Scott talks to Coleen Rowley about the failures in America’s intelligence agencies that contributed to the 9/11 attacks, and that continue to plague us today. She reminds us that three FBI agents in three different states tried to pass very specific warnings to their higher-ups about the possibility of an attack like the one on September 11th, but were ignored in all three cases. After 9/11, of course, our politicians assented to an unprecedented expansion of surveillance powers, most likely assuming that they would never be the victims of the abuse of these powers. In reality, they have turned out to be some of the biggest victims, as was revealed during the “Russiagate” fiasco. Rowley hopes that the both the deliberate malfeasance and the ineptitude of these government agents will start to become evident to people, who may ultimately lose faith in such institutions and demand reform.
Discussed on the show:
- “Ghost of J. Edgar Haunts Flynn Investigation” (Consortium News)
- “CIA Director Mike Pompeo “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” – Texas A M University April 2019″ (YouTube)
- The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong
- Wisdom of Psychopaths
Coleen Rowley is a retired FBI agent and lawyer who helped expose the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures. She was honored with TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year” in 2002. Find her on Twitter @ColeenRowley.
This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: NoDev NoOps NoIT, by Hussein Badakhchani; The War State, by Mike Swanson; WallStreetWindow.com; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott; Listen and Think Audio; TheBumperSticker.com; and LibertyStickers.com.
The following is an automatically generated transcript.
All right, shall welcome and Scott Horton show. I am the director of the libertarian Institute editorial director of anti war calm, author of the book fool’s errand, time to end the war in Afghanistan. And I’ve recorded more than 5000 interviews going back to 2003, all of which are available at Scott horton.org. You can also sign up to the podcast feed full archive is also firstname.lastname@example.org. Slash Scott Horton show.
All right, you guys introducing the great Colleen Rowley former time Person of the Year for 2002. Of course, she was the FBI lawyer who told the real story about Zacharias Musawi not really the 20th hijacker, but still definitely an Al Qaeda member and in on all of what surrounded the September 11 plot anyway. And if only they had listened to her, they could have stopped the dang attack. Everybody knows that. And now it’s very lucky that we have her as a great anti war writer on a great many issues and here she is, again at consortium news.com. Ghost of J. Edgar haunts Flynn investigation. Welcome back to the show Coleen How are you?
Coleen Rowley 1:29
Well, I’m fine. Except we have mass chaos and violence breaking out 10 miles from where I live with the police shooting the other day. So they know there’s there’s I just wrote to someone I said, I think it’s another sign of the Empire rotting from the inside. This is it’s very sad for all of us to be witnessing but you see all these blowback, whatever you want to call it the sorrows of empire blowback and Right now it’s pretty up close and personal for us in Minneapolis. But it was just a question of time. And, you know, there’s lots of cracks breaking out in the Empire. I think if you look at all of this Russia gate and, you know, targeting leaders and all this is, you know, so bogus, it’s unbelievable. That’s another sign of rot in corruption and rot inside an empire as well. It’s it’s, you’re really are you can attribute this all to this really fool’s errand notion that the United States who is entitled to become the policemen of the world and unilaterally, you know, gain its power over other countries and control the world through illegitimate completely illegal wars and violence. And unfortunately, the worst of this started after 911 I did just want to quickly correct you on one thing about prevention of 911 I wrote about this That 911 could have easily been prevented. But I wasn’t the one personally, who did the warning, we had three or four agents actually two in Minnesota, one of whom called up headquarters in August and said, this is a guy who could fly into the World Trade Center quote, and the guy in headquarters said, That’s not gonna happen. So that’s that was the two agents here in Minnesota, an agent and his acting supervisor, then that the agent in Phoenix, who wrote the memo had noticed that all the al Qaeda, different terrorism suspects were training in flight schools and had an urgent request that the FBI check out flight schools and again, they didn’t even read his memo and it was so incredibly urgent. It was incredible. That that agent By the way, his last name is Williams. He testified just two weeks before me to the Senate Judiciary, but Robert Mueller was able to co opt in at the time, and he put his arm around, you know, Moeller put his arm around Williams and they walked in together. And Williams testified, I didn’t even expect anyone would ever read my memo. He completely reversed what he had written, you know, warning about it. Williams now is quite after all these years, he’s working for the 911 families trying to sue Saudi Arabia as an investigator. And he was appalled that the FBI was not going to allow him to help the victims of 911 after all of this was incredible. So he’s, he’s finally seen the light. And then there was another agent in New York who warned that people are going to die unless we do something about looking for these two hijackers or these two terrorists who had come into California. So there were agents and again, it was quite, quite easy to have at least reduced 911 Not maybe not have totally avoided or prevented it but at least to have reduced it greatly if the people at the top and you know Richard Clarke was trying to warn Condi Rice and she put him off, they all had their prior agendas before 911. Bush wanted to undo the treaties and and start, you know, start the anti Ballistic Missile Treaty and Condi Rice wanted to target Russia. They all had Ashcroft wanted to reinstate the death penalty. They all had their prior agendas when they came