“I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office.”
― Milton Friedman

“Human beings are born with different capacities. If they are free, they are not equal. And if they are equal, they are not free.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Let me Halp

New York Times headline:
F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims

Merriam-Webster:
Investigate: "to observe or study by close examination and systematic inquiry"

Spy: "to watch secretly usually for hostile purposes"

Perseveration: "continuation of something (such as repetition of a word) usually to an exceptional degree or beyond a desired point"

We could concede that the Pink Lady's use of "investigate" usefully distnguishes what (CIA/MI6 asset and virulently anti-Trump) Professor Stefan Halper did vis-a-vis the Trump campaign from "spying."

Or, we could ask whether the words "secretly" and "hostile" would actually improve our understanding of what Professor Halper attempted as an agent of the FBI.

"Secretly," as in "FISA warrant."

"Hostile," as in comments from Comey, Page, Strozk, Yates, McCabe, Brennan and Clapper, et al..

"Perseveration," as in, well... MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, Hillary Clinton, Adam Schiff, etc., etc., etc., etc..

We might conclude that "spying" is "investigation" with secret, darker motive. Or, we could conclude the Times would consider use of the word "spy" as a barrier to their perseveration.

The Times indirectly acknowledges the secrecy (emphasis mine):
After opening the Russia inquiry about a month later, they took steps, those officials said, to ensure that details of the inquiry were more closely held than even in a typical national security investigation, including the use of the informant to suss out information from the unsuspecting targets. Sending F.B.I. agents to interview them could have created additional risk that the investigation’s existence would seep into view in the final weeks of a heated presidential race.
Worth noting is that "the inquiry" was a national security investigation. Probably because there was no jusitification for a criminal inquiry. Unlike, for example, Hillary Clinton's private email server investigation.

We might wonder why the DOJ so very vigorously objected to naming Professor Halper in defiance of Congressional demand, citing national security and personal safety issues, when he had been known to be working for the CIA for decades - a fact the Times omits - and why the Times did everything it could to identify him, while coyly withholding his name. After it was leaked to them by someone in the CIA or FBI.

Mr. Halper, aka "the informant," "[T]ried to press Mr. Papadopoulos about what he might know about the Russian effort..." to influence the election. Mr. Halper also paid Mr. Papadopoulos two dollars a word for an essay on "a disputed gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea." The Times is silent on where the money for that came from. Curious minds want to know.

The Times mentions that, "The role of the informant is at the heart of the newest battle between top law enforcement officials and Mr. Trump’s congressional allies...", without further speculation on what that FBI role was.

Let me help. It was to conceal his true purposes when he met with Mike Flynn, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos (all charged, along with Manafort, by Mueller with things irrelevant to Russian Facebook ads, DNC email hacking or Hillary's WikiLeaks contretemps) under the aegis of, as the Times admits, a "secret warrant" - obtained by the FBI using fake information supplied by a British ex-MI6 operative, and paid for by the opposing political party. Halper told his targets he wanted to 'help' the Trump campaign.

Halper has appeared in the NYT before. From July, 1983:
'He was never very specific. He struck me as being just obsessed with the idea of hurting Jimmy Carter's re-election.' Coyle said he believed the man, who was not identified, was upset because he was refused some kind of grant. He said he told the man to leave and informed Carter officials in the summer of 1980 about the incident...

The New York Times reported the Reagan campaign headquarters conducted a data-gathering operation to collect inside information on Carter foreign policy and used a number of former CIA officials in the effort.

It said Stefan Halper, a campaign aide who handled communications for Bush and provided news updates and policy ideas to the traveling Reagan party, was in charge of the operation. Halper called the report 'just absolutely untrue.'
Since the Times considers Halper abandoned spying on political campaigns, they should at least have named him a "clandestine investigator" - a euphemism perhaps too close to the plain English word for Times readers.

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