Posted tagged ‘Obama and Trump’

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.

 

Kushner Added to Russian Conspiracy Theory

May 30, 2017

Kushner Added to Russian Conspiracy Theory, Front Page MagazineMatthew Vadum, May 30, 2017

News consumers are now suffering through the practiced, hyperbolic, omnipresent outrage that follows revelations that presidential adviser Jared Kushner allegedly tried to create what the New York Times is calling “a secret channel between his father-in-law’s transition team and Moscow to discuss the war in Syria and other issues.”

According to the leaders of the ongoing witch hunt against the Trump administration, Kushner even had the temerity during the presidential transition process to exchange words with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

This supposedly important news about Kushner put the White House in panic mode, we are told by our betters in the media, forcing Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus to return prematurely from a presidential trip overseas to control the public relations damage.

The fateful conversation took place on Trump’s home turf, according to the Old Gray Lady:

The discussion took place at Trump Tower at a meeting that also included Michael T. Flynn, who served briefly as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser until being forced out when it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and others about a separate telephone conversation he had with Mr. Kislyak. It was unclear who first proposed the secret communications channel, but the idea was for Mr. Flynn to speak directly with a Russian military official. The channel was never set up.

And that’s all of it. There was a meeting. No deals came out of this Russian round table. No evidence exists of nefarious activities. No quid pro quo. Nothing. It is yet another nothing burger in a long series of nothing burgers.

A late-breaking Fox News story Monday night absolves Kushner of responsibility for the back channel proposal, indicating the idea came from the Russians.

The December meeting between Kushner and Kislyak “focused on Syria,” an unidentified source said.

During the meeting the Russians broached the idea of using a secure line between the Trump administration and Russia, not Kushner, a source familiar with the matter told Fox News. […] The idea of a permanent back channel was never discussed, according to the source. Instead, only a one-off for a call about Syria was raised in the conversation. In addition, the source told Fox News the December meeting focused on Russia’s contention that the Obama administration’s policy on Syria was deeply flawed.

NBC reports that Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter and fellow presidential adviser Ivanka, is reportedly being investigated by the FBI as part of the fanciful, politicized probe into supposed collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The Fox account continues:

Kushner suggested the use of Russian diplomatic facilities as a way to shield pre-inauguration discussions with Kislyak from monitoring, according to The [Washington] Post.

Kislyak allegedly then relayed the suggestion to his superiors in Moscow. That was based on intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials, although neither the meeting nor the communications of the Americans involved were under U.S. surveillance, officials told the Post.

The source has told Fox News that Kushner is eager to tell Congress about the meeting and any others of interest.

While the investigation moves forward and the manufactured mass hysteria continues to build in Congress and the media, Americans need to be reminded that merely communicating with an unfriendly foreign power in peacetime is not an inherently seditious or even suspicious behavior. It’s the content of the discussions that matters, not the mere fact that Americans and foreign officials broke bread.

Russian envoys and other pro-Russia special pleaders routinely meet with American officials, including lawmakers on Capitol Hill and administration officials regardless of which party controls the White House.

Never mind that the virtue-signaling Barack Obama routinely reached out to hostile foreign governments –swapping five Taliban generals for a single American traitor, to provide just one notorious example of the fruit of Obama’s plotting– when he was president. Obama even wore such illicit cloak-and-dagger communications with head-cutting barbarians as a badge of honor. Democrats and their Deep State allies didn’t give a farthing’s cuss at the time.

But that was when Democrats controlled the apparatus of the American state. Now that a Republican is president the rules have been changed.

Sunday on “Meet the Press,” the Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberley Strassel tried to inject some sanity into the debate, saying the current discussion is “astonishing” and “absolutely divorced from reality.”

“Let me set the scene for you,” she explained.

It’s 2008, we are having an election and candidate Obama, he’s not even president elect, sends William Miller over to Iran to establish a back channel, and let the Iranians know should he win the election they will have friendlier terms. Okay? So this is a private citizen going to foreign soil, obviously in order to evade U.S. intelligence monitoring and establishing a back channel with a sworn enemy of the United States who was actively disrupting our efforts in the military in the Middle East.

