Let's take apart the most dishonest defense of the FBI's Carter Page FISA application

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Monday February 05th, 2018

The FBI's defenders dispute Nunes's charge that the Steele dossier's partisan nature was concealed. But look what really happened.

Of all the attempts by the media/Democrats/Beltway political class to run interference for the FBI and its political abuse of surveillance against Carter Page, the one that's being presented as most compelling is that, in fact, the FBI did disclose the partisan nature of the Steele dossier.

If this was actually true, it would indeed go a long way toward discrediting the claims made in the Nunes memo. But it's not true.

The problem here is that the FBI took a piece of oppo research against candidate Donald Trump, bought and paid for by candidate Hillary Clinton, and did not tell the FISA court that is what it was. Now, here's how the political class attempts to refute this charge:

The memo is critical of Mr. Steele and notes that prosecutors in their application for the warrant didn’t explicitly state that he was working for a firm funded by Democrats. But the FISA application did disclose Mr. Steele was being paid by a law firm working for a major political party, according to a person familiar with the matter. Redacting the names of U.S. people or organizations who aren’t the subject of an investigation is a common practice in government legal filings, designed to protect privacy.

So, all good, right? A law firm working for a major political party. All the disclosure you'd need, right?

No. Not even close. For three crucial reasons:

1. Every law firm in Washington does some sort of work for "a major political party." That doesn't provide any sort of useful context.

2. The whole point of having the law firm pay Fusion GPS instead of the Clinton campaign paying them directly was to essentially launder the money so the Clinton campaign could pretend it had nothing to do with it. By only telling the FISA court about a law firm being involved, but not telling them who was paying the law firm, the FBI essentially parroted the Clinton campaign's chosen spin.

3. Given that the dossier consisted of oppo research against a presidential candidate, the identity of the person ultimately commissioning the research - the opponent of the dossier's subject - was absolutely crucial for the court to understand the full context of what was happening. It may not be unusual to redact names under normal circumstances, but to redact that information in this circumstance was to deny the court the most crucial piece of information it needed to assess whether the dossier could be relied upon.

Don't worry! The Draft Oprah people aren't taking no for an answer

What this particular defense of the FBI's actions shows us is actually that Nunes was correct in raising this issue. The only way the FBI could have conveyed the information about who commissioned the dossier that would have told the whole story was, "This was ultimlately funded by the Clinton campaign." What they did instead was to couch it in generalities. For all the court knew, the law firm's "major political party" client could have been the Republicans. I realize that seems unlikely, but without being clear about it, the FBI failed to provide the FISA court with a full understanding of what it was looking at.

It's astonishing to me how partisanship is driving people's take on this matter. If the FBI under George W. Bush had sought a wiretap of an Obama campaign official based on an oppo hit piece by the McCain-Palin campaign, the news media would be going absolutely bananas, digging for details and demanding answers. In this case, they're seeking out anonymous sources who will assure them that there's nothing to see here, while decrying "partisan attacks against the FBI."

Here's a rule of thumb in Washington. Those you don't like must be accountable. Those who do like must be independent.

Who do you like? Who do you dislike? Look for the party label. And remember above all else, the FBI can be accountable to no one, at least as long as it's at odds with Donald Trump.

Dan writes Christian spiritual warfare novels and does all kinds of other weird things too. Follow all his activity by liking him on Facebook!