The Nunes Memo & The Deeper Issue

Six days ago the House of Representatives (HOR) Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a memo drafted by the committee chairman, representative Devin Nunes alleging very serious indiscretions by leadership in the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). If corroborated, the contents of the memo suggest weaponization of our justice system to potentially forward a political agenda, in this case to damage then candidate Donald Trump, by obtaining a warrant to spy on his campaign aides.  Representative Nunes is a Republican and as one would expect, a day later the Democrats released a rebuttal disputing the claims made by the original document.  Rep. Adam Schiff, the highest ranking democrat on the Intelligence Committee, has written his own memo that is now being evaluated for release to the public as well.  Americans from all political ideologies are rightfully upset at the circumstances surrounding the memo, its release, and the obvious partisan divide that exist within our federal government.

Many individuals, including myself, can only speculate on what happened during the campaign, how the events unfolded, and what if any illegal activity took place.  We are left to retreat to our political corners, our favorite television channels and online publications, where pundits step up, one after another to confirm our preconceived notions of the evils of Democrats or Republicans.  Frankly, I doubt we will ever know the truth.  As Representative Trey Gowdy noted when discussing his plans to retire on CBS Face the Nation Recently,

It’s about winning in politics, and that is not what — the courtroom — there’s a reason we throw out search warrants even though we find the murder weapon. There’s a reason we throw out confessions even though we think the person did it. The process matters. The end does not justify the means. And in politics, it’s just about winning.

Without going into the specific details of the memo, if the FBI and DOJ did in fact withhold critical information when applying for their warrant, then a scary precedent has been set for future actions, one in which political ideology trumps duty, honor, and truth.  If the FBI and DOJ DID NOT withhold this information, then what can be said of the House Intelligence Committee other than it has been infected with the same partisan disease that other aspects of congress have already contracted.

The question that citizens must ask themselves at such a moment is, “What is the way forward?”  Yes, further investigation that needs to occur, and yes, both the Democratic memo and all of the information utilized to create both memos need to be released to the public.  If wrongdoing has occurred, appropriate action needs to be taken to correct the course of the FBI and DOJ, but would this really fix the issue, the deeper problem?

In Federalist 62, James Madison wrote:

The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessings of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood: if they be repealed or revised before they are promulg[at]ed, or undergo such incessant changes, that no man who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow.

Replace the word “law” with the phrase “bureaucratic institution” and our current situation becomes painfully clear.  The federal government has become such a leviathan that the internal workings are no longer clear to the American public, and they can be manipulated to look like whatever politicians desire.  All of this is perhaps the just rewards for an American public that has grown increasingly apathetic about its government and the Constitution, but if citizens want to avert the further degradation of our country, action must be taken, and it involves avoiding those political corners already mentioned.

Everyday Americans have got to stop falling for the partisan rhetoric of both sides and stop painting each other as evil.  Evil people exist without a doubt, but suggesting that average Democrats are morally bankrupt is wrong as is the reverse.  While we’re all busy screaming at one another, the government continues to grow, manipulate, regulate, and destroy more rights.

Citizens must also demand politicians stop abusing the framework that our government was to created function within- The Constitution and federalism.  It is one thing to disagree on policy and ideology.  It is an entirely different thing to manipulate and mangle the framework in which those policies and ideologies exist.

Americans need to engage with state governments to hold the federal bureaucracy accountable.  The states are supposed to be the buffers between the people and the federal government, but they have lost this function.  This organization, The Federalist Coalition, has begun an active campaign to reverse this problem.  By creating commissions on Federalism, states will give themselves leverage to begin pushing back against federal overreach and expansion.  Commissions already exist in Utah and Wisconsin.  South Carolina is currently debating such a commission.  The bill can be found here.

It’s time for Americans to take back the government we gave life to.  It’s time to reclaim our rights as citizens and as the true source of power for our federal government!