So, is that bad judgment? Is that a bad thing that happened? Back channels are completely normal, they happen all the time. Reagan did them. Obama did them. Everyone did. So, I am not quite sure why, supposedly having at least the president [who] is now elected setting up a back channel with the Russians, it is somehow out of bounds.

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster had previously said much the same thing.

We have back channel communications with any number of countries, so, generally speaking, about back channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner. It doesn’t predispose you to any kind of content in that conversation.

Strassel and McMaster are right, of course.

And it was President Obama himself who openly encouraged keeping in touch with governments not aligned with the United States.

Recall the answer then-Sen. Obama gave to a question during a July 23, 2007, debate. He was asked if he would be “willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?”

Obama famously replied in the affirmative. “I would, and the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them — which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration — is ridiculous.”

He added that “Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire.”

And no one colluded with Russia more than Obama when he became president.

Obama worked “behind the scenes for months to forge a new working relationship with Russia, despite the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown little interest in repairing relations with Washington or halting his aggression in neighboring Ukraine,” Bloomberg News reported in 2014.

Obama advanced Russia’s interests in so many ways.

In 2009 Obama killed President Bush’s missile defense program for the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. Then he renegotiated the New START nuclear arms agreement, which curbed the U.S. missile defense arsenal while letting the Russians add to theirs. In March 2012 Obama was caught on an open microphone telling then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to wait until after the upcoming election when he would be able to make even more concessions on missile defense. As Russia engaged in what one expert called the largest military buildup since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Obama flipped off Mitt Romney during a presidential debate. After Romney on the campaign trail referred to Russia as “without question, our No. 1 geopolitical foe,” Obama mocked him, saying “the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” And Obama did virtually nothing but talk when Putin invaded Ukraine.

Obama was the most pro-Russian U.S. president of all time, which makes the Left’s conspiracy theory about Trump’s collusion with Russia seem especially far-fetched.

The claim that “Russia ‘hacked’ the American election –to the extent that it changed the outcome– never made any sense,” observes Michael Walsh, who previously described the outlandish theory as the driving force behind a “rolling coup attempt” by the Left.

This “fever dream” was “cooked up by Sore Loser Hillary and her malignant consigliere, John Podesta … [and] began its demonic life as a way to explain Mrs. [Hillary] Clinton’s astonishment and anger at losing an election all her media buddies told her was in the bag, and for which she felt sure the fix was in.”

Those of us who habitually smell rats knew right off that there was nothing to it. But from that night forward, the Clintons, the Leftist media and the Democrats have been pounding the notion that, somehow, the Russians affected the election and that Trump is corrupt, morally unfit, an imbecile and an embarrassment to America. Take a good look at their reaction, ladies and gentlemen, for not since Linda Blair rotated 360 and spewed puke on a priest have we seen such deracinated contempt.

Democrats have much to fear from the congressional investigation into the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory, he adds.

Before last November Democrats “never met a communist they didn’t like or a Russian they didn’t want to embrace.” They have “overplayed their hand” and in so doing have placed themselves in jeopardy.

“They’re so fully invested in this fairy tale that when it blows up in their faces, and another underlying reason for its concoction becomes clear, years of lamentation and wandering in the electoral wilderness should follow.”

This, of course, assumes Republicans will stand up for President Trump.

It is a risky assumption.

Tom Fitton gives updates on Obama Spying Scandal, Unmasking Scandal, Rep. Adam Schiff, & Seth Rich

May 26, 2017

Tom Fitton gives updates on Obama Spying Scandal, Unmasking Scandal, Rep. Adam Schiff, & Seth Rich, Judicial Watch via YouTube, May 26, 2017

(This video covers a lot of ground and is very much worth watching. — DM)

 

Susan Rice, Obama’s Hatchet Woman, Proves Lord Acton Right Again

April 4, 2017

Susan Rice, Obama’s Hatchet Woman, Proves Lord Acton Right Again, PJ Media, Roger L Simon, April 3, 2017

Forget G. Gordon Liddy and the White House plumbers of Watergate days.  If you’re looking for a my-president-right-or-wrong apparatchik in the grand tradition of the Soviet Union, willing to do anything for her leader, look no further than former national security adviser Susan Elizabeth Rice.

