacking “assets”, supporting several external hacking groups in China, Japan, and South Korea. This is similar to how intelligence agencies develop human “assets” in foreign countries. While these assets do things for their handlers, they also have normal day jobs, and do many things that are wholly independent and even sometimes against their handler’s interests.
    For example, this Muckrock FOIA dump shows how “CIA assets” independently worked for Castro and assassinated a Panamanian president. That they also worked for the CIA does not make the CIA responsible for the Panamanian assassination.
    That CIA/intelligence assets work this way is well-known and uncontroversial. The fact that countries use hacker assets like this is the controversial part. These hackers do act independently, yet we refuse to consider this when we want to “attribute” attacks.
    End Quote
    In other words, even if a hacker group occasionally sells intel they’ve found to an intelligence agency, that doesn’t mean that’s all they do on their own.
    He also recommends reading this – and I heartily concur because it really trashes the DNC hoax based on the fact that everyone in the IC and infosec community was wrong about the Georgia hacking story.
    From Russia, with Panic
    Cozy bears, unsourced hacks—and a Silicon Valley shakedown
    This quote pretty much sums up my position:
    The level of wild assertion has gotten to the point that some of the most respected pro-Western voices in Russia’s opposition have expressed alarm. As much as they despise Putin, they don’t buy the bungled investigations. “In the real world outside of soap operas and spy novels . . . any conclusions concerning the hackers’ identity, motives and goals need to be based on solid, demonstrable evidence,” wrote Leonid Bershidsky. “At this point, it’s inadequate. This is particularly unfortunate given that the DNC hacks were among the defining events of the raging propaganda wars of 2016.”
    End Quote
    As I’ve been saying, without the DNC hack, much of “Russiagate” would be ignored. Even anti-Putin Russians understand this…

  34. Seamus Padraig says:

    Sadly, I think you’re right. It’s an old truism that propaganda doesn’t work because its logic is airtight; it works because the target audience wants it to work.

  35. JohnB says:

    Indeed as I mentioned on another post Trump’s in office but not power.
    I wont comment on the domestic aspects of his State Of The Union Address but on Foreign Policy, no lessons from Bush/Obama years learned. Fairly worrying rhetoric which looks aimed at Iran & Hezbollah. Granted the jury is still out but I think we will be seeing more US military adventures in 2018.
    John Bolton could have written the FP part of his speech and long as Trunp continues to talk this aggressive language he ain’t going anywhere.

  36. Seamus Padraig says:

    Preach it, brother!

  37. Anna says:

    “So it may be Republicans, not Democrats, who are the first to claim that the public cannot see the evidence on which the memos are based to draw its own conclusions, because that evidence has to remain “classified”.
    — Still dreaming of Steele’s revelations coming true? Any concern for the US Constitution?

  38. Who cares about the Steele dossier? If the police get a tip, and they go to investigate and the tip turns out to be false, but they find evidence of another crime while investigating the tip, that crime can still be prosecuted. So if the Steele dossier has remained unverified (which we don’t know), it still doesn’t matter for the Mueller investigation.
    The charges being made here are very different: that the Steele dossier was the only thing presented to get a FISA warrant, or else that it was misrepresented in the warrant application.
    If the Democrats’ counter-memo challenges either of those charges, and the underlying classified evidence would confirm the Democrats’ counter-memo, then the Republicans may be the first to claim that the public cannot see the underlying evidence.

