LEAKS: for a saner world

The two stories above shook the political world last week. As most readers know by now, after the disclosure that Michael Flynn, now former National Security Adviser, had been communicating with the Russian ambassador on the topic of sanctions he was forced to resign. It was revealed in the CNN story above that he as well as other Trump operatives during the 016 election campaign had been communicating frequently with Russian high-level intelligence officials and other Russian officials during the cyber espionage that compromised voter data banks and the DNC’s email system.

But what is now highly relevant to the future of Trump’s presidency is the nature of the intelligence disclosures that led to the NYT and CNN reports and to Flynn’s dismissal. The nature of these classified leaks and the political response to them are now nearly as important as the content of the leaks themselves. In the above reports we are told that US intelligence officials confided in journalists to convey what appears to have been classified information about the Trump campaign and Russia to the American public.

Because this intelligence sheds more light on many unanswered questions about the Trump campaign it is a very helpful in that it provides the American people with important information on the actions of Trump’s aids. There involvement with Russian Intelligence (FSB) and other officials at a time of Russian hacking of the American election infrastructure is something everyone should know about.

One might surmise here that some members of the Intelligence Community have decided to raise the volume on the call for urgent investigation into these bizarre and unprecedented facts. The released information has an actionable quality. It is something that demands an official response.

This exfiltration of information also occurred in connection with Flynn’s famous five telephone conversations with the Russian ambassador to the US. The line was tapped. Somehow WaPo ended up with part of the transcript but not before the acting AG viewed it and acted. Another damning leak.

Chariman of the House Intel Committee Devin Nunes (R-CA) responded, “‘The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.” He announced last Tuesday that his committee would probe these recent leaks. (The Hill)

He wants to probe the leaks — how the information became public — but not the crime that the leaks have revealed! The problem as Nunes sees is really about Flynn’s civil rights (“an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded”) — and not national security.

For Nunes the problem is not Russian involvement in our democratic process, not possible treason, and conspiracy, but rather the problem is who is doing all the whistle blowing. Who is letting the world know how corrupt the Trump campaign (probably) was and how inept and possibly corrupt the present administration is? That’s all. He has pledged as chairman that the House Intelligence Committee will investigate links between Russia and the Trump (and any) campaign. So far he has accomplished absolutely nothing in this area. I have made a point of this default in a prior piece:

Nunes also threatened, “I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer.” (Bear in mind that House Intel holds the purse strings to the FBI and the other US intelligence agencies.) He is not saying he wants a “good answer” on possible collaboration between the Trump camp and Russia. What he wants to know is who the hell narked on Trump and co. And last Friday (2/17) Nunes sent a letter to the FBI demanding investigation of the leaks in the White House. He expressed concern that “Trump is being targeted by the intelligence community.” And he believes, “It’s an abuse of authority.” (Politico) Nunes at this stage is exhibiting more concern and energy over these leaks than he has over the investigation his committee is supposed to be conducting into links between Russia and the Trump campaign and into Russian cyber involvement in the presidential election cycle.

There is also this disjointed statement by Trump: “From intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked. It’s criminal action, criminal act, and it’s been going on for a long time before me, but now it’s really going on.” (Politico, 2/15) Clearly, he and at least some Republican lawmakers hope to kill the messenger.

Let’s hope and pray it keeps “really going on.” When those charged with investigating corruption think that corruption is not important and do nothing, our only hope is that leaks and whistleblowers will compel real investigation.

As Trump might have once said, Leak on us some more, you low-life leakers!

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(updated 2/18)