Archive for the ‘Intelligence community’ category

The Bin Laden Files Reveal Growing Terrorist Threat to U.S.

November 5, 2017

The Bin Laden Files Reveal Growing Terrorist Threat to U.S., PJ MediaMichael Ledeen, November 4, 2017

(Please see also, Did Obama Inc. Block Bin Laden Doc Release to Protect Iran Deal? — DM)

It seems clear that our picture of al-Qaeda has been erroneous in the past, and may still be. CIA director Mike Pompeo, whose critical views of Iran are beyond doubt, was not a forceful advocate of releasing the documents. The impetus seems to have come from the president’s office. In any event, we can hope that they will put an end to the very damaging notion that Sunnis and Shi’ites don’t work closely together.

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At long last, most of the files captured when U.S. Special Forces killed al-Qaeda’s leader in May 2011 have been released. Although bits and pieces have dribbled out, they should have been public long since.

The best short discussion of the files is in The Long War Journal, written by Bill Roggio and Tom Joscelyn, my colleagues at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. They, along with Stephen Hayes at The Weekly Standard, have long advocated the release of the archive.

The files are very important. They provide invaluable insight into the growing terrorist threat to the United States, document AQ operations well beyond the Middle East, and show remarkable patience in the use of media. Bin Laden is gone, but his blueprint for his organization’s long-term strategy remains active.

Why has the intelligence community been so reluctant to release the files? It took so long because a lot of the story they tell is at odds with the official narrative, according to which AQ had been gravely weakened, and bin Laden himself largely marginalized, by the time of the attack. Other files document the details of the oft-denied cooperation between AQ and the Tehran regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Still others document relations with Pakistan and with other governments and regimes in the region.

General Michael Flynn, whose DIA experts had access to the whole archive and had analyzed key parts of it, wrote in a best-selling book I co-authored (“The Field of Fight”) that

When (Obama) and his supporters were assuring the American people that al Qaeda was broken and on the run, we learned that their strength had roughly doubled.

Flynn wrote,

One letter to bin Laden reveals that al Qaeda was working on chemical and biological weapons in Iran.…Others speak of Mumbai-style attacks on European cities….The story of the bin Laden documents is just one of many…

That’s why another top American general has called the bin Laden files “the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever,” and why the suppression of the documents is so serious. It will take time for public debate to reveal the full significance of the archive, and some of it remains classified. This massive release will help, but we must not ignore the fact that the CIA did what it could to prevent an informed debate all along.

It seems clear that our picture of al-Qaeda has been erroneous in the past, and may still be. CIA director Mike Pompeo, whose critical views of Iran are beyond doubt, was not a forceful advocate of releasing the documents. The impetus seems to have come from the president’s office. In any event, we can hope that they will put an end to the very damaging notion that Sunnis and Shi’ites don’t work closely together.

Curiously, we were smarter when we knew less. In 1998, when the U.S. government indicted bin Laden and al-Qaeda for the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the indictment said

Al Qaeda forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group, Hezbollah, for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States.

Back then, it wasn’t hard for us to acknowledge that AQ Sunni bombers worked with Shi’te terrorists in Hezbollah and elsewhere in the Iranian regime. Then we got more sophisticated, to our misfortune. Let’s hope the bin Laden documents help our understanding, and eventually help shape a winning strategy.

Implausible Deniability

October 29, 2017

Implausible Deniability, American ThinkerClarice Feldman, October 29, 2017

The aftermath of the 2016 election has revealed the criminality of the Democrats, the perfidy of the Deep State, the corruption of the press, and the bought and paid for motives of the scribblers in the conservative pundit class. And Trump won despite all that. In many ways it reminds me of a Soviet operation called The Trust. If you missed Reilly — Ace of Spies, Edward Jay Epstein describes how the Soviets created a fake anti-Soviet group called The Trust and used it to nab dissidents plotting to overthrow the regime.

Fusion GPS’ dossier was a replay of a classic Soviet disinformation campaign.

“The Trust was not an anti-Soviet organization, it only imitated one.” In reality, he continued, the Trust was a creature of the Soviet secret police. Its purpose was not to overthrow Communism, but to manipulate real anti-communist organizations into misleading the West.

In much the same way, I believe, Russian agents working for the Clintons and the DNC through Fusion GPS and its hireling Christopher Steele provided fake information in a dossier which the FBI (headed by James Comey) and the Department of Justice (headed by Loretta Lynch ) used to craft an affidavit to obtain a FISA warrant authorizing electronic surveillance on people connected, however tangentially, to the Trump campaign. This, after previous such warrants had — and this is unusual — been turned down by the FISA court. Then-president Obama allowed the surveilled communications to be widely circulated throughout the government, so that the names of the targets caught up in the surveillance and their communications were thus widely available for leaking, and were leaked.

As Byron York noted in a series of tweets, here were some of the dossier’s sources:

1/6 — Looking at dossier itself, sure seems Kremlin-linked Russians were participating in anti-Trump effort…

2/6 — For example, dossier Source A is described as ‘senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure.’

3/6 — Dossier Source B is described as ‘former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin.’

4/6 — Dossier Source C is ‘senior Russian financial official.’

The Trust was funded by émigrés who believed it was legit. And the Russian anti-Trump phony dossier was, we now know, funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, which would have us believe that their lawyer Marc Elias, who received over $9 million for unspecified work, did this without their consent or knowledge.