in. And terrorism was their lowest priority was just that simple. And then after 911 happened, then they use it. The worst thing here is they use this trauma as a pretext to do all these terrible things, including launching war on a country that had nothing to do with with the terrorist attack in fact, was an enemy of The al Qaeda and the Wahhabi group. And all these years, then we’ve never even looked at what what was the real problem? why did why were we attacked on 911. You know, none of us has really been examined, except I should say, by you, Scott, and by, you know, some other few others in alternative media, but the mainstream media has almost never examined This is so we were kind of on this, steamrolling you know, downhill, where one thing just leads to another and once they install loud mass surveillance of other Americans, and we’ve pretty much as I said, the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover, we’ve gone back to a pre Church Committee situation that Hoover was an expert at because he was spying on all the other leaders in order to maintain his own power and using blackmail against them. And I think we’re very, very close to two minutes. That situation right now. And you see it in the Flynn case you see it in the face applications for Carter page. You know, I told someone yesterday that if we don’t finally realize it’s the politicians don’t realize that they were that was the dumbest thing on their behalf to allow all of those prior standards that were the attorney general guidelines and the the Church Committee recommendations. And when they when they did those, they didn’t realize that they were really the first ones to be the potential victims of it. You know, it was like, Oh, well, this is going to be used on other people so I don’t care. Everybody was said Well, well, if you you have nothing to be afraid of if you’ve done nothing wrong, etc. So it’s not gonna hurt me. I think now maybe some of them people like Rand Paul and and maybe a few others have woken up to the fact that the the leaders that are possible Fall are actually the ones who are going to be the most the most likely to be the victims of abuses or different abuses once you lower those standards and you have a way around the Fourth Amendment as they did after 911. The most likely people to be hurt by it are going to be other leaders because now everybody’s just just like Hoover was using Hoover was using it for his own power. So anyway, I wrote that article about Flynn case because it’s his it’s an egregious case. Glenn Greenwald did it an even better job, he talked for an hour and 45 minutes about it and he just really lays it out. But in my my experience in the FBI, this is pretty incredible that they turned title 18 1001 false, making false statements to an agency or to the government, which is supposed to be used only as a warning. applications, so people don’t lie on on their applications for grants for government grants or for even employment. So that’s a warning, it’s supposed to be used as a warning so people won’t lie. We were told in new agents training, that we could use it if we thought someone wasn’t telling the truth in an interview, we could at least use it as a warning and say, Hey, you know, there’s a law that if you lie to us, you could be prosecuted. But at the same time, we were told about potentially using that as a warning to get people to tell you the truth. We were also told that it would almost never be prosecuted. Even if the person did lie, it would never be prosecuted, and only sometimes it was used if it was tacked on to another crime. So there were times that you that a prosecutor would charge the false statements law would be if it was tacked on to something bigger or more More important, it was never used, like in the Flynn case, where they tried deliberately to get him to lie, just so they could have something to charge him with, because they already knew his interview. I mean, that’s turning the this law completely on its head. And then of course, the threat threats of the Logan Act, which has not been used for 150 years. And even then, I don’t think even 100 fit I don’t think was ever used successfully. They tried to use it, you know, years and years ago in the 1850s or something once, but the Logan act all all up leaders tend to be not even leaders, but people are in contact with foreign governments, and especially, especially incoming administration’s would be in it would be normal for them to be in contact with a foreign government, you couldn’t possibly then say that you’re going to prosecute them under the Logan act. And that’s what Flynn was threatened with. And, you know, again, there’s just So many egregious reasons why this Flynn case should the judge Sullivan should have immediately dismissed it once the once the US Attorney recommended and Barr agreed that it was that it was really a travesty it was an entrapment and they were using it it was a ploy a real like in the in the notes, they call it a game or playing games, you know an exact that’s exactly what it was they were playing games to try to get him to lie and then use it to get him fired. Or, or in this case, you know, when they pushed it to charge him with making a false statement, but we’ll see how it ends. I think Sullivan really went out on a limb in a very unusual way when he called for a what he called for a friend, not a friend but another former judge or somebody to write an abacus brief That was very unusual. So let’s see what let’s see what happens. But it’s a it’s a mess and a half and right now, that’s for sure.
Scott Horton 12:09
Well, so there’s so many different facets of this, but I am somewhat fascinated by the judges reaction here where he says, Well, I’m not dismissing the charges even if the justice department wants to, I’m going to appoint this other lawyer to come in and see whether I should go ahead and see him prosecuted anyway, and possibly even explore a new charge of perjury for changing his plea. Now, to paraphrase Matt Taibbi, he said, Now listen, all good liberals are supposed to go along with this because the victim is Flynn when the correct answer is, this is like the kind of thing you’d see in Bella Reuss. This is insane. Can you even do that your FBI lawyer formerly Coleen, can they do that?