Rice, who evidently exploited the world’s most technically advanced intelligence agency, the NSA, for similar purposes (spying on the opposition), has made Liddy et al seem like primitives.  Apparently, the former Obama adviser was the one who “requested to unmask the names of Trump transition officials caught up in surveillance.”  The final unmaskings took place in January, days before Trump’s inauguration. (Eli Lake at Bloomberg, Adam Housley and John Roberts at Fox, and Sara Carter and John Solomon at Circa have reported this story in only slightly varying ways.)

Failing some extraordinary  explanation (so far Rice isn’t talking), the onetime national security adviser exhibited an arrogance that once again proves Lord Acton’s famous apothegm: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Rice undoubtedly believed she was undertaking her sub rosa, possibly felonious, activities for a greater good, but in reality she has been undermining the very basis of our democratic republic in a manner calling forth another quote from the 19th century British lord: “End justifies the means. This is still the most widespread of all the opinions inimical to liberty.” That Rice was able to prevaricate so casually during a recent PBS interview, claiming she “knew nothing” about the unmaskings of Trump officials when she had instigated them,  proves Acton right yet again and exposes the “ends justify the means” mentality as Rice’s default position.

(Speaking of Acton, he also wrote: “Men cannot be made good by the state, but they can easily be made bad.”)

From her serial lies about the Benghazi terror attack being caused by a video to this latest surveilling — incidental or otherwise — of political enemies and its own attendant dishonesties, Rice seems to have been the “go to” person for Obama White House dirty work and cover-ups, Obama’s hatchet woman.  She did not and could not, however, have acted alone.  She was part of a culture.

The unmasked names, of people associated with Donald Trump, were then sent to all those at the National Security Council, some at the Defense Department, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan – essentially, the officials at the top, including former Rice deputy [Iran deal fixer] Ben Rhodes.

The names were part of incidental electronic surveillance of candidate and President-elect Trump and people close to him, including family members, for up to a year before he took office.[bold mine]

Up to a year?  Is it possible it was even longer? When did it actually start?  It would be interesting to see how “incidental” this all was. Will the Senate Intelligence Committee be sufficiently bipartisan to really investigate that?  Or will they be mired in the supposedly nefarious Russian connection that Clapper himself found no evidence of, even after, as we now learn, having been privy to all this “incidental” information for months or years? You would have to assume this Trump-Russia collusion was remarkably subtle to have withstood such constant investigation by so many for so long.

No, the real story here is the Russification, more accurately the Sovietization, of the Obama administration.  They did believe, unlike Lord Acton, that “the ends justify the means.”  That phrase, incidentally, is sometimes incorrectly ascribed to Machiavelli, who wrote something far more sophisticated.  In reality, it was coined, or at least codified, by the 19th century Russian revolutionary Sergey Nechayev and used by Lenin and Stalin to justify their murderous acts.

I hasten to say there are no murders going on here that I know of.  But there is a massive subversion of the principles of our republic. The moment the party in power is permitted to exploit the extraordinary capabilities of our intelligence agencies to surveil in any way the party out of power is the moment that we are well on the road to high-tech totalitarianism. We may already be there.

Difficult as it would be, what is called for now is a full airing not of Russian espionage, which has been going on pretty much constantly since the 1920s, but of our own intelligence agencies and how they function and how they are interacting with current and past administrations. We must be certain that existing privacy laws have actually been observed and, if those laws have not been sufficient, that they be revised to protect the apparently already violated civil liberties of our citizens.

