The greatest scandal in American history 8

A multitude of crimes have been committed by people who were entrusted with the high responsibility of leading and protecting the nation.

How will history judge them? Which is to say, how will historians judge them?

One excellent historian, Victor Davis Hanson, is already judging them.

Writing  at American Greatness, he lists the evils done. We compile our list from his, mostly in his words:

A systematic and terrible assault was made on our constitutional freedoms.

A group of smug and mediocre apparatchiks assumed they had the moral right to destroy a presidential candidate and later an elected president.

A series of progressive-government-media driven melodramas was aimed at both injuring the Trump presidency and shielding a virtual coup to destroy an elected president.

The FBI and the Justice Department deliberately misled Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges to spy on an American citizen as a way to monitor others in the Trump campaign.

Samantha Power and Susan Rice requested the unmasking of scores of Americans, and the names of some of them were were illegally leaked to the media with the intent of defaming them.

James Comey’s cronies at the FBI, including the disgraced Peter Strzok and Lisa Pagepost facto announced that the leaked Comey versions of his one-on-one talks with the president of the United States were merely confidential rather than top secret and thus their dissemination to the media was not quite felonious – which is why Comey is not in jail.

Comey’s leaking gambit led to the appointment of his long-time friend, former FBI Director Robert Mueller. Mueller then delighted the media by appointing mostly progressive activist lawyers, some with ties to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, in what then giddy journalists called a “dream team” of “all-stars” who in the fashion of a “hunter-killer” team would abort the Trump presidency by proving Trump was what former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on television called a “Putin asset”.

The Mueller investigation—500 subpoenas, 22 months, $35 million—was one of the great travesties in American investigatory history. It was cooked up by fired, disgraced—and furious—former FBI Director James Comey. By his own admission, Comey conceded that he leaked confidential memos of private conversations he had with the president to create a large enough media and political storm to force the naming of a special prosecutor to investigate “Russian collusion”.

The libel of Russian collusion was absurd from the get-go.

In surreal fashion, the main players, under suspicion for seeding and peddling the fraudulent Steele dossier among the high echelons of the U.S. government and using such smears to cripple Trump—John Brennan, James Clapper, and Andrew McCabe—were hired by liberal CNN and MSNBC as paid analysts to fob off on others the very scandals that they themselves had created.

Eric Clinesmith, another FBI lawyer, altered an email presented as evidence before a FISA court to warp the request to surveil Carter Page. If there is any justice left in this sordid mess, he will end up in jail.

When Adam Schiff’s pernicious role in jump-starting the impeachment is finally fully known, he will likely be revealed as the prime schemer, along with minor Obama officials buried within the Trump National Security Council, dreaming up the entire Ukraine caper of the “whistleblower” (during which caper he and Representative Gerald Nadler and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi behaved in a manner that was childish, peevish, and absurd).  

The hatching of the intricate plots, the systematic abuses against Candidate Trump and then President Trump, Hanson calls skullduggery. Which is what it was and what it continues to be. He says that for four years the skulduggery kept a series of melodramas going which shielded a virtual coup to destroy an elected president.

Hanson’s verdict on the whole long-drawn-out episode of crime, corruption, and treachery:

It is the greatest scandal in American history.

How will  the conspirators – the arrogant civil servants, the dirty cops, the media connivers, the politicians – be judged? Will they ever be made to answer for what they did?  Is there “any justice left in this sordid mess”? 

If they were brought to trial, what would their just punishment be?   

What would be the just punishment for the two people behind it all, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?

Edward Snowden: loyal to the people of America 2

These are extracts from a Washington Times report of an interview it had in Moscow with Edward Snowden, the man who “betrayed” the secrets of the National Security Agency (NSA):

Snowden is an orderly thinker, with an engineer’s approach to problem-solving. He had come to believe that a dangerous machine of mass surveillance was growing unchecked. Closed-door oversight by Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was a “graveyard of judgment” he said, manipulated by the agency it was supposed to keep in check. Classification rules erected walls to prevent public debate.

Toppling those walls would be a spectacular act of transgression against the norms that prevailed inside them. Someone would have to bypass security, extract the secrets, make undetected contact with journalists and provide them with enough proof to tell the stories.

The NSA’s business is “information dominance”, the use of other people’s secrets to shape events. … Snowden upended the agency on its own turf. …[and] succeeded beyond plausible ambition. The NSA, accustomed to watching without being watched, faces scrutiny it has not endured since the 1970s, or perhaps ever.

The cascading effects have made themselves felt in Congress, the courts, popular culture, Silicon Valley and world capitals.

The basic structure of the Internet itself is now in question, as Brazil and members of the European Union consider measures to keep their data away from U.S. territory and U.S. technology giants including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo take extraordinary steps to block the collection of data by their government.

For months, Obama administration officials attacked Snowden’s motives and said the work of the NSA was distorted by selective leaks and misinterpretations.

On Dec. 16, in a lawsuit that could not have gone forward without the disclosures made possible by Snowden, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon described the NSA’s capabilities as “almost Orwellian” and said its bulk collection of U.S. domestic telephone records was probably unconstitutional.

The next day, in the Roosevelt Room [at the White house], an unusual delegation of executives from old telephone companies and young Internet firms told President Obama that the NSA’s intrusion into their networks was a threat to the U.S. information economy. The following day, an advisory panel appointed by Obama recommended substantial new restrictions on the NSA, including an end to the domestic call-records program. …

In the intelligence and national security establishments, Snowden is widely viewed as a reckless saboteur, and journalists abetting him little less so. …

It is commonly said of Snowden that he broke an oath of secrecy, a turn of phrase that captures a sense of betrayal. NSA Director Keith B. Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., among many others, have used that formula. …

Snowden noted matter-of-factly that Standard Form 312, the classified-information nondisclosure agreement, is a civil contract. He signed it, but he pledged his fealty elsewhere.

