Adam Housley and Malia Zimmerman report: Lawmakers probing the surveillance of key officials in the Trump campaign and administration say the intelligence agencies now nominally under the president’s control are stonewalling efforts to get to the bottom of who revealed names and leaked protected information to the press.
“Our requests are simply not being answered.”
– House Intelligence Committee source
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are currently investigating allegations the Obama administration spied on Trump associates – and possibly Trump himself – for as long as the year preceding his inauguration. And while former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice has been implicated as at least one of the officials who sought redacted names from surveillance transcripts, multiple lawmakers and investigators for the panel told Fox News the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency – all agencies in position to aid the probe – are not cooperating.
“Our requests are simply not being answered,” said one House Intelligence committee source about the lack of responsiveness. “The agencies are not really helping at all and there is truly a massive web for us to try and wade through.”
A Senate Intelligence Committee source said the upper chamber had the same experience.
“Any information that will help find the wide extent on the unmasking and surveillance is purposely not being provided,” said the Senate source.
An FBI spokesperson said the bureau is working in good faith. Read the rest of this entry »
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said earlier that he had briefed Trump on new information, unrelated to an investigation into Russian activities, that suggested that several members of Trump’s transition team and perhaps Trump himself had their identities “unmasked” after their communications were intercepted by U.S. intelligence officials.
The revelation is notable because identities of Americans are generally supposed to remain “masked” if American communications are swept up during surveillance of foreign individuals.
During an interview on Fox News, Woodward said that if that information about the unmasking is true, “it is a gross violation.” 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 »
The brothers are suspected of serious violations, including accessing members’ computer networks without their knowledge and stealing equipment from Congress.
Luke Rosiak reports: Three brothers who managed office information technology for members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and other lawmakers were abruptly relieved of their duties on suspicion that they accessed congressional computers without permission.
Brothers Abid, Imran, and Jamal Awan were barred from computer networks at the House of Representatives Thursday, The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.
Three members of the intelligence panel and five members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs were among the dozens of members who employed the suspects on a shared basis. The two committees deal with many of the nation’s most sensitive issues and documents, including those related to the war on terrorism.
Also among those whose computer systems may have been compromised is Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida Democrat who was previously the target of a disastrous email hack when she served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign.
The brothers are suspected of serious violations, including accessing members’ computer networks without their knowledge and stealing equipment from Congress.
Jamal handled IT for Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat who serves on both the intelligence and foreign affairs panels.
“As of 2/2, his employment with our office has been terminated,” Castro spokeswoman Erin Hatch told TheDCNF Friday.
Jamal also worked for Louisiana Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is on the Committee on Homeland Security.
Imran worked for Reps. Andre Carson, an Indiana Democrat, and Jackie Speier, a California Democrat. Both are members of the intelligence committee, and their spokesmen did not respond to TheDCNF’s requests for comment. Imran also worked for the House office of Wasserman Schultz. Read the rest of this entry »
As he seeks a pardon, the NSA thief has told multiple lies about what he stole and his dealings with Russian intelligence.
Edward Jay Epstein writes: Of all the lies that Edward Snowden has told since his massive theft of secrets from the National Security Agency and his journey to Russia via Hong Kong in 2013, none is more provocative than the claim that he never intended to engage in espionage, and was only a “whistleblower” seeking to expose the overreach of NSA’s information gathering. With the clock ticking on Mr. Snowden’s chance of a pardon, now is a good time to review what we have learned about his real mission.
Mr. Snowden’s theft of America’s most closely guarded communication secrets occurred in May 2013, according to the criminal complaint filed against him by federal prosecutors the following month. At the time Mr. Snowden was a 29-year-old technologist working as an analyst-in-training for the consulting firm of Booz AllenHamilton at the regional base of the National Security Agency (NSA) in Oahu, Hawaii. On May 20, only some six weeks after his job there began, he failed to show up for work, emailing his supervisor that he was at the hospital being tested for epilepsy.
This excuse was untrue. Mr. Snowden was not even in Hawaii. He was in Hong Kong. He had flown there with a cache of secret data that he had stolen from the NSA.