(Fusion GPS was also funded during the nomination period — and before Fusion GPS and Steele were poking around Russia, by Washington Free Beacon, something that it — like Elias — admitted shortly before a likely court ruling that Fusion’s bank account information had to be provided to congressional investigators.) In any event, their work with Fusion GPS ended with the nomination of Trump. They had nothing to do with the hiring of Fusion GPS and the creation and distribution of the dossier.

The Washington Free Beacon is a right-of-center publication, and certainly has done some fine work in the past, but its links to the anti-Trump crowd of the right is unmistakable. The publication is largely funded by hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, who strongly supports gay rights and open borders. Among its original board members were Bill Kristol, and both the present editors, Michael Goldfarb (formerly deputy communications director for John McCain) and Matthew Continetti (Kristol’s son-in-law) both worked for the Weekly Standard while Kristol was its editor. Kristol, as you may recall, worked hard to promote others to run against Trump for the nomination. Singer financially supported Marco Rubio for the nomination. His aide, Dan Senor, was a senior advisor to vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan and reportedly retains strong ties to him.

I seriously doubt that any candidate Paul Singer would prefer could ever have won the general election. Singer strongly opposed both Ted Cruz and Trump.

The dossier was a means for the Russians at no cost the them to provide the Democrats with disinformation to be used against Trump.

Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist does the most thorough job of clearing the air on the dossier

Space and copyright limitations keep me from quoting more of it, but here are theten things about the dossier Hemingway thinks you should know:

 “1) Russian officials were sources of key claims in dossier”

“2) No, the Russian dossier was not initially funded by Republicans”

“3) The dossier is chock full of discredited information”

“4) The dossier was used as a basis for wiretaps on American citizens”

5) The FBI also paid for the dossier

…When Trump asked about the FBI payment, many political journalists feigned shock and outrage that he would make such a claim.

They should not have. Their outlets had already reported that the FBI had tried to pay for the dossier and had, in fact, reimbursed expenses for the dossier. We do not know if those expenses include the payments to the Russian officials for salacious stories on Republican nominee for president Trump.

6) Dossier publisher Fusion GPS works with shady outfits”

7) Fusion GPS’ ties to media are problematic

The principals at Fusion GPS are well-connected to mainstream media reporters. They are former journalists themselves, and know how to package stories and provide information to push narratives. They are, in fact, close friends with some of the top reporters who have covered the Russia-Trump collusion story.

Fusion GPS has placed stories with friendly reporters while fighting congressional investigators’ attempts to find out the group’s sources of funding. Fusion GPS leaders have taken the Fifth and fought subpoenas for information about the group’s involvement with Russia.

8) Jim Comey personally briefed Trump on the dossier, shortly before CNN reported it

What really got the ball rolling on last year’s Russia-Trump conspiracy theory, then, was not the dossier itself but the briefing of it by Obama intelligence chiefs to President-elect Trump in January. Former FBI head Jim Comey admitted under oath that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asked him to personally brief President Trump about this dossier. The fact of that meeting was quickly leaked to CNN.

Given the dossier’s many problems, was the entire purpose of the meeting to produce the leak that the meeting happened?

9) Mueller investigation spurred by dossier and illegal leaks from intelligence operatives about Trump.

We know from previous reporting that the dossier of Russia-supplied information or disinformation was used by the FBI to secure a warrant to spy on an American citizen advising an opposing political party’s presidential campaign. We know that this dossier was funded at least in part by the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the FBI. The firm that produced the report was itself funded by Russians.

10) The Steele dossier was a Clinton/DNC-funded operation supported by the FBI and influenced heavily by Russian operatives in the Kremlin The Clinton campaign, the DNC, and the FBI all worked wittingly or unwittingly with Russians to affect the results of the 2016 election. Far from just meeting with a Russian and not getting dirt on a political opponent, these groups wittingly or unwittingly paid Russian operatives for disinformation to harm Trump during the 2016 election and beyond.

Worse, these efforts perverted our justice system by forcing the attorney general to recuse himself for the crime of having served as a surrogate on the Trump campaign, spawning a massive, sprawling, limitless probe over Russia.[/quote]

Fusion GPS was also doing work directly for the Russians, which makes its claims doubly suspect:

You see, the Russian lawyer — often carelessly presented as a “Russian government lawyer” with “close ties to Putin” — Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump, [sic — actually it was Donald Trump, Jr.] also worked recently with a Washington, D.C. “commercial research and strategic intelligence firm” that is also believed to have lobbied against the Magnitsky Act. That firm, which also doubles as an opposition research shop, is called Fusion GPS—famous for producing the Russia dossier distributed under the byline of Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent for hire.[snip]

Yet at the same time that Fusion GPS was fueling a campaign warning against a vast Russia-Trump conspiracy to destroy the integrity of American elections, the company was also working with Russia to influence American policy — by removing the same sanctions that Trump was supposedly going to remove as his quid pro quo for Putin’s help in defeating Hillary.Yet it is rare to read stories about comms shops like Fusion GPS because traditional news organizations are reluctant to bite the hands that feed them. But they are the news behind the news—well known to every D.C. beat reporter as the sources who set the table and provide the sources for their big “scoops.” The ongoing transformation of foundering, profitless news organizations into dueling proxies for partisan comms operatives is bad news for American readers, and for our democracy. But it is having a particularly outsized effect on reporting in the area of foreign policy, where expert opinion is prized—and easily bought—and most reporters and readers are only shallowly informed.

The record clearly belies the Clinton-DNC (Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and John Podesta) claim that they didn’t know about the dossier.

