The Times then and now (and now)

Who can keep up with the twists and turns of the New York Times in its opposition to all things Trump? Like the American Communists of old, the Times is prepared to turn on a dime as the needs of the party dictate. The Weekly Standard’s Eric Felten presents an intensely interesting case study in “Why Is the NYT Suddenly Opposed to Declassifying the FISA Docs?”

The FISA documents in issue are of course some 20 redacted pages of the Carter Page FISA warrant applications that President Trump ordered declassified last week. As I noted last week before President Trump walked back his declassification order, “Dems sweat declassification.”

Eric takes up Adam Goldman’s September 17 Times article “Trump Orders Russia Investigation Documents Be Declassified” (the order has since been walked back). Goldman’s article channels the disapproval of “[f]ormer and current F.B.I. officials” who “have expressed concern that the Republican efforts to out the materials could have long-lasting consequences, making it harder to recruit informants willing to help with investigations who are the lifeblood of law enforcement.”

This is of course the “sources and methods” song and dance that the bureaucrat/Democrat opposition to Trump has invoked as necessary to protect itself from embarrassment. Goldman himself was clearly in line with the disapproval expressed by his law enforcement sources. According to Goldman’s September 17 article, Trump’s declassification order constituted a threat to “the lifeblood of law enforcement.”

However, Eric notes, a funny thing happened on the way to Goldman’s disapproval. Goldman first stepped up to file a motion in his own name with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court asking the court to let it all hang out in the public interest. Eric writes: “[O]n February 5, the reporter filed a motion with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court asking the FISC ‘to order publication of all of its orders authorizing surveillance of Carter Page.’ And not just that: Goldman (together with fellow Timesman Charlie Savage and the Gray Lady herself) also asked the court for all ‘the application materials and renewal application materials upon which those orders were issued.'”

As redacted, the publicly released FISA warrant applications on Carter Page don’t show anything like probable cause to support a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Title I warrant. On the contrary, the applications as released open a window onto the true scandal underlying the Russian hoax. Back in February, however, Democrats and their media adjunct at the Times let it be known that the good stuff supporting probable cause against Page was buried among the redactions.

Well, the party line seems to have changed, but here’s another funny thing. Goldman continues to seek the release of the documents in issue from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Translation: “That means while Goldman was quoting FBI and intelligence sources on the terrible things that would come of releasing unredacted FISA warrants, among other closely held documents, he was asking the FISA court to give him the Carter Page warrants.” We support Goldman’s motion then and now. It’s a shame Goldman didn’t see fit to mention it in his September 17 article. It might usefully have illuminated the merits of the new party line.