Thursday, June 17, 2021

SWC Having Rough Day Re Carter Page

Actually, Shipwreckedcrew is having a fairly rough day overall--despite a fine article dissecting Merrick Garland's efforts to intimidate the Arizona senate. My takeaway from one is that Garland could be facing some significantly rough sledding. SWC himself points out that Garland, in his letter to AZ, misrepresented the law. And Mark Brnovich, AZ AG, made it clear in so many words, that AZ is "not amused by the DoJ's posturing.

Ultimately, SWC concludes:

That [Brnovich's response] seems to be a “line in the sand” and an invitation to DOJ to come into Arizona for a little exercise in lawfare over the issue of Arizona’s conduct of elections.

There is no question that Garland made it clear the Biden Department of Justice is going to take up the cause of the Democrat Party in pursuing electoral advantages through the courts.

If not for Pres. Trump’s ability to get dozens of new Appeals Court Justices nominated, and Mitch McConnell’s ability to get those nominees through the Senate, the very existence of the GOP as a viable political entity could have been at risk.

Things have gone downhill from there for SWC. He engaged in a long and abusive exchange with Julie Kelly, before ultimately--after much name calling on his part--having to admit that he had misrepresented what Kelly had written. Ouch!

At the same time, however, he was engaging in another flame war with regard to the Carter Page FISA--and once again demonstrating less than a full grasp of the facts. In what follows I've omitted most Twitter headers.

It started with a fairly tame tweet by Lee Smith (I couldn't see where it was coming from):

He means I believe that Page’s history as a USG informant was erased by an FBI official. The point is not about the Page FISA but rather that the laws and regulations that should be observed are no longer observed by the agencies involved.…

SWC immediately launched on an unwise course that--for reasons best known to himself--he has been pursuing for some time: defending the FBI's institutional conduct in the Russia Hoax, writing it off to the incompetence of isolated individuals. And accompanying it with slurs that he's not going to be able to back up. So, he writes:

[Page's history as a USG informant] wasn't erased. It was considered and then dismissed BY ONE AGENT as being untimely.  It only took that one agent to leave it out of the FISA application. The people who reviewed the application had no idea Page had provided information to the CIA -- until Page went public.

Concluding that "laws and regulations ... are no longer observed" because one agent looked at the information from the CIA and said "outdated" is unreasonable and silly.

The big problems are in the first paragraph. Carter Page was a long time CIA asset--up until 2013. At that time--and this is me telling you how these things work--the FBI became aware of a possible case with Russian officials in New York and wanted to use Page against those officials. The way this would have worked would have been like this: The FBI--through standard FISA coverage of the Russian officials--learned that Page was in touch with those officials to one extent or another. When they contacted Page, Page told them he was working with the CIA--we know this from FBI records. The two agencies coordinated, and because of the possibility that the FBI could make a big case against Russians--any criminal case against foreign officials is huge--and because Page was a relatively minor asset for the CIA, the FBI took over with Page. The transition was basically seamless. That also means that Page was an asset or informant of some sort for the FBI, and had a file opened on him. He was in the system, along with his background.

As things developed, this worked out great for the FBI. They made their case, they arrested the Russians, and they told Page to stand by in case he was needed as a witness. That continued up until shortly before Page joined the Trump campaign. Shortly before that event Page took it upon himself to inform Russian officials that he was, in fact, working for the FBI and had been helping the FBI in the case described above. The FBI was understandably outraged--possibly especially so because this may have compromised sensitive investigative techniques.

However, the main point in this is that, as I've been long maintaining, this case was so huge in the big picture of US-Russian relations that there was simply no way that the top most levels of the FBI would not have been following the case closely and probably knew who Page was by name. They would have been briefing the White House on the case--it was a major feather in the cap for the FBI and then Page possibly threatened it.

What happened next is that FBI New York immediately hit the ceiling and began looking for ways to make Page pay a price for what he had done. They opened a counterintelligence case on Page and began exploring the possibility of obtaining a FISA on Page. Those discussions involved none other than Peter Strzok, but in the event no FISA was obtained until the Fall of 2016.

But then, shortly after all that hit the fan, Page joined the Trump campaign. Now, if Mcabe and Comey didn't know Page's name and his role in the New York case before, they sure did then. Comey was telling AG Lynch about Page, who in the FBI would have failed to brief him on Page?

That's the picture to keep in mind as SWC goes to war with one and all. Various persons challenged SWC on his take, defending the Russia Hoax as the fault of ONE AGENT:


Replying to @McAdooGordon @youreyeondenver and @shipwreckedcrew

This is just like when Andy McCarthy was like “this would never happen at my DOJ” and then he wrote a book on how it happened. Water carriers will never stop carrying water.


I had the exact same POV as Andy -- he and I discussed it offline.  We both assumed that the FBI agents would never run wild with the Steele info before verifying key details.  Maybe not all of it, but at least enough that they could justify making use of the info in the FISA.