Coleen Rowley 13:00
Well, he the judge Sullivan tried to do it, I think he probably is to be to be generous with him. I think he’s probably as quite brainwashed by all of this Russia gate as most, you know, the people who have really put their heart and soul into this all along, have a difficult time now dismissing it all, as the bogus thing that it was from the start. And again, Flynn is just one aspect of it. I mean, the Carter pages is even worse, in some ways. They’re all really bad. there’s a there’s a lot of aspects to this Russia gate, that were simply You don’t have to be a fan of Trump or Flynn or Carter page or any of them. You don’t have to be any, you know, don’t have to be their supporters to understand that this is turning up our system of justice and fairness. And, and what I said is, is going around the Fourth Amendment now under the same way, the same example way that J. Edgar Hoover did, because he didn’t he did not have a wall J. Edgar Hoover was allowed to say national security. He was allowed to use those pretexts for bugging for eavesdropping on Martin Luther King Jr. And by the way, many other officials in Washington DC, the NSA, you know that minaret program that Frank church, eventually the Church Committee under Frank church exposed the see at some some of the CIA and the NSA, they weren’t able to expose it all on the NSA and the CIA, they expose a lot of the cointelpro of the FBI, but not that much of the NSA and the CIA. And you come to find out years later, that the NSA program back then was actually monitoring Frank church himself. That’s pretty incredible. So Frank church maybe didn’t even know that but he was one of the main targets of this. Now again, this is really some horrible stuff. That happened in the in the 60s. And of course not, not on coincidentally during the The worst part of the Vietnam War, which I think you have these wars abroad, and the wars abroad are then allowing this internal domestic corruption, and you end and by the way, terrorism breaks out and everything during these this time period. And I think that we’re seeing this repeat all over again, the same things that happened in the 60s. But I think judge Sullivan, like others are just really brainwashed, they watch too much Rachel Maddow, and they can understand that none of this was true. And that really, these are very quite egregious abuses. You know, people like Peter, like struck in the FBI, the FBI agent, I think he he was also brainwashed. He started to think, you know, we we have a manchurian candidate, you know, They all believe that there was this danger McKay probably did. They they’re in a bubble kind of like a groupthink, where they’re only getting this reinforcement from inside their own groupthink bubble. And you know, you see this of course, the worst. The worst of groupthink is of course during World War Two with the Nazis and stuff, but groupthink is a common thing. And when you’re only seeing and hearing things that confirm your own conspiracy theories or whatever, you’re going to get brainwashed. And I think that’s what happened here. I think a lot of people then grabbed on to ends justify the means. They said, Well, we have such a noble goal. You know, Hoover thought he had a new noble goal. He wrote a whole book whole book about basically suspecting a communist hiding behind every tree. And so if you start if you’re in that paradigm, like McCarthy and like j Edgar Hoover, you’re gonna think that You’re You’re entitled then to take these illegal means to accomplish your noble goal.
Scott Horton 17:08
Okay, now, I understand that. But are you sure I mean, there seems to be so many times in this case. And believe me, I’m a subscriber to your theory in generally speaking of the self justification angle, however, it seems like God they had to have known they’re lying when they put Halper and apparently Miss foot up to go in to talk to Papadopoulos in the first place. And then when they didn’t think that they could make a case out of that, they tried to make a case out a quarter page, and they live and pretended to not know that the CIA had told them that this guy’s with us. He’s not a pro Russian trader, he’s an American patriot and a CIA asset. And, and then even the fact that, you know, Muller even launched this investigation at all and kept it going for two years and keeping speculation about it. Trump’s treason going for another two years. As my friend Dave Smith likes to point out that when BuzzFeed got it wrong, that Trump had told Michael Cohen to lie to Congress that Muller had no problem putting out a press release saying that’s just not true. And we’re not going that that way. Well, he could have told us that it wasn’t true that Donald Trump was a pro Kremlin trader too. But he didn’t he let people continue to speculate about that and to believe that for another two years, which seems to me to be part of the conspiracy, just as much as sending Miss foot to try to get Papadopoulos to repeat something back into an open mic in this entrapment in the first place, you know, open mic, proverbially speaking you understand.
