Part of the service that is being done to America by the FBI and Department of Justice in trying to hide the genesis of the Russia probe from Congress is the degree to which agencies use their ability to classify information as a way of avoiding scrutiny and embarrassment. In an earlier post, I discussed how the FBI had classified a conversation between FBI director Christopher Wray and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley that had contained open source information and was conducted over a non-secure telephone.
In the ongoing struggle to force Justice and the FBI to be responsive to Congressional requests, Grassley has fired off another complaint to deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein that highlights the continuing practice of using security classification to hide stuff the bureaucracy doesn’t want seen:
On May 1, 2018, and May 18, 2018, Committee staff reviewed in camera less redacted versions of the Strzok and Page text message productions provided to the Committee. On several occasions, my staff have requested that the Department of Justice provide the Committee with a redaction key, to no avail. Thus, the Committee is still in the dark about the justification the Department is relying upon to withhold that information from Congress. As one example of redacted material, in a text message produced to the Committee, the price of Andrew McCabe’s $70,000 conference table was redacted. In another, an official’s name was redacted in reference to a text about the Obama White House “running” an investigation, although it is unclear to which investigation they were referring.
There is zero reason for either of those items to be considered classified. We know why they wanted to hide the cost of McCabe’s conference table, because it embarrasses the FBI (70-freakin-thousand dollars? They should have had Ben Carson do their shopping for them…and you can bet the same people who were beside themselves with glee over the Carson table will not say a word about McCabe’s furniture choices). There is no reason why the name of someone in the White House “running” and investigation should be secret. That goes to the central issue of the legitimacy of the Mueller investigation.
Rosenstein and Wray are either idiots (I am open to that being the case) who are not being well-served by staff and fail to realize it or they are actively obstructing Congress’s investigation. Neither situation is acceptable.