, 19 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
There are a couple of things gnawing at me about my Fri nt thread on the NYT’s FBI counterintelligence investigation.

In my breathless stream o’ consciousness, I closed with a few tweets about Obama signing an Executive Order that “supercharged” the FBI’s investigation.

The thread has gone a bit viral and has been blowing up my notifications.

Among the feedback, there was some strong criticism/outright rejection of the Obama EO parts by people who are expert in nat. security, the NSA, etc.

I take that criticism very seriously.

The main thrust of the criticisms were:

1) The revised guidelines Obama signed had been in discussion for years

2) The executive order was not hastily written

3) It was not written or signed because of Trump or to specifically empower an investigation into him.

And one authority on intelligence law and policy further added:

4) The EO didn’t change what intel the FBI could obtain from the NSA

5) The FBI’s investigation would have been conducted the same way without it.

That authority went on to essentially suggest I’m a dope who doesn’t know WTF I’m talking about and who isn’t an authority to listen to or trust.

Those weigh on me heavily - especially since a bunch of people have suddenly followed me from that thread.

So, first let me do some pointed clarifying of fact versus dramatic storytelling.

1) It is indeed correct that the changes to EO 12333 were a long time in coming.

They weren’t hastily written.

They were merely signed by Obama on his way out the door.

2) The EO was not specifically written for any political purpose let alone an agenda related to Trump.

The changes were overdue for other reasons.

That seems to be commonly accepted as true.

3) The revisions do not offer the FBI unlimited and unrestricted access to, and usage of, raw intelligence.

4) The late signing is interesting timing but not knowably more meaningful than just that. Interesting.

The 4th and 5th points above are somewhat up for debate.

Civil libertarians largely disagree with the blanket assertion that expanded access to unfiltered intel has no impact on process or product.

After all, one stated goal of the revisions was to put more eyes on intel.

There are also some downstream effects of the changes that some argue expand the FBI’s ability to suss out crimes and support prosecution.

So, did the EO boost the FBI’s investigative horsepower?

Depends on who you ask.

Which brings us around to the meatiest question:

Am I, in fact, a clueless dope?

Sometimes, absolutely.

I can be remarkably dumb about a remarkable array of things.

When the expert on nat. sec. law said people should think about who they deem an expert (since I’m clearly not one) they were absolutely right.

We should question “authority”.

We should vet the factual basis for people’s assertions.

Especially mine.

One thing I’ve learned from my accidental road trip to having an audience on Twitter is that “authority bias” is a real thing.

It is a real cognitive bias.

People add weight to facts and opinions based on who is offering them.

That’s bad.

Even worse, people readily buy into narratives that confirm what they already believe (or want to be true)... and they “apperceive” things that aren’t said.

They think they heard what they expected to hear - rather than what was said.

So whereas, I thought my comments about Obama’s late EO did no more than pointed out that his last act juiced the FBI’s access to intel and Obama would know that... others took it as if I had suggested he rode in on a horse named “Justice” and penned an anti-Trump act.

So let’s all be very clear here. He did not.

It is neither accurate nor helpful to perpetuate that narrative (fun though it may be).

He signed an EO long in the making. It’s impact on a Trump investigation, if any, was incidental.

And let’s also agree that I can indeed be an idiot and can indeed be quite wrong and should indeed be questioned, rebutted, argued with, taken with a grain of salt and, at times, disregarded entirely.

Facts have no weight. “Authority” makes them no more or less true.

So, if you’re new to my feed, welcome.

I aspire to be right, readily and publicly cop to it when I’m wrong, and think fact-based rebuttal is great.

I like the learning that comes from being proven wrong.

Lastly, I hate the way some big accounts on the left built audiences through breathless, sensationalized, fact-free posts.

I was a bit dramatic in my storytelling on Fri in the heat of the moment.

I’ll be more careful and measured next time.

Call me on it when I fail.

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