John Solomon and Sara Carter reports: As his presidency drew to a close, Barack Obama’s top aides routinely reviewed intelligence reports gleaned from the National Security Agency’s incidental intercepts of Americans abroad, taking advantage of rules their boss relaxed starting in 2011 to help the government better fight terrorism, espionage by foreign enemies and hacking threats, Circa has learned.
Dozens of times in 2016, those intelligence reports identified Americans who were directly intercepted talking to foreign sources or were the subject of conversations between two or more monitored foreign figures. Sometimes the Americans’ names were officially unmasked; other times they were so specifically described in the reports that their identities were readily discernible. Among those cleared to request and consume unmasked NSA-based intelligence reports about U.S. citizens were Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice, his CIA Director John Brennan and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Some intercepted communications from November to January involved Trump transition figures or foreign figures’ perceptions of the incoming president and his administration. Intercepts involving congressional figures also have been unmasked occasionally for some time. Read the rest of this entry »
Nunes’ Trump surveillance claims raise more even questions.
James Rosen reports: Republican congressional investigators expect a potential “smoking gun” establishing that the Obama administration spied on the Trump transition team, and possibly the president-elect himself, will be produced to the House Intelligence Committee this week, a source told Fox News.
Classified intelligence showing incidental collection of Trump team communications, purportedly seen by committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and described by him in vague terms at a bombshell Wednesday afternoon news conference, came from multiple sources, Capitol Hill sources told Fox News. The intelligence corroborated information about surveillance of the Trump team that was known to Nunes, sources said, even before President Trump accused his predecessor of having wiretappedhim in a series of now-infamous tweets posted on March 4.
The intelligence is said to leave no doubt the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump, according to sources.
The key to that conclusion is the unmasking of selected U.S. persons whose names appeared in the intelligence, the sources said, adding that the paper trail leaves no other plausible purpose for the unmasking other than to damage the incoming Trump administration.
The FBI hasn’t been responsive to the House Intelligence Committee’s request for documents, but the National Security Agency is expected to produce documents to the committee by Friday. The NSA document production is expected to produce more intelligence than Nunes has so far seen or described – including what one source described as a potential “smoking gun” establishing the spying.
Some time will be needed to properly assess the materials, with the likely result being that congressional investigators and attorneys won’t have a solid handle on the contents of the documents – and their implications – until next week.
Because Nunes’s intelligence came from multiple sources during a span of several weeks, and he has not shared the actual materials with his committee colleagues, he will be the only member of the panel in a position to know whether the NSA has turned over some or all of the intelligence he is citing. However, Fox News was told Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., had been briefed on the basic contents of the intelligence described by Nunes. Read the rest of this entry »
(Washington DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the United States Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury regarding records related to the investigation of retired United States Army Lieutenant General Michel Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak (Judicial Watch v. Central Intelligence Agency et al. (No.1:17-cv-00397)). (The National Security Agency refused to confirm or deny the existence of intelligence records about communications between Gen. Flynn and Amb Kislyak.)
Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after the agencies failed to respond to a January 25, 2017, FOIA request seeking:
Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the investigation of retired Gen. Michael Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak between October 1, 2016 and the present.
This request includes, but is not limited to, any and all related warrants, affidavits, declarations, or similar records regarding the aforementioned investigation.
For purposes of clarification, please find enclosed a CNN report regarding the investigation, which cites information that was provided to CNN by members of the Intelligence Community.
The officials all stressed that so far there has been no determination of any wrongdoing.
FBI and intelligence officials briefed members of the Obama White House team before President Barack Obama left office about the Flynn calls to the Russian ambassador, sources said.
“President Trump is on to something. The Obama-connected wiretapping and illegal leaks of classified material concerning President Trump and General Flynn are a scandal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch aims to get to the truth about these crimes and we hope the Trump administration stands with us in the fight for transparency.”
The officials all stressed that so far there has been no determination of any wrongdoing.
