Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
When Hillary Clinton cites the “intelligence community assessment” to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the presidential election, she’s really repeating her own lie, that her campaign created, rolled through the media and the government, which used it to spy on the Trump campaign, and then finally became an “assessment” under orders from Obama carried out by political allies like Clapper and Brennan.
The media, which once boasted of exposing Watergate, had played a key role in Obama’s Watergate.
The release of a redacted FISA warrant application exposes the fact that the spying on Carter Page, a figure associated with the Trump campaign, relied on no sources other than Democrats and media allies.
In 2016, an arm of the Clinton campaign began assembling a dossier claiming that the Trump campaign was seeking damaging information about it from the Russians. The dossier actually represented an effort by the Clinton campaign to seek damaging information from the Russians about the Trump campaign.
The man tasked with that job, a former British intelligence agent named Christopher Steele, then went on to accuse figures involved with the Trump campaign, of doing the very thing he had been hired to do.
One of those men was Carter Page.
The Steele dossier claimed that Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was using Carter Page as an intermediary to work with the Russians against Hillary Clinton. But it was Steele who had actually been hired by the Clinton campaign to get information from the Russians to use against Donald Trump.
The FISA application to eavesdrop on Page is based on Steele’s work and the media echo chamber created around it. The intelligence assessment, which former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper admitted had been carried out under Obama’s orders, has the same tainted origins.
A Democrat smear was used by a Democrat administration to undermine a Republican’s victory.
The FISA application bets everything on Steele, while trying to hedge its bets by citing news stories, because Steele’s allegations against Page are as much of a dog’s breakfast as the rest of the dossier.
Page is variously described as “generally non-committal”, as confirming that sanctions on Russia will be lifted, and as not stating explicitly that the sanctions will be lifted, but implying that they will be lifted.
(Trump actually imposed more sanctions on Russia than Obama.)
But despite Steele’s sloppiness, he was useful because his past with the Russians and the FBI meant that his claims could be used as the basis for a government investigation of the Trump campaign.
The Steele dossier claimed that the Russians had “agents/facilitators within the Democratic Party structure itself”. The existence of Russian spies within the DNC should have been a far more urgent matter for a counterintelligence investigation, but the Obama and Clinton loyalists within the FBI and DOJ had no interest in taking a closer look at what they knew was the tainted Dem infrastructure.
Instead, the release of the redacted Carter Page FISA application made to the FISA court to allow Obama administration loyalists to spy on the political opposition shows that the basis for it was a dossier ordered by the Clinton campaign. As conservatives had repeatedly alleged, the Clinton campaign had provided material to the Obama administration allowing it to spy on the Trump campaign.
Despite the seriousness of the FISA application, the FBI shows no interest in verifying the integrity of the sources of the information. Some things are “believed” and others are “likely”. The FBI “speculates” that the motive for the dossier is to undermine the Trump campaign. It doesn’t bother trying to find out who paid for the dossier. There are only so many hours in the day and you can’t check everything.
The application mentions that "there has been speculation in the U.S. media that the Russian Government" was behind the DNC hack. Media allegations and speculations fill the application. First Amendment protections made the media very useful cutouts for the Clinton campaign.
The unredacted FISA application was based entirely on the work of Democrats and their media allies.
Fusion GPS, the organization used to hire Steele, used its contacts in the media and the government to seed the dossier. Then the dossier and the news stories based on it were used in the FISA application. Its claims about Steele’s Russian trip in 2016 are based on the unverified Steele dossier.
The FISA application states that the FBI suspended its relationship with Steele due to his “unauthorized disclosure of information to the press”, yet it insists on using a Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, who had received his information from Steele, as a separate source, while claiming that it doesn’t believe that the Isikoff article was based on information received from Steele.
The FISA application relies heavily on news stories. Beyond the Yahoo News article, it cites allegations made in articles by the Washington Post and Politico. No effort is made to verify any of these allegations in media outlets famously hostile to Republicans in general and to Trump specifically. Instead the FISA application by the government bizarrely repeats claims about government investigations made in the media as the basis for launching a government investigation.
The FISA application cites the Yahoo News article stating that "U.S. intelligence officials are investigating Page". It cites the same "intelligence reports" of the Steele dossier, without naming it, that the FISA application is also relying on. The FBI clearly knows or suspects that Steele is that “intelligence” source because it adds a disclaimer about the Yahoo News article, not the Politico or Washington Post articles.
Even once Steele admitted to having briefed Yahoo News, the FBI continued to offer the same denial.
Its disclaimer states that the FBI doesn't believe that Steele "directly provided this information" to Yahoo News. Why emphasize “directly”? Because the FBI knew that Fusion GPS boss Glenn Simpson had been doing much of the information peddling to the media. But the issue of whether Steele had directly or indirectly provided the information on which the Yahoo News article was based is less relevant than the fact that the FBI was citing Steele twice, once in person and once in drag as a Yahoo News article.
Instead of providing a second intelligence source, they offered a news story anonymously citing an intelligence source providing information to intelligence officials. But they were the intelligence officials.
Media reports of the investigation, provided by Steele, were used to create a sock puppet second source and second investigation. These echo chamber tactics were typical of the Obama administration which routinely seeded stories into a media echo chamber, and then used those stories to justify its policies.
The FISA application shows that the Obama administration didn’t just deploy its media echo chamber to manipulate public opinion, but also used it to justify its abuse of domestic surveillance against its political opponents.
The media has made Watergate into an essential part of its brand. Generations of reporters have come of age at journalism schools pretending to be Woodward and Bernstein. Not only did the media fail to expose Obama’s Watergate, but it was a key part of the infrastructure for spying on Republicans.
The FISA application reveals that domestic surveillance of Republicans would not have been possible without the media. In 2016, the media had become an official part of ‘All the President’s Men’. The reporters had become the plumbers of a political police state. Their smears were used to eavesdrop on political opponents and cast doubt on the outcome of a free and open election.
The media claims that it safeguards democracy. The FISA application shows it’s a threat to democracy.
Photo: Pete Souza