Congress needs to take investigatory responsibilities seriously (letter)
February 18, 2018
Butch Mazzuca longs for reasoned political discourse regarding "the memo" ("Reasoned political discourse is lacking," Tuesday, Feb. 13). Such discourse is difficult, however, when his position is based on speculation and innuendo.
Mr. Mazzuca first wonders why release of the memo endangers national security. It's a good question. So why didn't the Republican-led Intelligence Committee try to answer it? The scope of classification of documents by the federal government is an excellent subject for the Committee to investigate. The fact that it did not suggests the Republicans are not interested in the broader question — only in scoring cheap political points.
Similarly, Mr. Mazzuca believes that "commentary writers" should investigate and/or question why the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant authorizing surveillance of a Trump campaign worker was based, in part, on information gathered by Christopher Steele. He further claims that the FISA warrant failed to state that Steele was working for the Clinton campaign.
Ms. Mazzuca makes these allegations without having seen the FISA warrant, which makes them wholly speculative. But more importantly, let's assume that there are legitimate questions about whether the warrant application process was misused.
The best (and, in fact, the only) way to evaluate that concern would be for the Congressional Intelligence Committees to hold hearings. Committee members should read the full FISA warrant application and bring the heads of the FBI and the Department of Justice (both Trump-appointed Republicans) before the Committee to find out exactly what was in the application, the process by which it was created and the appropriateness of the content.
The Committee showed no interest in doing so. (In fact, the head of the Committee and author of the memo, Devin Nunes, admitted he didn't even bother to read the warrant application.) Clearly, the Republican majority is interested only in trying to score cheap political points — at the expense of our national criminal investigation professionals.
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Congress needs to conduct these investigations, not "commentary writers." Until the Republican-led Congress decides to take its investigatory responsibilities seriously, reasoned discourse will be impossible.