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Breaking News: The US Senate Select Committee On Intelligence Goes To War With The House Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence

Apparently the secondary position of the Lajes Protocol has failed.

Back in February when the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chair, Congressman Devin Nunes, was going all in on his memo, Jullian Assange tried to contact Sean Hannity over twitter to provide him with text messages from Senator Warner. Despite texting a Sean Hannity parody account that was put up when Hannity’s twitter service was temporarily interrupted, the texts managed to make it into the hands of Fox News. No one was quite sure how they got them. Unfortunately for Fox, Hannity, Assange, Nunes, and everyone else screaming conspiracy, Senator Warner, the ranking member on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had notified his senate committee colleagues about the text messages, which were with a lawyer who represents a Russian oligarch that Warner was seeking information from.

The NY Times is now reporting that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has now concluded that the texts messages got to Fox News not by way of Ecuador’s most unhygienic house guest, but from the Republican majority of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, the committee’s Republican chairman, and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat, were so perturbed by the leak that they demanded a rare meeting with Speaker Paul D. Ryan last month to inform him of their findings. They used the meeting with Mr. Ryan to raise broader concerns about the direction of the House Intelligence Committee under its chairman, Representative Devin Nunes of California, the officials said.

In a statement, a spokesman for Mr. Nunes, Jack Langer, did not dispute that the committee had leaked the messages, but called the premise of this article “absurd.”

AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Mr. Ryan, declined to comment. In his meeting with the senators, Mr. Ryan made clear that he heard their complaints but noted that he did not run the committee himself, the officials briefed on the encounter said.

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee were briefed on their conclusions in recent weeks and on the meeting with Mr. Ryan.

In a joint statement, Mr. Burr and Mr. Warner acknowledged the meeting with Mr. Ryan and said they had not requested that the speaker take any specific action.

I want to highlight something important; specifically Speaker Ryan’s statement that “he did not run the committee himself”. This is quite true. However, Congressman Nunes holds the chairmanship of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence because Speaker Ryan keeps him in that position. It is solely within the Speaker’s discretion to keep Congressman Nunes as chair, or even as a member of the committee, or to remove him. The Speaker may not run the committee, but he clearly wants Congressman Nunes in that position. And this isn’t the first time Speaker Ryan has run interference for Congressman Nunes. He did the same thing when the FBI and DOJ had concerns about providing the Strzok/Page texts that are part of the DOJ IG’s investigation into the FBI’s actions during their probe of Secretary Clinton’s server and emails. Which also quickly leaked from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. This whole mess is in the hands of two men: Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA). It could all be put to bed very quickly, but Speaker Ryan, for whatever reason, clearly does not want the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to function properly or to follow the rules of classification/declassification. The real question here is why.

Stay frosty!

Open thread.



Our Long National Nightmare Is Not Over: The Nunes Memo II…

For the love of someone’s, anyone’s Deity or Deities, make him stop!!!!

Someone please tell Congressman Nunes that the only part of the State Department that is part of the US Intel Community (USIC/IC) is the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR). It is one of the smallest, if not the smallest, office within the intel community. Its focus is on leveraging intelligence in support of diplomacy.

INR is a bureau of the Department of State and a member of the Intelligence Community (IC). The Bureau of Intelligence and Research’s (INR) primary mission is to harness intelligence to serve U.S. diplomacy. Secretary of State George Marshall established INR in 1947. INR is a direct descendant of the Office of Strategic Services Research Department and the oldest civilian intelligence element in the U.S. Government. Ambassador Daniel B. Smith is INR’s Assistant Secretary.

Drawing on all-source intelligence, INR provides value-added independent analysis of events to U.S. State Department policymakers; ensures that intelligence activities support foreign policy and national security purposes; and serves as the focal point in the State Department for ensuring policy review of sensitive counterintelligence and law enforcement activities around the world. The bureau directs the Department’s program of intelligence analysis and research, conducts liaison with the Intelligence Community, and represents the Department on committees and in interagency intelligence groups. The Bureau of Intelligence and Research also analyzes geographical and international boundary issues.

Unless he’s going to claim that INR somehow colluded with the FBI to frame Carter Page who, as we discussed earlier, has been on the FBI’s radar in regard to counterintelligence since 2013 when the Russian intelligence officers that were trying to recruit him decided he was an idiot, I honestly don’t see how he can make more of a fool of himself than he did today.

