No sooner did the much-anticipated FISA memo hit the streets on Friday than Democrats rose up to condemn House Republicans and the White House for allegedly damaging our national security.
The vitriol was palpable. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, for example, accused President Trump of surrendering “his constitutional responsibility as Commander-in-Chief by releasing highly classified and distorted intelligence.” She added, “By not protecting intelligence sources and methods, he just sent his friend Putin a bouquet.”
Sen. Tim Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the 2016 election for president, tweeted:
This is dangerous territory, it disrespects law enforcement, and it’s an alarming partisan attack on efforts to investigate hostile foreign interference in our democracy.
Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, also slammed the release of the memo in a tweet proclaiming:
The release of the #NunesMemo by House Intelligence Committee Republicans and the White House, over the objections of the FBI and the Department of Justice, is reckless and demonstrates an astonishing disregard for the truth.
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) February 2, 2018
His tweet generated 233 responses, including one that was especially noteworthy. It was from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who for better or worse, knows a thing or two about linking classified information. Here is what he said:
The Senator who cried wolf. Everyone can see for themselves that the classification labels applied to the memo were an abuse and that it in no way threatens the security of the population of the United States ("national security"). https://t.co/5RGVyY9Bd0 https://t.co/ZJCubP47dW
— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) February 2, 2018
Hey, don’t just take his word for it. Consider the opinion of law professor Jonathan Turley. Turley, who has shown himself to be a straight shooter, was on Tucker Carlson’s show on the Fox News Channel Friday night. There, he said:
[R]egardless of the content of the memo you have a disconnect between what FBI members said about the release of this memo. Those of us who have been working in national security cases long time expected there to be some type of footprint of sources and methods. There wasn’t. This thing wasn’t even remotely classified. And that really concerns a lot of us because it’s the use of classification laws for tactical purposes. If you look at what the FBI said, they said we want this thing to remain classified because it’s inaccurate due to omission. Well, that’s complaining about how the facts are being portrayed, not that they are classified. And many critics have said for years that the FBI and other agencies have been classifying material to avoid embarrassment. [Emphasis added]
Turley went on scold Pelosi et al. for their overheated rhetoric:
This may be the most public and relatively rare example of that. There is nothing remotely in this memo that justifies the rhetoric used by minority leader Pelosi and ranking member Schiff. They all said there would be dire consequences. The FBI director said there would be grave problems that would arise with the release. And you look at the memo and it’s sort of an empty grave.
If you are wondering — and justifiably so — whether this episode reveals that many in government are clueless about the classification process, consider that one lawmaker was accused just yesterday of inadvertently leaking classified information in a press release about the “FISA abuse” memo. His name? Adam Schiff.
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