Editor’s note: In the aftermath of the release of a memo by the House Intelligence Committee chairman alleging misuse by the FBI of its surveillance powers, the Daily Sun asked a group of engaged citizens – none is an elected official or a declared candidate – to answer a set of questions. Following are their responses:
#1 How seriously should the contents of the Nunes FBI memo be taken?
Donald Young: Should be taken very seriously. It showed that there were forces within the FBI and DOJ that opposed the presidency of Donald J. Trump. And these forces were willing to use what turned out to be an unsubstantiated report to spy on a U.S. citizen.
Carl Taylor: Nunes had already shown his bias, both by his participation in Trump's campaign, as well as the "private briefing" on the work of the Oversight Committee a few months ago. He is a tainted source and nothing that he produces will have any credibility. In addition, the blocking of the minority memo makes clear that this is a political move intended to take the Russian heat off Trump.
David Howe: Very seriously. It charges serious FBI violations of the FISA in the process of obtaining a surveillance warrant on an American citizen. They must either be disproven or acted upon.
Ann Heitland: We should take seriously that a congressional committee chair would put together a false (by omission and commission) document to mislead the American people and attempt to undermine a criminal investigation.
Joy Staveley: The Nunes memo should be taken seriously because it exposed the fact that the FBI did not disclose that The DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign had financed the source of the memo. This serious omission damaged the trust between the FISA Court and the FBI. It appears the government misled the Court and that looks like fraud to me. The memo itself appears to be groundless, and from what I can gather, was based on a lot of circular news reports that were never substantiated.
Harriet Young: It’s largely a diversion from the serious issues facing the Congress of writing legislation. I see it as a fog behind which the Speaker and the Majority Leader write their legislation without benefit of scrutiny. Immigration, infrastructure, stock market regulation all are on the table and there is no public debate on these things.
Dick Monroe: The Democratic response that the Trump dossier was just one small piece of evidence in getting FISA warrant is like saying a Great Dane was an insignificant member of a Chihuahua pack. Every American should be concerned about the danger of politically motivated, selective spying.
#2 How does the polarization of the committee affect your trust in the work of the committee?
D. Young: The polarization in the committee is typical of what is seen throughout the government and makes me distrustful of the entire government. Members of both parties play to their base in order to get reelected and to hell with what is good for the nation. Personally, I blame the Democrats more because of, to use as an example, their support of illegal immigration and their unwillingness to work with the President on his immigration plan which, by the way, is more inclusive than what the Democrats have proposed.
Taylor: The committee has lost sight of the meaning of both oversight and also confidentiality. National security is an area that should transcend politics - but this committee is so fragmented that its actions are entirely marginalized.
Howe: It doesn't bother me. I simply don't believe much of what the Democrats say. I trust half the committee and distrust the other half.
Staveley: For too long politics has overshadowed truth and the welfare of the American people. Many have already lost trust in Congress as a whole. Nevertheless, I hope that ultimately the information coming out of the committee will piece together the truth. Truth, in a free society, is paramount!
H.Young: Public trust in government is at historic lows. With much of the real work kept secret, we risk a crisis at every level, especially Congress.
Monroe: The committee has been a tug of war from the beginning pitting Democrat Hillary supporters against a spectrum of Republicans. Only the leaks and their frequency will change.
#3 Has this memo affected or changed your views of the FBI?
D. Young: Not of the FBI in general, but the Nunes memo points out that there were certain members of the FBI and DOJ opposed to the potential of the Trump presidency and were willing to work against Trump. Combining this with the past IRS actions against certain conservative organizations, we see the government using its powers against U.S. citizens. Very, very scary.
Taylor: If anything, this clear effort to undermine the integrity of the FBI has increased my trust in that agency and diminished that in the Republican-led Congress.
Howe: My opinion of FBI leadership has dropped. I naively thought they were dedicated to finding the truth in all cases, which appears to be wrong. My opinion of the field agents hasn't changed at all. Like most agencies, most of them are trying to do their best job.
Staveley: This would not be the first time the FBI has come under attack for inappropriate behavior. Recall the period under J. Edgar Hoover and the findings of the Senator Frank Church committee. The FBI is made up of humans, Humans are fallible. I would never trust any agency 100%. This memo only confirms that there are bad players in the FBI (as there are in all agencies). That is why the checks and balances of Congress and the Courts are so important. Those who did behave inappropriately should be held accountable.
H.Young: If no one is examining the actual hacking by the Russians, then none of this will matter. The crime is treason if the Russians affected our elections via media manipulation. A democracy must have reputable, honest information for a voting public to make a reasonable decision. Else the voting is a false reflection of false information.
Monroe: Top and second-tier FBI are suspect since they want to protect their jobs. Rank and file hopefully will come clean on the outcomes the bosses wanted.
#4 What is the best outcome you see at this point from the committee?
D. Young: The appointment of another special counsel to look into the Clintons’ support of the document that caused the appointment of the current special counsel, Robert Mueller. We need to know exactly what information was given to the FISA court in the first and subsequent requests for permission to spy on U.S. citizens.
Taylor: At the very least, a new and impartial chairperson should be found. Barring that, the committee should be disbanded.
Howe: AG Sessions could resign, Trey Gowdy could be confirmed as AG, and the Justice Department could clean house at the top for itself and for the FBI.
Heitland: For Nunes to be censored by the full House and removed as committee chair. For a joint (bipartisan) report to be written with recommendations to prevent future foreign inference in our elections, such as securing voting machines and combating social media intrusions.
Staveley: The best outcome from the Committee would be exposing the facts to the American people so we know what really happened. I would like to see the Democrats' response to the Republican memo so that both sides are heard and evaluated.
H. Young: That we learn the truth about whether the Russians floated false stories in our media. The gerrymandering explains Trump’s victory more than crazy media. Gerrymandering really works; not sure Facebook is as effective.
Monroe: Best outcome: Timeline of chain of events leading to FISA warrant, key evidence and any communication between top Obama administration officials and FBI & DOJ.