Thursday, June 13, 2019

A Snapshot Of The Mueller FBI

Yesterday at a House Intelligence Committee hearing two retired FBI agents were called by the Democrats as expert witnesses. Per Jeff Carlson:

Witnesses at the hearing—titled “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Counterintelligence Implications of Volume 1″—included Robert Anderson and Stephanie Douglas, described by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) as former executives from the FBI’s counterintelligence division. Left out of Schiff’s description of Anderson and Douglas was that both witnesses had worked under former FBI Director Mueller prior to his role as special counsel.

Sean Hannity interviewed Devin Nunes and Mark Meadows afterwards. Here are some excerpts:

NUNES: What was amazing to me, ... is there were two retired FBI agents on the stand there, ... What I was amazed at is the lack of concern by these former FBI agents, one of whom Peter Strzok used to work for and, look, they served their country and I'm sure they did a great job, but when I brought up the fact that we probably shouldn't be using counterintelligence capabilities in this country to target a political campaign, they just sat there. ... I know we always say, oh, this happened at the very top of the FBI, but I will tell you, if that attitude permeated throughout the counterintelligence capabilities, and if retired FBI agents think its OK to use counterintelligence against political campaigns, I think we've gone a long way in this country, ...
MEADOWS: ... Even some of the witnesses here today on Capitol hill? They're supposed to be experts? They hadn't even read the Steele dossier!

So how unimpressive is that? Most Americans probably think being an FBI agent, working at the higher levels at FBIHQ, working CI, protecting against espionage and all that stuff--that's pretty impressive, requires smarts and dedication, a sharp, inquiring mind. Right? And here we are, talking about THE BIGGEST SCANDAL IN FBI HISTORY, even in US history, and it happened within a few years of them leaving the job. One of them even formerly supervised a major player in all this, Strzok.

So Nunes asks them, What do you think of the FBI using CI capabilities to spy on political campaigns? And "they just sat there." How intellectually unengaged do you have to be, given their background, to have no opinion on that, or none that you're willing to offer?

And of course Nunes has to go through the usual pro forma rigmarole: "look, they served their country and I'm sure they did a great job." But he knows better. And Meadows knows better. They testified under oath that they hadn't even read the Steele dossier--and "they're supposed to be experts?" Again, what kind of intellectually unengaged slugs are these two, given their background and the historic nature of what went down, that they didn't read the dossier? Shouldn't they be embarrassed to admit that they--former investigators at a high level for the "finest law enforcement agency in the world"--were so lacking in simple curiousity, let alone professional interest, that they didn't even bother to look at the dossier before coming to testify?

Of course, there IS another possibility. Maybe they lied under oath. Maybe they did read the dossier, but thought lying was the best policy because then they couldn't get grilled on it.

So, which is more shameful for a retired FBI agent--lying under oath or admitting that you have no interest whatsoever in the biggest scandal in FBI history happening right where you used to work and involving people you supervised? Or put it this way, no interest now that you're drawing regular--and very generous--annuity checks?  Is Nunes really sure that people like this "did a great job"?

Then again, what does this say about the whole culture of Mueller's FBI? We get away with what we can? Isn't that his code of prosecutorial conduct? Maybe that's the lesson they drew from working and rising through the ranks in Bob's FBI. Maybe those were the qualities that got you rewarded in Bob's FBI.

But there's good news--yes!

MEADOWS: Sean, we're getting a lot of whistle blowers. Primarily the whistle blowers are coming forward because they believe Attorney General Bill Barr and John Durham are willing to get to the bottom of it. So people that perhaps were afraid under previous leadership to actually say, Well, we knew this was wrong, they're coming forward now ...

Yeah, I guess that's good news. The coast is clear, and these people are coming out of their foxholes. On my creds, glued to a plaque, I read the FBI's motto as: Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity. But nothing about sticking your head out of your foxhole before the all clear sounds--thank God! And, look, I'm not saying these people didn't have real reason to fear, caught between Lynch/Yates/Boente/Rosenstein and Comey/McCabe/Wray. But, overall, it's not terribly impressive.

I have to say this. People like to tell retired agents: Thanks for your service! It's a bit like Lyle Lovett says in his monologue at the start of "That's Right, You're Not From Texas":

People mean well. They think they know what it's like. And some of them do ...

Could we please stop pretending? None of this Russia Hoax could have happened without a real culture of corruption--and not just at the FBI. There's plenty of blame to spread around. I just hope Bill Barr doesn't think that getting back to the Good Ole Days will be easy.


  1. Having worked in both private (20 years) and public sector jobs (20 years), I can say the controlling difference is public sector upper management learn and believe they have "authority" over the peons. There is no such thing as a "customer" to a government official, although they will use the word with a smirk.
    Private sector upper management learn and believe they are "accountable" to please their customers and bring in more customers.
    The lower levels of management and staff, both public and private, behave accordingly.
    The only incentive for government staff to NOT abuse their position is punishment by some outside authority. So, I say to Republicans everywhere – not just D.C. – clean the stables, Drain The Swamp.

    1. I've been a Fed for 30-plus years. There was a definite change for the worse with the Obama Years. (Although I also recall offensive commentary about the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill spat. Verbiage along the lines of "14 white male senators grilled a black female." This was in 1991, or thereafter. The Special Emphasis months (black, Hispanic, women, Pride" are an opportunity to stick it to Christians, men and white men. For example, I have never seen a conservative black person invited to give a keynote topic.)

    2. Yes, the fish rots from the head down, as they say, and Obama Chicago-style corruption was ignored because of our country's tribal soft-bigotry of low expectations. What message did that send to government officials everywhere?
      Speaking of low expectations - how about the GOP pushing JEB! as their next star of Failure Theater? Wow.

