Nunes FBI memo: Yep, it's every bit as terrible as you imagined
The day Congress becomes a supermarket tabloid
When the FBI and the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have complained bitterly that Nunes' memo has "material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy" – they might well be referring to the results of previous FISA surveillance on Page, also provided to the court.
The Steele dossier may have simply been the cherry on top of the cake. Or, it may be that the NSA's surveillance of Page, who previously worked in Moscow, had failed to pick up any of the information that was included in Steele's dossier.
If that’s the case then the Nunes memo may have just let the Russian intelligence services know that their counter-surveillance methods worked.
The other big question is: were others named in the Steele dossier – former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and long-term Trump lawyer Michael Cohen – also all put under surveillance on the basis of the allegations?
These are the interesting questions that are raised by this unprecedented insight into the secretive spying operations of the US government, as provided by the House Intelligence Committee.
The actual memo itself, twinned with determined efforts to use it to provide political cover to attack senior officials at the DoJ and FBI, is garbage.
It is a depressing sign of just how far the partisan nature of Washington DC has gone that politicians are willing to undermine confidence in government's highest and most important organs in an effort to score a political win.
Michael Steele, a former Republican National Committee chairman, cracked a good one on the memo's quality:
If this memo resulted in an in-depth and much more honest appraisal of spying laws in the United States, and the seemingly low bar of proof required by the FISA Court, it might even be worth the damage caused to key institutions.
But there is next to no chance of that actually happening – because the very people who wrote this memo and pushed for it to be published are the exact same people who prevented debate of one of America's most controversial spying programs – Section 702 – and who prevented additional safeguards from being implemented.
Safeguards that would have limited the potential for abuse that this memo purports to demonstrate and is so upset about. The hypocrisy is gut wrenching.
Just to be clear though, this memo does not demonstrate any political bias on the part of the FBI or the DoJ, despite its best efforts. The g-men did their job using the powers that Congress gave them.
And if some intelligence officials didn't want Trump elected president, this whole episode has unfortunately demonstrated why: as president, Donald Trump was in a position to prevent the release of this appalling memo and he chose not to.
He put his own personal goals ahead of the country's. And frankly no patriot wants to see that in their president. ®