FBI and intelligence officials briefed members of the Obama White House team before President Barack Obama left office about the Flynn calls to the Russian ambassador, sources said. Read the rest of this entry »
It has been a particularly embarrassing week for the press, and it’s only Saturday.
There’s no room for error, especially now that there’s a subgenre of “news” that has zero basis in fact, and is created from thin air for the sole purpose of generating cash.
But learning to be more careful and even-handed is apparently difficult for much of media, and this week was especially rough for newsrooms that are already struggling to regain credibility.
In no particular order, here are some of the most embarrassing media moments from this week:
The New York Times reported this week that former Texas Gov. Rick Perry agreed to be energy secretary without knowing the department oversees and maintains the country’s nuclear arsenal.
The story is written in such a way that Perry comes across as a bumbling bumpkin who’s in way over his head.
The problem with the report – well, there are many problems – the main problem with the story is that it hinges entirely on a bland quote from a GOP energy lobbyist. That source, Michael McKenna, has disavowed the story, and he says the Times took him out of context.
Other problems with the article include that McKenna was booted from the Trump transition team in early November, while Perry was nominated in mid-December.
Nevertheless, the paper’s editors say they stand by the story, “which accurately reflected what multiple, high-level sources told our reporters.”
This is a particularly interesting defense, considering there is nothing in the article to suggest the authors had more than one source.
In my story this week on the Times’ unsubstantiated hit on Perry, I included a link to USA Today’s Dec. 14 report on the former governor accepting the position at the Department of Energy. I included the link for one purpose: To provide citation for Perry’s acceptance remarks, which were published originally in a joint statement with the president-elect.
What I didn’t notice until later was that the linked USA Today report also included a bogus reference to the North Koreans.
The Dec. 14 article read, “The Twitter feed of the nuclear-armed dictatorship said, ‘Donald Trump minister of nuclear weapons Richard Perry known as governor of Texas province, famed for its production of tacos and bumpkins.'”
Unfortunately for USA Today, the North Korean government did no such thing. Like many others in media, the widely circulated newspaper fell for a parody Twitter account created and maintained by members of the libertarian-leaning website, Popehat.com. I removed the USA Today hyperlink from my article debunking the Times, and I updated with a link to a source that doesn’t include an embarrassing mistake. Read the rest of this entry »
Phillip Stucky reports: Campaign staffer Jason Miller for Donald Trump recently turned down a job working as Director of Communications, but new information has surfaced that could explain Miller’s decision, according to a Politico report Monday.
Miller allegedly had an affair during the course of the campaign, according to Politico’s report. The allegations come from transition aide A.J. Delgado, who tweeted congratulations to the “baby-daddy” for his promotion, calling Miller the “2016 version of John Edwards.”
“When you try to put a brave face and tweet about nonsense to distract, your feed looks like @JasonMillerDC’s,” Delgado wrote Twitter. “When people need to resign graciously and refuse to, it’s a bit … spooky.” Delgado then clarified who she was talking about, “Jason Miller, who needed to resign … yesterday.” Read the rest of this entry »
Baruch College student Yasmin Seweid, we now know, was not herself the victim of a hate crime. She made it all up. But by telling the tale of her attack by men shouting “Trump,” ripping at her hijab, while a trainful of New Yorkers sat silent, she victimized many others.
First on the list: the New York Police Department, which spent precious resources chasing a fabricated assault. Cops tried to track down witnesses — there were none. They reviewed video for clues — there were none.
Next: her fellow New Yorkers, who did not in fact stand idly by while watching a woman be attacked because of her faith. We are not the city of Kitty Genovese; that story of passive witness to horror, so many years ago, was itself a myth. But the image persists that New Yorkers are a can’t-be-bothered-even-if-you’re-in-danger lot. It’s a lie.
“I think there has been a furious counter attack by loyalists who are with Trump from the beginning when it was rather unfashionable, and Romney, of course, was the lead attacker, lead critic of Trump in the late primaries and general election. So, I understand why they feel there is a matter of loyalty.”