Here is, specifically, what the Russian intelligence officers said about Page as picked up by FBI surveillance in 2013:

If you’re wondering where the instructions and talking points are coming from, just take a gander at Russia state controlled news media from 13 January 2017:

Finally, former Special Agent Rangappa discovers a very special person, near and dear to everyone here at Balloon Juice’s heart, on social media:

Stay frosty or Congressman Nunes will write a memo about you.

Open thread!



The Lajes’ Protocol: Known Nunes and Unknown Nunes

As Betty wrote this morning, and as I’ve written about here and here, Congressman Nunes and his staff have put together a cherrypicked memo, based on classified information provided to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence by the Department of Justice and the FBI. They are threatening to release it against the objections of the DOJ and the FBI. The purpose of the memo, and the selected leaking by Congressman Nunes and his partners in crime – Congressman Meadows and Jordan of the Freedom Caucus, Congressman Gaetz and DeSantis of Florida, and others –  is to accuse senior career officials of the the DOJ and FBI of acting improperly in an attempt to undermine these two agencies and by extension Special Prosecutor Mueller and his investigation. From yesterday’s reporting we now have confirmation that the central charge of Nunes as stated in his memo involves now Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein’s allegedly using information from the Steele Dossier to get a FISA warrant for Carter Page. Either Congressman Nunes, despite chairing the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, doesn’t understand how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) approves or extends warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or he’s being disingenuous in pursuit of political objectives.

Former FBI Special Agent Asha Rangappa, who worked counterintelligence investigations, has done a couple of twitter postings explaining the process. She also went on CNN today to explain how this all works. The video and the timelines are below, but the Bottom Line Up Front, is that the DOJ and FBI have an internal team that vets FISA warrant applications for warrants and extensions to approved warrants before they’re brought before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. One of the reasons that the FISC approves over 90% of the warrant applications brought before it, is because the ones that don’t survive a high level of presubmission review scrutiny don’t make it to the FISC.

Here’s the video:

Here are the narrative explanations, but for those that would rather not read tweet storms, she also wrote an explainer about this at Just Security.

This first one is in regard to the overall FISA warrant application process:

This second one is basically the narrative rundown of the video above:

Stay frosty!

Open thread.



Release the Memo: 24 Hours Later

Late yesterday evening I addressed the quickly developing disinformation campaign being called release the memo after the hashtag of the same name. I specifically wrote:

Apparently Congressman Nunes, or folks working for/with him on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, have produced a four page memo alleging significant abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by the Obama Administration, specifically the Department of Justice and the FBI, against Republicans. The memo is supposedly classified. This has led to the creation of a release the memo hashtag (click at your own risk of sanity). This would seem to explain Sean Hannity’s opening tease on Fox News tonight.

And:

It is hard to get decent info at this point, but if I’m following all this correctly the memo being referred to is the result of Congressman Nunes’ monomania regarding lawful unmasking by the Obama Administration in 2015 and 2016 and the attempt to create a controversy and scandal over FISA violations as reported by the chronically wrong and easily duped John Solomon at The Hill, as well as his equally odious, one sided, and misleading reporting on the text messages between two FBI officials during the campaign.

 

Twenty-four hours later we have more clarity on exactly how the alleged memo was created and the purpose to which it is being put. Hamilton68, funded by the German Marshall Fund to track Russian active measures on social media, has been tracking the release the memo hashtag.

Natasha Bertrand at Business Insider has further details.

Russia-linked Twitter bots have jumped on the bandwagon.

#ReleaseTheMemo is the top-trending hashtag among Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations, according to Hamilton 68, a website launched last year that says it tracks Russian propaganda in near-real time.

The frequency with which the accounts have been promoting the hashtag has spiked by 233,000% over the past 48 hours, according to the site. The accounts’ references to the “memo,” meanwhile, have increased by 68,000%.

The most-shared domain among the accounts has been WikiLeaks, and the most-shared URL has been a link to WikiLeaks’ “submit” page.

WikiLeaks said on Thursday that it would reward anyone with access to the “FISA abuse memo” who chooses to submit it to the site. The Russia-linked accounts have evidently been sharing the “submit” page to push the memo’s release.

Bret Schafer, a communications coordinator at the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy who tracks the Hamilton 68 accounts, said he “certainly can’t remember” the last time the researchers had seen a topic “promoted to this level” by the Russia-linked bots and trolls.

