US intelligence agencies cannot legally spy on Americans. So they get foreign allied spy agencies to do it for them. Which means they spy on Americans.
Five countries form the “Echelon” global surveillance system: the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – the “Five Eyes” of Western international espionage.
When something they have done leaks out and becomes a public scandal, they spread the blame wider and more thinly by including other agencies, such as those of Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, and France.
When the British were first accused of helping the NSA and CIA spy on Donald Trump and his associates, by Judge Andrew Napolitano on Fox News, they angrily denied it.
But they did it.
It’s a squalid story about a real international conspiracy, launched by the Obama administration, to concoct a monstrous lie about Donald Trump; that he was in league with the Russian government. It is a lie that the Democratic Party is still using to cast a shadow of illegitimacy over the Trump presidency.
From the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Journalism, using as its main source the leftist Guardian newspaper:
The British Guardian posted a report on April 13 claiming that its sources now admit that the British spy agency GCHQ was digitally wiretapping Trump associates, going back to late 2015. This was presumably when the December 2015 Moscow meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lt. General Michael Flynn took place.
This runs contrary to the blanket nature of the denial insinuated in GCHQ’s carefully-crafted statement of March 17 claiming it was all “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous” that they conducted surveillance of “then president-elect” Donald Trump (emphasis added). The surveillance went back a year before he became “president-elect”.
President Trump’s claim of being “wire tapped” has been vindicated. Indeed, the surveillance is far more extensive than even he suspected at the time.
Based on the new disclosures, we can safely conclude that the world’s most advanced and extensive system of computerized espionage was indeed used against him and people he worked with, for political purposes, with the knowledge and approval of top Obama officials such as CIA Director John Brennan (one major name implicated by the Guardian).
Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano, who said GCHQ was involved in wiretapping Trump, has also been vindicated. Fox News owes Napolitano an apology for yanking him off the air for a week for making that “controversial” and now-verified assertion.
President Trump stressed the pervasive “extent” of this Obama political “wiretapping” to Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business in an Oval Office interview on April 11 (aired April 12). “Me and so many other people” surveilled, Trump said. He explained again that he had picked up the “wire tapped” terminology straight from the headline of The New York Times (of January 20) …
Now we’re learning that GCHQ did wiretap Trump for a year before the election. “Trump” is, of course, shorthand for Trump associates and possibly Trump himself directly, depending on context. But GCHQ is trying to put a positive spin on what it admits would be illegal spying on US citizens if done by US agencies.
The Guardian’s sources claim a heroic role for the British GCHQ as a courageous “whistleblower” in warning US agencies to “watch out” about Trump and Russia — but carefully avoiding mention of the US’s NSA, which must be protected at all costs as part of the NSA-GCHQ spy-on-each-other’s-citizens “wiretap shell game”. …
These sources virtually admit the mutual “wiretap shell game” by inadvertently mentioning the Trump-Russia data was originally passed on to the US by GCHQ as part of a “routine exchange” of intelligence. The use of this term, “exchange”, suggests what we had previously reported — the shell-game “exchange” between the NSA and GCHQ where they can spy on each other’s citizens and deny it all.
Past British Prime Ministers have been implicated in various scandals involving wiretaps. Some have involved the “Echelon” global surveillance system set up by the NSA with its counterparts in the other “Five Eyes” nations — UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Any one of these countries is able to circumvent domestic laws against spying on their own citizens by asking another Echelon member country to do it for them. This is precisely the “wiretap shell game” used by the Obama administration to have British GCHQ spy on Trump, as outlined by Judge Napolitano and his sources.
To avoid unraveling the longstanding Five Eyes spying “wiretap shell game”, the GCHQ had to pretend they “routinely” came across this Trump-Russia wiretap data “by chance”, unprompted by requests from US. agencies (such as the NSA or CIA) or by Obama officials, working outside normal NSA chain of command on Signals Intelligence or SIGINT (as Judge Napolitano reported on March 14).
So the heroic British GCHQ comes to the rescue with conveniently “accidental” (our word) captures of wiretap communications between Trump people and sinister-sounding “Russian intelligence agents”, with the wiretaps sent here to help out the US agencies. We are supposed to believe the US agencies and the Obama White House just passively received this bombshell wiretap data from GCHQ, no questions asked, for over a year from late 2015 to early 2017. (The Guardian has no end date for the surveillance, such as the November 8 election, and indicates continued surveillance into the Trump transition, with the FBI “throwing more resources” into the investigation then.)
Did Obama officials ever say, “Wait! Stop sending us this material, it may be illegal!” It does not appear so. Hence, the questions that have to be asked by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are:
- Were there requests for more wiretap data on Trump and his team?
- Were there requests for more complete transcripts, or even voice recordings?