In the first place, it is impossible to believe that they handed over $9 million to their lawyer without restriction or oversight. (Yes, I know the Department of State under then-secretary Clinton cannot account for $6 billion dollars, but this was their money, not ours, and I expect they paid more serious attention to it.) Once the bills are turned over to investigators, we’ll see who signed off on them. And we’ll find out soon whether Fusion was listed as a vendor in campaign-finance filings as the law requires.

Interestingly enough, one of Elias’ partners engaged Crowd Strike, ostensibly to review the claim that the DNC server had been hacked by Russia, and Comey’s FBI accepted their review without ever demanding to examine it themselves.

Daniel Greenfield once again does a fine job of analyzing the use made of the dossier and why Fusion GPS was engaged to dish the dirt.

The DNC, Hillary campaign and Obama Administration used former British intelligence agent Fusion GPS’ Christopher Steele as an interface to create deniability, allowing them, in effect, to launder the dossier and create a pretext for snooping on Trump and publicizing whatever dirt they might dig up on his campaign no matter how incredible the sources and product.

Hiring Fusion GPS and then Steele created two degrees of separation between the dossier and Hillary. A London ex-intel man is a strange choice for opposition research in an American election, but a great choice to create a plausible ‘source’ that appears completely disconnected from American politics. [snip]

The official story is that Steele was a dedicated whistleblower who decided to message an FBI pal for reasons “above party politics” while the Fusion GPS boss was so dedicated that he spent his own money on it after the election. Some figures in the FBI decided to take Steele’s material, offering to pay him for his work and reimbursing some of his expenses. Portions of the dossier were used to justify the FISA eavesdropping on Trump officials and were then rolled into the Mueller investigation. [snip]

But there isn’t supposed to be a link between the Democrats and the eavesdropping.

That’s why Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign and DNC lawyer who hired Fusion GPS, had denied it in the past. It’s why Fusion GPS fought the investigation so desperately. Opposition research isn’t a crime. A conspiracy to eavesdrop on your political opponents however is very much a criminal matter.

A forensic examination of the dirty dossier’s journey shows us that this modern Watergate was a collaborative effort between an outgoing Democrat administration and its expected Dem successor.

Greenfield details how the dossier was used to astroturf and create a demand for an investigation, which ultimately resulted in Sessions’ recusal and the appointment of a special counsel. He reminds us that the Obama administration had done such stuff before, spying on congressional opponents on the Iran Deal. (Recall how that spying was used to tar Congresswoman Jane Harmon); giving money to non-profit organizations to spur the media coverage, whispering tidbits to complaisant media shills, and smuggling billions to Iran. And, as he notes, there was the IRS shutdown of conservative groups (for which they finally apologized this week) and the lies about Libya.

Notably, when they thought the Russia “collusion” fairytale was not gathering enough steam, Steele personally briefed David Corn, the same propagandist who confected the story that Valerie Plame was a covert agent deliberately targeted by the Bush Administration as payback against her husband Joe Wilson.

But even more damning is the fact that Hillary herself started tweeting about the dossier shortly after GPS was hired — even though she claims she knew nothing about it.

The first FISA request was made in June and was turned down. In July Fusion GPS was hired. According to James Comey, the FBI began investigating “collusion” reports in July of 2016, Beginning on August 15, Hillary started tweeting about Trump and Russia. She tweeted again on September 7, September 26, October 7, October 25, October 31. The second request was made in October. It was on October 31 when Corn, now atMother Jones “broke the story of a ‘veteran spy’ who gave the FBI information on Trump’s alleged connections to Russia.” It wasn’t until Buzz Feed published the dossier that we could see how preposterous the story was. Mother Jones was just a small part of the media collaboration in spreading the manure — Slate worked it also, and larger outlets got involved.

Former CIA case officer Lee Smith reveals how shoddy was the dossier:

The dossier was designed to dig up “dirt” on Trump and his associates, but, more to the point, it was clearly intended from the start to do so by manufacturing and nurturing a Russian angle. It sought to discredit Donald Trump and to deceive the public, which suggests that Trump has been right all along regarding something like a conspiracy against him which included the active participation of the FBI and possibly other national security agencies.

The president also comes across as credible vis-à-vis his critics because of what has become evident since the dossier was surfaced. The clearly politically motivated multiple investigations carried out so far in which no rock has been unturned have come up with absolutely nothing, either in the form of criminal charges or in terms of actual collusion with a foreign government. And, one might add, there has been little in the way of evidence to sustain the charge that Russia sought to influence the election and might even have succeeded in doing so. But there is one thing new that we do know now: Russiagate began within the Clinton Campaign headquarters.

Trey Gowdy tweeted: “Did FBI rely on a document that looks like the National Enquirer prepared it?” Looks that way. Andrew McCarthy at National Review tweets “Trump DOJ should declassify & disclose FISA app to show what representations were made to court about source of dossier claims.”

That seems uncontestable.

 

It Was the Deep State that Colluded with the Russians, not Trump

September 24, 2017

It Was the Deep State that Colluded with the Russians, not Trump, American ThinkerClarice Feldman, September 24, 2017

(Lots of questions that require answers. — DM)

With each leak of his conduct – designed, I suppose, by his team to terrify honest men into lying to redeem the special counsel’s misbegotten efforts — Mueller looks more and more like a petrified enlistee in  the secretive repressive state force — the Stasi — as the wall is coming down and their conduct made public.

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As more and more leaks about the ongoing “Russian collusion” witch hunt by Robert Mueller appear in print, it seems to me that if Russia had been trying to erode our faith in our institutions, the Deep State is accomplishing what Russia failed to do.

