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Saturday, December 19, 2020

Barr's Valedictory Interview


The tragedy is William Barr is that his view of what was needed from him was too constricted.  Retired FBI agent Mark Wauck's excellent assessment of William Barr's "valedictory interview," credits outgoing AG and rightly faults him for failing to deliver on the most important part of his job—getting to the bottom of Spygate.

It's a worthwhile read and concludes with this:

In many ways Barr proved to be an exemplary Attorney General. In ordinary times he might have ended his tenure regarded as one of the greatest AGs we've had. Unfortunately, in this time of constitutional crisis he will be judged to have suffered from a too constricted vision of doing justice. He talks of going beyond the limited view of setting the bar for acceptable conduct as criminal prosecution, but in practice he has done little to alter that view. To change public perception is a difficult task, one that cannot be achieved quickly--something like changing the course of a supertanker. Rather than attempting to educate the public, Barr has been content--or so it seems to me--to speak to other lawyers like himself rather than taking on the role of being an educator of the American public. I realize that's asking a lot, but it would have been easier had he exemplified his principles more clearly in the conduct of his high office when the demands of justice required a more expansive view.

With regard to the CIA's role:

 Barr's words of exoneration regarding the CIA--while understandable with regard to the institution, and in particular with regard to the analysts who worked on the ICA--falls short of his own standards when we consider the conduct of the CIA's Director, who is, after all, the public face of the institution. The CIA analysts who worked on the ICA may well have been honorable, but it was Brennan's biased and "mistaken" overriding of their honorable work that ended up being embodied in the ICA and was presented to the world has a highly reliable view based on sound intelligence. In light of that, to say that "The CIA stayed in its lane" really doesn't cover the case. That statement will be used and misused by the same persons whose tactics--as Barr so aptly said in his resignation letter--were "abusive and deceitful", knowing no bounds of decency. Barr knows this as well as anyone in Washington, so to make such an unqualified statement regarding "the CIA", without drawing any distinctions, is a distinct disservice to President Trump--as surely as Barr's premature dismissal of election fraud was also a disservice.

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