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:
April 26, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
As Trump Berates Iran, His Options are Limited
Daniel Warner
From May 1968 to May 2018: Politics and Student Strikes
Simone Chun – Kevin Martin
Diplomacy in Korea and the Hope It Inspires
George Wuerthner
The Attack on Wilderness From Environmentalists
CJ Hopkins
The League of Assad-Loving Conspiracy Theorists
Richard Schuberth
“MeToo” and the Liberation of Sex
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Sacred Assemblies in Baghdad
Dean Baker
Exonerating Bad Economic Policy for Trump’s Win
Vern Loomis
The 17 Gun Salute
Gary Leupp
What It Means When the U.S. President Conspicuously and Publicly Removes a Speck of Dandruff from the French President’s Lapel
Robby Sherwin
The Hat
April 25, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Selective Outrage
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
Joseph Essertier
The Abductees of Japan and Korea
Ramzy Baroud
The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago
W. T. Whitney
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
Manuel E. Yepe
Washington’s Attack on Syria Was a Mockery of the World
John White
My Silent Pain for Toronto and the World
Dean Baker
Bad Projections: the Federal Reserve, the IMF and Unemployment
David Schultz
Why Donald Trump Should Not be Allowed to Pardon Michael Cohen, His Friends, or Family Members
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Binoy Kampmark
Enoch Powell: Blood Speeches and Anniversaries
Frank Scott
Weapons and Walls
April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail