Clapper and the art of disinformation

Holman Jenkins:
James Clapper, President Obama’s director of national intelligence, gained a reputation among liberals as a liar for covering up the existence of secret data-collection programs.

Since becoming a private citizen, he has claimed that President Trump is a Russian “asset” and that Vladimir Putin is his “case officer,” then when pressed said he was speaking “figuratively.”

His latest assertion, in a book and interviews, that Mr. Putin elected Mr. Trump is based on non-reasoning that effectively puts defenders of U.S. democracy in a position of having to prove a negative. “It just exceeds logic and credulity that they didn’t affect the election,” he told PBS.

Mr. Clapper not only exaggerates Russia’s efforts, he crucially overlooks the fact that it’s the net effect that matters. Allegations and insinuations of Russian meddling clearly cost Mr. Trump some sizeable number of votes. Hillary Clinton made good use of this mallet, as would be clearer now if she had also made good use of her other assets to contest those states where the election would actually be decided.

Mr. Clapper misleads you (and possibly himself) by appealing to the hindsight fallacy: Because Mr. Trump’s victory was unexpected, Russia must have caused it. But why does he want you to believe that he believes what he can’t possibly know?

There’s been much talk about origins. Let’s understand how all this really began. James Comey knew it was unrealistic that Mrs. Clinton would be prosecuted for email mishandling but also knew it was the Obama Justice Department’s decision to make, own and defend. Why did he insert himself?

The first answer is that he expected Mrs. Clinton to win—and likely believed it was necessary that she win. Secondly he had a pretext for violating the normal and proper protocol for criminal investigations. He did so by turning it into a counterintelligence matter, seizing on a Democratic email supposedly in Russian hands that dubiously referred to a compromising conversation of Attorney General Loretta Lynch regarding the Hillary investigation.

Put aside whether this information really necessitated his intervention. (It didn’t. This is the great non sequitur of the Comey story.) Now adopted, Russia became the rationale for actions that should trouble Americans simply on account of their foolishness.

Think about it: The FBI’s original intervention in the Hillary matter was premised on apparent false information from the Russians. Its actions against the Trump campaign flowed from an implausible, unsupported document attributed to Russian sources and paid for by Mr. Trump’s political opponents.

In surveilling Carter Page, the FBI had every reason to know it was surveilling an inconsequential non-spy, and did so based on a warrant that falsely characterized a Yahoo news article. Its suspicions of George Papadopoulos were based on drunken gossip about Hillary’s emails when the whole world was gossiping about Hillary’s emails.
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There is more.

I think much of this irrational thinking is based on their animus toward Trump.  Because of it, they are willing to believe and speak things that are not so in hopes of harming a guy they do not like.   Both Clapper and Brennan have become conspriacy theorist rather than rational analyst of evidence.

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