“On a normal day, our top hashtag is typically used around 400 times in a 48-hour period by the network we track,” he said in an email on Friday.

“As of right now, #ReleaseTheMemo has been used over 3,000 times (and five other related hashtags are in the top 10),” he said. “In total, they’ve easily shared more than 4,500 hashtags on the topic in the past two days, and our top URL is Assange’s offer to pay for a copy of the memo. That certainly seems to be a sign of a coordinated effort by the bots and trolls.”

Congressman Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Select Permanent Committee on Intelligence – and the only member of that committee to actually successfully prosecute an espionage case – had this to say:

a profoundly misleading set of talking points drafted by Republican staff attacking the FBI and its handling of the investigation. Rife with factual inaccuracies and referencing highly classified materials that most of Republican Intelligence Committee members were forced to acknowledge they had never read, this is meant only to give Republican House members a distorted view of the FBI. This may help carry White House water, but it is a deep disservice to our law enforcement professionals.”

Where does this leave our beleaguered hero Congressman Nunes, the chairman of the House Select Permanent Committee on Intelligence? According to GOP strategist Rick Wilson he’s right in the thick of things.

Also, OpSec people, OpSec!!!!!

Wilson’s anonymous source has now been verified by subsequent reporting.

One thing about that document: Republican staffers wrote it.

Even the most plugged-in news consumer could be forgiven for thinking the classified memo is an executive branch document that exposes wrongdoing within the Justice Department and the FBI. It isn’t.

The document, which alleges abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act during the FBI’s quiet counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign in the final months of the 2016 election, was actually compiled by Republican staffers on the House Intelligence Committee. That committee voted along partisan lines this week to allow any member of Congress to take a peek at the document themselves. Republican members soon flocked to a secure room to read the memo written by their allies — and then ran to tell the press about it.

If the memo does eventually go public, it won’t end well for Republicans, Susan Hennessey, the executive editor of the legal commentary site Lawfare, argued Friday. “After causing completely unnecessary chaos today, this memo will be released in some redacted [form] in a few weeks and prove to be an utter embarrassment to Nunes personally, the [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] majority, and frankly to US House of Representatives,” Hennessey predict

What I estimated last night was correct.

Since these (the Simpson transcripts just released by HPSCI) basically shoot everything Congressman Nunes, Congressman Gaetz, Congressman DeSantis, Congressman Jordan, and several other GOP members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Oversight, Justice, or other committees have been saying about the Special Counsel and his investigation and the FBI’s role in the counterintelligence investigation pertaining to the President that was begun in July 2016, they needed to do something to change the narrative. Enter the four page classified memo supposedly alleging that the Obama Administration, the DOJ, the FBI, and other parts of the US Intel Community were all conspiring against Republicans and conservatives in general and the President, his businesses, and his campaign in specific. Leaked to Fox News and teed up for Sean Hannity’s diatribe for an audience of one this evening. Given what happened the last time that Congressman Nunes tried to get creative in screening fire for the President, I fully expect that if this memo is ever declassified it won’t survive first contact with the actual subject matter experts the news media brings in to consult on it. Except, of course, for Fox News, talk radio, the alt-right news media (Breitbart, Gateway Pundit, etc) and social media crowd, Wikileaks, RT, and Sputnik. They’ll all, amazingly, have the exact same talking points. As will the White House, the President on twitter, and the aforementioned GOP members of Congress. This amount of coincidence takes a lot of work!

This is a desperate play to try to change the subject, to try to divert the news media’s attention, and it appears to have been fed to one of the specific Fox News personalities that we know are tailoring their programming directly to and for the President. Anyone want to estimate the over/under that Congressman Nunes actually either gave Hannity the memo he cobbled together or just read it to him, despite the fact that it was classified because it cherry picks material from classified DOJ, FBI, and US Intelligence Community information? Finally, releasing a partisan staff product memo isn’t going to answer any actual questions.

