February 2, 2018 in News by RBN Staff



Before I get started, I want to put my cards on the table. I don’t trust Republicans like Devin Nunes for a moment. He doesn’t care about the civil liberties of Americans, and it’s become clear to me the whole “release the memo” thing is largely a political stunt. I’m not claiming there isn’t anything important in there, but rather that they don’t have the best interests of the U.S. citizenry in mind.

Nevertheless, I’m very much in favor of it being released for a variety of reasons.

First, I want to offer a little advice. It’s always tempting to immediately take a side on whatever issue happens to be dominating the news cycle at any given moment, but this is typically a poor decision. One thing I’ve learned over the years is you should always wait at least a few days before coming to any sort of conclusion on most big stories being aggressively hyped by partisan pundits in the media.

From my seat, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are being dishonest about the memo, which makes perfect sense because the vast majority of politicians in Washington D.C. are corrupt liars who pretend to hate each other while consistently passing bipartisan legislation to abuse the American public. If that’s not obvious to you by now, I don’t know what it’ll take.

Devin Nunes and other Republicans in the House of Representatives have been attempting to portray their push to release the memo as some sort of civil liberties crusade. They claim it’ll expose the criminality of the deep state and how it abuses its unconstitutional surveillance powers. Perhaps it will, but that’s not at all what’s driving the effort.

Here’s the problem. The exact same people who are now complaining about FISA and intelligence agency abuse (which is certainly happening) just voted to give the U.S. government more surveillance power. If you think this sounds extremely shady, you’re absolutely right.

With that in mind, take a listen to what Judge Andrew Napolitano had to saw about the matter during a recent appearance on Fox News.

What does that tell you? It tells you these politicians who now claim to care about surveillance abuse coincidentally only happened to care after the anti-civil liberties FISA reauthorization passed. These so-called GOP freedom fighters didn’t make a stink about surveillance powers before Congress voted when it could’ve actually made a difference, but they waited until after. This tells you without a shadow of a doubt that this is a stunt to help Trump politically, not an effort to help the American public. More fake political wrestling. It’s really disgusting when you think about it.

All that said, I still want the memo released since I think some good could inadvertently emerge from it. Just because the GOP isn’t coming from an honest or decent place with this move, doesn’t mean it can’t result in a snowball effect which leads to serious and important revelations about how unaccountable intelligence agencies really operate.

What really got me thinking along these lines was a series of tweets by Democratic Senator Ron Wyden last evening. I found the following to be of particular interest.

The following from Republican Rep. Mark Meadows also caught my attention.

While it seems clear the memo’s intent is to help Trump politically — not protect the civil liberties of Americas — it also seems clear a lot of powerful interests don’t want it released because they know it could open up Pandora’s Box. In other words, it could lead to all sorts of uncomfortable follow up questions being asked that may inadvertently get the public more interested in unconstitutional surveillance. This might then push the debate out into the open, which is precisely where intelligence agencies don’t want it.

As Marcy Wheeler pointed out in an excellent interview on Democracy Now this morning:

Nunes is using, by the way, to release it, a legal measure that Congress has available to them to release classified information. It was discussed with the release of the torture report. It would’ve be appropriate to use it with the torture report, in this case it’s probably not an appropriate use of the law.

See what I mean about Pandora’s Box now? Read Wyden’s tweet again after listening to the Wheeler interview. With the release of the memo, it appears Nunes is crossing a line that should’ve been crossed a long time ago. Congress has been far too subservient to whatever intelligence agencies tell them to do, thus hiding all sorts of criminality and unconstitutional practices from the American public.

Glenn Greenwald highlighted this in a recent article titled, Republicans Have Four Easy Ways to #ReleaseTheMemo — and the Evidence for It. Not Doing So Will Prove Them to Be Shameless Frauds, in which he notes:

According to the procedural rules of both houses of Congress, their intelligence committees can declassify material in their possession if the committee votes that such declassification would be in the public interest. It is then declassified after five days unless the president formally objects. If the president does object, the full chamber votes on the question.

It is true that – in a measure of how embarrassingly deferential Congress is to the executive branch – neither the House nor the Senate intelligence committees has ever utilized this power, so it’s impossible to know how this gambit would play out in practice. But if Trump refused to release proof of the Obama administration’s misdeeds, congressional Republicans should have a straightforward way to overrule him.

The big question is, will a release of this memo break the seal and result in Congress being less deferential to intel agencies and the President in the future? Only time will tell, but that would be a good thing for transparency.

I also like the fact that Greenwald took Wyden to task on Twitter.

This is precisely the sort of pressure all of us should be putting on Congress.

As Julian Assange accurately noted last summer:

“The overwhelming majority of information is classified to protect political security, not national security.”

Enough secrets, we deserve to know just low lawless our government is.

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