Former FBI Director James Comey and deputy director Andrew McCabe, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have lots of things in common.
One, they ran the nation’s key intelligence and investigatory agencies under former President Barack Obama. They were deeply involved in the “Russian collusion” hoax. And they participated in the surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition.
Comey and McCabe both signed applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrants requesting surveillance on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. A report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz criticized Comey and McCabe’s FBI for falsehoods and misrepresentations during its investigation of the Donald Trump campaign.
Clapper, Brennan and the FBI helped to disseminate the fallacious Steele dossier to the press and among government agencies.
Two, Comey, McCabe, Brennan and Clapper have all lied either under oath or in the public sphere.
Horowitz has said that he referred Comey for criminal prosecution for leaking classified memos he wrote about his confidential conversations with the president, but the Justice Department did not pursue charges. He signed FISA warrant applications that the inspector general has determined were misleading at best and at worst simply flat-out wrong.
In testimony before the House Judiciary and oversight Committees, there were 245 occasions on which Comey claimed he couldn’t remember details or couldn’t answer questions.
Comey did not tell the truth when he said the Steele dossier was not the prime evidence that he submitted to the FISA court. He also lied about when he was briefed on the dossier.
McCabe was given a criminal referral for lying to federal investigators. His story about conspiring to catch Trump on tape in an effort to remove him under the 25th Amendment cannot be reconciled with the version of the account told by his apparent partner in that gambit, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Brennan has on two occasions lied under oath to Congress, first about collateral deaths caused by drone strikes abroad, then about CIA spying on Senate staffers’ computers. Clapper got caught lying about the surveillance of U.S. citizens and claimed he gave the “least untruthful” answer. Both have given accounts of their knowledge of the Steele dossier that are contradicted by a number of sources. Clapper falsely claimed of the dossier that “more and more of it has been corroborated.”
Three, all four of these former intelligence chiefs detest the president of the United States.
Comey has compared Trump to a mafia don and stated that he is morally unfit to be president. McCabe, who was likewise fired from the FBI, has called Trump’s behaviour “disgusting.” Clapper said that Trump may be working with Putin as a Russian “asset.” Brennan called Trump a “disgraced demagogue” as well as venal, corrupt and amoral.
Four, all in their post-Obama administration careers are either paid cable news analysts or frequent guest commentators. Clapper is a CNN security analyst. Brennan was hired by MSNBC for a similar role. McCabe is a CNN contributor. Comey often makes guest appearances on news programs as a political and intelligence expert.
In the most controversial stories, Brennan, Clapper and McCabe are being paid to analyze theories, facts and findings in which they themselves are often central players. As a guest commentator, Comey has weighed in on these controversies even as he distorts his past roles in them.
Yet such abject conflicts of interest are not the only ethical problems posed by these four. Until recently, all four held federal security clearances. Comey recently gave his up, apparently, so he would not have to give testimony about classified information in the Horowitz investigation. The former intelligence officials sometimes gave us wink-and-nod suggestions that their television expertise was based on information not available to the general public.
In sum, we are witnessing a surreal collusion between the nation’s former top intelligence officials and the progressive media — beyond even the nightmares of so-called conspiracy theorists.
The most powerful intelligence chiefs of the Obama administration — Brennan, Clapper, Comey and McCabe — have routinely offered the nation their own warped theories about wrongdoing in high places that are as self-serving as they are contradicted by facts.
The conclusions of both the Mueller investigation and the Horowitz report are damning to the past analyses of all four.
In the advocacy culture of our new media, ex-government officials such as Brennan, Clapper and McCabe can be paid to appear on news programs to analyze (or vindicate) their own unethical behaviour.
As employees of the media, they sell their checkered government service to exonerate themselves while confirming the anti-Trump biases of their paying hosts.
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of “The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won,” from Basic Books. You can reach him by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Social media traffic to top news sites craters
Why it matters: Website business models that depended on clicks from social media are now broken.
What’s happening: Regulatory pressure and free speech concerns have pushed tech giants to abandon efforts to elevate quality information, leaving the public more susceptible to misinformation ahead of the 2024 election.
- Meanwhile, news companies are scrambling to find business solutions while simultaneously fighting to protect their work in the AI era.
The big picture: While the news industry has known this day would come, many are still unprepared.
