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Nunes' partisan bomb obscures this deeper failure

Rep. Devin Nunes launched a partisan bomb, one that is distracting the oversight panel he heads from pressing busines...

Posted: Feb 9, 2018 6:30 AM
Updated: Feb 9, 2018 6:30 AM

Rep. Devin Nunes launched a partisan bomb, one that is distracting the oversight panel he heads from pressing business.

The committee's actual mission is critical at a time when we need more, and not less, attention on strategic national security risks.

We're all trying to read the tea leaves, with the GOP memo out and the Democratic counter memo sitting at the White House (and Trump administration officials hedging on whether and when they may approve its release). But we may be losing the forest through the trees.

The memos have become the big story in Washington, one that has obscured the fact that Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI), has wasted an extraordinary amount of time, attention and resources on alleged abuses by the FBI -- instead of doing his job.

That isn't to downplay the importance of getting the Democrats' memo out -- the misinformation spread by the Nunes memo needs a response. But both of these memos are tactical diversions from the actual work that Chairman Nunes should be doing with his committee members.

Nunes perhaps purposefully moved his committee in the exact wrong direction with the release of the infamous memo about Christopher Steele's dossier.

With every second that HPSCI spends on the memos, it is just a fact that they're spending less time on key national security work, the committee's actual mission.

It's worth noting that Nunes and his colleagues made a decision about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) when they voted to reauthorize the controversial Section 702 less than a month ago. During the heated debates about section 702, Nunes could easily have raised broader questions or concerns about abuses to the FISA process in a more appropriate context.

With all of the same information before them, the committee reviewed legislation, they voted and it passed. The House rejected an amendment from civil libertarians to limit the ability of the government to use information collected on US citizens. The committee, controlled by Republicans, made a decision to leave the program alone, no matter how much Nunes and his memo make of the allegations of purported FISA abuses revealed this week.

Last March, the HPSCI announced an investigation into Russian election interference, ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia, and other related issues. This was -- and remains -- no small task. Witness interviews, document reviews and hearings take a lot of time to do, and even more time to do well.

Based on the gravity of the issues at hand -- the security of our democracy -- it should undoubtedly be a priority focus for HPSCI and especially for the chairman. Nunes had to recuse himself from this investigation after his unmasking charade, but the rest of the committee's time would be well spent trying to salvage a credible investigation, particularly as we are nine months away from the 2018 midterms.

Hard-working committee members may have hit pause on the investigation to mitigate the impact of the Nunes memo, but Russia's Vladimir Putin hasn't skipped a beat. CIA Director Pompeo told the BBC last week that "there had been no significant diminishing of Russian attempts at subversion in Europe and the U.S."

The Russian threat is metastasizing while Congress, the administration and the public dissect a 3.5-page document and speculate about the Democrats' response to it. Meanwhile, this past weekend, reports surfaced underscoring the expanding Russian digital campaign.

Following their unprecedented amplifying of the #releasethememo hashtag, Russia pushed new hashtags stoking "deep state" conspiracy theories.

The bottom line is that an official from Homeland Security says that Russia potentially tried to penetrate, hack or monitor election systems in 21 states during the 2016 election. The US intelligence community has cited ongoing Russian information warfare, and campaign officials have pled guilty to lying about contacts with Russians who considered campaign officials ripe targets. Russia has no reason not to repeat this performance, which means the HPSCI has every reason to double down on their investigation, not get distracted from it.

The HPSCI has no reason to continue wasting its time, because the committee members can rest assured that there are other mechanisms in place to make sure that any FISA abuses -- as alleged in the Nunes memo -- are investigated. The Department of Justice has an inspector general whose job it is to prevent any abuse of power or corruption.

The current IG is no partisan stooge. In 2015, Michael Horowitz clashed with the FBI over sharing documents over his ability to gain access to FBI documents, including wiretaps, in timely fashion so that he could conduct investigations. Right now, any concerns about the role of Steele and others in the FISA authorization to watch Carter Page should remain on his desk.

There's already more than enough on the HPSCI members' desks. The committee's work on cybersecurity is not just limited to Russia.

As President Trump's recent National Security Strategy pointed out, "Malicious state and non-state actors use cyberattacks for extortion, information warfare, disinformation, and more." North Korea, China, and hackers all around the world seek access to our most private information and the HPSCI's focus on working with the intelligence community on defensive and offensive cyber operations couldn't be any more timely.

It's time for the HPSCI to get back to work.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 708779

Reported Deaths: 13226
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion966191721
Lake51761946
Allen39224672
Hamilton34549405
St. Joseph34157541
Elkhart27356432
Vanderburgh22081394
Tippecanoe21853212
Porter17935299
Johnson17544374
Hendricks16822310
Clark12697190
Madison12353337
Vigo12219244
Monroe11469166
LaPorte11162204
Delaware10366184
Howard9664211
Kosciusko9134114
Hancock7990139
Bartholomew7893155
Warrick7691155
Floyd7563176
Wayne6906198
Grant6844171
Boone6556100
Morgan6405138
Dubois6085117
Marshall5786108
Dearborn570376
Cass5685102
Henry5579101
Noble542683
Jackson493569
Shelby479495
Lawrence4342118
Gibson429089
Harrison428570
Clinton419753
Montgomery418086
DeKalb411184
Whitley380239
Huntington379880
Miami372865
Knox366689
Steuben365757
Putnam353160
Jasper350946
Wabash347878
Adams338052
Ripley334668
Jefferson313180
White308454
Daviess289499
Wells286481
Decatur279092
Fayette277262
Greene270785
Posey268833
Scott261153
LaGrange253670
Clay253544
Randolph235680
Washington231031
Spencer228031
Jennings225047
Fountain208845
Sullivan207942
Starke204752
Owen192356
Fulton192039
Jay186429
Carroll185920
Perry180736
Orange177853
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton161043
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130334
Pulaski113845
Newton104234
Brown100140
Crawford97614
Benton97113
Martin82915
Warren79715
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55811
Unassigned0408

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1054807

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1225191356
Cuyahoga1074592069
Hamilton783261168
Montgomery50176996
Summit45557909
Lucas40298765
Butler37768570
Stark31513895
Lorain24246473
Warren23910293
Mahoning20946583
Lake20067362
Clermont19459229
Delaware18085130
Licking16149207
Fairfield15757197
Trumbull15627460
Medina14922259
Greene14706236
Clark13660293
Wood12806185
Portage12431196
Allen11352229
Richland11067198
Miami10548214
Muskingum8717127
Wayne8594209
Columbiana8569226
Pickaway8439121
Marion8390135
Tuscarawas8387240
Erie7600154
Hancock6730123
Ross6707146
Geauga6553146
Ashtabula6530165
Scioto6295101
Belmont5634158
Union558447
Lawrence5470102
Jefferson5343147
Huron5314114
Darke5273121
Sandusky5189120
Seneca5139120
Washington5087107
Athens503856
Auglaize476284
Mercer471984
Shelby456590
Knox4397108
Madison423959
Putnam421799
Ashland413488
Fulton410567
Defiance404296
Crawford3883101
Brown386955
Logan374476
Preble371098
Clinton362160
Ottawa357978
Highland347459
Williams328674
Champaign321557
Jackson308551
Guernsey307549
Perry290549
Fayette278048
Morrow275939
Hardin264764
Henry264366
Coshocton259857
Holmes253499
Van Wert239262
Pike233831
Gallia233446
Adams229152
Wyandot227553
Hocking209759
Carroll189447
Paulding168838
Meigs141738
Noble132937
Monroe128941
Morgan106823
Harrison105636
Vinton81614
Unassigned02
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