Meanwhile, when it comes to actual punishable law-breaking, the person most vulnerable is, of course, the leaker (or leakers).  Those who accidentally or purposefully  “unmask” identities unfortunately can skate away under current readings of the law.  But if I were to guess, in this instance, the unmasker and the leaker are quite possibly one and the same.  Ms. Rice has much to answer for — and she should do it under oath.

As the scandal evolves, will the finger point even higher? In fact, it already has.  Unbeknownst to almost all of the American public, back in 2011 Barack Obama eased the rules on the unmasking of American citizens in NSA surveillances, putatively to counter foreign espionage threats.  Six years letter and the tables have been turned on us.  Was that always the intention? Or was it simply absolute power corrupting absolutely?

Obama Did Wiretap Trump: It’s Like Putting Together a Russian Nesting Doll

March 26, 2017

Obama Did Wiretap Trump: It’s Like Putting Together a Russian Nesting Doll, American ThinkerClarice Feldman, March 26, 2017

(Please see also, We Need an Independent Investigation of the Trump Leaks Mystery Now. — DM)

No matter how many dolls are hidden in the nest — Comey, Clapper, Brennan, Lynch — it is undeniable that they all fit under the big one — Obama. It was he who authorized the surveillance and multiagency distribution of intelligence — in Bob Woodward’s reading, “highly classified gossip” — about political opponent Trump and his team — invading their privacy in violation of the law. If you were inclined to want Americans to lose faith in their intelligence community and media you couldn’t have done a better job than they did themselves. The Russians didn’t have to do a thing.

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

Matryoshkas are Russian nesting dolls. Inside each doll are several others, smaller but identically shaped characters, until you get to the smallest one inside. Studying what we have learned of the timeline — and we still don’t have the entire story — we see Wikileaks, the smallest, at the core, and Obama as the largest piece in what is the most historically outrageous misuse of the people and institutions of government for partisan advantage.

Wikileaks

During the campaign, Wikileaks posted a number of email messages from the DNC — largely Podesta, but Hillary as well. The communications (not well reported, but, in any event, more embarrassing tittle tattle) had been on unsecured accounts, poorly guarded and easily accessed because of carelessness on the part of the Hillary team. Assange, who published them, denied the source of this information was Russian hackers. This now has been confirmed by the heads of our intelligence community, but the Clinton camp claim that the Russians did it set the stage for the notion that her opponent was the favored candidate of the Russians.

Apart from the fact that our intelligence services have denied the claim, there are a number of reasons to believe that the Russians would have preferred Hillary to Trump. For one thing, Russia is in terrible financial shape and relies on its sales of oil and gas to Europe to stay afloat. Is it sensible to believe that the Russians would prefer Trump, who made clear he wanted to vastly increase U.S. oil and gas production, over Hillary, who gave every indication of keeping it down and the worldwide price of oil and gas higher? (I can’t imagine — for the same reason — that Iran and OPEC wouldn’t prefer her as well.) Why you do suppose the Russians have been funding “green” groups in Europe — and possibly here — who oppose fracking?

Secondly, for eight years Russian businesses and businessmen closely aligned with Putin pumped millions into the Clinton Foundation slush fund, paid her husband a half-million dollars for a single speech, and got in return a substantial portion of our uranium assets when, as Secretary of State, Hillary okayed their purchase. Finally, John Podesta, chair of Hillary’s presidential campaign wasclosely aligned with Russian interests. His brother was hired by the Russians to lobby for the uranium sale. He was on the board of a company closely aligned with Putin.

As the crack investigative reporter Richard Pollock notes:

John Podesta, national chairman of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, may have opened himself up to a Russian “influence campaign” designed to temper his views of the Kremlin, The Daily Caller News Foundation (TheDCNF) Investigative Group has learned.

Influence campaigns are conducted by many governments — including the United States — with the aim of influencing decision makers in other countries to realign their geopolitical worldviews more closely to the influencing country.

