Titanic Failure: What The Horowitz Report Actually Says About The Russian Investigation

I previously discussed the bizarre narrative in the media that the main takeaway from the Horowitz report was the debunking of a conspiracy theory. Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on some of the actual findings of the Horowitz report. The report shows that there was not credible evidence to maintain the investigation and that the Steele Dossier was essential to securing the FISA investigation despite repeated media statements to the contrary.

Here is the column:

The analysis of the report by Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz greatly depends, as is often the case, on which cable news channel you watch. Indeed, many people might be excused for concluding that Horowitz spent 476 pages to primarily conclude one thing, which is that the Justice Department acted within its guidelines in starting its investigation into the 2016 campaign of President Trump.

Horowitz did say that the original decision to investigate was within the discretionary standard of the Justice Department. That standard for the predication of an investigation is low, simply requiring “articulable facts.” He said that, since this is a low discretionary standard, he cannot say it was inappropriate to start. United States Attorney John Durham, who is heading the parallel investigation at the Justice Department, took the unusual step to issue a statement that he did not believe the evidence supported that conclusion at the very beginning of the investigation.

Attorney General William Barr also issued a statement disagreeing with the threshold statement. In fact, the Justice Department has a standard that requires the least intrusive means of investigating such entities as presidential campaigns, particularly when it comes to campaigns of the opposing party. That threshold finding is then followed by the remainder of the report, which is highly damaging and unsettling. Horowitz finds a litany of false and even falsified representations used to continue the secret investigation targeting the Trump campaign and its associates.

This is akin to reviewing the Titanic and saying that the captain was not unreasonable in starting the voyage. The question is what occurred when the icebergs began appearing. Horowitz says that investigative icebergs appeared rather early on, and the Justice Department not only failed to report that to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court but removed evidence that its investigation was on a collision course with the facts.

The investigation was largely based on a May 2016 conversation between Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and Australian diplomat Alexander Downer in London. Papadopolous reportedly said he heard that Russia had thousands of emails from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. That was viewed as revealing possible prior knowledge of the WikiLeaks release two months later, which was then used to open four investigations targeting the campaign and Trump associates.

Notably, Democrats and the media lambasted Trump for saying the Justice Department had been “spying” on his campaign, and many said it was just an investigation into figures like Carter Page. Horowitz describes poorly founded investigations that included undercover FBI agents and a variety of different sources. What they really discovered is the main point of the Horowitz report.

From the outset, the Justice Department failed to interview several key individuals or vet critical information and sources in the Steele dossier. Justice Department officials insisted to Horowitz that they choose not to interview campaign officials because they were unsure if the campaign was compromised and did not want to tip off the Russians. However, the inspector general report says the Russians were directly told about the allegations repeatedly by then CIA Director John Brennan and, ultimately, President Obama. So the Russians were informed, but no one contacted the Trump campaign so as not to inform the Russians?

Meanwhile, the allegations quickly fell apart. Horowitz details how all of the evidence proved exculpatory of any collusion or conspiracy with the Russians. Even worse, another agency that appears to be the CIA told the FBI that Page was actually working for the agency in Russia as an “operational contact” gathering intelligence. The FBI was told this repeatedly, yet it never reported it to the FISA court approving the secret investigation of Page. His claim to have worked with the federal government was widely dismissed.

Worse yet, Horowitz found that investigators and the Justice Department concluded there was no probable cause on Page to support its FISA investigation. That is when there was an intervention from the top of the FBI, ordering investigators to look at the Steele dossier funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign instead.

Who told investigators to turn to the dossier? Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. He was fired over his conduct in the investigation after earlier internal investigations. Horowitz contradicts the media claim that the dossier was just a small part of the case presented to the FISA court. He finds that it was essential to seeking FISA warrants. Horowitz also finds no sharing of information with FISA judges that undermined the credibility of the dossier or Christopher Steele himself. Surprisingly little effort was made to fully investigate the dossier when McCabe directed investigators to it, yet investigators soon learned that critical facts reported to the FISA court were false. FISA judges were told that a Yahoo News article was an independent corroboration of the Steele dossier, but Horowitz confirms that Steele was the source of that article. Therefore, Steele was used to corroborate Steele on allegations that were later deemed unfounded.

The report also said that Steele was viewed as reliable and was used as a source in prior cases, yet Horowitz found no support for that and, in fact, found that the past representations of Steele were flagged as unreliable. His veracity was not the only questionable thing unveiled in the report. Steele relied on a character who, Horowitz determined, had a dubious reputation and may have been under investigation as a possible double agent for Russia. Other instances were also clearly misrepresented.

The source relied on by Steele was presented as conveying damaging information on Trump. When this source was interviewed, he said he had no direct information and was conveying bar talk. He denied telling other details to Steele. This was all known to the Justice Department, but it still asked for warrant renewals from the FISA court without correcting the record or revealing exculpatory information discovered by investigators. That included the failure to tell the court that Page was working with the CIA. Finally, Horowitz found that an FBI lawyer doctored a critical email to hide the fact that Page was really working for us and not the Russians.

Despite this shockingly damning report, much of the media is reporting only that Horowitz did not find it unreasonable to start the investigation, and ignoring a litany of false representations and falsifications of evidence to keep the secret investigation going. Nothing was found to support any of those allegations, and special counsel Robert Mueller also confirmed there was no support for collusion and conspiracy allegations repeated continuously for two years by many experts and members of Congress.

In other words, when the Titanic set sail, there was no reason for it not to. Then there was that fateful iceberg. Like the crew of the Titanic, the FBI knew investigative icebergs floated around its Russia investigation, but not only did it not reduce speed, it actively suppressed the countervailing reports. Despite the many conflicts to its FISA application and renewals, the FBI leadership, including McCabe, plowed ahead into the darkness.