This was not the only lie Mr. Snowden told. As became clear during my investigation over the past three years, nearly every element of the narrative Mr. Snowden has provided, which reached its final iteration in Oliver Stone’s 2016 movie, “Snowden,” is demonstrably false.
This narrative began soon after Mr. Snowden arrived in Hong Kong, where he arranged to meet with Laura Poitras, a Berlin-based documentary filmmaker, and Glenn Greenwald, a Brazil-based blogger for the Guardian. Both journalists were longtime critics of NSA surveillance with whom Mr. Snowden (under the alias Citizen Four) had been in contact for four months.
To provide them with scoops discrediting NSA operations, Mr. Snowden culled several thousand documents out of his huge cache of stolen material, including two explosive documents he asked them to use in their initial stories. One was the now-famous secret order from America’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court requiring Verizon to turn over to the NSA its billing records for its phone users in the U.S. The other was an NSA slide presentation detailing its ability to intercept communications of non-American users of the internet via a joint program with the FBI code-named Prism.
These documents were published in 2013 on June 5 and 6, followed by a video in which he identified himself as the leaker and a whistleblower.
At the heart of Mr. Snowden’s narrative was his claim that while he may have incidentally “touched” other data in his search of NSA files, he took only documents that exposed the malfeasance of the NSA and gave all of them to journalists.
Yet even as Mr. Snowden’s narrative was taking hold in the public realm, a secret damage assessment done by the NSA and Pentagon told a very different story. According to a unanimous report declassified on Dec. 22 by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the investigation showed that Mr. Snowden had “removed” (not merely touched) 1.5 million documents. That huge number was based on, among other evidence, electronic logs that recorded the selection, copying and moving of documents.
The number of purloined documents is more than what NSA officials were willing to say in 2013 about the removal of data, possibly because the House committee had the benefit of the Pentagon’s more-extensive investigation. But even just taking into account the material that Mr. Snowden handed over to journalists, the December House report concluded that he compromised “secrets that protect American troops overseas and secrets that provide vital defenses against terrorists and nation-states.” These were, the report said, “merely the tip of the iceberg.”
The Pentagon’s investigation during 2013 and 2014 employed hundreds of military-intelligence officers, working around the clock, to review all 1.5 million documents. Most had nothing to do with domestic surveillance or whistle blowing. They were mainly military secrets, as Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on March 6, 2014. Read the rest of this entry »
The Defense Department has more than 1 million contractors, civilians, and uniformed personnel on its payroll.
Anna Giaritelli reports: A Pentagon-commissioned study in 2015 found the Defense headquarters wasted $125 billion. But upon learning of the study’s results, military leaders ordered the findings never be released to the press or public, according to a report published Monday evening.
In January 2015, the Pentagon learned it could cut $125 billion in administrative costs at the Arlington, Va., facility over the next five years. But Defense leaders chose to keep the report secret in fear lawmakers would cut funding, the Washington Post found.
The Defense Business Board study stated all of these cutbacks could take place without any military employees being terminated. The federal advisory board of corporate executives and consultants recommended that some employees be encouraged into early retirements and their positions be eliminated through attrition, while overcompensated contractors would be cut back. Read the rest of this entry »
Source: Washington Examiner
WASHINGTON— Gordon Lubold and Adam Entous report: The U.S. special-operations force that carried out a first-of-its-kind mission in Syria to capture the Islamic State finance chief and his wife over the weekend came away with a treasure trove of materials that could help in the attempt to pressure the extremist group.
“There are a lot of things that have to align to be able to execute some of these things. For a variety of reasons, we were not able to execute the operation.”
U.S. officials said that the Army Delta Force team that swooped down onto the site in eastern Syria in helicopters killed the Islamic State operative after a brief firefight and left with laptops, phones, documents and, likely, hard drives, DVDs, CDs and SIM cards.
“What our team gathered was substantial, but we won’t know until it’s exploited just how valuable it is.It could be very substantial.”
— Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the senior Democratic member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
The material could prove valuable in efforts to disrupt Islamic State’s ability to raise funds and may show why the Obama administration set aside its aversion to such operations to authorize the risky mission.
“What our team gathered was substantial, but we won’t know until it’s exploited just how valuable it is,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the senior Democratic member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who has been briefed on the operation. “It could be very substantial.”
The raid also sent a signal to extremists that they aren’t safe in Syria and to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that the U.S. can operate in his country, said John McLaughlin, a former acting Central Intelligence Agency director.
“We’re going to conduct these types of operations whenever we can. This isn’t opening the door any more; the door is open, it has been open, and it will remain open if we have the opportunity.”
The group of about two dozen of the Army’s Delta Force commandos flew in late Friday in UH-60 Black Hawks and V-22 Ospreys to a residential compound in Al-Amr in eastern Syria intending to capture the Islamic State operative, Abu Sayyaf, and his wife, Umm Sayyaf, who is also thought to be a member of Islamic State. The couple apparently was holding a young Yazidi woman as a slave. Read the rest of this entry »
“I think the report is full of crap.”
Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The House Intelligence Committee released a report on Friday evening, which took two years to compile, that found there was no outright intelligence failure during the attack, there was no delay in the rescue of U.S. personnel and there was no political cover-up by Obama administration officials. Read the rest of this entry »
— John Tiegen (@JohnTiegen) September 6, 2014
“If you look at how this played out, clearly Putin has had the upper hand in this.”
— Representative Mike Rogers
“This was a thief, who we believe had some help, who stole information the vast majority had nothing to do with privacy.” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who heads up the intel panel, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an interview that will air Sunday. “Our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines have been incredibly harmed by the data that he has taken with him and we believe now is in the hands of nation-states.” NBC released an excerpt of the interview late Saturday.
Andrew Johnson writes: Members of the House Intelligence Committee, including its chair, voiced bipartisan criticism of a recent New York Times investigation that asserted that al-Qaeda had nothing to do with last year’s attacks on a diplomatic facility in Benghazi.
Representatives Mike Rogers (R., Mich.), the committee’s chair, and Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) took to Fox News Sunday to contest its claims. Rogers called the piece “just not accurate,” while Schiff said he didn’t “think it’s complete.” Both indicated that their intelligence has found pre-planning and aspirations of an attack for al-Qaeda and its affiliates, such as Ansar al-Sharia.
Rogers also pointed to the curious timing of the Times piece as well as a recent 60 Minutes feature on Susan Rice. “I don’t want to speculate on why they might do it, but I can tell you that the information that’s being presented in a way that we heard before and, through the investigation, have been able to determine is not accurate in its portrayal,” he said.
Catherine Herridge writes: The 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya was an “Al Qaeda-led event” according to multiple on-the-record interviews with the head of the House Intelligence Committee who receives regular classified briefings and has access to the raw intelligence to make independent assessments.
“I will tell you this, by witness testimony and a year and a half of interviewing everyone that was in the ground by the way, either by an FBI investigator or the committee: It was very clear to the individuals on the ground that this was an Al Qaeda-led event. And they had pretty fairly descriptive events early on that lead those folks on the ground, doing the fighting, to the conclusion that this was a pre-planned, organized terrorist event,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told Fox News in a November interview.
“Not a video, that whole part was debunked time and time again,” Rogers added of the attack which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, Foreign Service officer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, “which just leads to questions of why the administration hung with that narrative for so long when all the folks who participated on the ground saw something different.”
The comments challenged the findings of a New York Times “investigation” which pointed instead to local militias and claimed an anti-Islam video played a role in inciting the attackers.
Asked in November what might explain the initial narrative that an anti-Islam film triggered the attack, Rogers did not answer directly but said all evidence points to the State Department, whose leadership skirted the security requirements for the Benghazi mission. “We think we can fairly sense what was going on here and I will tell you, the answers, I think, are going to lie within the State Department and the decision-making in the State Department,” he said. “Lots of questions to be answered there.”
“This is a Russian plan for Russian interests,” the Michigan Republican said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “They got exactly what they wanted: They wanted Assad here for a year, or at least extended for a year, and they got that.”