National Security & Defense

The Corner

Nunes etc.

When the feeding frenzy abates and moves on to the next target, among the flotsam and jetsam we may learn two things from the Nunes affair: One, intelligence-committee chairmen in the past have routinely gone over to various executive-branch locations, such as in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, to confirm information by evaluating secured raw data, and have also communicated with and met with NSC staffers to assist them to do that.

And two, such a near routine trip was prompted by an effort to verify apparently new information — rather than leaking interpretations of partial excerpts to favorite journalists — given that it may well not sync with the former Obama administration/media nexus (one that for five months has selectively leaked classified information, in an unlawful manner to selective journalists, to ensure a narrative that may well not be based on evidence or at least all the evidence).

The only departure from routine seems to be that Nunes told the press what he had done and would do, which most in Washington do not, at least on the conservative side if they don’t want a headache.

As the hysteria subsides (cf. also today’s articles by Kimberley Strassel at the WSJ and Richard Pollock at the Daily Caller), the crux again remains not the messengers, but the message:

Did or did not federal intelligence agencies improperly pick up and record communications of American citizens — particularly those on the Trump election, transition, and presidential teams — while supposedly monitoring foreign officials, and then selectively leak such data to journalists on the presumption that their ensuing publications would achieve a desired narrative and political result? If so that is unethical and illegal and might be the real collusion/tampering worry. And it is a scary thing.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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