Newspaper column: Public has a right to see justice done

Steve Kelly cartoon

Currently playing in theaters across the country is a movie called “The Post,” about  how in 1971 The New York Times and The Washington Post both brazenly defied the law of the land and published excerpts of a highly classified document that has since been dubbed the Pentagon Papers, which outlined how a succession of presidents lied to and concealed information from the American public about events and strategy in the Vietnam War.

The public had a right to know, both papers argued.

There was nothing in the Papers that would have jeopardized American security or troops, just the confidence of the American people in the belief that their leaders would tell them the unvarnished truth.

Today, both of those papers are being less than enthusiastic about the public’s right to know what is in a declassified memo from the House Intelligence Committee that states there are “concerns with the legitimacy and legality” of how law enforcement obtained court approval to wiretap a then volunteer political adviser to  now-President Donald Trump, Carter Page, in an investigation into whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with officials of the Russian government.

The memo indicates Justice and FBI officials were less than forthcoming with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court about the material used to support the request for permission to surveil an American citizen, despite the Fourth Amendment guarantee that citizens are to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. The memo specifically addresses the fact the Christopher Steele “dossier” was bought and paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign and that the credibility of Steele himself was doubtful after he was quoted as saying he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.”

Never mind that then-FBI Director James Comey testified that the dossier was “salacious and unverified.”

The Post editorialized that the Intelligence Committee under Republican Devin Nunes of California “has become another front in Mr. Trump’s assault on the law enforcement institutions investigating the president and his associates. House Republicans are poisoning the committee’s relationship with the intelligence community and distracting from real issues demanding attention.”

Poisoning? Distracting?

The editorialists at the Times opened with the dismissive line, “Seriously? That’s all they’ve got?” From there the paper derisively chided the House Republicans for what it seemed to believe is a newly discovered reverence for transparency.

“Since the Republicans are now on board with greater transparency, they will no doubt push President Trump to release his tax returns, as every other major-party presidential nominee has done for the past four decades, won’t they?” the Times taunted.

There was nothing in the memo that in any way jeopardizes national security, but the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee fired off a memo declaring, “The Republican document mischaracterizes highly sensitive classified information …” adding, “The sole purpose of the Republican document is to circle the wagons around the White House and insulate the President.”

Nevada’s Democrats, of course, joined the hooting chorus of naysaying.

Freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is running against Sen. Dean Heller this year, said, “Declassifying this memo, filled with innuendo to support unsubstantiated claims, is a blatant attempt to discredit Robert Mueller’s investigation for political gain. This was all done despite the objections of the FBI, and these attacks undermine the integrity of our federal law enforcement officers.”

Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto released a statement declaring, “This partisan memo is nothing more than an attempt to distract from the very real issue: Did a presidential candidate’s campaign work with a foreign government to influence our election process? I support the dedicated professionals at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is clear that to some Republicans in Congress, it’s more important to play politics than to support law enforcement. No one should ever be above the law.

Including those in law enforcement?

Rep. Dina Titus fired off this retort, “Republicans are willing to jeopardize our national security by attacking and undermining an FBI investigation of one of Trump’s advisers in a memo that has material omissions of fact, distortions, and ulterior motives. … Something doesn’t add up. Trump has something to hide.”

And what is the purpose of classifying a document, but to hide? While declassifying reveals.

For justice to be done, it must the seen, and not cloaked under a veil of secrecy.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

8 comments on “Newspaper column: Public has a right to see justice done

  1. Rincon says:

    How partisan can you get? 1) The fact that the information from Steele was paid for by the Democrats WAS cited by the FBI in the footnotes, proving Nunn’s primary argument to be a bald faced lie. I guess footnotes don’t count if you root for Republicans. 2) The analogous paper written by the Democrats on the same committee has been suppressed by the Republicans. On what basis? Is this the USA or Turkey?

  2. Rincon says:

    One more question: Many a police investigation has been instituted because of a pointed finger or anonymous tip, but a well documented, sober report cannot be used as the basis for an investigation? Why is it suddenly unethical for the Steele report to be the basis for an investigation, but it was just fine when one ditzy White House intern pointed a finger at Bill Clinton? Try to at least appear to be consistent.

    For that matter, let’s compare the recent Trump University settlement to Benghazi. You guys all breathed fire assuming that Hillary MUST have been negligent because you were certain that she must have intimate knowledge and closely directed the security arrangements of a single one of the 294 U.S. embassies, but you also assume that Trump was just too busy to notice that his University was a scam. I also have never seen the question answered: What action did Trump take when the accusations of fraud began to surface? A good defense would be that he acted upon the information immediately as soon as he heard about it, but if he had, he would have tweeted it a dozen times by now. Conclusion: Some hint of negligence by a Democrat merits a public flogging, but active fraud by our President should be excused because he wasn’t a government employee at the time.

    Of course, if Hillary HAD increased security at Benghazi and an attack occurred in some other “shithole nation” (I know you appreciate Trumpspeak), then you would have been all over her for failing to increase security at the embassy in said shithole nation. The only possible for her to avoid blame by ranting Conservatives would have been if no attack ever occurred. BTW, did you blame Reagan for the lax security in the marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983? 241 Americans were killed there, not 4.

    But go on. Keep ignoring Trump’s dozens of fraudulent and unethical acts. After all, he’s your teammate and teammates stick together.

  3. “well documented, sober report”?

  4. Rincon says:

    In contrast to someone who merely points a finger.

  5. Steve says:

    “BTW, did you blame Reagan for the lax security in the marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983?”

    I believe Tomas Mitchell was still a registered Democrat in 1983. If so, then he probably did blame Reagan.

    In 83 I was active duty, Reagan was our commander in chief.

  6. Rincon says:

    Interesting that you take for granted that Thomas would have blamed Reagan because he was a Democrat. That speaks volumes about what is wrong with our sense of ethics as a people. Whether blame is assigned or not should have nothing to do with who is judging. Unfortunately, many of us can be relied upon to abandon any sense of ethics regarding anything political. For those people, blame is always assigned to the enemy and never to an ally, ethics be damned.

  7. Steve says:

    Oh, c’mon. there were whole TV series dedicated to Democrats disliking and blaming Reagan for everything wrong in the country back then. Frank Zappa called the Reagan presidency a “dark ages”
    Party politics has always insisted the other side is to blame for everything.
    What makes it so “interesting” I would make that statement?
    What makes you think anything has changed?

    All I did was point out your own finger pointing from a reverse angle.

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