I would NEVER have guessed that a small group of agents would have placed complete trust in Steele's veracity.  Doing so was idiotic, for all the reasons that we now know.  But they did so out of "confirmation bias" and because they were racing against the clock.

Not because they were corrupt. 

They were stupid. 

That is an affliction that the Bureau suffers from to a much larger degree today than was the case 20-40 years ago.  And it does because of the choices it has made about how it prioritizes recruitment.


Excusing it as stupidity is hard to swallow. How could nobody stand up and halt the nonsense after Danchenko told them Steel's shit was shit? Cone now. This is deeper than stupidity.


Not at all -- if you had a "window" into Brian Auten.  He was the Supervisory Analyst who was in the Danchenko interview, and wrote the lengthy EC.  

Not someone you would hire to do something important.  "Failed upward" in the Bureau.

OK. Shipwrecked makes some valid points--those in red. But he fails to understand where Page really stood with the Bureau, the CIA, and the New York case. This shows up when tweeter MonsieursGhost (MG) joins the fray.

MG quotes SWC's swipe at Lee Smith, then points out internal FBI documentation of Page's CIA past--no mention of the New York case which, to me, is totally key:


You're missing CIA memos in both August 16 and June 17, direct correspondence by @carterwpage to @comey in Sept 16 and Oct 16. The Oct email to OSCED was captured by FISA and served as skeleton of Nunes Memo for Christ sake.…



The fallacy of this approach is the assumption that every bit of information known by each individual in the FBI is known by every other individual in the FBI. There is no evidence that I know of that SA Somma who authored the first FISA application, and saw the CIA memo in 8/16 knew anything about Page's efforts to communicate information to Comey, or had any other information about Page's history beyond what he knew from the earlier New York cases where Page had been involved. 

Somma decided, as Case Agent and Affiant that the info about Page's prior activity was [not?] relevant to the summer of 2016 because it was "dated". That was wrong legally, and the OI attorneys who reviewed the Affidavit told the IG that if they had known--if Somma had told them--they would have insisted it be included. 

More importantly, the OI attorneys said they would have considered much more closely the conclusion by Somma that Page was acting as an "agent of a foreign power" if they had been told by Somma that three years earlier Page had been working with the CIA. I haven't seen anything I can recall that would support the conclusion that Somma knew more about Page than what was the CIA memo sent in Aug. 2016, and the info in the FBI case files from the New York cases.

The problem, of course, is that Carter Page's involvement with both the FBI and CIA in New York was not just any "bit of information". Those were bits of information that were known at the top levels of the FBI--not just "Case Agent and Affiant" Somma, but Strzok, Comey, McCabe. Moreover, if the OI attorneys--who we know did push back on the affidavit--would have insisted on the inclusion of information about Page's history with the CIA, what do you suppose they would have said if they were made aware of Page's far more recent involvement with the FBI? That he had been an FBI informant only a few months prior to the affidavit landed on their desks? But that information had been cleverly concealed from the OI attorneys. Incompetence? Stupidity? I say, Neither.

So MG shoots right back--and sets SWC back on his heels:


Fallacy of your analysis is apparent ignorance of @carterwpage's 09/25/16 letter direct to @Comey referencing "decades of work" for CIA/FBI requesting debrief, discussed by @petestrzok w Lisa, written into initial FISA app (selectively) by Somma.

That letter was total dynamite. Of course Comey was made aware of that letter. And Comey would have been plenty smart enough to ask: What's that about decades of work with the CIA and FBI--except that he already knew. Notice, too, that Page specifically says that the FBI hasn't contacted him "in recent months". Not "in recent years". All of that is a clear reference to Page's involvement in the New York case--and every single person at the FBI who saw this letter knew that. And the FBI is about to claim to the FISC that Page is a Russian agent, without mentioning Page's "decades" of cooperation? Incompetence? Stupidity? I say, Neither.

SWC is rattled and tries to bluster, but ends up falling back on, I'm from Missouri, "show me." The bluster is in the suggestion that the FBI Director would never have known that a "squad agent" was seeking a FISA on Carter Page. Please. If this wasn't the biggest most important FISA application in FBI history, it certainly would have ranked way, way up there. 


Show me where you find that the info in the letter to Comey 25 days before the FISA application was sent to the FISC was made known to Somma before he submitted that application.

Show me where you find that the FBI Director knew a squad agent was seeking a FISA on Carter Page.

Where in the application did he selectively quote Page's letter. I'm not saying you're wrong -- but I don't remember ever seeing it so I'd like to read it myself.

MG is ready:


Somma selectively quoted @carterwpage's letter in application, @petestrzok & @NatSecLisa discussed it day after it arrived, and @Comey signed the application stating that letter was sent TO HIM as recipient.

Pretty sure EVERYONE knew about the warning. 

