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Trump’s Deceitful Claims About Carter Page Have Obscured a Bigger Debate on Privacy

July 24, 2018 in Economics

By Julian Sanchez

Julian Sanchez

“Who are you going to believe, me or your lying
eyes?” That’s the essence of the response from President Trump and his allies to the
unprecedented release of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
warrant application, the basis for extended
surveillance of Carter Page, a former Trump adviser.

We are now witnessing an effort to gaslight the press and the
public in support of a discredited narrative about politically
motivated surveillance of the Trump campaign.

What’s more, that gaslighting is obscuring the need for a
more nuanced debate about whether our intelligence surveillance
authorities are in need of systemic reform. The question we should
ask isn’t whether the F.B.I. followed the laws in wiretapping
Carter Page — they clearly did — but whether the laws
they followed protect our privacy well enough.

Mr. Page’s brief tenure as a foreign policy adviser to Mr.
Trump in 2016 was cut short after reports disclosed that
investigators were probing his ties to Russia. He has become a pillar of
Mr. Trump’s frequent claims that a “Deep State”
cabal within the intelligence community is determined to undermine
his administration.

The F.B.I. followed the
laws in wiretapping the former Trump adviser. But do those laws
protect our privacy well enough?

Earlier this year, a memo prepared by staff for Representative
Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence (known now as “the Nunes memo”), charged that the F.B.I. had
essentially duped the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court into
issuing — and repeatedly renewing — a wiretap order
targeting Mr. Page as an “agent of a foreign
power.”

The application released Saturday remains too heavily redacted
to meaningfully assess the strength of the F.B.I.’s argument
that Mr. Page engaged in “clandestine intelligence
activities” on behalf of Russia. But it does make crystal
clear that Mr. Nunes abused his position and his access to
classified information to level a series of grossly misleading
accusations against the F.B.I. Which is presumably why Mr. Nunes,
Mr. Trump and a handful of media allies are engaged in a brazen
campaign to obscure what the documents actually show.

Even redacted, the applications lay waste to the central charges
made in the Nunes memo. Chief among these was that the
F.B.I., in relying on controversial reporting by the former British
intelligence officer Christopher Steele, had failed to
“mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of —
and paid by — the D.N.C. and Clinton campaign.”

It’s true the application does not name Mrs. Clinton. Nor,
per the general practice of not naming Americans who aren’t
investigative targets, does it name Mr. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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