Yesterday, House Republicans released a memo they had written purporting to show that the FBI was tainted with anti-Republican sentiments. Allegedly, those sentiments crept into a live investigation and were used to request a warrant from the FISA court. The memo further intimates that had the judge known that part of the evidence used to request the memo was evidence bought by the Democrats that it is doubtful that the warrant would have been issued. There are several questions that are begged by this memo, evidence that is missing, and a view of the judiciary that paints it as fully uninformed: at best naive, at worst carelessly unintelligent. Of course, that is my opinion, and most Congressional Republicans are currently espousing an opposite opinion. But, that is not what concerns me. And it is something that should concern my Republican friends as well.
House Democrats on that committee also wrote a memo. They looked at the information and reached different conclusions. They cited different parts of the evidence that purportedly shows that the conclusions drawn by House Republicans may not be accurate. “What memo,” you say? The memo that House Republicans kept the House Democrats from releasing by using the rules and law against them. The rules, and laws, state that intelligence matters handled by that committee must be recommended for release by the committee and unclassified by the President. The committee refused to allow House Democrats to issue any other memo than that drawn-up by the House Republicans.
Supposedly, House Democrats are having their memo reviewed. I listened to one House Republican saying on a TV show that he had concerns about information in the memo and that it had to be redacted by House Democrats before he would agree to its release, out of his concern for confidential information. Even if House Democrats are allowed to issue a memo, it will not be issued for a few days, and now we already know that redactions may be forced upon it. This means that House Democrats are limited, by rule and law, in what arguments can be put forward against the memo during the next few days. Their debate has been suppressed and repressed in order to allow the House Republican version of events to stand. No law has been violated, but The Law has certainly been bent into knots in order to reach this result. And, that is a dangerous precedent to set.
House Republicans have stepped over a very dangerous line because it is the line that increasingly leads to repressive measures. In this day and age of instant news, even if the House Democrats were to be allowed to release an uncensored memo in a few days, the damage will have been done. The House Republican version of events will have had uncontested reign for several days. Speech has been suppressed, and the best part for the Republican Party is that the issue has gathered little discussion so far.
House Republicans have, so far, learned a lesson. Put your conspiracy theory out there for the public to see. Then use your voting power in Congress to allow only one “official” report that backs your contention. There will be little ill effect. Little by little, you can win the information war. You can even tell yourself that you are not suppressing other views. You are simply guarding the security of confidential information. No, you are not becoming something else. You are still a patriotic citizen protecting the realm. Yes, it is OK to silence the dangerous ones. Keep telling yourself that. Eventually, you will not like what you have become, but it will be too late.