Some national security experts interviewed by The DCNF wonder if Podesta may still be a target of Russian influence. They trace the campaign back to his company board membership, in which one-third of the board were top Russian businessmen with direct ties to the Kremlin.

The last time Podesta talked negatively about Russia was Dec. 18, 2016, when he charged in an NBC “Meet the Press” interview the 2016 election was “distorted by the Russian intervention.”

The former Clinton national campaign chairman has since been silent, even as other former top Clinton aides, such as Robby Mook, Brian Fallon and Jim Margolis have repeatedly aimed high-decibel rhetoric at President Donald Trump about Russian “meddling” in the 2016 presidential race.

[snip]

Podesta’s silence is particularly striking, according to retired Air Force Col. James Waurishuk.

“We haven’t heard very much from Podesta lately, particularly on the subject of Russia’s interference in the elections,” Waurishuk told the DCNF. He served on the National Security Council and worked on “information operations” for military intelligence.

The suggestion is that he’s staying out of it because the Russians want this chatter about their influence silenced.

In any event, Russia has now been cleared of the claim, yet in the recesses of the dimmer voters’ minds the charge remains a cogent explanation of why their candidate lost the election.

The National Security Agency and the FISA

The NSA engages in global monitoring for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence. It does by passive means (signals Intelligence) and active means like physically bugging systems and through subversive software. It assists and coordinates SIGINT elements at other government organization like the DIA.

Domestic communications can be intercepted under two circumstances: in the first instance to protect us against sabotage or international terrorism or sabotage. In such a case, when authorized by the president through the attorney general, it can be done without a court order provided that it is for only one year and only to acquire foreign intelligence information and there is real likelihood that a U.S. person is a party to the communication. Even then it must be done in such a way to minimize the impact on the U.S. person. The attorney general must report such surveillance under seal to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and report their compliance to both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

Surveillance can also be done on a court order from FISA when the attorney general persuades the court that there is probable cause (i.e. a reasonable suspicion) that the target is a “foreign power” or an “agent of a foreign power” and the minimization requirements for information pertaining to U.S. persons will be followed. Such orders may be approved for 90 days,120 days, or a year.

FISA court authorization is almost always granted. Reliable reports indicate that the Obama administration sought authorization in July of last year when Trump appeared a likely opponent (the application is still secret) and it was denied. These reports also state that a pared-down application was sought in October and granted by the court. We have no idea on what basis the Department of Justice sought these warrants nor who the purported target was.

From the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, we learned this week that Trump team’s conversations were caught in the surveillance, that for over nine months this was never reported to his committee. Moreover, it is public knowledge that three days before the inauguration in January, for no legitimate purpose, President Obama authorized wide distribution of the surveillance reports to 16 other agencies, the names of U.S. persons involved in the conversations were not redacted, the contents were of no intelligence value and they were widely leaked — a perfectly predictable consequence of spreading the raw data so widely in contrast to normal redaction and dissemination patterns. Suspicious minds like mine think may well be to further hamper the incoming administration by leaks designed to embarrass members of his team. Nunes also reported the post-election spying “had nothing to do with Russia.”  By January 20, for example, the New York Times reported that Trump had been wiretapped.

We learned this week from Nunes’ work that the investigation is continuing.

On his own Mike Rogers, head of NSA, met privately with Trump shortly after the inauguration. We have no details of their discussion, but my guess is he told him what had happened and how. At the moment, Rogers appears to be the sole white hat in our intelligence network. But he may not be the only one, which, I think, would mean a number of former Obama officials have to be looking for lawyers.

Tom Lipscomb, a former reporter and online friend, thinks the white hats in the intelligence community fed the truth about the wiretapping directly to Trump so he could weed out from their ranks the Obama confederates. Like him, I think the Trump tweet that he was wiretapped was smart. He’s giving “fair warning to what is coming,” and the claims that Trump was engaged in some “crazy conspiracy” are evaporating just as had the earlier nonsense that he and the Russians were conspiring via Wikileaks.

