Rep. Nunes’s memo crosses a dangerous line

On Monday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) moved to release a memo written by his staff that cherry-picks facts, ignores others and smears the FBI and the Justice Department — all while potentially revealing intelligence sources and methods. He did so even though he had not read the classified documents that the memo characterizes and refused to allow the FBI to brief the committee on the risks of publication and what it has described as “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.” The party-line vote to release the Republican memo but not a Democratic response was a violent break from the committee’s nonpartisan tradition and the latest troubling sign that House Republicans are willing to put the president’s political dictates ahead of the national interest.

I Alone Can Fix

But is Twitter really the problem?

.. Twitter is just a tool. With or without it, Trump’s conduct would be disordered and self-sabotaging. The Comey firing is but one of hundreds of examples.

.. The crude way Trump fired Comey — without the courtesy of a meeting or even a phone call — guaranteed a new and skilled enemy.

.. Twitter played no role in Trump’s blurting of classified information to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister, or in his choice to slander Comey as a “nut job” to them. Twitter wasn’t implicated in many other blunders, such as undermining the NATO alliance by refusing to confirm our commitment to Article 5; praising the Philippine president for his extrajudicial murders of drug addicts and dealers

.. It is Trump’s inexplicable and insatiable appetite for conflict that keeps roiling the waters.

.. When the city of London has just endured another horrific terror attack, the decent thing is to express American sympathy and solidarity. Trump instead picked a fight with London’s mayor.

.. Trump is feuding with his own staff and even with his family.

.. This is a reprise of a campaign theme, perhaps the chief campaign theme. America, Trump argued, was being led by boobs and incompetents. “I alone can fix.”

.. But the truth is that he is the incompetent, and too vain and insecure to recognize his own faults. When he screws up, he blames those around him.

.. even the best people are diminished and tarnished by what Trump requires of them and does to them.

.. He makes liars of previously honorable men and women.

What Happens When Intelligence Agencies Lose Faith in the President?

If bureaucrats restrict the information they share with political leaders, the damage could prove deep and lasting.

American military and intelligence agencies must assume from now on that the president of the United States is a security risk. He cannot be trusted to protect state secrets.

.. Would the president have so abjectly tried to impress representatives of any other country? He blabbed because he bragged, and he bragged because he values Russia’s and Putin’s goodwill so bizarrely much. As the economist Justin Wolfers noted, if officials had not revealed the truth to the media, the Russians would now genuinely have damaging kompromat on Trump

.. consider how little information Trump wants in the first place. He is satisfied with single pagers dotted by colorful bullet points. If that is all he uses, maybe it’s better for everybody to hold back information he could possibly misuse?

For Anyone but the President’s Eyes Only

Keep in mind, last week Vice President Mike Pence, White House press secretary Sean Spicer, and the rest went out before the cameras and insisted that Ron Rosenstein’s memo was the driving force to fire FBI director James Comey… and then Trump told Lester Holt he was going to fire Comey “regardless of the recommendation.” Just last week, Trump declared on Twitter, “As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!” The president will insist his surrogates can’t be expected to get everything right, and then a few days later, insist that you trust denials from his surrogates. You can’t have it both ways.

.. The bottom line is that there is absolutely no benefit to the United States to be sharing this kind of information with the Russian government — and if it alienates a friendly government helping us fight ISIS, then it is extraordinarily damaging.

.. It does not help that so many Democrats insist that every administration misstep is justification for impeachment

.. or the insane everyone’s-a-Russian-agent conspiracy theories ..  But the insanity of lefties doesn’t get this White House off the hook. Unless the entire story is made up out of whole cloth, Donald Trump still doesn’t understand his responsibilities.

y Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

.. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”

 .. describing details of an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft.
.. officials expressed concern about Trump’s handling of sensitive information as well as his grasp of the potential consequences.
.. “Trump seems to be very reckless and doesn’t grasp the gravity of the things he’s dealing with, especially when it comes to intelligence and national security.
.. Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,”
.. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.
.. Moscow would be keenly interested in identifying that source and perhaps disrupting it.
.. But the two nations have competing agendas in Syria, where Moscow has deployed military assets and personnel to support President Bashar al-Assad.
.. given the clues Trump provided, “I don’t think that it would be that hard [for Russian spy services] to figure this out.”
.. At a more fundamental level, the information wasn’t the United States’ to provide to others.
.. Senior White House officials appeared to recognize quickly that Trump had overstepped and moved to contain the potential fallout.
.. the National Security Council continues to prepare multi-page briefings for Trump to guide him through conversations with foreign leaders, but that he has insisted that the guidance be distilled to a single page of bullet points — and often ignores those.

The Pentagon Papers: Secrets, lies and leaks

In this episode of Reveal, we’re using the full hour to take a deep look at the leaking and publication of the Pentagon Papers. At the center of the episode are two guys who have a knack for being in the room when history gets made: Robert J. Rosenthal and Daniel Ellsberg.

.. When Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971, he was turning his back on a long career close to power, immersed in government secrets. His early career as a nuclear war strategist made him fear that a small conflict could erupt into a nuclear holocaust.

Mike Flynn’s Pakistan Problem