Unknown Speaker 18:44
Yeah, you know, and trap that has become, in a way a major tactic after 911 the FBI used constantly used entrapments in order to you know, show the public that they were doing so thing they were making progress and preventing terrorism. Meanwhile the real terrorist acts they had no clue about ever, you know, because things get lost in the in the in the mix the haystack you know all the stuff they’re collecting on people and going after but then the real ones would get lost. But this fools and of course our media is easily fooled. So they started they they really gravitated to the use of entrapment as a main weapon, and no one has there’s been a couple of books written about it, but that’s never really been shot down. entrapment. I’ve argued it over and over and people just cannot understand how if you can get someone to do something, but they never would have done it had you not coerce them or subtly pressured them etc. They don’t understand that that’s, you know that this this is wrong. We can it’s easy actually to get people to commit crimes especially When they’re the weaker and you put in a con artist or somebody like you said miffed said or some of these people, and you put them in there, and they’re trying to use their, their, you know, even sometimes it’s subtle pressures. It’s not like you’re twisting their arms but you you’re subtly pressuring. It’s still wrong. It’s still wrong because what are you doing? You’re creating crime, you’re supposed to be the ones who are working against it. And you know, in the history of the FBI, things like operating whitey Bolger, who’s killing, I mean, there were agents, and not just a few most people now believe it was a few rogue apples. You know what, it really wasn’t just a few rogue apples, the worst were the rogue apples. But then all these other people knew it was going on. And the whole of the FBI no one ever said Is it wrong to operate the top echelon organized criminals? I mean, I thought to myself, I mean, wow, that’s kind of like Why are we operating the top echelon of the crime structure? Does that make much sense for the FBI to be doing that just as a policy, and no one ever spoke against that policy? In fact, they praise the people who got the top echelon informants, and not until whitey Bolger? Did they really have a way of saying, Hey, here’s the problem here. You got the FBI now, who was who was helping commit murders and covering up murders and putting people in prison who weren’t the murderers, you know, that were framed, etc, etc. By the way, Robert Moeller might have had a role in that to framing the innocent people for whitey bolger’s murders. It’s it’s incredible that people like that, that otherwise good people and I know this sounds real naive, but it’s, I think, from what I’ve always witnessed, it’s true. Otherwise good people, when they fall into this paradigm of believing the ends justify the means. You know, you heard official say, you know, we can’t follow the constitution anymore. John you with his Oh yeah, now we can torture you know anything up to organ failure. You see people thinking that the that they don’t have to follow the old rules anymore because they have such a noble goal and it’s it’s a lot of its superiority but when you break down the rules, those rules existed for a reason. And the main reason is that, you know, they try to maintain a standard that will produce the best results overall. And so not torturing people produces the best results, you get the best information blah, blah, blah. And then you get your people afterwards you know, falling into this trap of saying we can’t follow the gold standards that we used to and line by the way you hear pompeyo say this now? Oh yeah, we were taught taught at West Point. Not too cheat or lie, or steal, cheat or lie and guess what I do in the CIA? Haha, that’s all we do every day is lie, steal and cheat to steal. And that’s that mentality, I would say maybe to a lesser extent maybe pompeyo is one of the worst here at least he’s open openly admitting it. But you know, most people fall into that if they think the green light is on and that their goal is so noble. They go against everything that they learned in Sunday school, and you know, that we learned in the FBI Academy and that you learned at it all these different prior stages of life that you thought were golden rules. And then you get into this situation where your bosses are saying, Hey, you got to do this because you know, the gloves are off and now we got to do this. And I think even salt Like I said, I think judge Sullivan has kind of fallen into this a little bit because he’s he’s You know, Ben, he’s read so much about how bad Flynn is, you know, Flynn has accused
Scott Horton 24:05
him of treason right at the sentencing before. Yeah. And then had to apologize and walk that back that actually yeah, that’s not one of the charges. Yeah, really.
Coleen Rowley 24:15
You know, I think Muller was trying actually to help his buddies to some extent, you know, they, you know, call me call me and Moeller, we’re close. And even Brennan and clapper. These people all work together. If you can think about how a whistleblower one of the worst things for a whistleblower is that if they do discover some wrongdoing, they know that they’re gonna be going against people that they work closely with. And you know, and everybody’s gonna hate them, even if it has nothing to do with their friends. Their friends are still gonna hate them afterwards for telling the truth about something. Yeah.
Scott Horton 24:51
It’s so remarkable though that you know, and I do see what you mean about them convincing themselves that there’s something to this enough to continue looking at or whatever there must have been some of that. And yet, you’re talking about spying on a major party presidential candidate. You’re talking about essentially, in trapping of fellow traveler like a no by this guy Papadopoulos didn’t have any real stature and then when that didn’t work, pretending to believe the steel dossier is reporting about page when the steel dossier says that the Russians promised page, a 19% ownership stake in Rosneft, the Russian oil company if only he would seize control of America’s sanctions policy toward Russia and fix it for him. Oh, yeah, sure. That is the least plausible lie in the world. I knew the moment I first laid eyes on the steel dossier. That that was obviously a blatant ridiculous couldn’t possibly be true lie, and therefore the FBI must have agreed with me about that. They were just pretending to think that it was true in order to use it as a pretext to spy on page Therefore by hops, the rest of the campaign and not that I’m would justify it this way or anything, but we’re not talking about spying on Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, who didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell, no matter what we’re talking about the republican party’s nominee for president united states, who, on a regular day has a 5050 shot at being the next president, and for them to decide that they could do this and launch this investigation against him. And his team in that way is just absolutely amazing. And you know, I don’t know I hear you like if maybe part of them really thought that maybe there was a possibility there was something to this Russia stuff still enough to it to justify taking on a presidential candidate and then a president elect and then a newly sworn in precedent in the way that they did his just something for the history books for sure. You know, it’s really something else.