- A slower ad market and less reliable traffic contributed to a record number of media job cuts this year.
- Efforts to reach voters with trusted information are becoming more difficult as tech platforms lean into viral trends, instead of quality news.
Yes, but: Disruption is often a catalyst for change.
- The over-reliance on social media traffic kept news publishers from focusing on building stronger consumer products of their own.
- Publishers are better prepared now to defend their intellectual property in the AI era having learned from their mistakes of being too heavily reliant on third parties for survival.
Go deeper: Social media news consumption slows globally
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is unlikely to get a lifeline from across the aisle as he fights to keep his job, according to interviews with and statements from nearly two dozen House Democrats.
Why it matters: If a half dozen Republicans support the motion to vacate introduced by right-wing Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), which is set for a vote on Tuesday afternoon, McCarthy will need Democratic votes to survive.
For all the signs of a cooling economy, employers sure had an awful lot of open jobs as summer came to an end, according to a shocker of a labor market report out Tuesday. But it’s probably sending a misleading signal.
Driving the news: Employers reported having 9.6 million job openings at the end of August, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover report, up 690,000 from July, driven by a particularly large surge in professional and business services openings.
India police raid homes of NewsClick journalists in illegal funding probe
Police in India have arrested a prominent journalist and founder of a news website under a stringent anti-terror law over allegations of receiving foreign money for pro-China propaganda.
NewsClick’s founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha was arrested on Tuesday evening under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and criminal conspiracy charges, local media reports said.
Journalist Amit Chakravarty was also arrested in the same case, the reports added.
The arrests came after the office of the New Delhi-based news portal and homes of several journalists and writers linked to it were raided as part of an investigation into suspected illegal foreign funding of the media company. Laptops and mobile phones were taken away as part of the probe.
“A special investigations team launched a search operation to identify all those individuals who were possibly getting funds from overseas to run a media group with the main agenda of spreading foreign propaganda,” said a home ministry official overseeing the raids by the federally-controlled Delhi Police.
Indian authorities registered a case against NewsClick and its journalists on August 17, days after a New York Times report alleged the website had received funds from an American millionaire who, the Times wrote, funded the spread of “Chinese propaganda”. NewsClick denied the charges.
The raids on Tuesday were conducted at more than a dozen homes of journalists and some other writers linked to NewsClick.
A home ministry official said the raids were part of an investigation by the Enforcement Directorate, India’s financial crime control agency, into suspected money laundering by NewsClick, whose office was also sealed by the Delhi Police.
In a statement, the police said 37 male suspects were questioned at the NewsClick office while nine female suspects were questioned at their residences.
Thirty locations connected with the portal and its journalists were searched, the police said. Among those questioned were journalists Urmilesh, Aunindyo Chakravarty, Abhisar Sharma, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and historian Sohail Hashmi.
NewsClick officials were not immediately available for comment. The company’s website says it reports on news from India and elsewhere with a focus on “progressive movements”.
NewsClick founder Purkayastha said at the time the allegations were not new and that the organisation would respond to them in court.
The Press Club of India said it was deeply concerned by the raids. A group of journalists has planned a protest march in New Delhi on Wednesday.
A statement from the INDIA alliance, a coalition of 28 opposition political parties, said in the last nine years, the government has deliberately persecuted and suppressed the media by using different investigative agencies.
“Even if you were … to believe these allegations at worst you could have targeted the management of the website, but what we are seeing now is that even junior employees are getting raided, even contributors are getting raided,” Shoaib Daniyal, political editor at the Scroll news website, told Al Jazeera.
“India has an extremely draconian terror law regime where people can be arrested and locked away for years without trial,” he added.
A spokesperson from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the raids were justified as foreign funding to media groups must be assessed by investigating agencies.
India has fallen to 161st rank in the World Press Freedom Index, an annual ranking by non-profit Reporters Without Borders, from 150th last year, its lowest ever. Modi’s government rejects the group’s rankings, questioning its methodology, and says India has a vibrant and free press.
A few months ago, Indian tax authorities raided BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai, shortly after the British broadcaster released a documentary that was critical of Modi.
Ties between India and China have been strained since 2020, when clashes between the two neighbours’ militaries in a disputed border area killed at least 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese servicemen.
Since then, New Delhi has banned many Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok, and launched tax investigations into some Chinese mobile phone companies.
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