The only way to put the issue to bed would be to declassify and release the FISA warrant application. That is not going to happen. And you’ll notice that Congressman Nunes, nor his exceedingly shrill partners in crime – Congressman Gaetz, Congressman DeSantis, Congressman King (IA), Congressman Meadows,  Congressman Jordan, Congressman Zeldin, Sean Hannity, Wikileakes, etc – are actually calling for that to happen. All they want is Congressman Nunes cherry picked material disseminated to create maximum outrage and diversion. Which is, apparently, what Russian state media, Russian intelligence funded trolls, Russian controlled bots, Russia’s fellow travelers on the alt-right, the Fox News personalities who are programming their shows to speak to an audience of one (the President), and these members of Congress all want. This is a strange convergence of interests. And this is why they are all using the exact same talking points, messaging, and language. A lot of work went into creating this coincidence.

Updated at 9:26 PM EST

Here’s an example of the clear eyed, quality thinking that has gone into releasing the memo:

Genius!

Stay frosty (or warm if you’re where it’s cold)!

Open thread!



Heads Up: Partisan Disinformation Incoming

Apparently Congressman Nunes, or folks working for/with him on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, have produced a four page memo alleging significant abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by the Obama Administration, specifically the Department of Justice and the FBI, against Republicans. The memo is supposedly classified. This has led to the creation of a release the memo hashtag (click at your own risk of sanity). This would seem to explain Sean Hannity’s opening tease on Fox News tonight:

Two of Florida’s GOP Congressmen, DeSantis and Gaetz, are having a public bout of high dudgeon on twitter over it:

As is New York GOP Congressman Lee Zeldin:

It is hard to get decent info at this point, but if I’m following all this correctly the memo being referred to is the result of Congressman Nunes’ monomania regarding lawful unmasking by the Obama Administration in 2015 and 2016 and the attempt to create a controversy and scandal over FISA violations as reported by the chronically wrong and easily duped John Solomon at The Hill, as well as his equally odious, one sided, and misleading reporting on the text messages between two FBI officials during the campaign.

Wikileaks has, of course, gotten in on the action and is offering a bounty.

All of this is an attempt to further dirty up the FBI and by extension Special Counselor Mueller. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released the transcripts of their interviews with FUSION GPS head Glenn Simpson. Which, as was the case with the one released by Senator Feinstein, basically knocks down and rebuts all of the GOP talking points about what is going on with the Mueller investigation. The 8 November 2017 transcript is here.

HPSCI_Simpson_Transcript1

And the 14 November 2017 transcript is here.

HSPCI_Simpson_Transcript2

Since these basically shoot everything Congressman Nunes, Congressman Gaetz, Congressman DeSantis, Congressman Jordan, and several other GOP members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Oversight, Justice, or other committees have been saying about the Special Counsel and his investigation and the FBI’s role in the counterintelligence investigation pertaining to the President that was begun in July 2016, they needed to do something to change the narrative. Enter the four page classified memo supposedly alleging that the Obama Administration, the DOJ, the FBI, and other parts of the US Intel Community were all conspiring against Republicans and conservatives in general and the President, his businesses, and his campaign in specific. Leaked to Fox News and teed up for Sean Hannity’s diatribe for an audience of one this evening. Given what happened the last time that Congressman Nunes tried to get creative in screening fire for the President, I fully expect that if this memo is ever declassified it won’t survive first contact with the actual subject matter experts the news media brings in to consult on it. Except, of course, for Fox News, talk radio, the alt-right news media (Breitbart, Gateway Pundit, etc) and social media crowd, Wikileaks, RT, and Sputnik. They’ll all, amazingly, have the exact same talking points. As will the White House, the President on twitter, and the aforementioned GOP members of Congress. This amount of coincidence takes a lot of work!

As Senator Burr said about Congressman Nunes’ unmasking obsession:

“The unmasking thing was all created by Devin Nunes,” Burr said, “and I’ll wait to go through our full evaluation to see if there was anything improper that happened. But clearly there were individuals unmasked. Some of that became public which it’s not supposed to, and our business is to understand that, and explain it.”

I expect a similar conclusion to be reached about his new four page memo if it ever sees the light of day. But it will consume a lot of news media oxygen that could be better spent focused on other things. Like the Congressional GOP’s appropriations woes, the lack of progress on relief for those previously covered by the DACA executive order, the use of CHIP as a hostage, and, of course, Stormy Daniels spanking the President with Forbes magazine.

ETA at 12:55 AM EST

What I’ve delineated above is my best estimate at this time because the Fox News write up was big on hyperbolic comments from GOP members of the House and light on actual factual information. Clicking through to the hashtag just led me to all sorts of incoherent crazy. And I’m NOT watching Hannity!

Stay frosty or warm.

Open thread!