Coleen Rowley 26:58
I think Totally agree with you. I cannot believe how anyone could have read that dossier and have thought it was valid and not have asked questions. They didn’t even ask questions. They didn’t even question him after they realized he had lied and gone to the media.
Scott Horton 27:16
I mean, he had set up a spreadsheet I’m not sure on the date on this right but they said they’d set up this spreadsheet that detailed all of the different assertions of fact in there and then they had quickly debunked all of it like a good cop might if he tried
Coleen Rowley 27:31
Yeah, it’s it’s that’s really so unexcusable, but I’m gonna offer a couple of more devil’s advocate explanations for how egregiously bad this was
Scott Horton 27:43
or you know the devil better than I do. So go ahead.
Coleen Rowley 27:47
And one is Peter Principle. You know, people don’t like to know Peter Principle the majority of people when you say, the explanation is that this person is like Ted and Mary Tyler Moore. Or, you know, Bernie fights, they’re in positions of five or six levels beyond their competency, and why? Well, they had interpersonal skills. They were well liked all different reasons, but has nothing to do with their competency. And in fact, a lot of these big organizations actually want the competent people at the bottom. Yeah, I’ve seen this over and over in the FBI. I read the book Peters principal way back in college, I think. And then later on in the FBI, I thought, well, why is that guy in the FBI lab, who has degrees in chemistry and physics said, you know, advanced degrees, why is he the lab examiner, and his supervisor barely knows a little smidgen of biology. I mean, you saw this over and over. People were that couldn’t even speak the language were the ones that were supposed to be listening. I mean, I saw this over and over, and meanwhile the people that rose up to the top People like McCabe, they tend to have, you know, almost I hate to say this, but it’s psychopathic talents. They’re, they’re articulate, they know how to be convincing. They’re very ambitious. These are all kind of goes hand in glove with psychopathic traits, if you ever read the book wisdom of psychopathy, so those are the people who rise up but they are not necessarily competent in their job skills. And so that’s another explanation for this. There is a lot of Peter Principle, lots and lots of Peter Principle all through government, of course in and elsewhere. And then I think the the other thing is, is just that like what I said about going along once you have a green light, and you think your bosses have told you it’s okay to do these things. And you know, in the highest levels here, people like Brennan and clapper and Hayden and all these former directors, it’ll be Interesting to see, because someone asked me yesterday about the Durham investigation and how high level it would possibly go. And, you know, obviously the highest level it can possibly go would be, you know, to get people like Brennan and clapper and they did a lot of I’m sure some or all of them did some that were responsible for some of those illegal leaks just says call me, you know, was doing but I think at the very least they were responsible for that and probably more. But the question will be will Durham actually hold any of them accountable? He did punt on the CIA torture. So he has a pretty lame track record for going after officials on things. And at this point, like you said, it is it’s a really a large, it’s a whole party. It’s the democrat party leaders. It’s also a lot of these former agency directors and they Get kind of giving a green light into people on lower levels. And of course, the people on the lower levels just kind of say, Wow, they’re they’re saying it’s that dangerous right now I have got to do what I have to do. And so line obviously, becomes normalized. And, and this has happened, of course in the country on so many levels. You know, people constantly pointed Trump now about his double talking stuff. But, you know, Trump is just a symptom of a far greater disease here. There’s so much disinformation on the media part and whatever. You see it happening with Coronavirus where people are saying one thing one day and then turning around the next day and saying the opposite. And I think people are realizing that you know, what is truth they kind of almost get very cynical that there is no such thing as truth. Because you know, there’s so much line it’s so pernicious, and it’s so so rampant. So those are my my flimsy, flimsy excuses. is for how this could have happened. And I think the only remaining question is, will any of it potentially get fixed? Will there be any accountability? You know, I think if Flynn is finally exonerated on this, he will probably then he will probably go a long ways, you know, trying to remedy this and maybe some of the senators in Republican senators especially maybe maybe they will take it up. There is a chance there seems to be a chance now to fix the Pfizer. I’m not real optimistic that they will really fix the Pfizer process because the secrecy I was going to say that was one of the other main things here, Scott, you have to understand that when you think what you are doing will never come out and it will always be secret. The the doors open up to wrongdoing. When you No on the other hand that someone can Freedom of Information and find out what you did even if it’s a couple years from now, or, or even 10 years from now, people are going to be much more careful, accurate and cautious etc. You see the same thing with the police shootings until the cameras were rolling and now that the cameras are rolling, and there are starting to be a little bit of accountability for some of these seriously egregious you know, use of abuse of firepower by the police or chokeholds, etc. Now that the cameras are rolling, guess what? Everyone is going to be a lot more careful. What what happened here a few days ago in Minneapolis has happened repeat before the cameras before the police had cameras before people had their cell phone, phone, cameras rolling. It was happening all the time. It’s just that there was no way to prove it. And you had Very little accountability. So the good news is transparency and accountability, even though initially, it really shocks you. But that’s the answer. And with the five step process that has to be a part of the fix, if they merely say, oh, we’re going to have a devil’s advocate type advocates come in and will brief them and they can argue on the side of whoever the person being targeted is. That’s not going to work. In my opinion, that would be a very meager, very meager thing. What they have to do is inject a way for a secret Pfizer application to eventually as happened in the Carter page case, to eventually become public, and not tell the people doing it that this will all be covered up for the rest of your life. No matter what you do before a fight the court no matter what advice a judge authorizes, you know, to be honest, the Pfizer Judges judge themselves signed on these things are to blame to they should have asked a lot more questions.
