Thursday, February 13, 2020

Hemingway: Roger Stone And Political Accountability Of The Administrative State

   The decision to prosecute the case was a curious one, since it’s not common to prosecute someone for lying to Congress, particularly with no underlying crime. The FBI and Justice Department have come under fire for allowing political friends to skate without charges for false statements while nailing political foes for lesser and less consequential problems.
   Prosecuting was one thing. Getting a guilty verdict thanks to a highly partisan jury was another. But recommending that the 67-year-old man with no prior convictions and not considered a risk for violence be sentenced to nine years in prison was another thing entirely.
   The disgruntled Mueller attorneys misled Department of Justice officials about their sentencing plans. When the political leadership learned of the egregious recommendation, they filed a new memo saying, sanely, vaguely, and mildly, that they now recommended fewer than the seven to nine years.
   The media and other Resistance members flipped out and immediately sprung to action. Sidestepping the issue of the recommendation of nine years in prison, they began shaping a narrative that Barr had no right to exercise such oversight of the agency he, well, oversees. Media ran story after story suggesting that political leadership of the agency — not rogue agents behaving irresponsibly — was in crisis.
   The story came mere weeks after a series of revelations confirming egregious abuse of the spy powers the agency used against the Trump campaign. A several-hundred-page report from the inspector general catalogued 17 major errors — all going against Trump campaign affiliates — in the securing of spy warrants. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has already thrown out two of those warrants, with another two possibly facing the same fate.
   The media and other Democrats did not care about that story, except to spin it as an exoneration, somehow, of the Department of Justice and FBI. They never suggested that the agencies’ adoption of an unhinged conspiracy theory of treasonous collusion with Russia was a problem. They didn’t see a crisis with the use against political opponents of human informants, overseas intelligence assets, wiretaps, and national security letters. They didn’t care that the surveillance was inappropriately acquired. They didn’t care about the dozens upon dozens of criminal leaks that were deployed through a compliant media to set a false narrative of collusion.
   But they care if someone attempts to stop any of these shenanigans.
   The U.S. Constitution establishes the right of the president to appoint individuals to head agencies. The Founders never imagined the bloated and largely unaccountable bureaucracy that controls the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans through regulations and other administrative actions, but they never would have adopted Chuck Todd’s dangerous proposition that bureaucrats be allowed to lock Americans up, deny them their liberty, and otherwise operate a police force without political accountability.


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