Transparency is essential in windows and in governance. It’s the window that gives a clear view of the workings of government. Now that President Trump has authorized the declassification of information about government surveillance during the 2016 presidential election, it’s important to remember that transparency is neither red nor blue.
It’s important to accurately reckon the difference between patriot and scoundrel. In the wake of the Mueller report declining to hold Mr. Trump culpable for a crime, the president took the next logical step toward closing the book. He asked Attorney General William Barr to declassify intelligence tied to the Obama administration’s opening the domestic spying operation on the Trump campaign in the first place.
Declassifying material presented to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (FISA) should shine a light on the legitimacy of the targeting of Trump associates. “I want all the documents around the FISA warrant application released,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham told Fox News. “I want to find out exactly how the counterintelligence operation began. I think transparency is good for the American people. Not one Democrat seems to care.”
To the contrary, one Democrat who cares quite a bit is Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who took to Twitter to bemoan the idea of uncovering the roots of the collusion myth. “While Trump stonewalls the public from learning the truth about his obstruction of justice,” he says, “Trump and Barr conspire to weaponize law enforcement and classified information against their political enemies. The cover-up has entered a new and dangerous phase. This is un-American.”
This is the congressman who claimed to have seen evidence “in plain view” that the president conspired with Russia to steal the 2016 election, but so far has not produced it. Given the fact that special counsel Robert Mueller didn’t pin a crime on the president after more than two years of digging, a reasonable observer might conclude that Mr. Schiff doesn’t have the goods.
Mr. Schiff’s Democratic colleagues share both his ire and his fear of exposure. “Trump dangerously politicizes intelligence declassification — giving his henchman AG sweeping powers to weaponize classified info against political foes,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal says. “No safeguards, no accountability, no respect for intel sources — a deeply perilous recipe to distract from mounting troubles.”
Mr. Blumenthal should have given it a moment of thought before firing such snark against Mr. Barr. He should know that the attorney general served in the CIA earlier in his career and is well-versed in the protocols designed to protect the nation’s secrets.
James Clapper, Barack Obama’s director of National Intelligence, and now a talking head in certain television networks’ crusade against the president, says intelligence disclosures could jeopardize “methods and sources.” Andrew McCarthy points out in National Review that Mr. Barr consults top intelligence professionals before exposing information that endangers surveillance methods or lives.
The sordid dossier compiled by British spy Christopher Steele, with unlikely tales told to obtain FISA warrants to spy on Trump associates, has been roundly and widely discredited. Everyone is curious about how such false information could have been pushed up the Obama administration’s chain of command to start a secret examination of a rival political campaign. The Democrats seem curiously uncurious to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Mr. Trump has been open in ordering the release of more than a million pages of material compiled by the Mueller investigation. He directed Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, to refuse to participate in a House committee effort to start a Mueller-like do-over.
The president’s adversaries must now face the same scrutiny they leveled at his campaign. Anything less would be, to borrow Mr. Schiff’s term, “un-American.”