Scott Horton 35:05
Well, and FISA is a criminal statute, right, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. And so these guys who lied to the FISA court in order to get their FISA warrant, like for example, comi, and his people at DOJ, in the Flynn in the page case, they should be going to prison for what they’ve done not just for their illegal leaks, but for manipulating, essentially unlawfully using the FISA court against a political opponent. That’s right. I mean, that’s all was written to prevent right in the wake of Jackson and all this stuff.
Coleen Rowley 35:39
In all the thousands of cases of FISA, applications that turned out to be wrong. And there were there were probably hundreds, if not thousands, that turned out to be as you know, almost I would say as wrong is the Carter page when that’s terrible and because of his position in the campaign and trying to use it To go after other people in the campaign, but in all just average cases, there are lots and lots of mistakes. What What was the situation before the Carter page is that they would never, ever see the light of day. And if they’re never see the light of day, the only thing that an agent could fear would be that a supervisor or an inspector, eventually might, they had this IPR. What’s it called? office? I can’t remember if there’s an office, where if there was something like this internally, they would refer it up to that office, and then they would inspect it and they would, then yes, they could maybe hurt a person’s career a little bit internally. So there were things that they could do to the agent, but nothing like putting the pert No, he never thought they could go to jail for for making for saying wrong things to a feisty judge. And so this this has changed things. Now the Carter page, the whole the whole Russia gate fiasco has it has changed everything. Now whether the officials will be able to overcome that and continue business as usual, because even Bar Bar signed off on the renewal of the Patriot Act. Authorities. And you know, Rand Paul was saying, Hey, we have to fix FISA, this is the chance to fix fix the FISA process, but Barr was not on board. Barr actually signed off on this renewal. And now maybe because Trump has weighed in, but a lot will hinge on the next election. And I don’t know if it will be fixed or not, I’m not really that optimistic that it will really be fixed. The real fixed advice is you need to have a way to make it more like the criminal process where in fact because those deaths coloration because the affidavit is given to the court given to a defense attorney, they basically have the i’s dotted and the T’s crossed, there is very, very rarely a serious problem in requests for electronic surveillance that go to the regular District Court. They’re usually 100 pages long. They’re perfectly done. You know, one of my jobs in the FBI for 13 years as the legal counsel was to review these, these title three applications for surveillance of Americans under the under the criminal statute. And, you know, we we made sure that they were done very, very well. Not like in the, in the, in the Carter page case where they were written, you know, very quickly and we’re basically, you know, horrible. And you say, what’s the difference between the fight so the same, it’s a judge right, you’re going before a judge in both cases. Well, the difference is the agents believe in the face of and so does DOJ. And so does everybody involved. They believe it’s perpetually secret. And the difference is in the title three criminal case where you follow the Fourth Amendment. You know, if someone’s going to know about this, not right now, they’re not going to know about it. But in some time later, they’re going to know about it. And that changes everything that absolutely changes everything. That’s why the real fix is there to fix the problem. The process has to be a way. And I think I may have told you this story before. But I before I see, just after I retired, I was at a conference at a law conference in Washington DC national security law conference, and I think I was already retired. And I was going through the buffet line, and I happened to see be standing next to the gentleman counsel of the FBI, it was just a real quick since I was standing next to her I can’t remember her name. Now. She was kind of a really bad too. She went along with all of this post 911 stuff. And I said to her, you know, there’s 100 page Law Review, that if you had the process, and you told the judge, I don’t need perpetual secrecy, but please just give us five years, five years of secrecy until we can investigate this terrorist enterprise. And at the end of the five years, if we still need more secrecy, we’ll come back and ask for an extension. And maybe you could even if it was a really big, horrible terrorist, or if it was espionage, you could even ask for longer times. I said, if that was the case, you would have the agents really being more careful and cautious automatically, it would turn into much more like the like the criminal process. You know what this general counsel in the FBI said to me at the time, Coleen, that would be a real nuisance. We’d have to keep track of the time of the of the court orders and the time. That was her excuse that would be a real nuisance. And so that’s the mentality if you don’t have to do something, even though there’s a perfect fix to this really bad slicer process, they won’t even entertain the the idea, a suggestion from somebody that would make more that would make sense
Scott Horton 41:33
