WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump tweeted:
“The failing @nytimes writes false story after false story about me. They don’t even call to verify the facts of a story. A Fake News Joke!”
That was on Wednesday.
The very next day, the New York Times printed a major correction of a major mistake.
Except, the correction itself was incorrect.
The publication nicknamed “the paper of record” sought to correct a critical error that has been commonly accepted as gospel truth and repeated incessantly by both the major media and Democrats since January.
The error is the assertion that all 17 intelligence agencies came to the conclusion in an intelligence report issued on Jan. 6 that the Russians tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Tucked into the bottom of a story titled “Trump’s Deflections and Denials on Russia Frustrate Even His Allies,” published on June 25, the Times added:
Correction: June 29, 2017
A White House Memo article on Monday about President Trump’s deflections and denials about Russia referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment that said Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during last year’s presidential election. The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.
But even that correction is inaccurate.
The assessment was not “made by four intelligence agencies.” The four agencies approved the assessment. But the assessment itself was not done by the four agencies. It was done by a highly irregular committee.
That fact was disclosed by former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper during a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on May 8, when he acknowledged the assessment was not conducted by his office, the FBI, the CIA and the NSA, but by a panel.
Clapper told senators the assessment was actually made by two dozen or so “seasoned experts” who were “handpicked” from the contributing agencies.
And how did those four agencies verify the accuracy of the panel’s assessment and ultimately give it their stamp of approval?
Clapper merely stated, “I’m not aware of anyone who dissented or – or disagreed when it came out.”
Former CIA officer Fred Fleitz, whose 25 years of service in national security positions also included posts at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of State and the House Intelligence Committee staff, said convening such a panel was a drastic departure from normal protocol, went against all standing rules, carried a strong political stench and rendered the findings suspicious.
Additionally, there is irony in the timing of the Times’ correction, one that may portend more corrections to come.
The same day the correction was published, workers in the Times newsroom staged a walkout to protest management’s plan to cut in half the number of its copy editors, the fact checkers ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the paper’s content.
The protest followed a letter sent by reporters and copy editors to management that said, “Editors — and yes, that especially means copy editors — save reporters and the Times every day from countless errors, large and small.
“Cutting us down to 50 to 55 editors from more than 100, and expecting the same level of quality in the report, is dumbfoundingly unrealistic,” they added.
Nevertheless, it took until June 29, more than five months after the Jan. 6 report was issued, for the paper of record to set the record straight.
Even Clapper’s revelation May 8 didn’t stop politicians from repeating the falsehood.
In an interview May 31, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton claimed: “Seventeen agencies, all in agreement – which I know from my experience as a senator and secretary of state is hard to get – they concluded with ‘high confidence’ that the Russians ran an extensive information war against my campaign to influence voters in the election.”
When Clapper explained what really happened, it directly contradicted the assumption posed by another prominent Democrat.
During the Senate hearing May 8, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., learned the truth about the intelligence assessment.
Franken: And I want to thank General Clapper and – and Attorney General Yates for – for appearing today. We have – the intelligence communities have concluded, all 17 of them, that Russia interfered with this election. And we all know how that’s right.
Clapper: Senator, as I pointed out in my statement Senator Franken, it was there were only three agencies that directly involved in this assessment plus my office …
Franken: But all 17 signed on to that?
Clapper: Well, we didn’t go through that – that process, this was a special situation because of the time limits and my – what I knew to be to who could really contribute to this and the sensitivity of the situation, we decided it was a constant judgment to restrict it to those three. I’m not aware of anyone who dissented or – or disagreed when it came out.
As someone intimately familiar with the inner workings of the intelligence community, Fleitz penned an article for Fox News May 12 that spelled out what really happened.
He had written previously that when the U.S. Intelligence Community issued an ‘Intelligence Community Assessment’ (ICA) on Jan. 6, 2017, that found Russia deliberately interfered in the 2016 presidential election to benefit Trump’s candidacy, he “was suspicious because it reached unusually clear judgments on a politically explosive issue with no dissenting views.”
Fleitz was then surprised to hear Clapper explain in his testimony that two dozen or so “seasoned experts” were “handpicked” from the contributing agencies and drafted the ICA “under the aegis of his former office,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Wrote Fleitz, “This process drastically differed from the Intelligence Community’s normal procedures.”
Describing just how unusual that was, he said, “Hand-picking a handful of analysts from just three intelligence agencies to write such a controversial assessment went against standing rules to vet such analyses throughout the Intelligence Community within its existing structure.”
Furthermore, “The idea of using hand-picked intelligence analysts selected through some unknown process to write an assessment on such a politically sensitive topic carries a strong stench of politicization.”
Fleitz also noted that former FBI Director James Comey had testified that the report’s conclusion of Russian interference was based on logic, not evidence.
“So we now know,” surmised the former CIA officer, “this was a subjective judgment made by a hand-picked group of intelligence analysts.
“One has to ask how these hand-picked analysts were picked. Who picked them? Who was excluded?”
Fleitz called it a major problem that “the process gave John Brennan, CIA’s hyper-partisan former director, enormous influence over the drafting of the ICA.”
“Given Brennan’s scathing criticism of Mr. Trump before and after the election, he should have had no role whatsoever in the drafting of this assessment. Instead, Brennan probably selected the CIA analysts who worked on the ICA and reviewed and approved their conclusions.”
In other words, it seems Fleitz thought it not impossible that Brennan rigged the report to arrive at the conclusion he wanted.
Which makes Brennan’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee May 24 all the more relevant, because even though he testified he saw no evidence of collusion, the former CIA director admitted it was he who set in motion the FBI’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.
As WND reported, Brennan testified that although he saw no collusion, he saw some “contacts” between Trump associates and Russians.
And he was worried that might lead to collusion.
“I had unresolved questions in my mind as to whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting U.S. persons, involved in the campaign or not, to work on their behalf, again, either in a witting or unwitting fashion.”
Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy wrote, “That’s a weasel’s way of saying he’s got nothing.”
Nonetheless, Brennan asserted, “And so, therefore, I felt as though the FBI investigation was certainly well-founded and needed to look into those issues.”
McCarthy believes it’s the spies who need investigating.
He has called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate political spying, including unmasking and leaks to the media by the Obama administration.
McCarthy detailed his proposal May 24 in National Review:
First, the Justice Department should appoint a special counsel to investigate the potential abuse of government surveillance powers for the purposes of political spying and leaks to the media. The investigation should scrutinize all unmasking of Americans to determine whether it conformed to court-ordered restrictions. The president should immediately announce that he is ordering U.S. intelligence agencies to cooperate fully. He should add that he is willing to declassify forthwith relevant reports and the identities of officials involved in the unmasking of Americans – with the caveat that important intelligence secrets will be safeguarded. It should be made clear that any official who had access to classified information that was leaked to the media should expect to be summoned for grand-jury testimony about his or her handling of it.
And, Fleitz wants Congress to investigate the spies. He wrote:
The unusual way that the January 6, 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment was drafted raises major questions as to whether it was rigged by the Obama administration to produce conclusions that would discredit the election outcome and Mr. Trump’s presidency. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees therefore should add investigations of whether this ICA was politicized to their investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Someone else agreed.
On June 2, Trump tweeted: “The big story is the ‘unmasking and surveillance’ of people that took place during the Obama Administration.”