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Step Away From the Sharpie

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Eric Felten

May 16 2018

Senator Ron Johnson is unhappy about the amount of redactions appearing in documents sent to Congress by the FBI, and he’s doing something about it.

We’ll know by the end of next week whether the FBI is in any mood to allow greater transparency, and much needed transparency at that.

The congressional committees conducting investigations involving the bureau—whether it involves the Russia question or the probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails—have found themselves flummoxed time and again by what I have called the “Sharpie-pen brigade.” Congress compels the FBI to release important documents, and then the bureau’s redactors render them meaningless. They even, perhaps out of sheer orneriness, perhaps out of incompetence, often black out information that has already been published in major newspapers.

When the House Intelligence Committee majority released its Russia report last month, it suffered mightily at the censor’s heavy hand. And now, as of late last week, the Senate Homeland Security Committee has released hundreds of pages of texts between chatty FBI pals Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, related to their conduct while working on the FBI’s Russia investigation . National Review’s Andrew McCarthy has given a capable review of the extensive redactions, complete with tantalizing hints at what might be under the cover of all those word-obscuring black blocks.


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