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Again, sounds like typical bureaucratic incentives and politics and everything like that. No different than we’d expect. You know, I used to. I spoke to him for a long time but I used to speak occasion with Frederick Whitehurst who was the whistleblower from the FBI crime lab. And I guess, I think this was off the air. I was just talking with him, and was asking him about September 11. And, or maybe even on Oklahoma City, because he had been a whistleblower on Oklahoma City. And, and I was asking him about, you know, why they didn’t follow all the leads to the Nazis who were involved in the plot with McVeigh and all that. They were all FBI informants. You understand how it goes. But anyway, he said to me something like listen, if a regular beat FBI agent, goes to his supervisor, and says, Hey, check it out. I found out all this stuff, and I got all these leads, and I want to follow them that, you know, the average American might expect that the supervisor would say, great job Jenkins, get back out there and tell me what you find. But instead that even if it really is good work, and even if for whatever political reasons, the supervisor decides that yes, they should continue to pursue these angles, they’re probably going to turn it over to another cop, instead of letting the guy who was on the right track in the first place, continue doing what he’s doing. And just because essentially, like some sitcom or whatever, like the Peter Principle or whatever kind of thing, that you could just always expect them to do the wrong thing. You could never expect them to do what any regular Joe would assume that they would do, which is say, Good job Jenkins, get back out there and and finish it up. And that it just doesn’t work that way. It never does. And so that’s why everything is screwed up is because it has to be.
Coleen Rowley 44:35
Yeah, and you know, Frederick core Whitehurst would probably be the first to agree with me about the Peter Principle. He’s actually the example I was mentioning, you know, he’s a perfect example being far more competent, and at the lower levels and then have people that are your your supervisor, and your supervisor, supervisor and the directors and literally not have any clue about anything. But cronyism a what I actually knew a case in in New York City where it was a black female agent who had been a, I think she’d been a forensic coroner or something. She was very, very competent. She worked a whole case of a killing of a, of a Joint Terrorism Task Force officer, she got the guys it was already to go to trial. And they took the case away from her and gave it to a white friend of the supervisor. So and and by the way, that guy rose up I want to say to become assistant director, the guy that they gave a case to back when he was just a GS 13 agent. He got a case handed to him because he was buddies with the supervisor at the time and he rose up to be like an assistant director, maybe even Acting Director, incorrect, but that’s that’s that is how this Peter Principle works. And it does explain a lot. But people don’t like to know that because it really does. It’s it’s a scam. Your proposition in some ways that this kind of incompetence and cronyism and and you know, kind of a corruption a form of corruption infects our, our institutions and our structures so badly that it’s actually scarier than believing that there’s like evil, you know, like like our our movies will show some evil character who’s smart or evil genius, we’d almost prefer to believe that there’s an evil genius than there are than this Peter Principle. And I’ve seen this over and over, but it’s a problem. And yes, Peter principals guess what they do? They have huge ego defenses because by and large, they have very they don’t have the confidence they don’t actually they actually lack self confidence when when push comes to shove and so they’re nothing but ego defense. So they lie all the time. And that’s how they got ahead. They they you know, I even politicians They’re like this kind of in a way they, they’re always saying things that they think people want to hear instead of the truth.
Scott Horton 47:08
Yep. I was just having this conversation with another friend this morning about the studies that come out every few years or so that say, surprisingly, and coincidentally and interestingly, psychopaths and politicians share many of the same characteristics, which is just another way of saying politicians are psychopaths, you know, they probably usually are, you know, born to a better educated family. And so instead of going to the penitentiary, into the penitentiary, they go into politics or become a cop themselves, and put other people in the pin. And then they get to, you know, act with license to do whatever they want to other people and get away with it.
Coleen Rowley 47:53
I have a whole PowerPoint on on site, psychopathy and propaganda, and it’s basically This book, which I highly recommend, it’s maybe 10 years old now called the wisdom of psychopaths by Kevin Dutton. And it’s got charts in there. It’s not just politicians, all leaders, all leaders will possess psychopathic talents. It’s not that they’re bad things. We think of psychopaths, we think of serial killers, of course, well, that’s that’s only a fraction of 1% of all psychopaths, right? And
Scott Horton 48:28
I got a really nice email from a psychopath who said, Listen, I don’t care about anyone except myself, my own people, but I would never hurt anyone. Thank you very much. Like he’s kind of offended that I was conflating that term with someone who would actually do something bad to someone when that’s really not the same thing as it.