  39. robt willmann says:

    Now that The Memo from the House Intel Committee is almost certain to be released, and attempts by the Department of Justice and the FBI to prevent its disclosure in meetings have failed, the action is “going public”.
    The FBI released a statement on its website today, 31 January–
    “The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the FISA Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professionals in the Department of Justice and the FBI. We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process.
    “With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
    In response, the intelligence committee chairman, Representative Devin Nunes, made a statement on the committee’s website, explaining that they have been on the receiving end of “material omissions” by the FBI in presentations to the committee (as have, he says, the courts)–
    “Having stonewalled Congress’ demands for information for nearly a year, it’s no surprise to see the FBI and DOJ issue spurious objections to allowing the American people to see information related to surveillance abuses at these agencies. The FBI is intimately familiar with ‘material omissions’ with respect to their presentations to both Congress and the courts, and they are welcome to make public, to the greatest extent possible, all the information they have on these abuses. Regardless, it’s clear that top officials used unverified information in a court document to fuel a counter-intelligence investigation during an American political campaign. Once the truth gets out, we can begin taking steps to ensure our intelligence agencies and courts are never misused like this again.”
    Rep. Nunes explicitly says that “top officials” used “unverified information” in a “court document”.

  40. Jack says:

    So the FBI is worried about omissions? Ok then–let’s put all the documents out there. Tell Americans the full story.
    I don’t think they want that either, though–they’ve been stonewalling Congress for a year. It’s time for full transparency.
    Rep. Mark Meadows.
    As some have been postulating here, the pushback by the FBI/DOJ & the Democrats will get met with the push to declassify all the evidence. This story ain’t going away any time soon.

  41. Anna says:

    “If the Democrats’ counter-memo challenges either of those charges…”
    — Dream on.
    “Who cares about the Steele dossier? … The charges being made here are very different: that the Steele dossier was the only thing presented to get a FISA warrant…”
    –Could you decide whether people “care” about the dossier or not and whether the unraveling story of the partisan use of the national security apparatus during the election of POTUS has any significance for the nation? It is hard to follow your logic.

  42. Valissa says:

    Thanks Robert for a great post on this topic. Appreciate all the data gathering and insightful analysis.
    Thanks also to blue peacock for your insights and uncommon common sense about this situation.
    I have to admit I have a hard time motivating myself to follow all the ins and outs of this, as well as Russiagate, because it seems to mostly be tribal political warfare. And there’s a lot of evidence and detail to wade through so I appreciate anyone who can make my research easier, and better yet more entertaining.
    Never been a Republican and not a fan, but the Democrats have seemingly lost their minds with this whole Russiagate ploy and also with the doubling down on the shrieking about racists and white supremacists. I am shocked with how lame their political strategies continue to be and this independent voter very much hopes the Democrats suffer for their stupidity and hubris. Of course, the Republicans could still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And mid term elections do tend to favor the opposition. A lot will depend on where the news cycle is on these political dramas in September and October.
    As numerous people have said in this thread, it is unlikely that there will be any definitive resolution to these issues. And the political tribal warfare will continue. After all, politics is a type of ‘Forever War’. Perhaps this is not a bad thing. Gridlock is a lot better IMO than more mega-page bills that nobody bothers to read that mostly waste tax payer money.

  43. Anna wrote, ” It is hard to follow your logic.”
    Three big questions:
    1. Did the Trump and/or Clinton campaigns commit crimes?
    2. Did U.S. law enforcement & intelligence engage in dishonest efforts against Trump and/or Clinton?
    3. Is Trump trying to fire everybody in the chain of command who stands in the way, so he can fire Mueller?
    The Steele dossier may be useless to answer #1 or #2. Why? Because “opposition research” by political campaigns is legal. They do it all the time. Then, if it was handed to the FBI, that is legal. It immediately turns that dossier into unverified raw intelligence from a paid informant. That is also legal. Then, it would be legal for honest law enforcement to add it to other intel items, in an application for a warrant to investigate further, to see if there is a real criminal case.
    So the Steele dossier does NOT answer the question, one way or the other, about whether the FBI was really being honest or dishonest.
    Now, maybe the Nunes memo sheds light on this. Or maybe the Nunes memo is cherry-picked misdirection, coming at the behest of the White House.
    Zerohedge makes it sound like Adam Schiff said that the Nunes memo is a proper reason to fire Mueller and Rosenstein. But it is clear from Schiff’s comments on camera that he thinks that the Nunes memo is a fake ruse to get Rosenstein fired — in order to get Rosenstein out the way so Trump can fire Mueller. So Zerohedge is giving the wrong interpretation.

