Judge Andrew Napolitano is weighing in on the highly-discussed memo that congressional Republicans are sure will show abuses from both the FBI and the Department of Justice.
As Rare previously reported, Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee voted to release a memo from committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) regarding the alleged federal abuses, particularly as they relate to the investigation into possible collusion between President Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government.
A handful of lawmakers have already seen the information. Terms such as “jaw-dropping” and “deeply disturbing” and a promise that Americans would “be surprised at how bad it was” have taken over the narrative surrounding the memo’s possible release.
It is with these characterizations in mind that Napolitano made an observation about the impact that the memo could have.
For one thing, Napolitano argued, the January vote to expand the powers of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, tied to the secret FISA Court that gives intelligence agencies permission to surveil Americans, might have gone in a very different direction if the memo had gone public sooner.
“The FISA expansion would never have passed the Senate had the House Intelligence Committee memo and the data on which it is based come to light seven days sooner than it did,” he said. He then asked, “Why should 22 members of a House committee keep their 500-plus congressional colleagues in the dark about domestic spying abuses while those colleagues were debating the very subject matter of domestic spying and voting to expand the power of those who have abused it?”
The answer, he claimed, lies in “the nature of the intelligence community” and its influence over elected officials. Napolitano wrote, “[T]he NSA shows its might to the legislators who supposedly regulate it. In reality, the NSA regulates them.”
This is but one facet of the deep state — the unseen parts of the government that are not authorized by the Constitution and that never change, no matter which party controls the legislative or executive branch. This time, they almost blew it. If just one conscientious senator had changed her or his vote on the FISA expansion — had that senator known of the NSA and FBI abuses of FISA concealed by the House Intelligence Committee — the expansion would have failed.
Napolitano also offered similar thoughts during an appearance on Fox News earlier in the week.
“[The memo] should have been made public when Congress was debating whether or not to expand FISA authority,” he said, referencing a controversial vote in Congress from the previous month.
The memo’s possible release has ignited a rash of controversy.
On Wednesday, Nunes was accused of tampering with the memo ahead of its release by a few of his fellow congressmen.
It’s also been noted that if the memo is released, it and other pieces of information will also be declassified. Some have listed the potential declassification of the information as a concern; as Rare reported earlier, this move “carries the risk of exposing classified techniques and information, as well as alerting targets of an FBI or DOJ investigation to their inclusion.” Currently, the information is so secretive that only a select few members of the legislative branch have access to it.