Christopher Steele and John McCain

Christopher Steele is a former British intelligence agent of dubious character and credibility. He had been hired early by the Clinton camp to dig up dirt on Trump. When Hillary ended that agreement, unnamed Republicans engaged him to continue, and when they stopped paying him, the FBI — for as yet unexplained reasons — took him up. His “dossier” is preposterous, based on accounts to his aides from unnamed and thus unverifiable sources. In the rare instance when they provide recognizable details, they have been proven false. As incredible as the “dossier” was, it was used to tar Trump with salacious nonsense and to further encourage the ridiculous notion that he and his team were Russian agents.

There are three different versions of how John McCain, a bitter #NeverTrumper always seeking media cuddles and enamored by globalization, came to get the dossier — he says, in December.  In one version, he got it from a member of the McCain Institute, in other published accounts he dispatched someone abroad to get it, and in a third he first heard of it from a former British ambassador while at a meeting in Halifax. That he’s offered various tales in itself suggests some dissembling on his part. Nevertheless, he concedes he widely distributed the scurrilous dossier to the media and members of Congress. He was either a useful dupe of those determined to bring down Trump or a willing partner of theirs. Right now, he’s flailing about abroad, attacking the president and moaning that Trump hasn’t yet met with him.

The Media

John Nolte, writing for the Daily Caller, highlights how it is apparent that the media knew of the spying operation and later covered it up:

“Of course the media knew what the Obama administration had done. First off, when they thought the news would hurt Trump, the national media publicly reported on the fact that the Obama administration had spied on Team Trump. It was only after that knowledge became a liability for Precious Barry that the media pretended otherwise. In other words, they LIED.”

Jim Geraghty at National Review cites a specific example of the media-leaker waltz:

On January 12, the Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote:

According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions? The Logan Act (though never enforced) bars U.S. citizens from correspondence intending to influence a foreign government about “disputes” with the United States. Was its spirit violated? The Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

This is a leak of classified information. Michael Flynn was not, as far as we know, a target of any U.S. government surveillance. He was one of the figures whose conversations was “incidentally” recorded, presumably as part of the regular monitoring of Kislyak.

People within the U.S. government are not supposed to take the information that is incidentally recorded and then run to David Ignatius because they don’t like the American citizen who was recorded. That’s not the purpose of our domestic counterintelligence operations. Even if Flynn had violated the Logan Act — which, as we all know, no one has never been prosecuted for violating — there are legitimate avenues for dealing with that, namely going to law enforcement and a prosecutor.

(Invoking the Logan Act in this circumstance is particularly nonsensical, because the interpretation Ignatius floats would criminalize just about any discussion between a presidential candidate, a president-elect or his team and any representative of a foreign government on any matter of importance. If you ask a foreign official if his country would make a concession on Issue X in exchange for a U.S. concession on Issue Y, BOOM! Call out the SWAT teams, we’ve got a Logan Act violation!)

There are a lot of reasons not to like Michael Flynn, but that doesn’t change the fact that somebody broke the law and leaked classified information in an effort to get him in trouble. That is wrong and that is illegal, and Nunes is right to point out we’re going down a dangerous road when information collected by U.S. intelligence agencies about American citizens starts getting strategically leaked for partisan purposes.

No matter how many dolls are hidden in the nest — Comey, Clapper, Brennan, Lynch — it is undeniable that they all fit under the big one — Obama. It was he who authorized the surveillance and multiagency distribution of intelligence — in Bob Woodward’s reading, “highly classified gossip” — about political opponent Trump and his team — invading their privacy in violation of the law. If you were inclined to want Americans to lose faith in their intelligence community and media you couldn’t have done a better job than they did themselves. The Russians didn’t have to do a thing.

We Need an Independent Investigation of the Trump Leaks Mystery Now

March 26, 2017

We Need an Independent Investigation of the Trump Leaks Mystery Now, PJ MediaRoger L. Simon, March 25, 2017

If you are able to see the raw data available to the NSA, which means you are inches away from the most private information of almost every human being on Earth, you have a privilege akin to the gods.  The temptations to abuse this are huge.