  44. Morongobill says:

    I am of the opinion that your take on presidential firing authority is correct and that, keeping it in mind, one way Trump could avoid being caught in a “perjury trap” would be to answer any and all questions on the firing of Comey with that answer. Period.
    Let them try to take it to the federal courts or the court of public opinion. I would put my faith in Trump’s sales ability on winning that latter battle.

  45. Jack says:

    Well worth listening to Sen. Rand Paul interview with Stephen Colbert on surveillance.

  46. Anna says:

    “Then, it would be legal for honest law enforcement to add it to other intel items, in an application for a warrant to investigate further, to see if there is a real criminal case. So the Steele dossier does NOT answer the question, one way or the other, about whether the FBI was really being honest or dishonest.”
    — Unlike your interpretation, Zerohedge interpretation relies on the known facts and documents, such as a transcript of two famous lovers’ conversations, in which they admit that the FBI does not have any substantial evidence to pester Trump with surveillance.
    Trump does not need to make any political contraption to fire Mueller. As for Rosenstein, it was his partisanship that put him in a hot spot. Manwhile, why there is a dead silence about these related matters:
    Murder of Seth Rich?
    Awan affair?
    CrowdStrike partisan (rather treasonous) behavior?
    The FBI leaks?
    Wiener emails?

  47. Anna says:

    More on Adam Schiff (a cocky progeny of Yakob Schiff, the main financier of the Bolshevik revolution):
    — If everything is proper, then why the hysterics?
    “In Schiff’s letter, it is noted that “material changes” were made to the original four-page memo that members of the House have been able to view since January 18.”
    Byron York: ” The total changes: A) Unknown number of ‘grammatical and clarifying’ fixes. B) One change requested by FBI due to sources & methods concerns. C) One two-word change requested by Democrats for accuracy.”
    Nunes: “The FBI is intimately familiar with ‘material omissions’ with respect to their presentations to both Congress and the courts, and they are welcome to make public, to the greatest extent possible, all the information they have on these abuses. Regardless, it’s clear that top officials used unverified information in a court document to fuel a counter-intelligence investigation during an American political campaign. Once the truth gets out, we can begin taking steps to ensure our intelligence agencies and courts are never misused like this again.”

  48. Sid Finster says:

    I am a large tabbycat that has learned to walk on my back feet and type, among other things.

  49. Sid Finster says:

    The Finster’s blood runs icy cold.

  50. Jack says:

    The DOJ has an obligation to inform the court in the FISA application that some of the justification is based on unverified oppo research paid for by a rival political candidate. They can’t pass it on as legitimate evidence since they have not verified it. That is why the Fusion GPS dossier is important. The court needs to be informed about the evidence to adjudicate the application.

  51. A few hours ago Sen. Thune the #3 Senate Republican urged the House Republicans to slow the release of Nunes’ memo. He said Richard Burr & Senate Intel Committee should see it first, the Dem memo should come out simultaneously, & the FBI’s warning should be considered.

  52. Jack says:

    FBI Warns Republican Memo Could Undermine Faith In Massive, Unaccountable Government Secret Agencies
    The Onion hits it out of the park!

  53. Jack says:

    Look who all are coming out of the woodwork to denounce Nunes. Now we hear from Brennan. Yeah, let’s have them all be unmasked for who they really are.

    I had many fights with Congressional Dems over the years on national security matters. But I never witnessed the type of reckless partisan behavior I am now seeing from Nunes and House Republicans. Absence of moral and ethical leadership in WH is fueling this government crisis.

  54. Jack says:

    Now Comey chimes in. Is the gig gonna be up?

    All should appreciate the FBI speaking up. I wish more of our leaders would. But take heart: American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up. Not a lot of schools or streets named for Joe McCarthy.

