Caricature by DonkeyHotey flic.kr/p/Ct4G4K https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Last week, Attorney General Bill Barr caused explosive diarrhea among Democrats in Congress and the media and with the Never Trumpers when he state baldly and without qualification that in his opinion the Trump campaign had been the subject of spying by various US government agencies…and I believe foreign intelligence services working at the behest of their US partners.
Today, Christopher Wray was testifying before the Senate Apprpriations Committee and New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen asked him about Barr’s comment.
“That’s not the term I would use,” Wray told lawmakers on the Senate Appropriations Committee when asked if FBI agents engage in “spying” when they follow FBI policies and procedures. “Lots of people have different colloquial phrases. I believe that the FBI is engaged in investigative activity, and part of investigative activity includes surveillance activity of different shapes and sizes, and to me the key question is making sure that it’s done by the book, consistent with our lawful authorities.”
John Brennan, the man must likely to be left standing when the music stops, was asked the same question by Wolf Blitzer:
I missed this from last Friday —
Clapper on whether the FBI spied on the Trump campaign: “Well, yeah, I guess it meets the dictionary definition of spying." pic.twitter.com/vNK6HpgTIe
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) May 7, 2019
WOLF BLITZER, CNN: The president praised “The New York Times” for a front page story that there was an undercover FBI investigator who met with a Trump campaign official, George Papadopoulos. The president views this as spying. The attorney general says this is being looked at. Do you think the Justice Department inspector general will find anything inappropriate on the part of the FBI or the U.S. intelligence community as far as this is concerned?
FMR. DNI JAMES CLAPPER: Well, I don’t know. but I will say that using undercover agents is a standard and legitimate technique that is widely used in investigations. That technique has been used to thwart a lot of counterterrorism plots in this country. So I’m sure — I mean, there are protocols and standards for using an agent and I’m sure that’s the case here.
WOLF BLITZER: So you’re saying this was not done lightly?
CLAPPER: No. It is never done lightly.
BLITZER: Was it spying?
JAMES CLAPPER: Well, yeah, I guess it meets the dictionary definition of surveillance or spying, a term I don’t particularly like. It’s not a term of art used by intelligence people. It has a negative connotation of a rogue operation, out of control, not in compliance with the law, and that’s not the case at all.
I find this all a bit bizarre, because it is an article of faith that the FBI “spied” on radical left groups and on Martin Luther King, Jr., during the 1960s operation called “COINTELPRO.” Part of that involved wiretapping King’s conversations on the grounds that he was being controlled by the USSR and planting informants in his organization. This was revisited after 9/11 when the FBI faced…and lost…court challenges to it placing informants within mosques. How placing informants in a radical mosque is less acceptable that attempting to insert informants into the inner circle of a political campaign rather escapes me.
It is also pretty difficult to take Wray’s assertion all that seriously unless we’ve redefined the concept of “legal” as being something that you lied to a court in order to get permission to do. The record clearly shows that the FISA application on Carter Page was fraudulent as none of the allegations made against him were proven and the only logical reason to extend the warrant on Page was to take advantage of the ability to use “two hop” surveillance, that is, the FISA warrant made it legal to intercept communications of anyone Page talked to (one hop) and anyone those people talked to (two hops). See If The Carter Page FISA Affidavits Were False Was The FBI Guilty Of Perjury, to conduct surveillance of most of the Trump campaign. If Andy McCarthy is right, the whole effort to compromise George Papadopoulos was nothing more than a provocation and a way of carrying out a political hit on President Trump. See How The George Papadopoulos Story Was Manufactured To Justify A Hoax Investigation. When one couples that with the role of the FBI in shopping the Steele Dossier around Washington, it is hard to see that as anything other than a tactic to try to damage Trump’s chances for election and then to hamstring him by a special counsel investigation.
I’ve never been a member of the Christopher Wray fan club. He was weak in taking action when he took over. He’s remained weak. There is no evidence that he is anything but weak, and now probably compromised and owned by the FBI bureaucracy. If he can’t see the spying, it’s because of willful blindness, not because of the lack of evidence.