January 30, 2018

Telling Lies With The Truth

The Nunes memo is nothing less than propaganda.

by Chris Thomas

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Photo by Samuel Zeller

In the final scene of The Sixth Sense, Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) discovers that he has been dead the whole time. This comes as a shock to the audience because the the director, M. Night Shyamalan, chose to present each of Willis’ scenes with key details omitted or deemphasized so as to lead viewers away from what would become the film’s big reveal. Of course, it seems unlikely that any person could go for days, much less months or years, cut off from nearly all of society without noticing, but Shyamalan’s decision to exclude Willis’ inability to order in restaurants, operate a motor vehicle, or use a telephone makes the reveal work.

That is the power of cherry-picking the truth: omit the right parts and you can tell a lie with a series of true statements.

The House Intelligence Committee’s recent vote to declassify the Nunes Memo — an internal memorandum written by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) — may very well rise to that level and is, at the least, extremely suspicious. Republicans claim that the memo undermines the Mueller investigation and The Hill speculates that it does so by claiming that…

…the FBI did not adequately explain to a clandestine court that some of the information it used in a surveillance warrant application for Trump adviser Carter Page came from opposition research partially funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, now known as the “Steele dossier.”

How, exactly, the FBI’s alleged failure to play by the rules of the FISA court changes what illegal activities Trump and his associates were involved in has been largely unaddressed in the speculation around the memo, suggesting that this is a procedural rather than substantive attack on the Mueller investigation. Nonetheless, while the House Intelligence Committee voted on party lines to declassify the Nunes Memo, it also voted on party lines not to declassify a rebuttal memo written in counterpoint by the House Democrats.

In effect, Republicans are cherry-picking elements from highly classified intelligence which would seem to benefit them politically, declassifying them, and then hiding behind that classification to prevent open and honest debate about their own assertions. The American people, it seems, are just supposed to take their word for it.

What is that word worth? Well, if you ask the Department of Justice, not much. The intelligence that the House Republicans are so eager to declassify comes from an agreement between the House and the D.O.J. brokered by Speaker Paul Ryan himself which, Justice claims, expressly forbade this kind of disclosure.

Ryan and Nunes, of course, dispute Justice’s claim but neither have come forward with documentation to support their right to disclose. It’s almost as if the absence of that documentation means something.

Tell Congress What You Think

Releasing the Nunes Memo could harm US intelligence, damage the relationship between Congress and the Department of Justice, mislead the American people, compromise an ongoing investigation, or all of these things. In any case, Congress should know what you think about the matter. Text RESIST to 50409 to contact your government or talk to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger or Telegram.

How The Vote Went Down

The House Intelligence Committee voted on party lines to declassify the Nunes memo and keep the Democratic rebuttal under a gag order.

Voted For Releasing the Nunes Memo

  • Devin Nunes, Chairman (R-CA 22)
  • Mike Conaway (R-TX 11)
  • Peter King (R-NY 2)
  • Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ 2)
  • Tom Rooney (R-FL 17)
  • Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL 27)
  • Michael Turner (R-OH 10)
  • Brad Wenstrup (R-OH 2)
  • Chris Stewart (R-UT 2)
  • Rick Crawford (R-AR 1)
  • Trey Gowdy (R-SC 4)
  • Elise Stefanik (R-NY 21)
  • Will Hurd (R-TX 23)

Voted Against Releasing the Nunes Memo

  • Adam Schiff, Ranking Member (D-CA 28)
  • Jim Himes (D-CT 4)
  • Terri Sewell (D-AL 7)
  • Andre Carson (D-ID 7)
  • Jackie Speier (D-CA 14)
  • Mike Quigley (D-IL 5)
  • Eric Swalwell (D-CA 15)
  • Joaquin Castro (D-TX 20)
  • Denny Heck (D-WA 10)

More On Mueller and Russiagate

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