The Obama claque’s efforts were initially intended to help Clinton when they thought she would win and no one would know about their crimes. Then they continued the unlawful spying to cover up their role in the worst case of misuse of federal power in our history, to effect the removal or emasculation of the President, and now they are desperate to cover up their illegal actions when all that failed.

A. Where we are today on “Russian collusion”?

Instapundit tweeted the answer succinctly: “The election was hacked!” turns out to mean, “Russia bought some ads on Facebook.”

Facebook is turning over ads presumably purchased by Russians during the campaign. Good — let’s see them. As the article notes:

The announcement that Facebook would share the ads with the Senate and House intelligence committees came after the social network spent two weeks on the defensive. The company faced calls for greater transparency about 470 Russia-linked accounts  — in which fictional people posed as American activists — which were taken down after they had promoted inflammatory messages on divisive issues. Facebook had previously angered congressional staff by showing only a sample of the ads, some of which attacked Hillary Clinton or praised Donald J. Trump.

As Tom Maguire reminds us, it would be unwise to assume this was a one-sided campaign: “Let’s see all the ads and find out whether Russia was winding up both sides. Back in the day it was believed Russia backed anti-fracking groups in Europe. Why not also in the US?”

Best of the Web’s James Freeman thinks that, in any case, the notion that these ads swung the election is ridiculous on its face:

So the spending on fake Russian political ads identified by Facebook amounted to around 1/7,000th of what Mrs. Clinton spent on advertising. And of course these fake ad buys were not material in the context of Facebook’s total advertising revenues, which amounted to nearly $27 billion last year.

Is a $150,000 ad buy even big enough to require sign-off from Mr. Putin? If as some believe, Russian meddling was simply intended to discredit the likely winner, some poor Russian agent may now be headed to Siberia for engineering the election of a U.S. President who seems determined to drive down the price of oil.

Let’s hope Congress gets to the bottom of this. If $150,000 amounts to the entire iceberg, and it still managed to sink the S.S. Clinton, marketing majors will be studying these ads for years to come.

B. Using the Full Force of FISA to spy on a political opponent

Obama has a long history of spying on his opponents and releasing information damaging to them. It’s a lifelong pattern. He got two opponents’ sealed divorce records unsealed in order to use unsubstantiated claims in pleadings by estranged spouses against them. As President, he continued this practice. By way of example, the Obama Administration did that with IRS, collecting information about the activities and donors of conservative and pro-Israel citizen groups while it refused to grant them the tax-exempt status to which they were entitled. The EPA collected private information from farmers and ranchers and released it to environmental groups to help them in their battles against those farmers and ranchers. There’s no reason to suppose that this pattern didn’t carry over to the 2016 election, and plenty of evidence that it did. As Sharyl Attkisson points out, they did it with reporters and Congressmen.

Nobody wants our intel agencies to be used like the Stasi in East Germany; the secret police spying on its own citizens for political purposes. The prospect of our own NSA, CIA and FBI becoming politically weaponized has been shrouded by untruths, accusations and justifications.

You’ll recall DNI Clapper falsely assured Congress in 2013 that the NSA was not collecting “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”

Intel agencies secretly monitored conversations of members of Congress while the Obama administration negotiated the Iran nuclear deal.

In 2014, the CIA got caught spying on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, though CIA Director John Brennan had explicitly denied that.

There were also wiretaps on then-Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in 2011 under Obama. The same happened under President George W. Bush to former Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.).

Journalists have been targeted, too. [snip]

The government subsequently got caught monitoring journalists at Fox News, The Associated Press, and, as I allege in a federal lawsuit, my computers while I worked as an investigative correspondent at CBS News.

As Attkisson reminds us, other Trump associates General Michael Flynn and Carter Page were also under government surveillance. As bad as that was, it was ”discovered [that] multiple Trump “transition officials” were “incidentally” captured during government surveillance of a foreign official. We know this because former Obama adviser Susan Rice reportedly admitted “unmasking,” or asking to know the identities of, the officials. Spying on U.S. citizens is considered so sensitive their names are supposed to be hidden or “masked,” even inside the government, to protect their privacy.”

She also specifically unmasked Steve Bannon, who met in the transition period with a UAE official so it’s altogether possible they were spying on him generallyas well.

If so, that would mean that four Trump associates had been spied on, multiplying the number of conversations with the President these people were listening in on.

Even more “unmasking”– revealing the names of those innocents scooped up in this broad surveillance — about 300 people had their privacy violated when the dyspeptic-looking UN Ambassador Samantha Power was revealed to have made almost one unmasking request a day, rapidly adding to the list as the inauguration approached.

Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was ‘unmasking’ at such a rapid pace in the final months of the Obama administration that she averaged more than one request for every working day in 2016 — and even sought information in the days leading up to President Trump’s inauguration, multiple sources close to the matter told Fox News.

Two sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said the requests to identify Americans whose names surfaced in foreign intelligence reporting, known as unmasking, exceeded 260 last year. One source indicated this occurred in the final days of the Obama White House.

C. The FISA Court surely was misled in order to get information to surveil and to continue surveilling Trump and his associates.

FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) permits blunderbuss intelligence gathering. It’s not designed to gather information on crimes in general, but only to act as a tool of counterintelligence or counterterrorism. And it certainly would be suspicious if efforts were made to misuse it to conduct domestic political spying. There’s only one legitimate reason to conduct surveillance on a U.S. citizen under FISA — to find out more about the activities of a foreign power or terrorist organization. Since in the process of scooping up so much information, other matters might be revealed, “minimization” procedures are used to mask the identities of those caught up in the sweep who are not involved in such activities.

