The dishonesty of Sheldon Whitehouse

Regarding the memo on the "Steele dossier" released by the Republican-controlled House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), in the Washington Post, writes:

The FBI and the Justice Department have become targets of dirty tricks. The unfair charges are gutter politics: trashing American institutions to protect a president from the due course of the law[.] ...

The memo from Nunes (R-Calif.) uses the same ['smear'] technique in alleging abuses of power by the FBI in the Russia investigation.  Specifically, the memo accuses the FBI of misleading the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court in applying for surveillance warrants[.] ... The FISA court approval process is shrouded in secrecy, and for good reason: Our intelligence services need to carefully protect their sources and their methods.

Our intelligence services need to protect their sources and methods when employed in the legitimate use of their powers, but what if those powers are abused?  

FISA court applications and approvals may contain information about both.

Note that Whitehouse does not say the House Intelligence memo actually "contained such information," but only that it "may" have done so.  Whitehouse is talking in generalities but is not necessarily saying that they apply to the specific facts of the memo.

Releasing FISA-related information, as the Intelligence Committee Republicans have done, threatens serious damage to our intelligence collection and endangers national security.

Whitehouse fails to provide any specific examples that actually do that.  Again, he speaks only in generalities, without providing support.

So let's try to help the senator out.  Here, from National Review's Andrew McCarthy, are some specifics:

The memo states that the Obama administration concealed from the court that the dossier was commissioned and paid for by the political campaign of Donald Trump's Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Hmm.  The "source" is actually the candidate of the Democratic Party for the presidency of the United States.  Why should that source be protected?  In case some political candidate wishes to use the FBI again?

The dossier was a compilation of Steele's reports, based on anonymous Russian sources.  His informants provided information based on accounts that were multiple levels of hearsay removed from the events they purported to describe.

Moreover, despite presenting dossier information as probable cause on four separate occasions – for the initial FISA warrant in October 2016, and three times in the ensuing months – the FBI failed to verify the dossier's explosive allegations and failed to inform the court [emphasis added] that its efforts to corroborate the allegations had been unavailing.

In a later article, McCarthy puts these points in perspective:

A judge would need to know whether Steele's sources were reliable[.] ...

This is not esoterica.  In the investigations biz, this is so basic that to call it 'Warrants 101' doesn't do it justice.  If you don't have witnesses with verifiable, first-hand knowledge, you don't have anything.

So, the FBI didn't have anything – zero, nada, zip – but it repeatedly renewed the warrant anyway.  And this is the "methodology" we need to protect?  Again, in case Whitehouse's party regains control?

The scary thing is, at one point or another, it will.

Bert Peterson operates, and is author of Does Our Banner Yet Wave?: The NFL Protests, Donald Trump and the Demand of Democracy.