Jonathan Turley is the chair of public interest law at George Washington University and served as the last lead counsel in a Senate impeachment trial. He testified as a Republican witness in House Judiciary Committee hearing in the Trump impeachment inquiry. Follow him @JonathanTurley.

241 thoughts on “Titanic Failure: What The Horowitz Report Actually Says About The Russian Investigation”

  1. From yesterday’s Washington Post:

    “Discrediting the investigation as illegitimate has long been Trump’s goal, and some media coverage is strangely misstating this crucial fact. Accounts are saying in various forms that the inspector general’s report has allowed “both sides” to claim vindication.

    The basis for this is that the report documented numerous serious mistakes in such matters as the handling of wiretap applications, and concluded that the threshold for starting such investigations might need reform.

    Those are certainly serious matters — indeed, civil libertarians have been arguing such things for years — but they do not vindicate Trump’s core claim in any way, shape or form. Trump’s primary argument — one he has pushed for years is that the investigation was illegitimate and was driven by a “deep state” plot to rig the election against him.

    And the inspector general report completely debunked this notion, finding that the investigation was lawfully predicated and was not motivated by any political effort to stop Trump. Any both-sidesing that confuses what Trump’s core argument has long been, and how thoroughly it has been debunked, is just misleading people.

    It is a telling fact that even as this both-sidesing is in process, Trump continues to state that the investigation was illegitimate and that the inspector general confirmed this. Trump claimed the inspector general demonstrated an “attempted overthrow” of the government, when it concluded precisely the opposite.

    The problem is that any media coverage that implies Trump secured some sort of vindication creates a favorable climate for Trump to engage in this even more absurd set of lies.

    After all, the fact that Trump’s FBI director was absolutely clear on this — that there was no vindication — is precisely why Trump is now threatening him. Trump probably won’t go through with any firing, but what’s beyond doubt is that Trump still feels absolutely unconstrained, and will keep pressuring law enforcement to validate his ongoing effort to make Russian sabotage of our 2016 election vanish.

    This is precisely what Trump is counting on Attorney General William Barr to do: Use his office to cast doubt on the inspector general’s conclusions, and further the narrative that the original investigation was illegitimate.”

    Carter Page’s FISA warrant was only one of 500 such warrants, which is de minimis in the overall scheme of the investigation. And, importantly, none of the errors or irregularities Horowitz found in any way mitigates the crimes that were prosecuted, the guilty pleas and convictions that were obtained, or changes the fact that the Trump campaign fed information to Russian hackers that was used to help him cheat to win the White House. Nor does Horowitz’s report in any way justify Trump’s flaunting the law by refusing to cooperate with Congressional oversight or his attempted leverage of aid to Ukraine to aid his campaign.

    1. Natacha:

      Since you apparently commented without actually reading Professor Turley’s blog post above, let me sum up:

      1. “Justice Department officials insisted to Horowitz that they choose not to interview campaign officials because they were unsure if the campaign was compromised and did not want to tip off the Russians. However, the inspector general report says the Russians were directly told about the allegations repeatedly by then CIA Director John Brennan and, ultimately, President Obama. So the Russians were informed, but no one contacted the Trump campaign so as not to inform the Russians?” This means they did not tell the truth.

      2. Horowitz details how all of the evidence proved exculpatory of any collusion or conspiracy with the Russians This means you should stop pretending that the Trump campaign or later administration colluded with the Russians.

      3. Carter Page was working with the CIA, and informed them immediately of his contact with the Russians. The CIA confirmed this in an email to the FBI. The FBI agent then doctored that email to reverse its meaning, saying the CIA did not have a relationship with Carter Page. Thus the entire investigation was predicated on a deliberate lie. That agent is being criminally prosecuted.

      4. “Horowitz found that investigators and the Justice Department concluded there was no probable cause on Page to support its FISA investigation. That is when there was an intervention from the top of the FBI, ordering investigators to look at the Steele dossier funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign instead.

      Who told investigators to turn to the dossier? Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. He was fired over his conduct in the investigation after earlier internal investigations. Horowitz contradicts the media claim that the dossier was just a small part of the case presented to the FISA court. He finds that it was essential to seeking FISA warrants.” This means that when you claim that the investigation was not based on the dossier, you are wrong.

      5. “Horowitz also finds no sharing of information with FISA judges that undermined the credibility of the dossier or Christopher Steele himself. Surprisingly little effort was made to fully investigate the dossier when McCabe directed investigators to it, yet investigators soon learned that critical facts reported to the FISA court were false. FISA judges were told that a Yahoo News article was an independent corroboration of the Steele dossier, but Horowitz confirms that Steele was the source of that article. Therefore, Steele was used to corroborate Steele on allegations that were later deemed unfounded.” In fact, a sub source of Steele told investigators that they had no idea Steele was going to use that information and present it as fact. It was described as “just talk.”

      6. The report also said that Steele was viewed as reliable and was used as a source in prior cases, yet Horowitz found no support for that and, in fact, found that the past representations of Steele were flagged as unreliable. His veracity was not the only questionable thing unveiled in the report. Steele relied on a character who, Horowitz determined, had a dubious reputation and may have been under investigation as a possible double agent for Russia. Other instances were also clearly misrepresented.

      OK. Here is Professor Turley’s conclusion. The next time you feel the intense urge to claim that Trump is working for the Russians, or there was collusion, or any of those other false statements, remember, all of that was fed to you as misinformation from Russia, paid for by your candidate Hillary Clinton.

