Be­ware of nar­ra­tives and mis­in­for­ma­tion

Gov­ern­ment agen­cies are serv­ing up baloney along with a help­ing of me­dia myth

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Vic­tor Davis Han­son

U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies said Rus­sia was re­spon­si­ble for hack­ing Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee (DNC) email ac­counts, lead­ing to the pub­li­ca­tion of about 20,000 stolen emails on Wik­iLeaks. But that find­ing was re­port­edly based largely on the DNC’s strange out­sourc­ing of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to a pri­vate cy­ber­se­cu­rity firm. Rarely does the vic­tim of a crime first hire a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor whose find­ings later form the ba­sis of gov­ern­ment con­clu­sions.

Wik­iLeaks founder Ju­lian As­sange is many things. But so far he has not been caught ly­ing about the ori­gin of the leaked doc­u­ments that came into his hands. He has in­sisted for well over a year that the Rus­sians did not pro­vide him with the DNC emails.

When it was dis­cov­ered that the emails had been com­pro­mised, then-DNC Chair­man Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz weirdly re­fused to al­low foren­sic de­tec­tives from the FBI to ex­am­ine the DNC server to probe the ev­i­dence of the theft. Why did the FBI ac­cept that re­fusal?

That strange be­hav­ior was not as bizarre as Mrs. Wasser­man Schultz’s later fren­zied ef­forts to pro­tect her in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy spe­cial­ist, Im­ran Awan, from Capi­tol Po­lice and FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tions. Both agen­cies were hot on Mr. Awan’s trail for un­law­fully trans­fer­ring se­cure data from gov­ern­ment com­put­ers, and also for bank and fed­eral pro­cure­ment fraud.

So far, the story of the DNC hack is not fully known, but it may even­tu­ally be re­vealed that it in­volves other ac­tors beyond just the Rus­sians.

There is not much left to the me­dia myth of James Comey as du­ti­ful FBI di­rec­tor, un­justly fired by a par­ti­san and vin­dic­tive Pres­i­dent Trump. A closer look sug­gests that Mr. Comey may have been the most politi­cized, du­plic­i­tous and out-of-con­trol FBI di­rec­tor since J. Edgar Hoover.

Dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion, Mr. Comey, quite im­prop­erly, was put into the role of pros­e­cu­tor, judge and jury in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s use of a pri­vate email server while she was sec­re­tary of state. That proved a dis­as­ter. Mr. Comey has ad­mit­ted un­der oath to de­lib­er­ately leak­ing his own notes — which were likely gov­ern­ment prop­erty — to the me­dia to prompt the ap­point­ment of a spe­cial coun­sel. That ploy worked like clock­work, and by a strange co­in­ci­dence it soon re­sulted in the se­lec­tion of his friend, for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor Robert Mueller.

Mr. Comey ear­lier had as­sured the pub­lic that his in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Mrs. Clin­ton had shown no pros­e­cutable wrong­do­ing (a judg­ment that in nor­mal times would not be the FBI’s to make). It has since been dis­closed that Mr. Comey of­fered that con­clu­sion be­fore he had even in­ter­viewed Mrs. Clin­ton.

That in­ver­sion sug­gests that Mr. Comey had as­sumed that what­ever he found out about Mrs. Clin­ton would not change the re­al­ity that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion would prob­a­bly drop the in­quiry any­way — so Mr. Comey made the nec­es­sary eth­i­cal ad­just­ments.

Mr. Comey was also less than truth­ful when he tes­ti­fied that there had been no in­ter­nal FBI com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­cern­ing the in­fa­mous meet­ing be­tween Mrs. Clin­ton’s hus­band, for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, and for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch on an air­port tar­mac. In fact, there was a trail of FBI dis­cus­sion about that sup­pos­edly se­cret ren­dezvous.

Be­fore he fired Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump drafted a let­ter out­lin­ing the source of his anger. But it seemed to have lit­tle to do with the ob­struc­tion of jus­tice.

In­stead, Mr. Trump’s an­guished let­ter com­plained about Mr. Comey’s pri­vate as­sur­ances that the pres­i­dent was not un­der FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which were of­fered at about the same time a wink­ing-and-nod­ding Mr. Comey would not con­firm that re­al­ity to the press, thus leav­ing the ap­par­ently de­lib­er­ate im­pres­sion that a com­pro­mised pres­i­dent was in le­gal jeop­ardy.

There is also a me­dia fan­tasy about the An­tifa street protesters. Few have crit­i­cized their sys­tem­atic use of vi­o­lence. But when in his­tory have youths run­ning through the streets decked out in black with masks, clubs and shields acted non­vi­o­lently?

An­tifa ri­ot­ers in Char­lottesville were praised by pro­gres­sives for vi­o­lently con­fronting a few-dozen creepy white su­prem­a­cists, Klans­men and neo-Nazis. The su­prem­a­cists were pa­thetic losers with­out any pub­lic or po­lit­i­cal sup­port for their odi­ous views, and they were con­demned by both po­lit­i­cal par­ties. Yet An­tifa’s use of vi­o­lence was com­pared per­versely by some pro­gres­sives to Amer­i­can sol­diers storm­ing the beaches on D-Day.

Later, An­tifa thug­gery in Bos­ton and Berke­ley against free speech and against con­ser­va­tive groups with­out ties to white su­prem­a­cists con­firmed that the move­ment was fascis­tic in na­ture.

It was re­cently dis­closed that the FBI and the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity had warned the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion in 2016 that An­tifa was a do­mes­tic ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion that aimed to in­cite vi­o­lence dur­ing street protests. That stark as­sess­ment and An­tifa’s sub­se­quent vi­o­lence make the re­cent non­cha­lance of lo­cal po­lice de­part­ments with re­gard to An­tifa thug­gery seem like an ab­ject dere­lic­tion of duty.

Doubts about of­fi­cial nar­ra­tives of the DNC leaks and the er­rant be­hav­ior of James Comey, and mis­in­for­ma­tion about the vi­o­lent ex­trem­ists of An­tifa, il­lus­trate me­dia bias — not to men­tion en­trenched gov­ern­ment bu­reau­cra­cies that are ei­ther in­com­pe­tent, eth­i­cally com­pro­mised or com­pletely politi­cized. Vic­tor Davis Han­son is a clas­si­cist and his­to­rian with the Hoover In­sti­tu­tion at Stan­ford Univer­sity.


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