Do you suspect that the noise over Trump campaign contacts with the Russians is just a political hit arranged by Obama insiders before they left?
You got fresh evidence of that Monday, with news that then-national security adviser Susan Rice was behind the “unmasking” of Trumpites in transcripts of calls with Russian officials.
Again, nothing on the public record so far shows that anyone on Team Trump said anything improper on those calls.
It’s no surprise that US spooks intercept foreign officials’ calls. But intelligence community reports don’t disclose the names of US citizens on the other end. To get that info, a high official must (but rarely does) push to “unmask” the Americans’ names.
Bloomberg’s Eli Lake now reports that Rice started doing just that last year.
That was perfectly legal. But we also know that the Obama administration later changed the classification of the “unmasked” transcripts, and other similar material, in order to spread the information as widely as possible within the government.
The motive for that was (supposedly) to prevent Team Trump from burying it all once it took over. But the result was that it made it relatively safe for someone (or someones) to leak the info to the press.
Which made it likely somebody would leak. So Team Obama’s “spread the info” initiative certainly broke the spirit of the laws. Read the rest of this entry »
Long before a nuclear deal was in reach, the U.S. was quietly lifting some of the financial pressure on Iran, a Daily Beast investigation reveals. How the sanctions were softened.
Eli Lake, Josh Rogin report: The Obama administration began softening sanctions on Iran after the election of Iran’s new president in June, months before the current round of nuclear talks in Geneva or the historic phone call between the two leaders in September.
While those negotiations now appear on the verge of a breakthrough the key condition for Iran—relief from crippling sanctions—began quietly and modestly five months ago.
A review of Treasury Department notices reveals that the U.S. government has all but
stopped the financial blacklisting of entities and people that help Iran evade international sanctions since the election of its president, Hassan Rouhani, in June.
On Wednesday Obama said in an interview with NBC News the negotiations in Geneva “are not about easing sanctions.” “The negotiations taking place are about how Iran begins to meet its international obligations and provide assurances not just to us but to the entire world,” the president said.
But it has also long been Obama’s strategy to squeeze Iran’s economy until Iran would be willing to trade relief from sanctions for abandoning key elements of its nuclear program.
One way Obama has pressured Iran is through isolating the country’s banks from the global financial sector, the networks that make modern international commerce possible. This in turn has led Iran to seek out front companies and cutouts to conduct routine international business, such as selling its crude oil. Read the rest of this entry »