FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

If Only They’d Asked

Responsible journalism is journalism responsible, in the last analysis, to the editor’s own conviction of what, whether interesting or only important, is in the public interest.

— Walter Lippman, Address at the International Press Institute

We all make mistakes.  As prestigious a publication as the Wall Street Journal has just proved it.

In the case of the WSJ it happened because (a) its editors did not have the time to read the excellent reporting of its own reporters as to events that led to the FBI and Justice Department asking FISA for a surveillance warrant to surveil Carter Page in 2016, and (b) they were unwilling to wait for Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee to take the steps needed so that the Democratic response to the “Nunes Memorandum” could be released.  Had they waited, they would have had a complete picture of the facts that led to the request to the FISA court by the FBI and the Justice Department.

The one-sided Republican memorandum known as the “Nunes Memorandum” after the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Nevin Nunes, was released by the White House on February 2, 2018.  In less than 24 hours the WSJ had written a long editorial wallowing in enthusiastic support of what, to many observers other than the editors of the editorial page, was obviously a biased and incomplete memorandum explaining what led the FBI to ask the FISA court to permit it to monitor the activities of Carter Page.

In addition to the obvious question of why the editorial page editors couldn’t wait to lavish praise on the report until they saw the Democrats’ response to it, (assuming it would be released by the Republicans on the Committee and the White House) the more salient question is why they couldn’t have at least read the work of their own reporters.

The editorial entitled: “A Reckoning for the FBI” appeared three days after a lengthy report by WSJ reporters, Rebecca Ballhaus and Byron Tau had been published.  The reporting of those two individuals contradicted much of the “Reckoning for the FBI” editorial.

The authors of the editorial based much of their criticism of the FBI and the Justice Department on the fact that those two agencies failed to disclose to the FISA Court what the Nunes Memorandum described as “essential information.”  The essential information was, among other things, that the “dossier” that was prepared by Christopher Steele, a former British spy, was paid for by the Clinton campaign.

The editors cited other partisan examples that it extracted from the Nunes memorandum describing the reasons for the conclusions of the Republican members of the Intelligence Committee.  Had the editors read the reporting of their own reporters, their editorial would have been quite different or, perhaps, not written at all.

Those two reporters carefully examined what was known about the Counterintelligence Agencies’ interest in Carter Page years before the controversial dossier that was relied by the Republicans had even come into existence.

The FBI’s interest in Carter Page, as the reporters explained, went back to 2013.  They reported that in seeking the surveillance warrant authorizing the Justice Department to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, the application to the FISA court included material that preceded Christopher Steele’s entry into the picture.

Mr. Page, we were told, had been of interest to intelligence officials for at least three years before he became a member of the Trump campaign in 2016.

Indeed, his dealings with Russia had taken place for more than 10 years before Mr. Trump ran for president. The article disclosed that Mr. Page met with Victor Podobnyy, a junior attaché at the Russian Consulate on more than one occasion, meetings that triggered the interest of FBI counterintelligence.

Mr. Page was first interviewed by a U.S. counterintelligence official in June 2013.  The official was trying to determine whether Mr. Podobnyy, with whom Mr. Page had had two meetings, was a Russian intelligence agent.

According to the reporters, in the criminal complaint that was filed in 2015 by U.S. federal prosecutors, Mr. Podobnyy was charged with posing as a U.N. attaché while trying to recruit Mr. Page as a Russian intelligence source.

The description of the activities of Messrs. Poddobnyy and his contacts with Mr. Page, provided more than ample evidence to help the FISA court, if not the editors at the WSJ, or the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, to understand why the order to monitor Mr. Page was sought.

Had the WSJ editorial editors read their own reporters’ reporting or been willing to await the release of the Democrat’s response to the Nunes Memorandum, they would have been in a position to give voice to accuracy, instead of partisanship. They didn’t. As Mr. Trump would say, “Too bad.”

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail