Open Letter to Senator Franken (also sent to Senators Warner & Klobuchar) Re: SSCI Investigation of Russian Interference

If one of the primary goals of Russian interference in our election was to undermine our faith in American democratic institutions, it must now be acknowledged that they have succeeded. While our intelligence services and the FBI decided for the American people that we were not entitled to know what had been done by a hostile foreign actor to compromise the election prior to November 8, we have at least been led to believe since then that this assault on our foundational democratic process was a matter of serious concern to those elected to represent us. It is glaringly clear that this is not the case.

It is now six months since election day. Officials in the administration, the intelligence communities, the FBI and in both houses of Congress have known about attempts by Russia, possibly with collusion of the Trump campaign, to alter the outcome of our election for many months more. Yet on April 2, the Financial Times reported that the FBI has ‘plans to create a special unit to coordinate Russia probe.’ Six months in and the FBI is just now creating a team to deal with what could be the biggest threat to our ongoing democracy in our lifetimes? We assumed this was happening all along. How could this be?

We watched the stunning ‘theater of the absurd’ that was the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence ‘probe’ under Devin Nunes (abetted by Speaker Ryan) over a month ago. It was blatantly obvious that this was a mortally compromised committee from the very first hearing, yet the charade continues.

With the FBI investigation apparently moving at a sloth-like pace and top DoJ officials involved in the investigation leaving (Mary McCord), it is clear that this investigation is not a priority for law enforcement–or that it is purposely being derailed for political reasons. The HPSCI has demonstrated–for all the world to see–that it is inadequate to the task of managing a fair and bipartisan investigation, ultimately calling into question—also for all the world to see–the value of our three-branch government and Constitutionally-mandated system of checks and balances. That leaves the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence—the oversight body we have been reassured by the media will take this task seriously and represent the American people.

How, then, to explain this, published tonight in the Daily Beast: “Senate Trump-Russia Probe Has No Full-Time Staff, No Key Witnesses.’ 

I cannot even describe to you the level of despair I felt reading this article. As someone who for nearly five decades has fully believed that our sometimes bumbling and messy democracy would always prevail in the end, this was as damning an indictment of our institutions and the systems set up to protect them as I have ever seen.

Senator Franken, what is going on? We are told to be patient. We are told that the tradeoff for a proper investigation is secrecy and we accept that this is so–with the understanding that our elected reps and law enforcement agencies are acting in good faith for the American people. Now we find out that the lack of transparency also serves another purpose. It keeps the American people from fully understanding the disinterest, neglect, and possible malfeasance of these agencies who are supposed to be acting on our behalf on this critical matter.

This is not politics as usual. People are confused, afraid and angry. Despair is setting in. I am sobbing as I write this letter. For the first time in my adult life I feel compelled to ask myself if our institutions truly are as corrupt and craven as the propaganda from a third-rate thug from a second-world economy would have us believe. Distrusting and disparaging our democracy is no longer on Russia. This is on us now. Either the system we have works, and it can and will address and remedy threats, or it is fatally flawed, unable even to perform in the face of something as blatantly dangerous to our national interest as a potential foreign threat. So which is it?

Justice delayed is justice denied. We need an independent investigation now. Short of this, we will have our very dismal answer about the health of American democracy.






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