By Deborah Bucknam
On March 9, 1954, Republican Vermont Sen. Ralph Flanders stood on the floor of the U.S. Senate to condemn fellow Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy on his claims that there were communists in the State Department. The Flanders speech was an immediate sensation, as Flanders’ courage to speak up against a member of his own party electrified the nation. Two months later, Flanders introduced a bill to censure Sen. McCarthy. It passed with bi-partisan support.
Congressman Peter Welch has taken up the mantle of Sen. Flanders. Welch stated in a VTDigger interview: “[Flanders] stood up and said no, this has got to end. The role I have to play is what Vermonters have always played. And that is to resist the encroachment of a single civil liberty of a single person at any moment at any time.”
Now is that moment in time, Congressman Welch. Congressman Adam Schiff deserves condemnation in the well of the House and a bill of censure.
Inspector General Horowitz has issued a 435-page report in which he outlines the massive Fourth Amendment violations against Carter Page by the U.S. Department of Justice. Congressman Adam Schiff, as a member of the House intelligence committee, had access at least two years ago to the information about FISA abuses outlined in Horowitz’s. report Despite that, Schiff, on March 24, 2018, publicly released a memo which gave an utterly false picture of the classified material to which he and IG Horowitz had access.
The purpose of Schiff’s memo was to counter then Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Devin Nunes’ report on FISA abuses. Schiff had claimed in a PBS Newshour interview that the Nunes memo was “directly misleading.” Schiff said his memo was going to set the record straight. Just the opposite happened. Schiff’s memo claimed “FBI and DOJ officials did not abuse the [FISA] process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.” IG Horowitz’s report gives lie to that statement. According to Horowitz, not only did the FBI and DOJ omit material information, but they even doctored a document to support the FISA application. Schiff’s memo said that the “DOJ made only narrow use of information from Steele’s sources” for use against Carter Page. False again. Horowitz said the Steele dossier “played an essential and central role” in the FISA application to spy on Carter Page.
The DOJ spying on Carter Page was applauded by Schiff in his March 24, 2018 memo, smearing Carter Page in the process by darkly hinting in true McCarthyite fashion, that Page was a Russian asset. These had real consequences for this innocent American citizen. Not only was every aspect of Page’s private life surveilled for a year, but Page stated in the Wall Street Journal, “I have faced threats to my life and have been forced to live like a fugitive. I still don’t feel safe enough to establish a fixed residence.”
If Congressman Welch claims to take up the mantle of Sen. Flanders, then he must stand in the well of the House, and condemn his Democrat colleague, Rep. Schiff, for Schiff’s repeated false statements about the FISA process, Carter Page, and Republican Devin Nunes. It will take the courage of Flanders to stand up against a member of his own party. We shall see if Rep. Welch lives up to the Flanders standard.
Deborah Bucknam is a St. Johnsbury-based attorney and former Republican candidate for state attorney general.