“You know, Trump is going to have to choose. If it’s loyalty, he is not going to choose Mitt Romney. If it’s choosing who would be the best man for the job, I think probably if you had an independent panel, they might, you know, marginally prefer a Mitt Romney, simply because he has less baggage than Giuliani. And Trump himself has said: He looks the part. I mean, he look like he was born to be a secretary of state. I don’t know whether that means he would be a good one or not.”
“But I do think we should keep our eye on a third possibility that would resolve the issue by not resolving it, and that would be David Petraeus, who to the world represents America at its strongest and most decisive. He is the guy who saved the Iraq War, and is a man who has written and thought deeply about the new kind of warfare that we are involved in. And that, I think, would be a spectacular choice.”
Source: National Review
Obama-era techies weigh staying under Trump
An impassioned debate is raging among software engineers, designers and other techies as to whether they want to stay in Washington under Donald Trump.
While some high-ranking tech staffers in the federal ranks say they’re not going anywhere, others worry that staying could put them in a tough spot, especially if the new administration asks them to work on projects at odds with their values.
It’s “a brutal line for some of us to walk,” said one senior tech specialist in the federal government, who would only speak without being named. The specialist said staffers are caught between “serving the public in ways that are obviously still very much needed,” versus “serving a person — and a ‘regime’ — who, for some of us, is fundamentally disrespectful of our existence.”
“The arguments are really clear,” says Anil Dash, a New York City entrepreneur whose commentary is widely followed in the tech industry. “The one side is, ‘You came to serve and there’s still a need.’ The other is, ‘Do we legitimize this administration?'”
Dash says he has stopped recommending that people in tech join the U.S. Digital Service, but that he also sees little upside to those already on the federal payroll leaving now.
People open to staying include Rob Cook, a former Pixar executive who just three weeks ago began a three-year appointment as the head of the Technology Transformation Service, a branch of the General Services Administration created this summer to reinvent how the federal government buys and builds technology. “If it’s important, it’s important for all administrations,” Cook says.
Cook’s view that civil servants serve regardless of who occupies the Oval Office has its adherents. But among the rank and file in the federal tech service, conversations are swirling. They’re weighing whether those who joined the Obama administration to apply the thinking of the so-called civic tech movement — the idea that modern digital tools can create a government more responsive to citizens — would be guilty of aiding a president whose policies and politics many of them utterly oppose.
Obama created the Digital Service as what he called a tech “SWAT team” after being burned by the failed launch of HealthCare.gov. He has tapped that team of technology experts to execute some of his policy priorities, such as making it easier for would-be immigrants to the U.S. to track their applications online. Read the rest of this entry »
Downgrading Washington’s importance is one of the few good ideas Trump has had.
Kevin D. Williamson writes: I do not agree with Donald Trump about much of anything. Early in the primary season, I wrote a little book titled “The Case against Trump.” I believe him to be morally unfit and intellectually unprepared for the office to which he has been elected. Which is why one of the most annoying of my tasks for the next four (one assumes!) years is going to be pointing out that while Trump may not be right about very much, his critics often are wrong.
“Politics should not be the central activity in our lives, or even in our shared public life, and consequently the political capital should be subordinate to the financial and cultural capitals.”
There is no particular reason for Trump to live full-time in Washington. Washington is a dump, one of the least attractive and least inspiring American cities. Trump Tower is a dump, too, a big vertical void in the middle of one of the least interesting parts of Manhattan, but Trump apparently likes it, and he has gone to the trouble of gold-plating his toilets, which you do not do unless you are really planning to plant yourself in place.
Trump’s hesitation to set up housekeeping in our nation’s hideous capital is not causing klaxons of alarum because people are concerned about good government.
A nation genuinely concerned about good government would not have entrusted its chief administrative post to Donald J. Trump, a frequently bankrupt casino operator and game-show host. Read the rest of this entry »