      Despite this shockingly damning report, much of the media is reporting only that Horowitz did not find it unreasonable to start the investigation, and ignoring a litany of false representations and falsifications of evidence to keep the secret investigation going. Nothing was found to support any of those allegations, and special counsel Robert Mueller also confirmed there was no support for collusion and conspiracy allegations repeated continuously for two years by many experts and members of Congress.

      Once again, it is proven that the Democrats themselves are guilty of what they have accused Trump of doing.

      This is reprehensible. This is the kind of behavior that we conservatives oppose. This is why there’s all that talk about a Deep State.

      And you guys are going crazy because Trump is regularly critical about someone? Are you kidding me? That’s where your justice-o-meter is pegged? We conservatives have suffered years of never ending personal attacks, harassment on campuses across America, in the workplace, and a string of false accusations. That is why we oppose you. We don’t want the country to keep going down that road. After ignoring all our warnings about the Democrat Party going farther and farther Left, now you guys have a bunch of Socialists and hard Leftists running for President. They each are in a race to see who could impoverish the country faster.

  2. So Sen. Blumenthal was boasting that the evidence gathered by the FBI’s FISA application and renewals led to multiple indictments and prosecutions. He appears to be touting harvesting the fruit of the poisonous tree and planting them in the first place.

    Page, Manafort and Stone approve of this message.

  3. On Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham asked Horowitz: “The former FBI Director James Comey said this week that your report vindicates him. Is that a fair assessment of your report?”

    Horowitz responded: “I think the activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this FISA.”

    “The Primary Sub-source told the FBI that he/she had not seen Steele’s reports until they became public that month, and that he/she made statements indicating that Steele misstated or exaggerated the Primary Sub-source’s statements in multiple sections of the reporting. …

    The Primary Sub-source was questioned again by the FBI beginning in March 2017 about the election reporting and his/her communications with Steele. The Washington Field Office agent (WFO Agent 1) who conducted that interview and others after it told the OIG that the Primary Sub-source felt that the tenor of Steele’s reports was far more “conclusive” than was justified. The Primary Subsource also stated that he/she never expected Steele to put the Primary Subsource’s statements in reports or present them as facts. According to WFO Agent 1, the Primary Sub-source said he/she made it clear to Steele that he/she had no proof to support the statements from his/her sub-sources and that “it was just talk.””

    https://www.dailywire.com/news/inspector-general-horowitz-debunks-comey-suggesting-exoneration-activities-we-found-here-dont-vindicate-anybody-who-touched-this-fisa

    Years of millions of people in the country thinking that Trump was working for the Russians, all that outrage, over nothing. Just gossip and lies. One of the sources was a CNN blog post! What dupes they made of the country! Shouldn’t there be serious repercussions over this?

  4. The Obama Coup D’etat in America is the most egregious abuse of power and the most prodigious scandal in American political history.

    The co-conspirators are:

    Bill Taylor, Eric Ciaramella, Rosenstein, Mueller/Team, Andrew Weissmann, Comey,

    Christopher Wray, McCabe, Strozk, Page, Laycock, Kadzic, Yates, Baker, Bruce Ohr,

    Nellie Ohr, Priestap, Kortan, Campbell, Sir Richard Dearlove, Steele, Simpson,

    Joseph Mifsud, Alexander Downer, Stefan “The Walrus” Halper, Azra Turk, Kerry,

    Hillary, Huma, Mills, Brennan, Gina Haspel, Clapper, Lerner, Farkas, Power, Lynch,

    Rice, Jarrett, Holder, Brazile, Sessions (patsy), Nadler, Schiff, Obama et al.
    ___________________________________________________________

    Clearly, the Obama Coup D’etat is the equivalent of “…an attack on the monarch’s authority,…” Congress must vigorously prosecute and severely penalize all the actors in this egregious act.
    _________________________________________

    “As an attack on the monarch’s authority, high treason was considered a deplorable act demanding the most extreme form of punishment.”

    “Hanged, drawn and quartered”

    “To be hanged, drawn and quartered was, from 1352, a statutory penalty in England for men convicted of high treason, although the ritual was first recorded during the reign of King Henry III (1216–1272).

    The severity of the sentence was measured against the seriousness of the crime. As an attack on the monarch’s authority, high treason was considered a deplorable act demanding the most extreme form of punishment. Although some convicts had their sentences modified and suffered a less ignominious end, over a period of several hundred years many men found guilty of high treason were subjected to the law’s ultimate sanction.

    Although the Act of Parliament defining high treason remains on the United Kingdom’s statute books, during a long period of 19th-century legal reform the sentence of hanging, drawing, and quartering was changed to drawing, hanging until dead, and posthumous beheading and quartering, before being abolished in England in 1870. The death penalty for treason was abolished in 1998.”

    – Wiki

  5. The FISA Court process needs serious reform, to inject an adversarial element which is there to protect U.S. citizens from 4th Amendment violations (govt. spying / fishing expeditions).

    I have grave concerns that the process within DoJ and FBI for investigating campaigns and candidates is too “ad hoc”, allowing political appointees (e.g., Comey, McCabe)
    the freedom to commandeer control over any political investigation, and staff it without regard to political bias. I have long argued that FBI/DoJ needs to create a special unit, the Election Integrity Rapid Response Office (EIRRO), a standing unit staffed by agents and lawyers who are vetted for, and sworn to political neutrality.

    This is essential to restore confidence that FBI/DoJ are capable of conducting investigations of campaigns and candidates without appearance of bias.

    I didn’t hear any questions today about how it was decided that Comey and McCabe’s direct reports in FBI HQ were assigned both the Midterm Exam and Crossfire Hurricane cases…or why they didn’t go the the NYC Field Office.