CNN reported — with some obvious omissions and errors of law — that former FBI director James Comey secured secret FISA orders to wiretap Paul Manafort, who briefly served as Trump’s campaign manager, and that having received nothing from that order, then secured another FISA warrant in 2016 (after Manafort joined the Trump campaign) and continued that surveillance into 2017, after the election.

Further, CNN reported that two attempts were made in the summer of 2016 to obtain a FISA order, both of which were rejected, and an order was issued only after the third try. FISA rarely rejects such requests, so I think it fair to assume the court was suspicious of these requests, which smelled like political, not national security matters. I think it almost a certainty that the final request received the personal imprimatur of Comey (as Director of the FBI) and Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

And what, you may ask, was different about the third and ultimately successful third attempt? I suggest it was the phony Steele dossier, which credible reports indicate was partially financed by Comey’s own FBI.

The House Intelligence Committee’s investigation took a sharp and notable turn on Tuesday, as news broke that it had subpoenaed the FBI and the Justice Department for information relating to the infamous Trump “Dossier.” That Dossier, whose allegations appear to have been fabricated, was commissioned by the opposition-research firm Fusion GPS and then developed by a former British spook named Christopher Steele. [Ed: Sources for the most scurrilous allegations in it were from unnamed sources in Russia, most likely Russian government intelligence agents or liars working on a pay for dirt basis.]

The Washington Post in February reported that Mr. Steele “was familiar” to the FBI, since he’d worked for the bureau before. The newspaper said Mr. Steele had reached out to a “friend” at the FBI about his Trump work as far back as July 2016. The Post even reported that Mr. Steele “reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him to continue his work.”

Who was Mr. Steele’s friend at the FBI? Did the bureau influence the direction of the Trump dossier? Did it give Mr. Steele material support from the start? The timing matters because it could answer the vital question of why the FBI wanted the dossier. Here’s one thought: warrants.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees spying activities, is usually generous in approving warrants, on the presumption law-enforcement agencies are acting in good faith. When a warrant is rejected, though, law enforcement isn’t pleased.

Perhaps the FBI wanted to conduct surveillance on someone connected to a presidential campaign (Carter Page?) but couldn’t hit what was — and ought to be — a supremely high bar for getting such a potentially explosive warrant. A dossier of nefarious allegations might well prove handy in finally convincing the FISA court to sign off. The FBI might have had a real motive to support Mr. Steele’s effort. It might have even justified the unjustifiable: working with a partisan oppo-research firm and a former spook to engineer a Kremlin-planted dossier that has roiled Mr. Trump’s entire presidency.

True Pundit claims that FBI connivance with GPS Fusion to create the dossier was not all it did to secure the final 2016 FISA warrant — it also set up a meeting in Trump Tower and used information gleaned from Britain’s GCHQ in NSA headquarters to unlawfully gather information on U.S. citizens.

From the beginning it was a set up to find dirt on Trump campaign insiders and if possible to topple Donald Trump’s presidential aspirations.

Before and after the 2016 election. And while this operation had many moving parts and alternating players, the mission to unseat Trump never changed. And it remains ongoing.

And none of it was very legal.

[snip]

Six U.S. agencies [the FBI, NSA, CIA, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Treasury financial crimes division under DHS, Justice Department]created a stealth task force, spearhead by CIA’s Brennan, to run domestic surveillance on Trump associates and possibly Trump himself.

To feign ignorance and to seemingly operate within U.S. laws, the agencies freelanced the wiretapping of Trump associates to the British spy agency GCHQ.

The decision to insert GCHQ as a back door to eavesdrop was sparked by the denial of two FISA Court warrant applications filed by the FBI to seek wiretaps of Trump associates.

GCHQ did not work from London or the UK. In fact the spy agency worked from NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade, MD with direct NSA supervision and guidance to conduct sweeping surveillance on Trump associates.

[snip]

The Justice Department and FBI set up the meeting at Trump Tower between Trump Jr., Manafort and Kushner with controversial Russian officials to make Trump’s associates appear compromised.

Following the Trump Tower sit down, GCHQ began digitally wiretapping Manafort, Trump Jr., and Kushner.

After the concocted meeting by the Deep State, the British spy agency could officially justify wiretapping Trump associates as an intelligence front for NSA because the Russian lawyer at the meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was considered an international security risk and prior to the June sit down was not even allowed entry into the United States or the UK, federal sources said.

By using GCHQ, the NSA and its intelligence partners had carved out a loophole to wiretap Trump without a warrant. While it is illegal for U.S. agencies to monitor phones and emails of U.S. citizens inside the United States absent a warrant, it is not illegal for British intelligence to do so. Even if the GCHQ was tapping Trump on U.S. soil at Fort Meade.

The wiretaps, secured through illicit scheming, have been used by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 election, even though the evidence is considered “poisoned fruit.”

Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who spearheaded the Trump Tower meeting with the Trump campaign trio, was previously barred from entering the United Sates due to her alleged connections to the Russian FSB (the modern replacement of the cold-war-era KGB).

Yet mere days before the June meeting, Veselnitskaya was granted a rare visa to enter the United States from Preet Bharara, the then U.S. Attorney for the southern district of New York. Bharara could not be reached for comment and did not respond the a Twitter inquiry on the Russian’s visa by True Pundit.

(More on the unusual visa granted to Veselnitskaya here. More on GCHQ operating from NSA headquarters here.)