This “alerting” of the US on Trump-Russia communications was needed, according to the Guardian and its US and UK intelligence sources, because the US agencies were “asleep” or “untrained,” or were legally prohibited from “examining the private communications of American citizens without warrants”. But to the GCHQ, America is a “foreign” nation and evidently they think they are free to spy on Americans “without warrants”.
Previous reporting has said that an interagency task force of six US intelligence agencies was set up to investigate the alleged Trump-connected names supposedly discovered in “incidental collection” of digital wiretap surveillance of Russian communications. The six agencies are said to consist of the CIA, NSA, FBI, the Justice Department’s National Security Division, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Treasury Department financial crimes unit.
Until now, no one has known who in the Obama administration set up the task force, who directs it, what its operating directives state, what its activities have entailed, and who it is really accountable to.
But the Guardian is now reporting that it was CIA Director John Brennan who initiated, in about August 2016, what clearly seems to be an illegal domestic investigation of the Trump political campaign, which would be prohibited by the CIA charter.
Reportedly “Brennan used [British] GCHQ information and intelligence from other partners to launch a major interagency investigation.” The infamous fake “Trump dossier” is apparently dragged in too.
You can read the “dossier” here. It’s a pile of ludicrous bilge.
Brennan then proceeded to give highly classified “urgent” briefings to individual members of the Congressional “Gang of Eight”. Beginning on about August 25, with then-Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) on that date, CIA chief Brennan claimed that the Russian email hackings of the Democratic National Committee were designed to help Trump win the election, according to The New York Times. [!] These partisan briefings represent the politicization of the CIA under Obama, and are of dubious legality.
In September 2016, this anti-Trump intelligence task force changed the previous “incidental” collection to outright direct targeting of Trump people so that their communications with Russia were “actively monitored”, not merely retrieved retroactively in digital archives with names having to be laboriously “unmasked”. …
Unmasking is unnecessary if one starts with the specific names of Trump personnel first, and then flags them for future surveillance, going forward in time. In that case, the “actively monitored” and flagged Trump names automatically trigger alerts in the NSA-GCHQ computers whenever the names turn up. These wiretap reports would then have been submitted to Obama officials at the level of national security adviser Susan Rice and CIA director Brennan, and perhaps to Obama himself.
Interestingly, the Guardian’s sources carefully try to avoid implicating or involving the NSA in GCHQ’s allegedly unprompted reporting on intercepted wiretap data on Trump associates. It’s the “shell game” again with the NSA and GCHQ covering for each other.
Instead, the Guardian’s anonymous intelligence sources say that then-director of GCHQ Robert Hannigan passed on a top secret “director level” report on Trump-Russia in “summer 2016” to CIA Director John Brennan, rather than to the NSA. However, if GCHQ was using NSA’s digital wiretap facilities to “routinely” spy on Trump people, then the NSA would be implicated by the very arrangement used. …
The unexpected sudden resignation of GCHQ director Hannigan, announced on January 23, makes him the potential villain and scapegoat. …
In an unprecedented BBC interview on April 5, Hannigan fired a parting shot at the Judge Napolitano and White House reports of his GCHQ’s spying on Trump. Hannigan snidely dismissed the reports, saying,
We get crazy conspiracy theories thrown at us every day. We ignore most of them. On this occasion it was so crazy that we felt we should say so and we have said it’s a ridiculous suggestion.
The Guardian’s report refutes Hannigan, barely a week after he left office, possibly with official connivance or approval. But why is Hannigan being thrown under the bus so soon? Is it fear of the impending findings of US Congressional and official investigations exposing GCHQ?
Now that Trump is president, the British have some urgent repairs to make.
Such reports in the British press on highly sensitive intelligence matters surely must have been quietly cleared by the British government as a first fallback position on GCHQ spying on [now President] Trump. Otherwise the Guardian would be in deep trouble under the UK’s Official Secrets Act and its D-Notice procedure to suppress or censor news stories on secret intelligence matters.
Finally, the British also seem to be trying to spread the blame around to a laundry list of other countries allegedly passing on intelligence about Trump-Russia contacts—Germany, Estonia, Poland, Australia, the Dutch and the French DGSE.
Still, no “smoking gun” has ever been found in any of this wiretap material, for it would already have been leaked like Lt. Gen. Flynn’s fairly benign conversations with the Russian ambassador that got him fired.
Despite the sensational news from The Washington Post that the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to wiretap ex-Trump adviser Carter Page, which may even still be in effect, his “Russian contacts” also seem to be completely ordinary and routine. Page is so confident of his innocence that he has been going on various television news programs to talk openly about his work on Russia, supplying Russian contacts with some of his New York University classroom materials.
To be sure, a certain large percentage of these kinds of business meetings with Russians will turn out to be with undercover Russian intelligence officers — unbeknown to the Western business and academic people meeting them. The media portray them as suspicious. But this kind of Russian spy game has always been going on since the Cold War and is nothing new.
The FISA warrant, rather than proving any malfeasance by Carter Page — again no “smoking gun” — only adds to the evidence that what President Trump said from the start was true: that Trump and his associates were under electronic surveillance.
What do the wiretaps on Trump actually say? The media don’t want to know if the NSA-GCHQ wiretaps actually exonerate President Trump.
One of the advantages of the adversarial system in the courts is that advocates on the opposing side ideally get a fair chance — unlike the one-sided media with journalists who, at the rate of more than 90 percent, contributed to the Hillary Clinton campaign …
Questions not asked of Rice or other sources by the media include whether she or other Obama officials “flagged” the unmasked Trump team names for future NSA (or British GCHQ) automatic unmasking and delivery of transcripts and summary reports.
Did the Obama people regularize the “unmasking” so that routinely a new retroactive search was automatically ordered with automatic unmaskings? That would be another way to turn “incidental collection” into an effectively ongoing wiretap order. Did President Obama or Rice or others request actual sound recordings of Trump and others to review?
Did the Obama team “unmask” other presidential candidates and associates besides Trump, such as Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who visited Moscow in December 2015 and dined with Putin? Fox is reporting that Congressional investigators are now looking into whether other presidential candidates and Members of Congress were surveilled too. In 2014, CIA director Brennan was caught red-handed lying to the Senate about the CIA’s criminal hacking of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s computer system.
We are told that many, if not most, of these wiretaps and unmaskings of Trump people were not even wiretaps about Russia or “incidental collection” on legitimate foreign intelligence subjects, though they may have begun that way.
The evidence now indicates that the information was procured for partisan political purposes — to spy on the Trump opposition to Hillary Clinton using the full weight of the US government’s NSA spying apparatus (or NSA facilities used by British GCHQ).
Scandalized? Prepare to be more so:
Trump’s CIA Director Mike Pompeo is in a position to get to the bottom of this scandal. Yet, on April 13, 2017, in his first public speech as director, he seemed to indicate that the evidence being developed in connection with the CIA’s role in the illegal surveillance of President Trump was going to be ignored or brushed aside. It was a forceful, even strident, defense of the Agency.
“I inherited an Agency that has a real appreciation for the law and for the Constitution,” he claimed. “Despite fictional depictions meant to sell books or box-office tickets, we are not an untethered or rogue agency. So yes, while we have some truly awesome capabilities at our disposal, our officers do not operate in areas or against targets that are rightfully and legally off-limits to us.”
The evidence suggests the opposite. The CIA under Obama’s CIA Director Brennan was involved in illegal surveillance, using those “truly awesome capabilities” against political targets that should have been off-limits.
One of those targets was the President who appointed Pompeo as CIA director.
We need our intelligence agencies. But they have gone bad under bad leadership.
Maybe four of the 17 [US Intelligence agencies] could have or should have had an opinion on the Russian hacking. The rest having an opinion is either because of coercion or it is simply false that they had any direct knowledge of the hacking of the DNC by anyone.
From Townhall, by Bruce Bialosky:
The Russians are coming. The Russians are coming. This all started when Hillary Clinton reversed what Barack Obama had started four years earlier in a debate with Mitt Romney who actually stated the Russians were a problem. The only thing is that she stated that all 17 intelligence agencies agreed that the Russians had hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Though technically correct there are “17” intelligence agencies, Ms. Clinton knows that these agencies “agreeing” is a hoax.
My initial reaction to the statement was a logical and rational one. I stated Mr. Trump should have replied to her: “Why do we have 17 intelligence agencies and why can they not stop the Russians from hacking?” I thought this issue would go away after Hillary was sent into retirement, but the sore loser Democrats keep making a big deal about this.
We only reluctantly mention, or quote someone else’s mention of Hillary Clinton. We want the Clintons to fade out of memory – unless either of them is brought to public attention again by being indicted, tried, and sentenced to a long period in jail. But to deal with the present subject – the failures of US Intelligence over the last two decades – we cannot avoid mentioning her, the Liar of Benghazigate, the Taker of Bribes, the Seller of Her Country.
There are actually 17 government entities considered part of our “Intelligence Community”. That is if you consider the Office of the Director of National Intelligence one of them. That position goes back to 1955 when our sprawling intelligence community was determined to be too big and too diverse so they needed another person (and all their staff) to oversee all the operating entities. Ten of the 17 agencies were formed after the director position was established. The coordination did not seem to work because Attorney General John Ashcroft stated his biggest challenge after 9/11 was synchronizing efforts between the various intelligence agencies.
The 17 agencies are broken into three groups. The first are ones within the different arms of the military. There is the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and that could be considered warranted, but why do we need separate departments within every branch and why would they not just be considered part of the DIA? The Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard do not need separate intelligence departments. No wonder we can’t get anything right when just our Defense Department has eight separate intelligence agencies.