    1. I agree, pbinca. There would need to be some way to ensure that neutrality. I wouldn’t want activists in positions of power, who would simply appoint their own cronies to supposedly “neutral” positions. After all, the FBI itself is supposed to be politically neutral.

      This report must have been a terrible blow to the men and women of the FBI who work the job with integrity. It’s a black eye on everyone. The problem is that those in authority have become too politicized.

  6. This Senate Judiciary hearing with IG Horrowitz is going about as expected. It makes me think of the reporting on the terrorist attack at NAS Pensacola.

    If this were a hearing on the Pensacola attack instead, Democrats would be focusing on the legality of the Saudi national being in this country and his purchase of the gun. Republicans would be focusing on the vetting of these foreign nationals and the consequences of failures within this program.

  7. Meanwhile, the allegations quickly fell apart. Horowitz details how all of the evidence proved exculpatory of any collusion or conspiracy with the Russians. Even worse, another agency that appears to be the CIA told the FBI that Page was actually working for the agency in Russia as an “operational contact” gathering intelligence. The FBI was told this repeatedly, yet it never reported it to the FISA court approving the secret investigation of Page. His claim to have worked with the federal government was widely dismissed.

    Worse yet, Horowitz found that investigators and the Justice Department concluded there was no probable cause on Page to support its FISA investigation. That is when there was an intervention from the top of the FBI, ordering investigators to look at the Steele dossier funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign instead.

    Pretty amusing to imagine how Natacha and Anon1 / JanF are going to persuade themselves that the Horowitz report legitimizes the scamming around by Sztrok and McCabe and Brennan while simultaneously maintaining that the Mueller investigation substantiates collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Presumably, they’ll get the job done by repeating over and over their usual incantations.

    1. TIA, I agree, and will lay money on Natacha persisting in her claim that Trump colluded with the Russians.

      What is troubling is that such blatant ignorance of the data is so common. There are millions of people who do not understand the facts, or perhaps they just ignore them. Millions, willing to support serious wrongdoing by the FBI, and Congress, as long as they get a Democratic President. Machiavellian.

  8. My caveat here would be that there is an implication that the use of the FISA court with regard to Carter Page is an isolated incident. I find that dubious. I find it dubious because the Founding Fathers would have never agreed to create the FISA court knowing that it would be used in this manner in a variety of situations on a variety of citizens.

    If I were allowed to submit flimsy evidence to a secret court where there is almost never any oversight, my work would become sloppy, and I would advocate for the unnecessary surveillance of numerous citizens as well. The beauty of the Founding Fathers was the recognition of human nature in everybody including themselves. They would not trust themselves to behave properly within the FISA court system.

    We got along for over 200 years without it. And we can get along fine without it today. Unfortunately, the fact that Trump is the basis for reviewing this particular incident involving FISA means that debate it going to be buried.

    1. I agree. Why would this have only happened once? They got caught once. When you find one cockroach, there are hundreds more hiding.

      No oversight and low standards are a guarantee of abuse. How typical of government.

  9. The Titanic analogy doesn’t quite fit. What if the ship actually reached the desired destination? Would we be arguing whether it should have left port in the first place? In this case it was found that Russia really was interfering with our elections. Would we discard this rather important finding because the initial investigation did not meet some particular standard?

    1. Al O’Heem:

      First, the ship did not reach its destination. As Professor Turley summarized, “the allegations quickly fell apart. Horowitz details how all of the evidence proved exculpatory of any collusion or conspiracy with the Russians.” Also, Carter Page was not working for the Russians; he was working for us via the CIA. The FBI lied about that and targeted an innocent man, violating his civil rights. That Titanic is at the bottom of the ocean, along with Democrat hopes and dreams.

      Of course Russia interfered with our elections. Hilary Clinton paid a British agent for a fake dossier provided by Russian agents in order to discredit her political opponent. That dossier was used by activists in the FBI to destabilize our country for years. Years after it came out that it was completely bogus, it was still treated as a serious document.

      Russia also employs active measures, such as think tanks staffed with American professors who bash capitalism and promote Socialism. There is a strong pro-Socialist trend among academics, which graduates millennials, over half of whom believe that Socialism is a grand idea. They are oblivious to the fact its killed millions of people are inherently unworkable.

      It is thanks, in some part, to Russia that the Democratic Party openly supports socialism, and put multiple candidates in the primary who are full socialist, or at least pro-socialist in part.

      Russia loves to see the US taken down a peg. Watching Trump be bashed about and weekend for years by a Russian hoax must have been enjoyable, especially since Trump has sanctioned them, and given lethal aid to Ukraine. Of course they love having anti-war candidates in the Democrat party field. That gives them more scope to push their interests out, and perhaps their borders.

      Russia released pro Bernie and Stein propaganda. Of course. If either won, our economy would be in the toilet and we’d be fighting over dumpster pickings and toilet paper.

      Wikileaks and other embarrassing revelations involved true facts about Hillary Clinton and the DNC. Facts they did not want us to know.

      Russia sent out both pro and damming social media memes on both Hillary and Trump, likely in an effort to create chaos after the election. And the Democrats did their bidding with gusto, didn’t they?

      Perhaps Democrats should stop fulfilling Russia’s wishes of a destabilized US, and accept the results of the 2016 election.

  10. Who was the FBI attorney who “doctored a critical email to hide the fact that Page was really working for us and not the Russians”? Lisa Page?

        1. No. As the report said, he was actually a current sourced for the CIA. He’d already reported his contact with the Russians to the CIA. The FBI doctored an email from the CIA which confirmed this, reversing it to say he was not working for them.