  55. turcopolier says:

    Lee A Arnold
    The FBI’s self serving pleading has been heard. pl

  56. blue peacock says:

    This piece is a good overview of the conspiracy.
    Sundance, the author of the piece, has been following this story for a year or more and all the public information including interviews by the various parties and connecting the dots. Some will dismiss his analysis as he is definitely a Trump supporter. However, as Col. Lang has advised many a time, evaluate the information and the source separately.
    Unfortunately there is no one that I have been able to uncover on the Democrat side who has analyzed all this public information and attempted to connect the dots in a different manner.
    The Nunes memo which is expected to become public tomorrow should confirm what many have suspected, that the FISA application did include unverified elements from the Fusion GPS dossier which was opposition research work product paid for by the Clinton campaign. There are many murky issues surrounding that including the role of the FBI & DOJ.
    There are four investigations going on. Nunes, Grassley, Goodlatte and DOJ IG Horowitz. All of them seem to be focused on potential malfeasance at the FBI & DOJ. Then there is Mueller, who is ostensibly investigating the alleged Russian intelligence operation to manipulate our election and the collusion of the Trump campaign with Russia. So far they have not leaked or released any information supporting both these allegations. Their indictments so far all have to do with process charges – lying to the FBI. And they have Manafort in their cross-hairs for money laundering. No one has yet to be charged for collusion with the Russians to steal the election.

  57. Anna says:

    Thank you. There are some interesting details emerging with regard to the US Congress education re Russia and with regard to the whole business of the ongoing sanctions against Russian Federation. A liar (and tax-dodger who denounced his US citizenship to save money) has been the main educational source for the congresspeople during production of the Magnitsky Act:
    “William Browder is again in the news recently in connection with testimony related to Russiagate. On December 16th Senator Diane Feinstein of the Senate Judiciary Committee released the transcript of the testimony provided by Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS. … Browder was mentioned 50 times, but the repeated citations apparently did not merit inclusion in media coverage of the story by the New York Times, Washington Post and Politico.
    Fusion GPS, which was involved in the research producing the Steele Dossier used to discredit Donald Trump, was also retained to provide investigative services relating to a lawsuit in New York City involving a Russian company called Prevezon. As information provided by Browder was the basis of the lawsuit, his company and business practices while in Russia became part of the investigation. Simmons maintained that Browder proved to be somewhat evasive and his accounts of his activities were inconsistent. He claimed never to visit the United States and not own property or do business there, all of which were untrue, to include his ownership through a shell company of a $10 million house in Aspen Colorado. He repeatedly ran away, literally, from attempts to subpoena him so he would have to testify under oath.”
    Per Simmons, in Russia, Browder used shell companies locally and also worldwide to avoid taxes and conceal ownership, suggesting that he was likely one of many corrupt businessmen operating in what was a wild west business environment.”
    Beautiful. The main agitator for Magnitsky Act happens to be a certified fraudster and a liar.

  58. Valissa says:

    Blue, thanks for the Operation Condor explanation by Sundance. That was indeed very helpful for putting all the pieces together! I also read a couple of his most recent posts. I do not care that he is a Trump supporter. The evidence is presented logically and speaks for itself. And the behaviors of the Democrats on this issue makes it clear they know they are in trouble (like those guilty dog YouTube videos). They sound lame and that will be noticed, except for the strong partisans.
    The memo has now been released. I think I need to go and buy some popcorn 😉

  59. Anna says:

    Paul Craig Roberts has posted a link to an article about Putin by Sharon Tennison:
    “Like others who have had direct experience with this little known man, I’ve tried to no avail to avoid being labeled a “Putin apologist”. If one is even neutral about him, they are considered “soft on Putin” by pundits, news hounds and average citizens who get their news from CNN, Fox and MSNBC. I don’t pretend to be an expert, just a program developer in the USSR and Russia for the past 30 years. But during this time, I’ve have had far more direct, on-ground contact with Russians of all stripes across 11 time zones than any of the Western reporters or for that matter any of Washington’s officials.”

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