Parturient Montes, Nascetur Ridiculus Mus

So, the Memo’s been published. “The mountain has labored, and brought forth a mouse.”

Sure, there are damning things in it — notably that the FISA petitioners at the FBI and DOJ knew the Steele dossier to have been a highly questionable political hack-job, paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign (pardon the redundancy there) through their bagmen Perkins Coie, but neglected to mention this to the FISA court — but there isn’t much in there that we didn’t really already know, and this warrant is only a small part of what appears to be an enormously complex and far-reaching story of government malfeasance.

There is an important, and carefully written, bit of ambiguity in the memo:

The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application.

How “essential”? This is a key question, which, to the best of my knowledge, hasn’t been satisfactorily answered. Was it so central to the FISA application that the warrant would never have been issued without it? Voices on the Right are assuming this is the case, and the Left insists that it isn’t. It would be good to know. (Don’t get me wrong here: that they used it at all is appalling.)

[Update, February 3rd: The previous paragraph betrays careless reading on my part. In section 4 of the memo we see that “Deputy Director McCabe testified before the committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.”]

Despite all the fuss — and what a fuss there was! — this memo is just a small thing, the tiny tip of a very large iceberg. You can read it here. See also Libertybelle’s latest, which will point you also to a new item by Andrew McCarthy.


  1. Harold says

    Basically, this news is irrelevant. It doesn’t affect the reality, in which every top FBI-man should be dragged out and shot. Then every Democrat in the House and Senate ‘Intelligence’ Committees should be removed. And shot. If this had happened earlier, the actions that Nixon’s men took to counteract treason would not have been necessary.

    Posted February 3, 2018 at 12:21 am | Permalink
  2. JK says

    Professor Hanson:

    Posted February 3, 2018 at 2:50 am | Permalink
  3. Whitewall says

    Timely piece. Civil Wars begin with politics gone bad. They are ended with guns.

    Posted February 3, 2018 at 7:20 am | Permalink
  4. Peter Whale says

    What part of the word essential do you not understand. Without it being essential the warrant would not have been issued.
    You cannot have partly essential.

    Posted February 4, 2018 at 2:09 am | Permalink
  5. Whitewall says

    Peter is right and I confess I went right past “essential” as the key to the whole thing.

    Posted February 4, 2018 at 8:03 am | Permalink
  6. Malcolm says


    You may surprised to know that English is in fact my native tongue, so I do understand this meaning of the word “essential”.

    It can also be used, however, to refer to an aspect of something that is characteristic in a basic way, that is representative of the nature of a thing.

    As I said, though, my conclusion was based on a careless reading, as I had overlooked the reference to Deputy McCabe’s testimony later in the memo. But before I realized that, I thought the word might have been used in the second sense, in the careful and weaselly way that politicians and lawyers so often do to create an impression that differs from the exact truth.

    Posted February 4, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

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