In July, Bharara’s former associate US Attorney Andrew Goldstein was added to Mueller’s army of largely Clinton backers and contributors to the special counsel’s enormous team.

In sum, the contention by True Pundit is that the government first spied on Trump and then concocted a national security ruse and desperately sought a FISA warrant to cover up the political spying which occurred before the FISA warrant was ever issued.

The editors of the Wall Street Journal also suspect that the dossier was used to obtain the FISA warrant, and, if so, that requires a congressional investigation:

The FISA court sets a high bar for warrants on U.S. citizens, and presumably even higher for wiretapping a presidential campaign. Did Mr. Comey’s FBI marshal the Steele dossier to persuade the court?

All of this is reason for House and Senate investigators to keep exploring how Mr. Comey’s FBI was investigating both presidential campaigns. Russian meddling is a threat to democracy but so was the FBI if it relied on Russian disinformation to eavesdrop on a presidential campaign. The Justice Department and FBI have stonewalled Congressional requests for documents and interviews, citing the “integrity” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

But Mr. Mueller is not investigating the FBI, and in any event his ties to the bureau and Mr. Comey make him too conflicted for such a job. Congress is charged with providing oversight of law enforcement and the FISA courts, and it has an obligation to investigate their role in 2016. The intelligence committees have subpoena authority and the ability to hold those who don’t cooperate in contempt.

I agree with Daniel Greenfield. Based on what I’ve read and observed, while the initial surveillance was to stop Trump and help Clinton, Obama used FISA to provide a “national security” cover for politically spying on Trump right up to the inauguration. As he notes, the first 2016 application was made the month after Trump obtained the nomination and the second in October, the month before the election.

As the unmasking picked up pace after the election, the reasonable assumption is that its purpose was to undo the results of the election or hamstring the incoming President.

Now Obama and his allies are or should be terrified that the scope of the illegal surveillance is revealing their criminal acts.

This is why I believe Mueller is growing increasingly desperate to find one crime by one person he can force by threat of jail to provide any shred of anything that might be used to justify their illegal espionage. Greenfield’s conclusion is apt: “The left is sitting on the biggest crime committed by a sitting president. The only way to cover it up is to destroy his Republican successor. A turning point in history is here. If Obama goes down, the left will go down with him. If his coup succeeds, then America ends.”

Why do I say that Mueller seems increasingly desperate? How else does one explain a middle-of-the-night pick-lock armed entry (and the search of his bedclothes-garbed wife) into the home of a man who by all accounts had been fully cooperating and turning over all requested documents? How else to explain requesting a court grant such a necessary special warrant on the ground that otherwise documents evincing a purported eleven-year-old crime would suddenly be destroyed? How else to explain the effort by Mueller to find out client information from the Skadden Arps and Akin Gump law firms, materials probably covered by attorney-client privilege? With each leak of his conduct – designed, I suppose, by his team to terrify honest men into lying to redeem the special counsel’s misbegotten efforts — Mueller looks more and more like a petrified enlistee in  the secretive repressive state force — the Stasi — as the wall is coming down and their conduct made public.

It looks like Obama did spy on Trump, just as he apparently did to me

September 21, 2017

It looks like Obama did spy on Trump, just as he apparently did to me, The Hill, Sharyl Attkisson, September 20, 2017

Many in the media are diving deeply into minutiae in order to discredit any notion that President Trump might have been onto something in March when he fired off a series of tweets claiming President Obama had “tapped” “wires” in Trump Tower just before the election.

According to media reports this week, the FBI did indeed “wiretap” the former head of Trump’s campaign, Paul Manafort, both before and after Trump was elected. If Trump officials — or Trump himself — communicated with Manafort during the wiretaps, they would have been recorded, too.

But we’re missing the bigger story.

If these reports are accurate, it means U.S. intelligence agencies secretly surveilled at least a half dozen Trump associates. And those are just the ones we know about.

Besides Manafort, the officials include former Trump advisers Carter Page and Michael Flynn. Last week, we discovered multiple Trump “transition officials” were “incidentally” captured during government surveillance of a foreign official. We know this because former Obama adviser Susan Rice reportedly admitted “unmasking,” or asking to know the identities of, the officials. Spying on U.S. citizens is considered so sensitive, their names are supposed to be hidden or “masked,” even inside the government, to protect their privacy.

In May, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates acknowledged they, too, reviewed communications of political figures, secretly collected under President Obama.

Trump: I was “wire tapped”
CNN: Haha. That idiot @realDonaldTrump thinks he was wiretapped.
..Six months later..
CNN: Trump was wiretapped

Weaponization of intel agencies?

Nobody wants our intel agencies to be used like the Stasi in East Germany; the secret police spying on its own citizens for political purposes. The prospect of our own NSA, CIA and FBI becoming politically weaponized has been shrouded by untruths, accusations and justifications.

You’ll recall DNI Clapper falsely assured Congress in 2013 that the NSA was not collecting “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”

Intel agencies secretly monitored conversations of members of Congress while the Obama administration negotiated the Iran nuclear deal.

In 2014, the CIA got caught spying on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, though CIA Director John Brennan had explicitly denied that.

There were also wiretaps on then-Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in 2011 under Obama. The same happened under President George W. Bush to former Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.).

Journalists have been targeted, too. This internal email, exposed by WikiLeaks, should give everyone chills. It did me.

Dated Sept. 21, 2010, the “global intelligence” firm Stratfor wrote:

[John] Brennan [then an Obama Homeland Security adviser] is behind the witch hunts of investigative journalists learning information from inside the beltway sources.