If we go back to the claim that all 17 agencies agreed it was the Russians who were hacking, please explain to me what information the Coast Guard had on that. Or, for that matter, any of the other four wings of our armed forces. Why would they be following domestic matters like this? That would seem improper or illegal to me.
Then there are the agencies that are part of cabinet departments. Energy, State, Treasury, Homeland Security and Justice all have intelligence agencies. Why do any of these departments except for maybe Homeland Security need their own agency? The Justice Department, which has the FBI (an important domestic intelligence agency), has another agency (Office of National Security Intelligence) that was created in 2006 under the DEA. What a waste.
All these departments should have their efforts coordinated through one entity – the FBI. If the FBI needs people assigned to these departments they should do so, but everything should run through one central point. Back to the Clinton claim, why would the agency under the DEA have any knowledge about Russian hacking of the DNC? Or the agency in the Energy Department? Again, obviously a ridiculous claim.
Then there are the Big Five of the intelligence community. They are the CIA, DIA, National Security Agency (NSA), National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (GEOINT). We all know what the CIA does (as much as we are allowed to know). But why is there the DIA and NSA? They are both part of the Defense Department. The NSA was formed in 1952, and the DIA in 1961 and I cannot tell why it exists. It seems we allow our government to create overlapping entities so they can all miss out on accomplishing their mission.
The ones that baffle me totally are the NRO and the GEOINT. GEOINT states “Geospatial intelligence, or GEOINT, is the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess and visually depict physical features and geographically-referenced activities on the Earth. GEOINT consists of imagery, imagery intelligence and geospatial information.” What exactly is that? Maybe this should be a separate agency feeding the others, but they should be under either the CIA or NSA and not another separate operation.
When you look at the description of what the NRO does it certainly seems like it is splitting hairs between what it does and GEOINT. Both are part of the Defense Department and provide services to other intelligence agencies. These are certainly two entities that by definition should have no clue whether the Russians hacked the DNC nor an opinion.
In conclusion, there maybe should be three or four separate intelligence agencies: CIA, FBI, NSA and maybe the director of national intelligence. The other agencies should be folded into these. One would be independent (CIA), one part of Justice (FBI) and one part of Defense (NSA). All the confusing overlap and inefficiency will be eliminated. …
Now that President Trump has appointed Mike Pompeo to replace John Brennan as head of the CIA, will something of that sort happen?
From Front Page by Lloyd Billingsley:
John Brennan … should not have had that job or any intelligence post, not even to make coffee.
In 1976, year of the American Bicentennial, the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) ticket of Gus Hall and Jarvis Tyner got 58,992 votes. One of them came from college student John Brennan and that requires some context. The CPUSA has always been a wholly owned subsidiary of the Soviet Union, and in 1976 that was evident to all but the willfully blind. …
Gus Hall [was] a slobbering Stalinist who defended the USSR during the worst of its atrocities and remained faithful to the end. So it took a special kind of person to vote for Gus Hall and the Communist Party USA in 1976, but John Brennan was up to the task.
Brennan said he voted Communist because he was unhappy “with the system” and saw “the need for change”. … The CPUSA at that time was dedicated to gaining support for Soviet foreign policy, with the intent of defeating the United States in the Cold War. …
Yet Brennan “got the job [of CIA director], which makes sense, given the person who chose him”.
Namely, President Obama. He put the US agency whose duty it was to keep Americans safe from its enemies, under the directorship of a man who had voted for the victory of the USSR over the US, and was an admirer of Islam even after 19 Muslim terrorists had killed close on 3,000 people in New York and Washington, D.C., on 9/11/2001.
The signs of where Brennan’s sympathies lay were not hard to read – and they were not the United States:
In 2012, Brennan played a role in fabricating the false narrative that Benghazi was a spontaneous protest of a video.
After Brennan became CIA boss in 2013, he transformed the agency into a partisan propaganda service for [Obama] and his designated successor Hillary Clinton. She was the Secretary of State who dismissed the four American dead in Benghazi with: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
Mike Pompeo, by all indications a capable man, understands that the Central Intelligence Agency is the eyes and ears of the United States against all enemies, radical Islamic terrorists prominent among them. The CIA does not exist to function as a private Comintern for any politician.
Stalinist-voting John Brennan, who believes Islam is a “faith of peace and tolerance,” is out but questions remain.
Brennan’s moles remain in place. As with corrupt Justice Department and IRS officials, they need to be exposed, fired, and prosecuted.
Director Pompeo should also take a hard look at anyone hired on the watch of John Brennan and [Obama]. Neither [of them] was properly vetted, so check out whom they let slip in. …
In the war for the nation’s future, this will be a crucial battle. … The Trump administration … might consider scrapping the CIA and starting afresh with a new agency. As President Trump says, the nation has deep needs in infrastructure.
