Carter Page, Russian tool extraordinaire, is being taken oddly seriously by the media. He claims that surveillance of him is entirely politically motivated, not to mention illegal and unethical, because before they “wiretapped” him they “wiretapped” two Russian espionage agents talking about how they were using Carter Page as a spy, but that he wasn’t being reliable about communication. This led them to question his competence and intelligence, but they were certain he was motivated by the desire for obscene amounts of wealth that might come by serving Russian interests, in particular by being rewarded with a high paying gig at (or consulting with, it’s not clear) Gazprom, the Russian fossil-fuel giant. Ultimately, the agents were reassured of their ability to control Page because of their certainty that he was a greedy jerk motivated entirely by concern for money and the fact that Page visited Moscow more often than the spies themselves did.
While it’s true that the fact that a spy said it doesn’t make it true, US counter-intelligence did the understandable thing and took their evidence before a judge and got a warrant to investigate whether or not it was true. Since a spy will generally deny being a spy, they thought that tapping Page’s phone(s?) was the productive way to go in the investigation so that they could either hear something coming from Page’s own mouth to corroborate the rather damning evidence already collected from the known intelligence agents or fail to hear anything for long enough that they could clear the investigation. A judge agreed that this was a lawful and appropriate way to proceed when faced with the evidence in their possession and the nature of spying.
But for some reason not only is Page continuing to publicly argue that the warrant to tap his phone was illegitimate, that the tapping was illegal, and that the whole evidence gathering exercise was politically motivated, but media outlets – broadcast, internet, and print – are for some reason taking his arguments seriously. I’m trying to imagine how they would treat someone suspected of involvement in the drug trade who made the same case. In fact, let’s go to that imaginary land right now [wavy visual distortions and pulsing noises signal a cut to the Magic Media Kingdom]:
Carter Papyrus: This is outrageous! The DEA illegally spied on me for partisan political purposes!
Washington Pillar: Well, didn’t they spy on you with a warrant?
Carter Papyrus: Well, yes, but that just proves how lawless the DEA is that they would get an unjustified warrant to monitor my communications.
Washington Pillar: In what way do you mean unjustified? I mean, they convinced a judge, didn’t they?
Carter Papyrus: Yes, but you see they used conversations monitored BEFORE they were legally allowed to monitor me as justification for legally monitoring me. That’s dishonest post facto ergo facto! Corruption! Obama was in on it!
Washington Pillar: Well,yes, they used conversations they had already recorded to get the warrant to record your conversations, but they weren’t retroactively justifying the earlier recordings by saying they found something even though they were acting illegally and that makes the fact that it was illegal okay.
Carter Papyrus: But they were talking about me! It’s the fact that those conversations were talking about me that they used to get the warrant to monitor me!
Washington Pillar: I don’t understand. Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do? They were collecting evidence against known drug dealers and doing so completely within the law.
Carter Papyrus: They may have started out following the law, but when you listen to known drug dealers talking, and you hear them mention a person not previously known to be a drug dealer or buyer, you have to completely forget about that. You can’t use that as evidence!
Washington Pillar: Wait, so you’re saying that two known drug dealers were discussing your desire to buy drugs.
Carter Papyrus: Yes.
Washington Pillar: And you’re not denying that they are drug dealers.
Carter Papyrus: Correct.
Washington Pillar: What you’re saying is that if you tap the conversations of known drug dealers in order to investigate their drug dealing, that you can’t listen to any part of the conversation where they’re talking about their drug dealing if that part of the conversation about their drug dealing illuminates facts about their drug connections that the authorities did not already know and include in the filing seeking a warrant.
Carter Papyrus: Exactly right. If they wanted to listen to the parts of the conversation where the drug dealers talked about their drug dealings and revealed information that the government did not yet know, the government should have listed that information in the warrant and, if it might incriminate someone, provide proof that the person is also guilty of drug crimes before receiving the warrant from the judge.
Washington Pillar: And if they don’t do that?
Carter Papyrus: Well, clearly the only reason they wouldn’t prove someone guilty before being able to hear co-conspirators implicate them is to railroad that person.
Washington Pillar: So what should the government have done?
Carter Papyrus: Well, once the drug dealers started talking about their drug business in ways that might tend to reveal the identities of other contacts in the drug trade, they should have turned off their recording equipment. As soon as the part of the conversation they’re not listening to is over, they can, of course, turn their equipment back on.
Washington Pillar: And the government failed to do that here.
Carter Papyrus: Correct. What the government did was even worse. They not only failed to turn off their recording equipment until that portion of the conversation was over, they actually used what they recorded in one investigation targeting already known drug dealers to open a new investigation into someone not known to be a drug dealer!
Washington Pillar: Well, at that point, the government did know you to be a drug dealer, didn’t they?
Carter Papyrus: NO! Drug dealers lie! And we have a standard of proof in this country. They have to prove that I’m a drug dealer beyond a reasonable doubt!
Washington Pillar: Well, yes, to put you in prison for dealing drugs they do, but don’t they have a lesser standard for seeking a warrant?
Carter Papyrus: No. The DEA has a duty not to seek a warrant against someone unless they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are guilty. If they know – know for a fact – that they don’t have legally admissible evidence that will prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, then they have no business seeking a search warrant. They should know that. The only lawful reason you would search for evidence of a crime or evidence of someone’s guilt is if you already had the evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The only other plausible motive is that Obama was personally running an illegal and treasonous conspiracy to prevent the inevitable election of a true patriot like Donald Trump.
Washington Pillar: Well, those are very good points. Since people continue to insist that procedure was followed and that the warrants were issued, this controversy does not appear to be going away. Could we interview about this again in the coming days? We’d like our readers to have a chance to hear your responses to future arguments from people on the left who appear to believe those drug dealer intercepts might have justified the DEA warrants.
Carter Papyrus: I’d be happy to. Just have my booking agent set something up so your interview request doesn’t get lost in my busy schedule speaking to CMM and BSNBC.
Seriously. I have no idea how the media got this weird.
Speaking of both weird and news, it has recently been noted that I am a master at writing natural-sounding dialog. Almost as good as George Lucas himself.