Note — There is specific tasker from the WH to go after anyone printing materials negative to the Obama agenda (oh my.) Even the FBI is shocked. The Wonder Boys must be in meltdown mode…

The government subsequently got caught monitoring journalists at Fox News, The Associated Press, and, as I allege in a federal lawsuit, my computers while I worked as an investigative correspondent at CBS News. On Aug. 7, 2013, CBS News publicly announced:

… correspondent Sharyl Attkisson’s computer was hacked by ‘an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions,’ confirming Attkisson’s previous revelation of the hacking.

Then, as now, instead of getting the bigger story, some in the news media and quasi-news media published false and misleading narratives pushed by government interests. They implied the computer intrusions were the stuff of vivid imagination, conveniently dismissed forensic evidence from three independent examinations that they didn’t review. All seemed happy enough to let news of the government’s alleged unlawful behavior fade away, rather than get to the bottom of it.

I have spent more than two years litigating against the Department of Justice for the computer intrusions. Forensics have revealed dates, times and methods of some of the illegal activities. The software used was proprietary to a federal intel agency. The intruders deployed a keystroke monitoring program, accessed the CBS News corporate computer system, listened in on my conversations by activating the computer’s microphone and used Skype to exfiltrate files.

We survived the government’s latest attempt to dismiss my lawsuit. There’s another hearing Friday. To date, the Trump Department of Justice — like the Obama Department of Justice — is fighting me in court and working to keep hidden the identities of those who accessed a government internet protocol address found in my computers.

Evidence continues to build. I recently filed new information unearthed through forensic exams. As one expert told the court, it was “not a mistake; it is not a random event; and it is not technically possible for these IP addresses to simply appear on her computer systems without activity by someone using them as part of the cyber-attack.”

Patterns

It’s difficult not to see patterns in the government’s behavior, unless you’re wearing blinders.

  • The intelligence community secretly expanded its authority in 2011 so it can monitor innocent U.S. citizens like you and me for doing nothing more than mentioning a target’s name a single time.
  • In January 2016, a top secret inspector general report found the NSA violated the very laws designed to prevent abuse.
  • In 2016, Obama officials searched through intelligence on U.S. citizens a record 30,000 times, up from 9,500 in 2013.
  • Two weeks before the election, at a secret hearing before the FISA court overseeing government surveillance, NSA officials confessed they’d violated privacy safeguards “with much greater frequency” than they’d admitted. The judge accused them of “institutional lack of candor” and said, “this is a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”

Officials involved in the surveillance and unmasking of U.S. citizens have said their actions were legal and not politically motivated. And there are certainly legitimate areas of inquiry to be made by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. But look at the patterns. It seems that government monitoring of journalists, members of Congress and political enemies — under multiple administrations — has become more common than anyone would have imagined two decades ago. So has the unmasking of sensitive and highly protected names by political officials.

Those deflecting with minutiae are missing the point. To me, they sound like the ones who aren’t thinking.

 

The Rohrabacher-Assange meeting

August 21, 2017

The Rohrabacher-Assange meeting, Washington TimesDavid Keene, August 20, 2017

Smoking Gun Flash Drive Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

The piece resulted in turmoil within the left-wing publication [the Nation] itself with many writers and contributors bitterly suggesting it should never have been printed because the publication has some sort of obligation to only publish material that strengthens rather than weakens the case against the president they despise.

*****************************************

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s recent three-hour meeting with WikiLeaks head Julian Assange as reported earlier this week by The Hill may prove interesting in light of the allegations of several former high-ranking U.S. intelligence analysts that the Democratic National Committee was not hacked by the Russians or anyone else prior to last fall’s presidential election.

Mr. Rohrabacher said little after the meeting other than that Mr. Assange repeated his denial that the materials he obtained and made public did not come from the Russians, but claimed he had more information about what actually happened that he intended to share with President Trump.

The “common wisdom” in Washington circles is that the Russians were responsible for illegally hacking into the DNC computers during the campaign and leaked the emails thus obtained through WikiLeaks, but recent revelations suggest that there is at least a possibility that the “common wisdom” is dead flat wrong. If it is wrong and can be proven, the charges of “collusion” so dear to Mr. Trump’s opponents could collapse.

The Nation magazine earlier this month published a lengthy report on the conclusions of a number of intelligence analysts who have looked at the available evidence and concluded that it would have been physically impossible for the Russians to have done what Mr. Trump’s critics allege.

They maintain that the information that made its way into the public sphere wasn’t hacked at all, but leaked by someone within the DNC itself.

The Nation piece, by Patrick Lawrence titled “A New Report Raises Big Questions about Last Year’s DNC Hack,” claimed that for technical reasons, the data that was supposedly downloaded to a hacker could not have been downloaded in the manner alleged because the underlying data they analyzed showed it was downloaded far faster than would have been possible given the technology available to the supposed hacker at the time.

The only way they believe the data could have been downloaded in the time it was in fact downloaded was if the job was done internally to something like a thumb drive that was later turned over to WikiLeaks.

The piece resulted in turmoil within the left-wing publication itself with many writers and contributors bitterly suggesting it should never have been printed because the publication has some sort of obligation to only publish material that strengthens rather than weakens the case against the president they despise.

Many were particularly upset that the piece was picked up and praised by a number of conservative publications and commentators.

In response to the attacks, Katrina vanden Heuvel, the Nation’s editor and publisher has launched what she is calling a “post publication review” of the article.