The scurrilous “intelligence” dossier on President-elect Donald Trump, claiming that he did disgusting, low, disreputable things on a visit to Russia (which he never made) – the alleged antics being on film and in the possession of Russian snoop officials, so the Putin government has a hold on him forever (and that’s why Putin wanted Trump to win the election and therefore wrecked poor Hillary’s otherwise perfect campaign) – was concocted by an erstwhile MI6 agent, now having even more fun running his very own espionage company. His name is Christopher Steele.
He has been accused of lying! And he feels so got-at that he’s gone into hiding.
Which is – we are to understand – awfully unfair, because, you see, the information in the dossier never was intended to be TRUE. Good grief! TRUE? When was “intelligence” ever intended or expected to be TRUE?
A corrective to so naive an expectation comes from an article by Tom Burgis in the Financial Times of January 14, 2017. We quote from the print version:
[Intelligence agents] argue that the rush to shoot the messenger [Christopher Steele] represents a misunderstanding of what intelligence is, whether amassed by state agencies or private companies. It does not deal in true or false, they say, but in shades of confidence in sources. “When you are in the corporate intelligence world, everyone knows that, in every report you get, not everything is true,” says a British investigator who knows Mr Steele.
So in every report you get, there are falsehoods. In every report you get, everything may be false, nothing true. There is no way of knowing.
Now you’ve been educated, now you know that trade secret, how do you feel about your country’s intelligence services? Confident in them? Safer?
No intelligence service detected signs that the 9/11 terrorists attacks on New York and the Pentagon were coming. Nor subsequent mass killings by Muslim terrorists in the US, Britain, France, Germany, and Spain.
However, US intelligence has uncovered many violent plots and prevented them. They have found, or stumbled upon, the truth very often. So it is possible for them to find out what is really happening, has really happened, is going to happen. They surely do strive for accurate information. They are a vital part of the defense of the nation. They cannot take that responsibility as lightly as the colleagues of Christopher Steele insouciantly brag that they do.
The important point about the dossier on Donald Trump in Russia is that it was a work of pure fiction, of cruel malice, of witless irresponsibility. It was extremely unintelligent.
And the chiefs of the US intelligence services knew that it was all those things. Yet they “leaked” the tainting lies to media hostile to the president-elect. That is distressing and horrible to contemplate.
We expect President Trump’s appointees to the headship of the intelligence services – in which many persons of integrity do labor for the truth – to be better and to do better.
What disservice have these four men done to the Intelligence Services of the United States – which they have been in charge of under Obama, the Disserver-in-Chief?:
James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, who informed Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood was “largely secular”.
Mike Morell, former Director of the CIA, who helped concoct White House lies to cover-up the horrific treachery that was “Benghazigate”.
John Brennan, Director of the CIA, who defends Islam in this age of a renewed Islamic onslaught on the West.
James Comey, Director of the FBI, who protected Hillary Clinton from prosecution for her many serious crimes.
Have they turned the Intelligence Services into the enemies of the new United States administration? A Democratic Senator and a journalist who “held positions as the Germany bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal and Germany correspondent for Time magazine” and is now with the Brookings Institution, claim that that is what has happened.
Cliff Kincaid writes at Canada Free Press:
Echoing New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer’s warning that the intelligence community is out to “get” President-elect Trump, a Brookings Institution expert who served in the Clinton administration says that Trump’s treatment of his spies will “come back to bite him” in the form of “devastating” leaks to the media that will make him look foolish or incompetent.
“Leaking by intelligence officials and analysts is, of course, illegal. The intelligence community doesn’t leak as much as the Pentagon or Congress, but when its reputation is at stake, it can do so to devastating effect,” says Daniel Benjamin of the Brookings Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence. Benjamin previously served as the principal advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on counterterrorism and was embroiled in the controversy over Mrs. Clinton’s failure to stop the massacre of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
The Bookings Institution is generously funded by Arab governments.
Benjamin’s article, How Trump’s attacks on the intelligence community will come back to haunt him, did not refute the widely held belief that President Obama’s CIA and its director John Brennan were behind the recent leaks to The Washington Post and New York Times depicting Trump as a Russian puppet. In fact, the implication is that the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community will seek further revenge on Trump if he continues to criticize them.
At his recent news conference, in regard to the leaks about his meetings with intelligence officials, Trump noted that “I think it’s pretty sad when intelligence reports get leaked out to the press. I think it’s pretty sad. First of all, it’s illegal. You know, these are classified and certified meetings and reports.”
But it appears that some intelligence officials believe they are above the law and can use illegal leaks to damage an elected President who has been critical of their work product. In the most recent case, CNN and BuzzFeed were leaked a document offering unsubstantiated claims of Trump being sexually compromised by Russian officials. CNN summarized the document; BuzzFeed published the whole thing.