      Thank God for Trump's fearlessness and refusing to accept failure and decline.

  2. Barr has a unique opportunity to make a difference with the current investigations of Obama era corruption and criminality within the Executive Branch. If he follows through with real prosecutions and dares to put some of these miscreants in prison for non-trivial sentences, then it will send a clear message that the DC Double Standard is no longer the law of the land. Conversely, the average citizen now fully comprehends the magnitude and severity of the crimes committed under Obama's watch and will not tolerate a whitewash and sham response to these acts. Failure to restore the rule of law (and end the DC Double Standard) will shift this burden of repair back to the people of this country. As was demonstrated in the recent Oberlin College jury award, people are getting mightily fed up with the arrogance of institutional corruption.

    1. Unknown, I'm not so sure the "average citizen now fully comprehends the magnitude and severity of the crimes committed under Obama's watch." To my way of thinking, this is precisely the problem: they don't--or won't. At least half of America still thinks Obama, that fraud, is a saint.

      Citizens get their information through the media. With few exceptions, the media the vast majority of citizens use as news sources are utterly corrupt. Put another way, they work for Obama, the deep state, and all our spent-force institutions.

      Ir is impossible for the average citizen to get hold of the truth without expending considerable time and effort, which most of them don't have.

      I wish you were right on this, but I have my doubts. The corruption of the Fourth Estate is the sine qua non for this whole coup attempt. Without a complicit/compliant media, the "resist" movement would have died aborning.

    2. I think the average citizen does understand that the "collusion" narrative was a hoax. As for the magnitude and severity of it all--yes, that's another question. However, I think a very large portion of the electorate is open to persuasion.

    3. Pat Buchanan comparing Watergate and the Russia Hoax:

      During Watergate, Nixon had little support in a city where the elites, the press, the Democratic Congress and the liberal bureaucracy labored in earnest to destroy him. Nixon had few of what Pat Moynihan called "second and third echelons of advocacy."

      Contrast this with Trump, a massive presence on social media, whose tweets, daily interactions with the national press and rallies keep his enemies constantly responding to his attacks rather than making their case.

      Trump interrupts their storytelling. And behind Trump is a host of defenders at Fox News and some of the top radio talk show hosts in America.

      There are pro-Trump websites that did not exist in Nixon’s time, home to populist and conservative columnists and commentators full of fight.

      Leftists may still dominate mainstream media. But their unconcealed hatred of Trump and the one-sided character of their coverage has cost them much of the credibility they had half a century ago.

      The media are seen as militant partisans masquerading as journalists

  3. "the recent Oberlin College jury award"

    That was ... words fail me.

  4. In truth, this is part of the problem:

    -->Nunes has to go through the usual pro forma rigmarole: "look, they served their country and I'm sure they did a great job."

    They had a government job--they received a paycheck, benefits, and a generous pension. E.g., Andy McCabe retires after 20 years. Nobody in the private sector retires after 20 years. You might even call it a scam on the taxpayer--who'd love to have the same deal. Soldiers have a crappy deal--I'm happy to thank them for the sacrifice and service.

    What I want to know is why these two--Nunes and Meadows--didn't overtly embarrass the retired agents' testimony (having not read the Steele dossier) with, "Well, why are you here? What testimony do you have to offer? Your expertise is wasted having not read the evidence that gave rise to the counter-intelligence surveillance of a presidential campaign?"

    If Nunes and Meadows are going to play the boilerplate game of thanking them for their service and their good job, then they need to lay out the expected parameters of what constitutes service and a great job--which means asking those awkward questions above. And that includes embarrassing them if they're useless.

    So much of these hearings are performance for cameras and the MSM in order to wrap around The Narrative. Republicans need to learn to demonstrate that Democrats' attempt at window dressing actually serve to block sunlight from illuminating the issue at hand.

    1. Couldn't agree more--GOP should get in their faces instead of doing the "thanks for your service" song and dance.

      BTW, for record, I stayed to mandatory retirement because I liked the job. I'm not knocking people who jump at 50 because they can max income by getting a post retirement job. Perhaps that's a decision that everyone in that job should be forced to make--there are arguments pro and con. But please, let's be honest about what goes into this.

      Some guys are very dedicated. Others are willing to take any post that offers higher pay. I've seen guys who outspokenly detested CI work who then took a CI post just to get to HQ. Would you trust their judgment in CI matters, after hearing them say it was all "BS"? Me neither.

  5. Unknown mentioned the Oberlin College case. Steve Hayward at Powerline discusses that:

    Will Oberlin Learn Its Lesson?

  6. This fiction that the FBI, "rank & file" (most,at least) didn't have a clue what their leadership was up to for nearly 4 years starting in mid-to-late 2015, simply beggars belief. Reminds me in a way of Goldhagen's chilling book, "Hitler's Willing Executioners".

    1. Well, one thing about people--they tend to believe what they want to believe. Emmanuel Lasker wrote that what he learned from a life in chess was that people don't want to know the truth.

      Would you want to believe that the organization you worked for was run by a potentially criminal cabal (depending on political masters), or would you prefer to get on with your daily life investigating indubitable crimes? I know I never wanted to believe that and, I think, it never got to that point for me. I do believe that things changed dramatically under Mueller.

  7. Woops again. Forgot to initial that. HMH

    1. Change your screen name from Anonymous to HMH.

    2. How does one do that? Google won't let me.

    3. Anonymous,

      Below the white comment box is "Reply as:" with a drop down box. Click on the down arrow, select "Name/URL' and fill in your moniker. Select 'OK' and you are good to go. I don't know if the browser matters. I use Firefox.