It is certainly true that the allegations in the article are both controversial and contested, but it is at least possible that whether the Nation decides to trash its own writer and disavow the conclusions of his article, the analysts quoted in it are right.

The Obama administration, Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump’s enemies take it as fact that the Russians were behind the “hacks” and that they constituted an attempt by Vladimir Putin’s regime to “affect” the outcome of the election and hint openly that it was all done in collusion with the Trump campaign. That, after all, is what Special Counsel Robert Mueller is trying to prove.

They almost as one dismiss evidence to the contrary, relying on the “consensus” view of “seventeen” US intelligence agencies that it was indeed the Russians who did it. The “consensus” view as former Obama Director of Intelligence James Clapper has since admitted was put together by “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies and never underwent the rigorous review one might have expected.

This is, of course, the same James Clapper who had earlier been caught lying to Congress.

When the Nation article first appeared, the Democratic National Committee responded in writing “U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the Russian government hacked the DNC in an attempt to interfere in the election. Any suggestion otherwise is false and is just another conspiracy theory like those pushed by Trump and his administration.”

When The Hill article reporting on the Rohrabacher/Assange meeting appeared, the DNC was at it again, “We’ll take the word of the U.S. intelligence community over Julian Assange and Putin’s favorite Congressman,” said DNC Deputy Communications Director Adrienne Watson,

There are conspiracies and then there are conspiracies. Julian Assange may have the proof as to who is right and who is fantasizing and if he provided that proof to Mr. Rohrabacher things could get very interesting for all involved and especially for Mr. Clapper and those who have relied on his “consensus view.”

Fmr. U.N. Amb. Power Emerges As Central Figure In Obama Unmasking Investigation

July 19, 2017

Fmr. U.N. Amb. Power Emerges As Central Figure In Obama Unmasking Investigation, Washington Free Beacon, July 19, 2017

Samantha Power / Getty Images

Former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power’s involvement in the unmasking by former Obama administration officials of sensitive national security information is raising red flags over what insiders view was an attempt by the former administration to undermine President Donald Trump and key figures on his team, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the situation.

Power appears to be central to efforts by top Obama administration officials to identify individuals named in classified intelligence community reports related to Trump and his presidential transition team, according to multiple sources.

The names of Trump allies in the raw intelligence reports were leaked to the press in what many in Congress and the current administration claim is an attempt by Obama allies and former officials to damage the White House.

The House Intelligence Committee, which is spearheading the investigation into these efforts, has issued subpoenas for Power and other top Obama administration figures, including former national security adviser Susan Rice, as part of congressional efforts to determine the source of these leaks.

Power’s role in this unmasking effort is believed to be particularly questionable given her position as a the U.N. ambassador, a post that does not typically require such sensitive unmasking activities, according to former U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the matter.

“Unmasking is not a regular occurrence—absolutely not a weekly habit. It is rare, even at the National Security Council, and ought to be rarer still for a U.N. ambassador,” according to one former senior U.S. official who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

“It might be defended when the communication in question relates directly to U.N. business, for example an important Security Council vote,” explained the former official, who would only discuss the matter on background. “Sometimes it might be done out of other motives than national security, such as sheer curiosity or to defend a bureaucratic position. Or just plain politics.”

The Intelligence Committee’s focus of Power and other key Obama officials is a prime example of the Obama administration’s efforts to spy on those close to Trump, according to sources familiar with the ongoing investigation.

“The subpoena for Power suggests just how pervasive the Obama administration’s spying on Americans actually was,” said one veteran GOP political operative who has been briefed on the matter by senior Congressional intelligence officials. “The U.N. ambassador has absolutely no business calling for the quantity and quality of the intelligence that Power seems to have been asking for.”

The source questioned why Power would need to uncover such classified intelligence information in her role at the U.N.

“That’s just not the sort of thing that she should have been concerned about, unless she was playing the role of political operative with the help of the intelligence community,” the source said. “It gives away what was actually going on: the Obama administration was operating in a pervasive culture of impunity and using the intelligence community against their political opponents.”

Rice was scheduled to speak to House Intelligence Committee this week, but the meeting was reportedly postponed. Some sources speculated this could be a delaying tactic by Rice aimed at pushing the testimony back until after Congress’s summer recess.

Leading members of Congress have begun pushing for the Intelligence Committee and other oversight bodies to investigate former Obama administration officials who they believe are responsible for the leaks.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Oversight Committee and chair of its National Security Subcommittee, told the Free Beacon last week that these leaks appear to have come from former senior officials, potentially including Ben Rhodes, the Obama national security adviser responsible for creating what he described as an in-house “echo chamber” meant to mislead the public and Congress about the landmark Iran nuclear deal.

“I think Congress and some members on the Intelligence Committee can call Ben Rhodes to testify,” DeSantis said. “He may be able to invoke executive privilege from when Obama was president, but he definitely can’t do that in any interactions he’s had since then.”

DeSantis identified Rhodes and other senior Obama administration officials as being “involved with feeding journalists some of these [leaks]. I believe he’s in touch with people on the National Security Council. It would be absolutely legitimate as part of leak investigation to bring him in and put him under oath, and I would absolutely support doing that.”

Senior Trump administration officials also have decried the leaks, which have expanded to operational information and are now impeding U.S. national security operations.

The anonymous sources for these articles “are obviously the same Obama holdovers who constantly leak classified information” to various newspapers, one senior administration official told the Free Beacon earlier this month.

FULL MEASURE: July 2, 2017 – Surveillance State

July 3, 2017

FULL MEASURE: July 2, 2017 – Surveillance State via YouTube, July 3, 2017