Trump denounced these leaks, with Director of the Office of National Intelligence James Clapper disclosing that he had called Trump about them and had declared his “profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press …”. He said that he and Trump “both agreed that they are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security”.
Trump said Clapper “called me yesterday to denounce the false and fictitious report that was illegally circulated.”
“I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC [Intelligence Community],” Clapper said. However, he did not indicate what investigation, if any, he had conducted to make this determination.
“When something goes wrong — say a military deployment to combat jihadi insurgents in the Middle East blows up in the Trump administration’s face — the press will overflow with stories telling of intelligence reports that were ignored by the White House and briefings the president missed,” Benjamin wrote. Such stories, of course, would be based on illegal leaks.
“Imagine what an aggrieved intel community might do to a genuinely hostile president,” he said. Benjamin’s comments suggest that the intelligence community will use the media to blame Trump for things that go wrong in foreign affairs, in order to protect its own reputation. …
It’s reputation? It’s reputation now, thanks to its own leaders, needs improving, not protecting.
The Brookings expert said, “The CIA is usually one of the very first agencies to establish a relationship with new chief executives, because of the briefings it delivers before elections have even occurred and the beguiling prospect it offers of handling missions quietly and efficiently.”
It’s not clear what he means by this. The Obama CIA’s “covert” arms-running program in Syria has backfired in a big way, provoking a Russian military intervention, the loss of up to 500,000 lives, and a refugee crisis which threatens the future of Europe.
Benjamin speculated that Trump will ask the CIA to organize a covert operation to undermine the regime in Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism, and that the agency will offer him options that don’t guarantee success and which he may have to reject. He wrote that “…it is an iron law of bureaucracy that no agency will knock itself out for a leader it deems capricious, especially one who cannot be relied on to defend his own if something goes wrong.”
“The answer from the intel community will never be no,” he said. “Instead, the planners will brief the president on three different approaches. Then they will assess the risk of failure for each at 60-80 percent, providing the Oval Office with a dare it cannot possibly accept. For some, of course, this could turn out to be a silver lining in an otherwise dismal story.”
In short, the CIA will look for excuses not to proceed, and then get back to the business of leaking damaging stories to the press when terrorist incidents and other problems occur.
Is the CIA really the “invisible government” that the so-called “conspiracy theorists” have warned about? Is there a “deep state” that tries to run the government behind-the-scenes?
Here is the video clip – we view it gain and again for the sheer pleasure of it – in which President-elect Trump treats journalists who try to traduce him with the powerful scorn they deserve:
How the U.S. Government Hacks the World is the title of an article by Michael Riley published by Bloomberg in May, 2013.
On a dispute over hacking between the U.S. and China, the author writes:
“‘You spy, we spy, but you just steal the wrong stuff.’ That’s a hard conversation,” says Michael Hayden, who headed the NSA [under President Clinton and President G.W Bush], and later the CIA.
“States spying on states, I got that,” says Hayden … “But this isn’t that competition. This is a nation-state attempting espionage on private corporations. That is not an even playing field.”
The tension between the two nations escalated in May, when a Pentagon report to Congress for the first time officially linked China’s government directly to the hacking of U.S. defense contractors. It revealed that U.S. intelligence had been tracking a vast hacking bureaucracy adept at stealing technology from American companies. China’s leaders have long denied being behind the hacks. An article about the Pentagon report in the official People’s Daily newspaper called the U.S. the “real hacking empire”.
The U.S. government doesn’t deny that it engages in cyber espionage.
Hayden is quoted as saying:
You’re not waiting for someone to decide to turn information into electrons and photons and send it. You’re commuting to where the information is stored and extracting the information from the adversaries’ network. We are the best at doing it. Period.”
The U.S. position is that some kinds of hacking are more acceptable than others — and the kind the NSA does is in keeping with unofficial, unspoken rules going back to the Cold War about what secrets are OK for one country to steal from another. …
Next the writer introduces us to TAO:
The men and women who hack for the NSA belong to a secretive unit known as Tailored Access Operations.
It gathers vast amounts of intelligence on terrorist financial networks, international money-laundering and drug operations, the readiness of foreign militaries, even the internal political squabbles of potential adversaries, according to two former U.S. government security officials, who asked not to be named when discussing foreign intelligence gathering.
For years, the NSA wouldn’t acknowledge TAO’s existence. A Pentagon official who also asked not to be named confirmed that TAO conducts cyber espionage, or what the Department of Defense calls “computer network exploitation”, but emphasized that it doesn’t target technology, trade, or financial secrets. The official says the number of people who work for TAO is classified. …
The two former security officials agreed to describe the operation and its activities without divulging which governments or entities it targets. According to the former officials, U.S. cyberspies, most from military units who’ve received specialized training, sit at consoles running sophisticated hacking software, which funnels information stolen from computers around the world into a “fusion center”, where intelligence analysts try to make sense of it all. The NSA is prohibited by law from spying on people or entities within the U.S., including noncitizens, or on U.S. citizens abroad.