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The detective story of our times is unspooling before us and the MacGuffin could affect all of our lives for years to come and the very nature of our republic.

That mystery is “whodunit” in the great Trump Transition leak(s) scandal that actually pre- and post-dates the transition itself.

Who unmasked Michael Flynn and — so it seems now — others and why did he, she or they do it? Who later leaked (selectively) President Trump’s conversations with the leaders of Australia and Mexico? Is this the same person or are there several?

More importantly, who is watching the watchers and why was their work — this raw data that supposedly is never seen except on the most extreme “need to know” basis — apparently so widely distributed? Who inspired this? And who ordered what is known as a “tasking” to enable this to happen in the first place?

These questions are as or more important than healthcare, immigration, taxes or even how long ISIS will survive because they speak to the very nature of our society and the values for which we stand.  Are we still a democratic republic or have we drifted so far into a high-tech Orwellian nightmare that we will never emerge from it again?

Yes, I am aware some of Mr. Flynn’s activities may be dodgy. But that doesn’t excuse the unmasking, particularly of others, one of whom may even have been the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Devin Nunes, who was himself a member of the Trump transition team.

We need a truly independent investigation as divorced from partisan politics as humanly possible to unravel this mystery and expose the roots of this surveillance — if, as now seems likely, something of this nature occurred — to public light.

Yes, for the sake of bipartisanship, putative electoral collusion between Trump people and the Russians must be part of this investigation,  But I think at this point we can stipulate that the Russians have been trying to monkey with our elections from time immemorial and are now able to do that more effectively due to cyber technology.  We should work to counter that and undoubtedly are.  And we can also stipulate that people like Paul Manafort and John Podesta — just to name two on opposite sides of our politics – in their zeal to enrich themselves probably made deals with Russian business-types many of us would regard as unsavory.  But I would be surprised, again at this point, if the activities of those men rose to anything close to treason.

No, this is not about the Russians, nefarious as they may be.  As Pogo said many years ago about an entirely different matter, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Illegal  surveillance of Americans by Americans — whether “coincidental,” deliberate or something in between — is our problem, and we have to correct it.

Finding truly independent, impartial leadership for such an investigation will not be easy.  Jesus and Moses, by all reports, are dead. But it must be done and they must be found. Perhaps it should take the form of the 9/11 Commission, because this is just as important for our times as that event was then. The investigation, to the extent possible, should err on the side of transparency, even to the extent of revealing state secrets. It should be conducted in full view of the public, because such a large number of us have lost confidence in the leaders of our intelligence agencies, including the FBI, and also in their rank-and-file. Our suspicions may be overblown, but that must be proven to us.

Indeed, the Democrats, who have been in control for the last eight years, have much more to fear from such an investigation.  But, if they think it through, it is actually in their interests as much as anybody’s, perhaps more.  They aren’t in control now and it is a certainty that the Trump administration is going to be restaffing a good percentage of our intelligence agencies.  Mike Pompeo is already at the head of the CIA,  and Dan Coats is the director of national intelligence.  The Democrats should not want done to them what they — purposefully or not — have done to the Republicans.

But even without an investigation we have learned something extremely disturbing.  The five-year incarceration for conviction for a single leak is evidently not enough of a deterrent in our current political culture to prevent such a felony.  We should double or triple that, probably more.  If you are able to see the raw data available to the NSA, which means you are inches away from the most private information of almost every human being on Earth, you have a privilege akin to the gods.  The temptations to abuse this are huge.  Employees of the agency have been caught spying on lovers or ex-lovers, which is already despicable. To try to use this legally confidential information to change the course of events in a democratic country is a far more horrendous crime and should be prosecuted accordingly.  It is indeed treason.

What happens if Obama was involved in illegal surveillance?

March 9, 2017

What happens if Obama was involved in illegal surveillance? Fox News via YouTube, March 7, 2017