Coleen Rowley 48:45
That’s right. It’s a there’s a subset of psychopaths who are serial killers who actually get their only joy in life is you know, torturing somebody to death, etc. So that’s a very small subset. Most people with these tests Are are courageous, they are very persevering. They are very focused we think of focus, for instance, in persevering, even never giving up keep trying whatever we think of those as positive leadership traits. And in fact they are psychopathic traits. Most normal people will give up they will say hey, I tried this once or twice i’m i’m going to give up I psychopath keeps trying. And so the in the personal ambition, we think of that, you know, ambition is considered to be a positive trait. So but you know, when it goes too far, you know, a little bit of these things you will be you could become a surgeon and focus, there’s all kinds of professions that people with some of those traits end up in, including political leadership. But when you possess that gamut, you have to understand that those are those are the traits and that’s just the way civilization and you know, so Since the beginning of all time, this is the way human civilization has always been structured, equally problematic, besides the leader is the the groupies, the followers. And you see this very clearly with the Russia gate. And Rachel Maddow. So you know, switching over from writing a book about peace now to be in one of our main warmongers, you know, having Brennan on every other day and, you know, you see in all of her followers that you thought, you know, they thought they had principles, whatever, no, they all switch over. And that’s because people are very emotionally vulnerable. One thing a psychopath doesn’t have, they do not have emotional vulnerability, but most people do. And they in most people think of it as a good thing, oh, I’m empathetic, I have empathy I’m that’s a good thing. Well, actually no, in excess of empathy, which two thirds of all people have is emotional vulnerability, and it leads them to be very, very vulnerable and susceptible. To charlatan people that are no skate using fear and hate and scapegoating, because they’re manipulating those people. And that’s what again, this is the the history of the world is this. I think there, there’s probably very little we can do about it. There’s, there’s maybe some things we can do about it. But there’s not we can’t change it overnight. But what we can do is be aware of this right now, if we’re aware of it, that goes a long ways to, to, you know, trying to tell people Hey, you know, facts matter, not your not your emotions. Yeah. And
Scott Horton 51:39
yeah, right. And if you’re going to be emotional about it, mistrust and distrust, the burden of proof is on them, especially after everything that they’ve said this whole time has been wrong and so destructive. There’s just how could anyone have believed Russia gate after Syria? And how could anyone I believed in all the propaganda about Syria after Iraq, and etc, etc, all the way back? Because at some point we should be good and inoculated against these narratives. You know,
Unknown Speaker 52:05
it’s, it’s, I never cease to be amazed that people who I thought had minds. Yet when their leader or someone they know and trust tells them something it can it can be as silly as that like you mentioned in the steel dossier. It could be that Syria is Assad is using chemical weapons I mean, I saw a good piece activists here that fell for every bit of that simply because their leaders were telling them that in the same thing with Rachel Maddow and the Russia gate, and it’s it’s a it’s either as a way to to, again, I think if you understand what’s going on, maybe there’s a way we can deal with it. By the way, if you ever get on if you ever get a request for a talk on this. I have a PowerPoint on this on this issue on psychopathy. And so you know, I’d love to go and talk more about it because I think if more people understood it, I think we’d we’d have a better chance of dealing with it as well.
Scott Horton 53:13
Well, how about writing an article about it for the libertarian Institute?
Coleen Rowley 53:17
Well, you know, maybe I’ll, I’ll look at my PowerPoint again. I don’t know I i we take care of our grandchildren now during the corona virus. So I’m homeschooling. And you know, at the end of the day, I’m gonna like oh my gosh, I’m like worn out and I haven’t I wrote the the Flynn article is like the first article I’ve written in some time, but I’ll think about it and maybe maybe we could, we could co write one. That would be good too. But getting back to J. Edgar Hoover. I don’t think anybody wants to go back to the time of J. Edgar Hoover. If the situation right now if people do not put some hard thought into what has happened and how this is a perfect example of how this is really all of the things when they, you know, reduce the standards after 911. It’s a perfect example of of what it has led to, and how it needs to be fixed right now. Otherwise, we go back to a frank church being monitored by the NSA are our senators and everybody else. And here we are. We’ve seen it already happen. And I think that we’re on the verge of of on one of two ways we can try to fix it now. Or we can just continue on into this. You know, the Empire rotting from the inside.
Scott Horton 54:36
Yep. All right, you guys. That is the great Coleen Rowley. Writing again at consortium news.com. This one is called Ghost of J. Edgar haunts Flynn investigation. Thanks so much for time calling. great to talk to you.
Coleen Rowley 54:49
Yeah, thank you.
Scott Horton 54:51
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