The FBI Goes Full Nixon with FISA Report
Remember the "limited hangout" from Watergate days, that attempt to reveal as little as possible during the crisis in the hopes the public might be satisfied, start to get bored. and go away? In case it's all gone down the memory hole or you're a millennial whose education has been a bit attenuated, here's the provenance:
PRESIDENT [NIXON]: You think, you think we want to, want to go this route now? And the — let it hang out, so to speak?
DEAN: Well, it's, it isn't really that —
HALDEMAN: It's a limited hangout.
DEAN: It's a limited hangout.
EHRLICHMAN: It's a modified limited hangout.
PRESIDENT: Well, it's only the questions of the thing hanging out publicly or privately.
Now, forced by a long-standing FOIA, the FBI has released, on a Saturday of course (we're lucky it wasn't Christmas day), 400 plus pages of FISA court material used to justify the surveillance of Carter Page... only three hundred plus pages were redacted, blacked out and completely unreadable.
Would you call that a limited hangout, a moderate limited hangout, or an ultra limited hangout? I'll go with the latter.
Unlike Nixon's, the conversations inside the Hoover Building leading to this are unlikely to have been taped. And it's next to certain no one's stupid enough (let's hope) to be texting about such things anymore. So we'll have to rely on our imaginations for the dialogue.
DIRECTOR 1: You're still opening too many doors. We need 49-212 blacked out too and 325 through to the end.
AGENT 1: It's already a sea of black ink. How do we--
DIRECTOR 2: The FBI does not reveal sources and methods. You know that.
AGENT 1: And what about the next IG report? Suppose--
DIRECTOR 2: Don't worry about the IG. He'll do his part. He always does in the end.. for the good of the country.
AGENT 1: I suppose that's true... And this is an ongoing investigation, right? We can't disclose things about that.
DIRECTOR 2: Now you're sounding like a patriot... You know... you might be right for that Maui assignment after all.
Well, it's not that bald, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were close. Someone had to make the decisions on all those redactions, even if, by now, the public is sick of them and of the whole thing. (Recall the recent Gallup poll with less than one percent of the electorate concerned with Russia.)
I wonder if the people in FBI leadership -- trapped in their own feedback loop -- really understand what damage they have done to the organization's reputation in the country at large. It's close to irreversible. Or perhaps they don't care, as long as they get their man -- Trump, obviously, not Carter Page, the small fry of small fries. (The news that Mueller was immunizing Tony Podesta to rat on Manafort just about put the capper on the whole thing.)