Somma included it in application, Strzok & Lisa discussed it day after it arrived, and Comey signed the application stating that HE RECIEVED the letter!


I asked -- where did Somma include it in the application?  I'm not saying he did not - but I don't recall any reference to it.  You say he did so you must have a page in mind where it appears.

To close this out, Hans Mahncke and Fool Nelson pile on--it was corruption, they say. SWC's defense is that Brian Auten (supervisory analyst, still "gainfully" employed at the FBI) is an idiot. I assume that's true--even Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were laughing about Auten's fanciful "analysis". Nevertheless, anyone who thinks the FBI makes decisions like those in the Russia Hoax based on some jerkwater analyst's theories, that Auten wasn't checked and doublechecked, is delusional. Nor were those decisions a result of stupidity or incompetence.

To give credit where it's due ...

Robert Bork saw all this coming way back when FISA was passed. He knew that once national security surveillance became an administrative process, sooner or later government officials would be tempted to use the process for political purposes, with the realization that--if caught--they could always fob it off as adminstrative errors in judgment.

Conservatives tend to think that there was no national security surveillance before FISA. Sorry--that's totally wrong. The Church commission was set up to shield Leftist radicals from the FBI, and the remedy was supposed to be FISA. The FBI--as Angelo Codevilla has cogently explained--quickly realized that FISA would offer them protection from accountability if cleverly employed. The other side of the coin, of course, is that Church opened the door to Leftist subversion of the entire national security apparatus. Now the entire nation is reaping what was sown.


  1. Funny you share this Mark. I started the day checking in with Hans Mahncke as I usually do and he was re-tweeting stuff from Lee Smith and calling out SWC early in the day. Good stuff!

  2. It sounds like SWC is on a campaign to get ahead of Durham. I suspect of we see anything out of dear John that will be key talking point of *ignorance is bliss*.

    "Conservatives tend to think that there was no national security surveillance before FISA."

    I think that's a holdover belief created by the great neocon lie of american exceptionalisum. Many things during the time of the migrationalist are often glossed over and historically ignored.

    1. Well, I subscribe to American Exceptionalism due directly and only to the US Constitution.

      The fact it has not been realized, using new agey psychotherapy terms, along with the fact our founders called it imperfect, does not mean it is not exceptional and thusly should be tossed aside or ignored.

      I truly believe Heinlein was correct in a scyfy novel that freedom is rare and normally snuffed out.

  3. In O/T. Not sure if you've heard this hot off the presses...

    1. It's tantalizing, but towards the middle mention is made of jumped to my mind immediately:

      "would a spy-catcher be in position to know what went on at the Wuhan Institute of Virology with SARS-CoV-2?"

      Never say never, reality can surprise. But there's also the matter of need to know--and a counterintelligence guy would have zero need to know about anything going on at Wuhan. Except concerns about foreign spies. Not the kind of detailed science we're hearing about.

    2. As you say, never say never.

      Pure speculation here (my specialty, lol), but in a Communist system, where so many lies go on (even more than here, yes!), isn't it plausible that lots of talk goes on between people off the record - people who want to know the truth about things but know the only way to get it is to discuss things with others, off the record? Government insiders know other government insiders, and who knows what they may discuss with each other behind close doors. I'm not saying this means the defector knew about things he had no official need to know, but at this point it should be at most something we really have no idea about one way or the other.

    3. Whenever I read this kind of thing i try to ask, Could this be disinformation? If so, what purpose is served by it?

      Here, if the defector is somehow phony, what purpose? Who benefits? The defector info pushes the US closer to war with China. Our minds are wired to put people into good and bad categories. We don't like gray. Could it be that China is more gray than black? Are we being pushed into war with them? By whom?

    4. @brad

      We may be making a faulty assumption here viz 'need to know.' Just because the US intel generally follows the need to know principle doesn't mean that the CCP does. Or at least that they don't make exceptions. It makes sense that a totalitarian regime would make sure that its high ranking counterintel officers knew *everything* about the workings of secret military projects. Remember that these regimes are inherently paranoid and rightly so as a military coup or ouster is always in play. Very possibile that this defector may have been charged with keeping close tabs on the Wuhan work and may well have had his own spies inside the lab passing him info to ensure party loyalty and no threat to the regime.

      So i don't see this need to know objection as particularly troublesome.

    5. I find that highly questionable. Need to know is hardly an American security discovery. It's a no-brainer of a principle that's as old as the intel business--which the Chinese were among the originators of. Modern MSS was set up with help from NKVD/KGB. I don't say it's impossible, but it requires specific explanation. I presume DIA and others are probing that.

    6. If a very high up intelligence guy is planning on defecting, I assume it wasn't a spur of the moment decision, he can avail himself of a great many things he doesn't necessarily need to know, depending on how many risks he's willing to take, how clever he is and how lax or secure their intelligence is.

  4. May be China had a Snowden / Bradley Manning type security access issues?