“The oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy,” he said. “That is an oath to the Constitution. That is the oath that I kept that Keith Alexander and James Clapper did not.”

Beginning in October 2012, he said, he brought his misgivings to two superiors in the NSA’s Technology Directorate and two more in the NSA Threat Operations Center’s regional base in Hawaii. For each of them, and 15 other co-workers, Snowden said he opened a data query tool called BOUNDLESSINFORMANT, which used color-coded “heat maps” to depict the volume of data ingested by NSA taps.

His colleagues were often “astonished to learn we are collecting more in the United States on Americans than we are on Russians in Russia,” he said. Many of them were troubled, he said, and several said they did not want to know any more.

“I asked these people, ‘What do you think the public would do if this was on the front page?’ ” he said. He noted that critics have accused him of bypassing internal channels of dissent. “How is that not reporting it? How is that not raising it?” …

By last December, Snowden was contacting reporters, although he had not yet passed along any classified information. He continued to give his colleagues the “front-page test”, he said, until April. …

Just before releasing the documents this spring, Snowden made a final review of the risks. He had overcome what he described at the time as a “selfish fear” of the consequences for himself.

“I said to you the only fear [left] is apathy — that people won’t care, that they won’t want change.”

The documents leaked by Snowden compelled attention because they revealed to Americans a history they did not know they had. …

With assistance from private communications firms, the NSA had learned to capture enormous flows of data at the speed of light from fiber-optic cables that carried Internet and telephone traffic over continents and under seas. According to one document in Snowden’s cache, the agency’s Special Source Operations group, which as early as 2006 was said to be ingesting “one Library of Congress every 14.4 seconds”, had an official seal that might have been parody: an eagle with all the world’s cables in its grasp.

Each year, NSA systems collected hundreds of millions of e-mail address books, hundreds of billions of cellphone location records and trillions of domestic call logs.

Most of that data, by definition and intent, belonged to ordinary people suspected of nothing. But vast new storage capacity and processing tools enabled the NSA to use the information to map human relationships on a planetary scale. Only this way, its leadership believed, could the NSA reach beyond its universe of known intelligence targets.

In the view of the NSA, signals intelligence, or electronic eavesdropping, was a matter of life and death, “without which America would cease to exist as we know it”, according to an internal presentation in the first week of October 2001, as the agency ramped up its response to the al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

With stakes such as those, there was no capability the NSA believed it should leave on the table. The agency followed orders from President George W. Bush to begin domestic collection without authority from Congress and the courts. When the NSA won those authorities later, some of them under secret interpretations of laws passed by Congress between 2007 and 2012, the Obama administration went further still. …

In the Moscow interview, Snowden said, “What the government wants is something they never had before,” adding: “They want total awareness. The question is, is that something we should be allowing?”

Snowden likened the NSA’s powers to those used by British authorities in Colonial America, when “general warrants” allowed for anyone to be searched. The FISA court, Snowden said, “is authorizing general warrants for the entire country’s metadata.”

“The last time that happened, we fought a war over it,” he said.

Technology, of course, has enabled a great deal of consumer surveillance by private companies, as well. The difference with the NSA’s possession of the data, Snowden said, is that government has the power to take away life or freedom.

At the NSA, he said, “there are people in the office who joke about, ‘We put warheads on foreheads.’ Twitter doesn’t put warheads on foreheads.”

Privacy, as Snowden sees it, is a universal right, applicable to American and foreign surveillance alike.

“I don’t care whether you’re the pope or Osama bin Laden,” he said. “As long as there’s an individualized, articulable, probable cause for targeting these people as legitimate foreign intelligence, that’s fine. I don’t think it’s imposing a ridiculous burden by asking for probable cause. …

When it comes to spying on allies, by Snowden’s lights, the news is not always about the target.

“It’s the deception of the government that’s revealed,” Snowden said, noting that the Obama administration offered false public assurances after the initial reports about NSA surveillance in Germany.  “The U.S. government said: ‘We follow German laws in Germany. We never target German citizens.’ And then the story comes out and it’s: ‘What are you talking about? You’re spying on the chancellor.’ You just lied to the entire country, in front of Congress.”

In hope of keeping focus on the NSA, Snowden has ignored attacks on himself.

“Let them say what they want,” he said. “It’s not about me.”

Former NSA and CIA director Michael V. Hayden predicted that Snowden will waste away in Moscow as an alcoholic, like other “defectors.” To this, Snowden shrugged. He does not drink at all. Never has.

But Snowden knows his presence here is easy ammunition for critics. He did not choose refuge in Moscow as a final destination. He said that once the U.S. government voided his passport as he tried to change planes en route to Latin America, he had no other choice. …  “I have no relationship with the Russian government. I have not entered into any agreements with them.”

“If I defected at all,” Snowden said, “I defected from the government to the public.”

We don’t think it likely that the NSA will stop its surveillance of the whole earth and your and our emails. It’s a power beyond the wildest dreams of all governments ever to be able to know everything about everyone, and now that it has become possible, and is being used, it will never be given up. No court judgment will stop it. No act of Congress. Preventing terrorist attacks is the excuse. Power is the reason.

At least we know about it now. For that we have to thank Edward Snowden.