          The FBI lied and fabricated documents to spy on and persecute an innocent man. The agent who doctored that email has been charged with a crime.

          Meanwhile, Carter Page’s reputation is ruined. His spying on the Russians has been compromised and outed, now making him a target for retribution for any past dealings.

          Yes, Page needs to sue everyone.

    1. Hedges also claimed that evangelical dissidents were ‘fascists’ (his term, the title of his witless book), maintained that Israeli soldiers shoot Arab youths for sport, and was enraged that we defeated Saddam Hussein’s army. He was untrustworthy and embarrassing enough that Pinch Sulzberger’s Times threw him overboard and he had to write for the red-haze remnant at The Nation (who need some filler in between the articles contending Alger Hiss was innocent).

      1. Wikipedia: “Hedges worked for 15 years as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He was based in the Middle East for five years, serving for four of those years as the Middle East bureau chief. He covered the war in the former Yugoslavia as the Balkan bureau chief based in Sarajevo. He later covered Al Qaeda in Europe and the Middle East from Paris.”

        Let’s compare his record to that of ‘This is absurd x XV.’

        1. Hedges is smart, very well educated, and had an interesting career as a correspondent. I like to try and listen to him and often do. Increasingly, I come away disappointed.

          He’s smarter, fairer, and lot less annoying than some of his ilk, I’ll say that much for him; but still a disappointment.

          1. Are you inebriated, or did you confuse him with someone else.
            No clue where you got the idea he was ‘fair’. He’s an obnoxious political sectary who favors his country’s enemies, really the worst sort of political scold. He is not smart. Smart people do not write blatantly stupid books.

            https://www.amazon.com/American-Fascists-Christian-Right-America/dp/0743284437/ref=asc_df_0743284437/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=316783146717&hvpos=1o3&hvnetw=g&hvrand=15007131023001781948&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9008183&hvtargid=pla-491226237086&psc=1

            The most notable thing about him is his astonishingly poor social sense. He was engaged in 2003 to offer a commencement speech at Rockford College. He was boo’d so insistently that the college president had to tell him to sit down so they could move on with the ceremony. The reason he was boo’d was because he treated the assembled to an obnoxious political rant, and no one wants to hear that on the day that marks a personal accomplishment.

            He actually has no education that would help you better understand either public policy or social relations. He has a divinity degree, but so do all the worthless clergymen in America (and there is zero indication he’d ever have made a competent pastor). He has a literature degree from a satisfactory private college. It would have been optimal preparation to teach English at Choate.

              1. I examined the book when it appeared. See Mortimer Adler on ‘inspectional reading’, which should be done prior to a line-by-line read to determine if the book merits detailed attention. It doesn’t. It’s whole thesis is silly. It’s just that it’s a silliness which appeals to people employed by publishing houses.

                The objects of fascist movements are orthogonal to those of suburban evangelicals. You don’t have to have brilliant insight to realize that. He went in front of an audience at Rockford College and began shooting his mouth off at things irrelevant to the occasion because he lacks a sense of the appropriate and just doesn’t get people not named ‘Chris Hedges’. And he doesn’t get suburban evangelicals, either. They’re not that esoteric. He simply lacks the skills to puzzle them out (or, really, anyone out).

              1. Again, so what? Divinity schools recruit, retain, and certify armies of mediocre people. The clergymen I’ve known who weren’t fools studied six decades ago or more or entered the clergy in late middle age after time in business and / or the military. As for the college he attended, its students have certain signatures, but they’re not remarkable en bloc for their intellect or perspicacity (though you find youngsters among them who are).

                1. Harvard Divinity School:

                  https://hds.harvard.edu/academics/degree-programs/mdiv-program

                  This three-year full-time degree program is for those preparing for ordained or lay ministry and leadership in congregations and other religious communities, ministries in social service, hospital and prison chaplaincy, interfaith ministry on college campuses, and teaching and scholarship. Students in the MDiv program learn to work at the intersections of the academic study of religion and the practices of religious communities, the past and the present, classroom study and field study, and the convictions and practices of their own religious tradition and the convictions and practices of traditions other than their own.

                  We believe that the education of learned ministers should include:

                  Rigorous education in the religious traditions that shape the scholarly, spiritual and practical dimensions of a vocation to ministry
                  The capacity to use the fundamental intellectual tools in the study of religion.
                  Genuine reading competence in a scriptural language and/or a language of theological scholarship that allows for the lifelong use of that language in ministerial leadership and scholarly inquiry.
                  Education in the arts of ministry pursued in both the classroom and the field.
                  Significant learning in a religious tradition other than one’s own.
                  Cultivation of the intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral agility that will enable graduates to move with skill, confidence, generosity and grace across the complex and plural religious, cultural, and moral spheres of modern society.

        2. Why do you fancy his having filed stories for the Sulzbergers somehow legitimates every stupid thing he’s ever said?

        3. Are you saying that a world traveled correspondent cannot have compromised judgement? That he did not pen those articles or get released from NYT?

          1. “Are you saying that a world traveled correspondent cannot have compromised judgement?”

            His record speaks for itself.

            Hedges left the NY Times voluntarily; he was not “released.” And his judgment certainly isn’t “compromised.”

