Thursday, April 11, 2019

5 Things About Those Spygate Texts

Through Senator Ron Johnson's refreshing advocacy and some other surprising strokes of government transparency, the public has received ~8,000 texts between FBI employees Lisa Page and Peter Strzok to date.

Once you start digging into these texts and cross-referencing, you notice some interesting artifacts. No doubt due to the strange journey these documents have taken from the bowels of the J Edgar Hoover building to the public eye.

Here are five things I've noticed:

1) The texts were produced in many different editions and ways
What we have today is really a compilation of various productions of text messages.

About 90% of the texts we currently have come from a document Ron Johnson released in February 2018 and it was labeled "Appendix C".

That Appendix C document can be subdivided into three different parts:
  • Comey's statement exonerating Clinton and the edit process (pages 1 through 28),
  • The first batch of texts, provided to congress Dec 12, 2017 (pages 29 through 118) and 
  • The second batch of texts, provided to congress Jan 19, 2018 (pages 119 through 502)

So the first part, the edit process of Comey's statement, does not contain texts so not relevant here. The "first batch of texts" mentioned above seems to be an early production because much of these texts (but not all) are replicated in other productions. The "second batch of texts" is the real meaty section. You can further subdivide this "second batch of texts" into five productions. You can tell these are separate because the page numbering restarts each time, plus there are formatting differences. They are:
  • Pages 119 through 160 (which corresponds to 8/21/2015-12/29/2015)
  • Pages 161 though 210 (which corresponds to 1/2/2016-3/31/2016)
  • Pages 211 through 284 (which corresponds to 4/1/2016-6/30/2016)
  • Pages 285 through  448 (which corresponds to 7/1/2016-12/1/2016)
  • Pages 449 through 502 (which corresponds to 11/30/2016-6/25/2017)

Then there is another batch of texts that were exclusively published by the Daily Caller in this article. This batch contains texts that don't appear anywhere else and are from the date range Dec 16, 2016 through May 23, 2017.

I put all these together in one place at so you can easily browse and search. A discussion of all the differences between the productions could fill a whole separate blog post.

2) Red text in some places
Some of the texts have red colored words.

Like here
 And here
And here
And here

There isn't a pattern obvious to me. It's never the whole text, just certain words, and the words themselves seem pretty innocuous. Also, they don't appear in every production. They pop up most frequently in the "Pages 211 through 284" production but also appear in the "Pages 285 through  448" production as seen here:
Which looks a bit different than the others, like it's been scanned.

It's possible reviewers used red text to indicate words that needed to be redacted. But then, why did these get turned red and not redacted? Just an oversight?

3) Different colored redactions
Two different colors of redactions appear in the document, a black and a medium gray. The gray color is used most prominently. However, the is a significant amount of black as well. There is not a discernible pattern of when each is used. If fact, both colors are sometimes used within the same text message, like here for example:

Possible these different colors represent different reviewers. Or different exemption statutes.

4) Time sent on same text different
You can see that the clips below show the same message, produced in two different versions.
Version 1

Version 2

Everything is the same except the time sent is different by eight seconds. There are more examples of time differences throughout, although I would approximate that it's less than 10% of texts. For the most part, times match between all the different versions.

5) One time is actually redacted
There is one text out of the entire 8,000 text database where the time the text was sent is redacted as well. In every other case, the content might be redacted but the date and time sent are not. This is the text:

Does it mean anything? Maybe, maybe not.

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