According to one of the former officials, the amount of data the unit harvests from overseas computer networks, or as it travels across the Internet, has grown to an astonishing 2 petabytes an hour—that’s nearly 2.1 million gigabytes, the equivalent of hundreds of millions of pages of text.
The agency has managed to automate much of the process, one of the former officials says, requiring human hackers to intervene only in cases of the most well-protected computers. Just like spies in the physical world, the U.S. cyberspies take pains to obscure their tracks or disguise themselves as something else — hackers from China, say — in case their activities are detected.
Even as the rest of the Pentagon budget shrinks, the importance of the NSA’s hacking operations has helped create a booming cyber-industrial complex. Specialized units of big defense contractors, and boutique firms that create hacking tools, look for security flaws in popular software programs that allow government hackers to take over computers. A company called KEYW does a robust business training hackers for U.S. intelligence, says Chief Executive Officer Leonard Moodispaw, who cautions that he can’t reveal more. “Our federal partners don’t like it if we’re too explicit.”
All this activity gives China leverage against Washington’s complaints, says Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. Beijing can turn U.S. protests about industrial espionage around and claim that Washington is doing something even worse. “It’s OK to steal plans for a new automobile,” Aftergood says the Chinese can argue, “but not our national secrets.”
Spiegel OnLine reported in October, 2013:
TAO specialists have directly accessed the protected networks of democratically elected leaders of countries. They infiltrated networks of European telecommunications companies and gained access to and read mails sent over Blackberry’s BES email servers, which until then were believed to be securely encrypted. Achieving this last goal required a “sustained TAO operation”, one document states.
This TAO unit is born of the Internet – created in 1997, a time when not even 2 percent of the world’s population had Internet access and no one had yet thought of Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. From the time the first TAO employees moved into offices at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, the unit was housed in a separate wing, set apart from the rest of the agency. Their task was clear from the beginning – to work around the clock to find ways to hack into global communications traffic.
“You spy, we spy … States spying on states …”
That’s the norm. And it’s good to know that the U.S. does it best.
Further to our recent post Jon Stewart on NSA (December 15, 2013), in which we asked our readers if they thought NSA spying was justified if it kept us safe from terrorist attacks, here is a relevant article from Reason, by Jacob Sullum:
When US District Judge Richard Leon issued his preliminary injunction against the NSA’s phone record database yesterday, part of his analysis … concerned whether the collection of telephone metadata counts as a “search” under the Fourth Amendment. But Leon also considered whether such a search might be “reasonable,” even without an individualized warrant, because of its usefulness in preventing terrorist attacks.
That part of the analysis was pretty straightforward, since the government had presented no evidence that the database has been useful in preventing terrorist attacks:
The Government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the Government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature. In fact, none of the three “recent episodes” cited by the Government that supposedly “illustrate the role that telephony metadata analysis can play in preventing and protecting against terrorist attack” involved any apparent urgency….
Given the limited record before me at this point in the litigation — most notably, the utter lack of evidence that a terrorist attack has ever been prevented because searching the NSA database was faster than other investigative tactics— I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism.
Leon’s conclusion on this question is striking, since you’d think the Obama administration would be highly motivated to show that the database has been crucial in saving lives. If the government cannot muster a single plausible example, how can such a massive invasion of privacy possibly be justified?
The administration has been struggling with this problem since news reports based on leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden first revealed the existence of the phone record database last June. At first intelligence officials and their allies in Congress suggested that the program had been instrumental in foiling more than 50 terrorist plots. But those claims — which were immediately questioned by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who as members of the Senate Intelligence Committee ought to know — dissolved upon close examination. Last October a ProPublica analysis concluded “there’s no evidence that the oft-cited figure is accurate”.
The crucial question, usually dodged by the NSA and its defenders, is whether routinely collecting everyone’s phone records, as opposed to seeking specific, evidence-based court orders aimed at particular targets, has been decisive in stopping terrorist attacks. If the government has been unable to offer any examples in the last six months, it seems unlikely it ever will.
Well, it might. But more and more NSA resembles George Orwell’s “Big Brother” in 1984, with his observation of everyone all the time, in order to control their lives, their actions, and ultimately even their thoughts and emotions. He is the perfect symbol of the socialist state. If a conservative Republican Congress and president ever come to power again, they should abolish the agency’s listening and recording center. There are better ways to trace and track terrorists – among them, keeping watch on all mosques, and severely limiting Muslim immigration.
We found this funny. We also like the fact that at last some media persons on the left are mocking Obama.
