Fix Yourself A Drink, It's Time To Kick Back And Call Brit Hume A F*ckin' Moron!
You have to admire Brit Hume's commitment to tweeting the absolute dumbest shit in the world and getting ratio-ed to all hell on a daily basis, all while reserving his perch as one of Fox News's "serious commentators." Today, he is riffing on an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that, even by its lazy editorial standards, is sloppy as hell. The op-ed argues with a straight face that, just as Trump campaign foreign policy weirdo and obvious Russian stooge Carter Page has whined, the FISA surveillance of him was just the same as the FBI's surveillance of Martin Luther King Jr.
The op-ed was written by a fella by the name of William McGurn, and it's being roundly mocked by most of Legal Twitter. This, as far as we can tell, is its only argument against the FISA surveillance of Page:
Remember, the FBI sought a warrant on Mr. Page from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court based on the claim that the former Trump campaign associate was "an agent of a foreign power," namely Russia. Yet Mr. Page is one of the few targets of the investigation to have emerged without ever being charged with anything.
PSHAW THAT'S CRAZY!
We said Legal Twitter was mocking the McGurn article, and it is, but really all those lawyers are mocking Brit Hume, for approvingly RTing McGurn's piece:
And don’t even try to justify the Page spying by citing the FISA warrant obtained under highly dubious pretexts. In… https://t.co/x6GKYu8JTo— Brit Hume (@Brit Hume)1559662371.0
In other words, Brit Hume, like McGurn, has one argument to make, and it is PSHAW THAT'S CRAZY! "The claim that Page was a foreign agent was absurd!" "The reliance on the Steele dossier is just as bad!" Or if he was being more honest, "This is exactly like what happened to MLK, and liberals say that was bad, and these days conservatives pretend they were always on Dr. King's side, so we will disingenuously co-opt arguments against that spying in order to serve our own purposes!"
This is what the brain looks like when it's been huffing Devin Nunes's cow farts for over a year, and dear ones, it is not pretty.
There are just a couple of problems with this argument, and to elucidate them, we'll start by referencing the famous Wonkette article "WHY THE HELL ARE REPUBLICANS DYING ON THIS HILL TO DEFEND CARTER PAGE?" We wrote it just after Devin Nunes pulled his pants down and #ReleasedTheMemo, which was intended to expose all sorts of nefarious misdeeds in the feds' procurement of the FOUR FISA WARRANTS against Page, but which instead led Americans both human and bovine to put on their best Bless Your Heart faces and say, "That's it?"
In that piece, we learned that in 2013, Page sent a letter to one of his comrades in which he bragged about being an "informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin." That same year, Page was recruited by a group of Russian spies, who we imagine would have really turned him good if they hadn't correctly assessed him to be too stupid to be an asset. Journalist Luke Harding's great book Collusion claims that Page was "vehemently pro-Kremlin" as long ago as 1998, and that former colleagues of his were like WTF LOL when they found out he was advising the Trump campaign on foreign policy, considering how full of borscht he always has been.
And then yeah, there is the Steele Dossier, which did not form the basis of the FISA applications on Page, which were agreed to by FOUR DIFFERENT FISA JUDGES, but was included, with appropriate citations as to where the raw intel came from, and which had some very interesting claims about Page that merited further investigation. (You can read those redacted FISA apps right here. Or you can act like a Republican and refuse to read it like it's the Mueller Report or something.)
Golly, we cannot imagine why the FBI thought maybe they had some evidence that Carter Page might have been a foreign agent! Those Deep Staters must have been smoking the expensive reefers that week.
So those are the "dubious pretexts" Brit Hume, Intelligence Expert, says the FBI used to obtain those warrants, requests that were signed off on by James Comey, Sally Yates, Andrew McCabe, Rod Rosenstein and Dana Boente, who is currently Chris Wray's general counsel at the FBI. All those people agreed! And FOUR FISA JUDGES agreed!
This brings us to the other giant gaping maw hole in Hume's argument, and in the dumbfuck word salad Wall Street Journal op-ed he links to. William McGurn writes many flowery bullshits about how BAD DEVIL it was for the FBI to spy on Dr. King, describing the letter sent by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, requesting authorization for the surveillance. (And he's right. That was BAD DEVIL.)
But, hilariously, in an op-ed with the sub-headline, "What's the difference between surveillance of Carter Page and Martin Luther King," McGurn somehow misses that the difference is literally staring him in the face through the very words he's writing -- namely, that in that case BOBBY KENNEDY was the only one who had to sign off on that surveillance request from Hoover, and that it was unlimited. Whereas, with Page, many people had to sign off, the FISA court had to agree, and it had to be renewed every 90 days, which is how it came to be that FOUR SEPARATE FISA JUDGES had to grant the requests.
We mentioned that Legal Twitter was playing kickball with Brit Hume's face over this, so now we will let them do it right here on Wonkette. Legal genius Asha Rangappa is particularly having fun:
Uh, this is an intellectually lazy argument, @brithume. You asked what’s the difference. The difference is that one… https://t.co/qgj3LcJvIW— Asha Rangappa (@Asha Rangappa)1559674486.0
Click over for her full thread.
Jack Goldsmith from Harvard Law is also having fun:
What's changed, Brit and McDouche in the Wall Street Journal? Oh nothing, except for how Congress changed the laws in the 1970s to make surveillance practices better, and give the process more accountability.
What's changed? As Goldsmith notes below, Dr. King was wiretapped based on a one-page letter from J. Edgar Hoover, with an expiration date of "Whenever I want, you're not my real dad." Whereas the original Carter Page warrant application was 66 pages long and had to be renewed every 90 days. Taken together, the original warrant and the subsequent renewals come out to 412 PAGES OF REASONS WHY IT'S A GOOD IDEA TO WIRETAP CARTER PAGE.
What's changed? When the FBI goes back to the FISA court for an extension, they have to show their work on what that surveillance has been producing, and why it's worthwhile to keep on wiretappin'. Remember what we just said about 412 PAGES? This is why people like Hume and Nunes lie (or perhaps they are just stupid and don't know any better) and tell people the entire warrant was predicated on the Steele Dossier, and that it only happened because WITCH HUNT! Because they really don't want you focusing on 412 PAGES OF EVIDENCE.
Well, this has been fun, hasn't it!
The point of this post, just like the point of our post yesterday afternoon, is that Devin Nunes is an idiot. And this time he brought his buddies, McWhatever in the Wall Street Journal and evergreen dumbfuck Brit Hume.
God bless us, everyone!
Anyway, OPEN THREAD, Y'ALL.
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