      2. From Wikipedia:

        “Christopher Lynn Hedges was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, the son of Thelma Louise (née Prince) and the Rev. Thomas Havard Hedges, a Presbyterian minister.[14][15] He grew up in rural Schoharie County, New York, southwest of Albany. He graduated in 1975 from the Loomis Chaffee School, a private boarding school in Windsor, Connecticut.[16][17] He founded an underground newspaper at the school that was banned by the administration and resulted in his being put on probation.[18]

        “Hedges received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Colgate University in 1979. He received a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School (where he studied under James Luther Adams) in 1983.[19] He speaks English, Arabic, French, and Spanish, and studied Latin and Classical Greek at Harvard.[5]”

        Let’s get your debate scheduled. Let’s see the two of you go head to head.

        1. Anonymous – why does any of this make Hedges right? None of what you have written addresses TIA’s criticism of the tenor or veracity of his writing.

          Rather, Hedges can make a bad judgement call in English, Arabic, French, Spanish, and pigeon Latin or Greek.

        1. What ‘specious claims’? That he was discharged by the Sulzbergers, was employed by The Nation, that The Nation is a red-haze venue, or that Victor Navasky has as his most notable avocation a decades-long (and failing) effort to exonerate Alger Hiss? (Or is it really your contention that Hiss might be innocent?) You need to pick your battles better.

    2. Scahill’s introduction was obnoxious.

      Chris Hedges has said a lot of interesting things. That was not one of them.

      Fascism means whatever you guys want it to mean. Distinctions without differences are not useful. They’re just insults.

      Chris Hedges presents the Democrat socalled corporate fascism as enlightened multiculturalism from highly educated bank executives but literally calls the Republican version as “embraced by troglodytes”

      we can see he doesn’t like Democrat party but yeah he obviously demeans the Republican base– that he supposedly was “covering” in his recent book.

      Chris Hedges, interesting commentator, but a day late and a dollar short.

      Noam Chomsky, formerly some kind of democratic socialist trotskyite type: now a naked supporter of Democrats too: Republicans are “most dangerous organization in human history.” Preposterous!

      1. Fascism means whatever you guys want it to mean.

        No it does not. It refers to a particular sort of political order with distinctive features.

  11. Carter Page claimed that he informed the CIA of his contact with the Russians, because he is a source for the CIA. The FBI asked this lead to be followed.

    An FBI agent received an email from the CIA confirming that this was true. That FBI agent doctored the email, reversing it, so that it said that it was not true.

    This is a criminal conspiracy in the FBI to bring down a President.

    1. Mollie Hemingway is acting like one of the few adults in journalism

      One of the most interesting things to come out of this report is that the FBI and the Department of Justice knew by January 2017 that the dossier was complete rubbish. Complete, unadulterated rubbish,” Hemingway said. “We learned this yesterday. For three years departments leaked out information that seemed like they were taking [the dossier] seriously.”

      https://thefederalist.com/2019/12/11/hemingway-spygate-intel-abuse-is-the-greatest-scandal-of-our-generation/

      1. The bigger reality unmasked by all this is that our first amendment privileged billionaire budget mass media corporations, are, surprise surprise, ardent defenders of their own corporate interests, and are not suprisingly aligned with the elements of the entrenched federal bureaucracy we call the “Deep State”

        Time for a hard look at reigning in the power of the legacy mass media, by antitrust, and other means such as pulling their cherished right to defame which is enshrined in the faulty case NYT v Sullivan

    2. And it shows that the federal agencies will toss a “source” or “CI” or “informant” overboard in a heartbeat.

      Lesson: don’t be a snitch, nor even a spy, not for national adversaries nor against them, because factions inside the feds may burn you for their own narrow interests.

    1. How much more does the media need to accept they were boondoggled? Or are they going to continue being used by Democrats? Listening to all the hearings so far, I couldn’t help but wonder what the intelligence community is hiding now. Is it you? Is it me? All investigations in process should be reviewed. If these people felt they had the right to create chaos, what more have they hidden? Number 1; fire Horowitz! he just doesn’t care. #2, fire everyone who had a part in this. #3, the CIA and all organizations involved in this travesty should be completely audited and where they find bias that impacted their work should be gone! Now, let the President do what the American people elected him to do. It’s amazing how much he has accomplished while these people were trying to bring him down. And still are. The Impeachment nonsense has no basis after the first day of testimony from the Senate committee.

      1. they’re not boondoggled. they know what they’re doing. And the Democrats and them are collaborators, not specifically clear whether the corporate mass media is the junior partner in these schemes or the Dem leadership is. I would bet the big money calls the shots and that’s not the Dem figureheads out front.

  12. Behold, the corrupt administration of Barack Hussein Obama. Where are all of his fired and disgraced former intel and law enforcement thugs now? On MSNBC and CNN as paid contributers and analysts, each given an enormous media platform to spin their own crimes and wrong doing. And no one trusts the media? Imagine that.

      1. a few guys are in prison and there are thousands of operators ready to replace them and millions of ardent supporters growing in number still. keep that in mind

  13. If there were falsifications of information sent to the court, I do hope there will be indictents forthcoming. It is long past time when high ranking officials can commit perjury (Clinton, Clapper), or other crimes and not be charged like other lesser endowed citizens.

    1. I’d say the system is more or less fine, needs some tweaks to separate the intelligence agencies, for instance.

      It’s corrupt people manipulating the system and the media (or the media was willing).

      My faith cannot be shaken in humanity; it’s been obvious from time immemorial that we are prone to corruption.

        1. What are the things wrong with our system of government? Is the whole thing a problem or some smaller elements?

          Of problematic small elements, what should be tweaked?

          I already noted that the CIA/FBI/NSA etc shouldn’t be, effectively, one giant foreign and domestic spy/enforcement sgency.

          Perhaps Senators ought to be selected by the states again rather than by popular vote.

          1. Perhaps Senators ought to be selected by the states again rather than by popular vote.

            Repealing the 17th amendment would be a great first step for the states and the people to strengthen the security of their inherent rights against abuse from the central government.

            1. What that would do would be to replace Senators whose skill is running fundraising and publicity campaigns with Senators whose skill is building relationships in legislatures. That might be an improvement, but, keep in mind that the most prominent legislator with the latter skill is … Nancy d’Alessandro Pelosi.

              1. No doubt this would engender a different skillset. It would also move the fishbowl that K Street feeds away from D.C. to the states. It won’t end the corruption, but it would certainly make it more difficult to centralize it.

                1. I don’t think that would be the effect. If you want to move public decisions to the states, you either have to enforce constitutional provisions on jurisdiction (the courts have refused to do that for 80 years) or you have to render the ambo of Congress contingent on the decisions of a convocation of state legislators (which still might fail). Another thing you might do is limit by constitutional provision the discretion of Congress in appropriating funds to finance state and local government.

          2. “What are the things wrong with our system of government? Is the whole thing a problem or some smaller elements?”
            **************************
            Government systems are only as good as the people who run them. And people are as good as their character allows. If you want better government? Raise better kids who subscribe to hard work, honesty, toughness, thrift, rationality, truth, humility, compassion, critical thinking and who can identify and detest bullshark in all its forms. You want a shining field of diamonds? You polish each individual stone.

            1. If I took your remark absolutely literally, I’d have to believe that every institutional form is of equal value and will produce equivalent results provided the properties of the population applying it are the same.

              1. TIA:

                “If I took your remark absolutely literally, I’d have to believe that every institutional form is of equal value and will produce equivalent results provided the properties of the population applying it are the same.”
                ******************
                I think that’s right. It was Madison who said if men were angels there’d be no need of government. Pure socialism works in certain settings like the NFL or the Roman Catholic Church and smallish countries like Finland. I could see a benign despot/weak parliamentary system working such as England in the 1500s. A lot of that depends on the homogeneous nature of the population. I’d never advocate pure totalitarianism or communism given its inherent denial of human nature. Some systems are better suited to human flourishing such as a republican form or pure democracy among largely homogeneous populations like Vermont. A lot of — but not all — roads lead to the top of the mountain.

                  1. TIA:

                    Not really. I took plenty of courses and did plenty of research into comparative governments. The reason they exist is because they provide some some level of efficacy in a given situation.

                    1. “This is absurd x XV says:December 11, 2019 at 6:18 PM
                      Why are you messing with my head?”

                      Someone needs to mess with TIA’s head.

                  2. DSS,
                    You stated: provided the properties of the population applying it are the same. I believe Mark took that point into consideration when he described the efficacy of the various forms.

                1. Pure socialism works in certain settings like the NFL or the Roman Catholic Church …

                  Lately you have been channeling Archie Bunker.

                  Ordinarily when a neophyte casts aspersions on the Catholic Church, I would recommend to them grabbing any papal encyclical starting with Nostis et Nobiscum (Pio Nono, 1849) contiguously to Deus Caritas Est(BXVI, 2005) that unambiguously reject socialism in the strongest of terms.

                  It would be helpful if you educated yourself with what the Church actually teaches and represents instead of carrying on the way you do with your buffoonery viz a viz Catholicism. Kurtz I get, Peter Shill is expected. But for a guy who claims scholastic masters like Sts. Augustine and Aquinas as his teachers, you’d never know it.

                  Overthrow [of] the entire order of human affairs

                  You are aware indeed, that the goal of this most iniquitous plot is to drive people to overthrow the entire order of human affairs and to draw them over to the wicked theories of this Socialism and Communism, by confusing them with perverted teachings.

                  – Nostis et Nobiscum
                  December 8, 1849

                  +++

                  We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything.

                  The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person − every person − needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. … In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live ‘by bread alone’ (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3) − a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human.

                  – Deus Caritas Est, December 25, 2005, n. 28

                  1. people are not really familiar in general with “subsidiarity.” but thank you for mentioning it!

                    i was not either, not from a decade of Catholic theology at the best Catholic schools. but eventually i found out about it in personal ecclesiastical readings

                    basically it is a principle of organization which says, you don’t dictate things at the top level, which are going just fine down below.

                    “Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them.” –PIus XI. Quad Anno

                    subsidiarity is part of the deep genius of Catholicism. Catholicism embodies both a respect for the immanent with a connection to the transcendant. it is both universal and particular all at once. at least in its authentic traditional form.

                    I’m a lapsed Catholic and an awful sinner. but there are some things in it which are absolute conceptual and social treasures and that’s one of them…

                    which is probably why I never learned of it in my systematic Catholic education and had to stumble on to it myself in personal studies– the top Catholic schools tend to only hire incompetent sycophants to teach both high school and undergraduate theology.

                    anyhow, how it operates in church governance is one thing, and how a similar more naturalistic principle would operate in national government is another

                    my earlier point is that fiddling with small changes to our system is a half measure. the broad and deep changes need to happen in culture and bubble up from there. unfortunately when elites in corporations and education and government all seem to conspire to make culture worse, generally, it aint gonna happen.

                    the Trump phenomenon does attack a few important issues in government which are subject to fast change, such as trade policy, migration policy, industrial policy, and foreign policy and war strategy. it’s better than nothing. but you can see how firmly and uniformly the elites go after him

                    including the Catholic clerics, and that collective group of cowards who are the American bishops, who are off their rockers now it seems, to put it mildly

                    1. Occasionally even the current Bishop of Rome, whatsisname from Argentina, Bergoglio? says something very smart. Often he says something dumb and follows it with something smart.

                      For example he said it was bad how a lot of young priests wear cassocks. Hello, that’s not bad in the slightest bit.

                      but then he said Catholic parishes should be looking at other issues besides sex related ones. for example gossip and slander are sins too. yeah, its great somebody finally noticed it.

                      And perhaps over here in our secular legal conversation, that reminds me, tIme to take the US lamestream media to task for decades of institutional gossip and slander all made possible by the mistaken premise of NYT v Sullivan an awful precedent.

                      Take away the mass media’s power to tell outrageous lies and repeat them a million times over without facing a single lawsuit, and you will bring a lot more truth to media.

                      Excuse me however if I say, it may be a little and a litle too late. We’ll see i guess.

                      For now they’re protecting themselves by talking about the “lessons” of the IG report about FISA abuses, without addressing the elephant in the room, namely, the massive fraud against President Trump which was created by it.

                      They should be apologizing now. Heads will have to roll before they do, however. I mean literally.

            2. Mespo,
              I agree with you, to an extent. I think our Constitution, our system of government, was designed to mitigate the effects of a certain degree of corruption.

              By balancing, separating, and spreading power amongst the various levels of organization (people, states, nation), the Founders aimed to prevent corruption from overwhelming the body politic. There was supposed to be a check on corruption–by the courts, the legislature, the Executive, and the people exerting a stay on rising problems by following the processes set in place.

              Too many people have been corrupted, as have elements of the system as forementioned.

              The system was also intended for a community of ethical and educated and engaged people. As you observe, we are seriously wanting for those characteristics.

          3. cultural fragmentation, social atomization, and general collapse are at the root.

            there is no systemic solution of fiddling with the bylaws that will fix this mess.

            in this root cause, I have to say I have some sympathy with George’s frequent rants

            a certain amount of cultural unity and uniformity underlies every nation. too much diversity too fast can undermine the necessary commonality that undergirds social cohesion.

            you can call that hate or you can call it reality.

    2. “faith in the system?” here’s what the writer Ragnar Redbeard had to say about “hope in princes”

      Might was Right when Gideon led the chosen tribes of old.
      And it was right when Titus burnt their temple roofed with gold:
      And Might was Right from Bunker’s Hill, to far Manilla Bay,
      By land and flood it’s writ in blood – the Gospel of Today.

      “Put not your trust in princes” is a saying old and true
      “Put not your hope in governments” translateth it anew.
      All “Books of Law” and “Golden Rules” are fashioned to betray:
      “The Survival of the Strongest” is the Gospel of Today.

      Might was Right when Carthage flames lit up the Punic foam;
      And when the naked steel of Gaul weighed down the spoil of Rome;
      And Might was Right when Richmond fell – and at Thermopylae –
      It’s the logic of the Ancient World and the Gospel of Today.

  14. I am surprised by Turley’s continuing surprise at the dishonesty of the media. On the one hand, he seems to be very intelligent, but on the other hand…

    1. I think he’s hoping that his fair assessment, from the same ‘side’ (obviously Democratic) will be taken as seriously as it was presented.

  15. A passing glance at today’s Realclearpolitics main page features headlines from various news media organizations that have one theme in common: the lie.

    Horowitz lied because everyone does it, but now the holier than thou liars are pounding their chests decrying the lies by x, y and z all the while Schiff, Pelosi, Nadler, Comey, Brennan, and all the rest lie

    they all lie

    Society can’t function like this

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com

    Wednesday, December 11 Real Clear Politics

    Impeach Trump. Save America Thomas Friedman, New York Times

    Trump Assaults Facts to Survive Impeachment Stephen Collinson, CNN

    While Dems Pine for Compromise, GOP Is Ruthless, Damon Linker, The Week

    The Truth Is Finally Out. The FBI Fulfilled Its Mission. James Comey, Washington Post

    The ‘Russia Hoax’ Is a Hoax, Adam Serwer, The Atlantic

    Misfired ‘Hurricane’: How Comey’s FBI Got It So Wrong Kevin Brock, The Hill

    Watchdog: FBI Knew ‘Pee Tape’ Highly Dubious, Didn’t Tell Trump

    Biden Gets Fiery In Exchange With Iowa Voter On Ukraine: “You’re a Damn Liar”

    Clinton: I Hope Sanders Doesn’t Take Long To Endorse Whoever Gets The Nomination, “He Hurt Me”

    1. “society” as a whole is just a numerical subset.

      American “society” in reality is a thousand factions. I won’t enumerate them. Figure it out on your own.

      But if you succeed in deconstructing the anti-Trump phenomenon, you will see that it very much serves the interest of certain social factions at the expense of certain others. I don’t want to delve too deeply into that question because it’s off limits hate speech. Whether it’s reality or not, see?

      When we accept general lies and falsehoods as the common currency, smaller lies pass much more easily through the gate.

        1. They probably got a lotta shit because they were not covering @ the outset. Check your facts. They were NOT covering it and Twitter lit them up!

          1. You imply that by not covering it, CNN recognizes it is BS. But lo and behold they are covering it, sucks to be you. Your PI skills give you absolutely nothing over any reasonably attentive citizen but keep kidding yourself. You are as special as a turd in a punch bowl.

            1. I realize your troll dull/normal intellect has a hard time understanding this. Or maybe you are not oriented in all spheres, including time. CNN did not cover this until they were called on their horseshit. Now, go make me a sandwich old timer.

              1. Maybe if you stopped watching TV through key holes, you would know what you were seeing. If it weren’t for sleaze balls, PIs would not exist. Thanks for being you.

              2. And you are aware of CNN’s scheduling because of your PI skills, you are a blowhard and, apparently, a bad PI.

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