Readers: What is your opinion of NSA spying?
Do you think it is justified if it keeps us safe from terrorist attacks?
This is from the Guardian, the British newspaper that first exposed the extent of the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance capability and practice. We have very seldom found the powerful left-slanted pro-Islam anti-semitic Guardian worthy of quoting unless to argue against it. This time we find value in one of its articles, an interview with their NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, a former technical assistant for the CIA, now in Hong Kong where he has sought asylum for reasons that emerge in what he reveals among these extracts:
Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?
A: The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards. I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under. …
Q: Do you see yourself as another Bradley Manning?
A: Manning was a classic whistleblower. He was inspired by the public good.
Q: Do you think what you have done is a crime?
A: We have seen enough criminality on the part of government. It is hypocritical to make this allegation against me. …
Q: What do you think is going to happen to you?
A: Nothing good.
Q: Why Hong Kong?
A: I think it is really tragic that an American has to move to a place that has a reputation for less freedom. Still, Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People’s Republic of China. It has a strong tradition of free speech.
Q: What do the leaked documents reveal?
A: That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinised most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians. …
Q: Is it possible to put security in place to protect against state surveillance?
A: You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.
Q: Does your family know you are planning this?
A: No. My family does not know what is happening … My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner. Anyone I have a relationship with … I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. I am not going to be able to communicate with them. They [the authorities] will act aggressively against anyone who has known me. That keeps me up at night. …
Q: Washington-based foreign affairs analyst Steve Clemons said he overheard at the capital’s Dulles airport four men discussing an intelligence conference they had just attended. Speaking about the leaks, one of them said, according to Clemons, that both the reporter and leaker should be “disappeared”. How do you feel about that?
A: Someone responding to the story said ‘real spies do not speak like that’. Well, I am a spy and that is how they talk. Whenever we had a debate in the office on how to handle crimes, they do not defend due process – they defend decisive action. They say it is better to kick someone out of a plane than let these people have a day in court. It is an authoritarian mindset in general.
Q: Do you have a plan in place?
A: The only thing I can do is sit here and hope the Hong Kong government does not deport me … My predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values. The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland. They stood up for people over internet freedom. I have no idea what my future is going to be. They could put out an Interpol note. But I don’t think I have committed a crime outside the domain of the US. I think it will be clearly shown to be political in nature.
Q: Do you think you are probably going to end up in prison?
A: I could not do this without accepting the risk of prison. You can’t come up against the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies and not accept the risk. If they want to get you, over time they will.
So if Edward Snowden is to be believed, the intelligence agencies of the United States like the idea of killing people to shut them up. Snowden does not say in the interview that they have killed people whose testimony against them they fear, but would they advocate such expedient murders of US citizens if they did not believe they can get away with them? And if they are all for them, and think they can get away with them, is it not highly probable that they have committed them?
Scott Johnson of PowerLine, whose opinion we hold in high esteem, has doubts about the value of Snowden’s revelations and his motivation:
If you’ve been queasy about the ongoing disclosures of anti-terror national security programs by lefty Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian (UK), as I have, I doubt the Guardian’s profile of Greenwald’s source — one Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old self-described former technical assistant for the CIA who says he has has worked at the NSA for the last four years as an employee of outside contractors including Booz Allen and Dell — will allay your queasiness.
Read the whole thing and render your own judgment. Snowden seems to me a true believer of doubtful maturity sunk in his own weird grandiosity. Greenwald of course celebrates Snowden as a “whisteblower.” That is a conclusion that begs the question, but I got off the train long before reaching this statement of reassurance, provided to Greenwald from the refuge of a hotel room in Hong Kong:
“I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest,” he said. “There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over, because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”
As for transparency, I think I can see right through him.
Dick Morris writes (read his whole article here):
The study said it was impossible to blow the bridge up – one would have been discovered – but that a terrorist could sever the cable holding it aloft with a torch. It would take weeks, but the terrorists could work, undetected, in a vacant building that housed the cables under the bridge. The traffic noises would mask their efforts, and the building was not patrolled or even visited by anyone.
The terrorist noted the cops on the bridge and sent a message, intercepted by the NSA, that it was "too hot on the Brooklyn Bridge." But it was not until we waterboarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed that we learned the identity of the al-Qaida operative – Lyman Farris. On learning his name, the New York Police raided his Brooklyn apartment. Chillingly, they found the equipment he would need to bring down the bridge and an engineering diagram (akin to that which Kelly had ordered) identifying where they would have to stand to cut the cables.
Does Obama really want to prosecute the anti-terror investigators who saved thousands by waterboarding Mohammed and learning this information?
Yes, he does. The Democrats want to, because punishing the last administration is (obviously) far more important to them than national security. The true name for their affected moral objection to ‘torturing’ terrorists, is spite.