Bill Barr haltingly admits campaigns offered stolen dirt by foreign enemies should maybe call FBI

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in b4 this concept of “foreign intelligence-sourced stolen dirt” is used to de-legitimize leaks which expose corruption and wrongdoing by American politicians.

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It’s all about context. And in the context of reality, nothing that Russia exposed in its hacking of Clinton and the DNC was of anything near the importance of the fact that Russia was engaging in espionage to aid one candidate in a Presidential election.


But her emails


Yeah, obviously this concept is gaining traction because it’s a way of scoring points on Trump, and who could be against that? But it’s actually laying the groundwork for a concept that’s bigger than just the latest Trump scandal.

The genius thing about this groundwork they’re creating is that there’s no clear distinction between a leak orchestrated by “international activists/journalists” and “foreign spy agencies”. Because obviously spy agencies can easily launder their material through non-state entities, one can credibly argue that any piece of information is the work of foreign intelligence agencies.

Previously the litmus test for such information was “is it true or is it disinformation” - a standard which favored those who were politically powerless but telling the truth. But by shifting the test to “is it from a legitimate or illegitimate (foreign) source”, the standard favors those who can use political power to create spin, without even having to address the content of the leak.

It’s actually a very Russian political approach: nothing is true, everyone is lying. Don’t worry about who is telling the truth, worry about who is looking out for you.


I don’t know if Barr truly believes what he says, or is working for some reward promised by Trump, or if some Trump-applied extortion is working on him. Whatever the case, this thing – this creature – called ‘Barr’ has got to go.


So, when are they removing the “Hon.” part of the nameplates?


I don’t think that’s the litmus test at all, then or now. The litmus test is the context of the information compared to the fact that a foreign government is engaging in espionage to aid a Presidential candidate. Theoretically, the Russians could have stolen information exposing such serious wrongdoing that its exposure would be at least as important as the the fact that a foreign government is engaging in espionage to aid a Presidential candidate. But that’s not what actually happened, is it?

Rather, the Russians stole some embarrassing shit that made Clinton look bad, passed it to co-conspirators at WL, and Trump was the beneficiary. NOTHING the Russians exposed was or is as important as that act to aid Trump. That’s reality.


From Masha Gessen’s “Autocracy: Rules for Survival

Rule #3: Institutions will not save you. It took Putin a year to take over the Russian media and four years to dismantle its electoral system; the judiciary collapsed unnoticed. The capture of institutions in Turkey has been carried out even faster, by a man once celebrated as the democrat to lead Turkey into the EU. Poland has in less than a year undone half of a quarter century’s accomplishments in building a constitutional democracy.

The Justice Dept. is completely compromised as long as this scumbag at its top.


This is the be-all and end-all of this whole thing. And I am torn whether to consider the “scumbag” in question to be Barr or Trump. Either will do, maybe both? Certainly Il Douche qualifies.



The Justice Dept. isn’t the worst of it. Il Douche’s and his GOP pals’ main push in this regard is to reduce the independence of and radically politicise the judiciary.


I’d add while it’s tempting to see things as either true or untrue, misleading people can be just as much withholding information or about controlling the timing of information. Like if Russia had found something embarrassing in Clinton’s email and decided to report on that through some Russian government mouthpiece, surely American journalists would have looked at what was reported and attempted to validate or disprove the information themselves. Then they would have reported appropriately (for the purposes of this let’s assume we trust American journalists). If that was how the information came out, I wouldn’t take “but it came from Russian spies!” very seriously as a critique.

But at the risk of brutally misusing the quotation, “the medium is the message,” the fact that the Russians at least attempted to coordinate with the Trump campaign shows an intent to mislead the people receiving the information. You can mislead with the truth.

So while I am definitely on the side of “it’s better that we learn about wrongdoing that not learn about it, even through nefarious sources” I also think it’s pretty clear that if you get the email Don Jr. got you should report it to the FBI rather than responding with “I love it.”

If for no other reason than you are probably being intentionally compromised so they can blackmail you later, you dumbass!


In fairness, you should really pay disreputable former British secret agents to gather dirt from foreign enemies - then there’s no issues, you can even use it as a pretext to spy on people!

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I think that’s all true, and it wouldn’t be worrying if politicians were sticking to the context (which as you say is key) in their criticism. i.e. the particular things that Trump and the Russian State did were sketchy and corrupt AF. Instead, though, we’re getting a lot of sweeping condemnations of vague ideas like “stolen political dirt” and “foreign intelligence agencies”.

The generalization is not an oversight. It’s intended to elaborate this particular case into a principle for handling leak-based scandals. And even though the particular case has nothing to do with press freedom or the public interest, the principle they’re promoting will have a harmful effect on international journalists, whistleblowers, and activists.




Couldn’t agree more, especially when it’s in the context of selectively releasing dirt on one party and withholding it for another. Does anyone actually think that Putin doesn’t have a big fat stack of documents on Trump that lay out his financing, how many abortions he’s paid for, and any number of instances of fraud? Kompramat, people!

Jesus Christ, seriously?

Yes, there should be a sweeping condemnation of a campaign accepting aid from a foreign intelligence agency. We aren’t talking about “leaks” or “whistleblowing” here and it’s disingenuous to continue to frame it that way. We’re talking about espionage, and as H pointed out above, accepting such assistance compromises a candidate/official in ways that we simply can’t accept.