South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham appeared on Wednesday’s HANNITY TV show to talk about the Senate Judiciary Committee’s efforts to declassify an approximately 40-page FBI memo critical of the Steele “dossier,” and also to question the lead intel analyst and a case agent who interviewed Steele’s Russian “sub-source” –- actually Steele’s employee –- twice, first in January and later in March of 2017. (The warrant to spy on Carter Page was renewed in April and June of 2017, after the problems with the “dossier” were known. This is documented, and it is a crime.)
Sen. Graham didn’t mention names, and in the IG report the lead analyst is identified only as Supervisory Intelligence Analyst, never by name, but I think Graham must have been talking about this guy.
Yes, I know; the headline alone is a laff riot, if you want to laugh until you cry. Profiled here by Paul Sperry at RealClear Investigations, our “person of interest” is senior FBI analyst Brian J. Auten. He was central to the vetting process for the “dossier” that was used in the FISA application and three renewals to spy on Carter Page, but it’s also true that since 2010, he has taught a class on...wait for it...the ethics of spying at Patrick Henry College. (Motto: “Give me irony, or give me death!” Kidding.)
As Sperry reports, Auten “seems to have violated his own stated “golden rule” for spying, which involves using ‘the least intrusive standard” for surveilling U.S. citizens to avoid harming “a subject’s reputation, dignity and privacy.” Yes, we’ve seen how that standard was respected in the case of Carter Page, who was actually accused of being a Russian agent in order for the FBI to get inside Trump’s 2016 campaign. Page was put through the wringer over that horrific charge, telling RealClear Investigations that based on leaks to the media, people believed he was a “traitor” who conspired with the Kremlin to help Trump. He received death threats. Imagine if that happened to you.
Sperry goes into detail describing Auten’s involvement in downplaying the problems with the “dossier.” It’s a lengthy article, but I encourage you to read it (you won't be tested), just to see how one person in the right place within a bureaucracy can guide a chain of events. It's also quite interesting to see how a so-called “ethicist” can so skillfully rationalize his own lack of ethics.
Sperry reports that Auten’s name is indeed on a list of witnesses Sen. Graham intends to call now that he has received subpoena power for the Judiciary Committee, and also that Graham says they’ll be focusing on the investigators.
Incidentally, last December, FBI Director Christopher Wray wrote Inspector General Michael Horowitz to tell him he’d put every employee involved in the 2016-2017 FISA application process through “additional training in ethics” with “an emphasis on privacy and civil liberties.”
Don't know about you, but I feel so much better now. Hey, wouldn’t it be hilarious if we found out Brian J. Auten taught the class? No, really, I wonder if he did.