the collection was incidental; what was incriminating was that the names were in clear, not redacted

Potential ‘smoking gun’ showing Obama administration spied on Trump team, source says
James Rosen,, Mar 23 2017

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 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 Pres Trump accused his predecessor of having wiretapped him in a series of now-infamous tweets posted on Mar 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 Pindosi 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 NSA 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 Adam Schiff had been briefed on the basic contents of the intelligence described by Nunes. D/CIA Pompeo is also sympathetic to the effort to determine, with documentary evidence, the extent of any alleged Obama administration spying on the Trump team, sources said. At a dramatic Wednesday news conference, Nunes claimed to have seen evidence that members of the Trump transition team, possibly including the president-elect, were subjected to “incidental surveillance” collection that Nunes characterized as legal but troubling. He told reporters:

What I’ve read bothers me, and I think it should bother the president himself, and his team because I think some of it seems to be inappropriate.

Schiff blasted Nunes for not coming first to the Intelligence Committee with the information. Schiff said in a Wednesday statement:

If accurate, this information should have been shared with members of the committee, but it has not been.

israel is notorious for its reluctance to extradite

‘Dual USraeli citizen behind most JCC bomb threat calls’
Yonah Jeremy Bob, JPost, Mar 23 2017

A 19-year-old dual nationality USraeli living in Ashkelon has been arrested, suspected of being behind most of a series of bomb and other threats to Jewish communities in Pindostan, Europe, Australia and New Zealand that date back around six months, the JPost has learned. As of Thursday, with a gag order on the probe being lifted by the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court at the same time it extended his detention to March 30, sources indicate that most of the threats against the Diaspora communities and organizations led investigators back to Israel. The suspect’s father has also been remanded until the end of the month, with the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court ruling that there is sufficient evidence to suspect that he himself made many of the threatening phone calls. The first threat that stood out and was picked up on by Israeli investigators occurred in New Zealand around six months ago and led to the opening of the investigation. Israel has been the lead coordinator with a number of other involved countries over the course of the probe. The suspect used very complex methods to shield himself from identification and being caught, and law enforcement had to use a variety of their own complex methods to find him. Law enforcement finally searched the suspect’s house on Thursday. They are only now able to piece together the breadth and methodology of his operations. There are still few details available about the suspect’s profile, but he is not in the IDF, not ultra-Orthodox, at some point made aliya and possibly has psychological problems and few friends. It is unknown how many others might have worked with the suspect, but it is believed that he was the main operator of the scare-spree and might have even acted completely on his own. The desecrations of Jewish graves presumably were not connected to the suspect. Israel intends to indict the suspect in its own courts. It is unknown as of Thursday whether other countries such as Pindostan might also seek to extradite and try him. Police spox M Rosenfeld told the JPost:

This is one of the numerous ongoing police operations that take place with other international security and intelligence organizations in order to try to find suspects. This specific investigation was complex in terms of the suspect and its nature, and there was a significant breakthrough in the investigation which led us to make the arrest of the suspect, who lives in southern Israel. He was the main suspect behind the numerous threats that were made to different Jewish communities and organizations around the world. As part of the ongoing investigation, we are trying to see if and how he was connected to the different Jewish communities in Pindostan. That directs the investigation as to the Pindosi connection. We are looking to see if there was an incident which triggered him to carry out threatening those communities.

i’m sure everyone will find the photographs interesting

Anti-Semitic Flyers Found On UIC Campus For Second Time In A Week
Stephen Gossett, Chicago, Mar 20 2017

Even after the university announced an investigation into anti-Semitic flyers being posted on campus earlier in the week, more such flyers were found distributed at the University of Illinois at Chicago over the weekend. The latest batch of flyers were found in a UIC library on Saturday, four days after posters that read “Ending white privilege starts with ending Jewish privilege” were discovered on campus. Kofi Ademola, an activist with Black Lives Matter Chicago, denounced the flyers as racist and said they misrepresent the BLM movement. Ademola said in a statement sent to Chicagoist:

We’ve noticed a disturbing new trend where people have been using language from social justice circles to hide their racist agenda. These posters placed all over UIC’s campus are just another example of such an occurrence. These anonymous racist tactics are manipulative, and they’ve used logical fallacies in attempts to fool people into believing their rhetoric is valid. When we closely examine what they’re saying and implying, it’s easier to discern the flaws in their arguments. What they’re saying and how they’re framing their assertions are divisive, inflammatory and based in falsehoods. For example, by creating a false category and calling it “Jewish privilege,” then comparing it to the familiar term “White privilege,” they hope that this false association legitimizes their bigoted beliefs. They’re also trying to use BLM to make their claims seem true. It is widely known that BLM supports Palestinians in their struggle for liberation. We often compare our similar situations dealing with police violence and State-sanctioned oppression. However, being pro-Palestine doesn’t make you anti-Semitic and we don’t condone or endorse any anti-Jewish ideology. We demand accountability to the specific governments, systems of oppression and organizations that carry out injustices and human rights violations. We do not use broad sweeping generalizations to attack groups of people. After the election of Trump, Pindostan has seen a rise in hate crimes perpetrated against marginalized communities (on grounds) ranging from ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, religion and immigration status. What we’ve also seen develop is stronger alliances of intersectionality between these same marginalized communities. We stand in solidarity with folx who fight for justice and work towards freeing all people from the social constructs of oppression, including but not limited to anti-Blackness, heteronormative patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, racism, colonialism, sexism, ableism, capitalism, and imperialism.

Earlier in the week, the UIC Chancellor emailed an announcement to students and staff in response to the first posting of flyers reading:

Such actions do not reflect the values we hold as a community. Acts that invoke hatred or violence toward members of our community will not be tolerated on our campus. As we investigate this recent event, we strongly encourage all members of our university to exercise their right to free speech in a manner that recognizes these principles and avoids prejudice or stereotypes.

A UIC official referred us to their original statement upon request for comment and an update on the investigation.

demagogs grind their teeth in rage (quietly)

Congressman’s Trump surveillance claims have an obvious, mundane explanation
Jon Schwarz, Intercept, Mar 23 2017

Rep Devin Nunes, the California Republican and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, claimed Wednesday that “the intelligence community incidentally collected information about Pindosi citizens involved in the Trump transition.” Nunes then headed to the White House to brief Trump. Sean Spicer read Nunes’s statement at a press conference and called it “startling information,” implying that it justified Trump’s recent claims that Trump Tower was wiretapped on former President Obama’s orders. The underlying reality is likely significant but far less exciting. Trump transition staffers were picked up by standard Pindosi surveillance as they arranged for Trump to receive standard post-election calls from world leaders. If so, what Nunes was describing would not vindicate Trump’s claims, and would also be a separate matter from reported contacts by Trump associates with Russian intelligence officials before the election. A key goal of the NSA is to monitor the communications of foreign leaders and their staffs. As documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed, this includes the leaders of allied countries like Angela Merkel. Friendly countries in turn spy on us just as enthusiastically. Meanwhile, world leaders try to speak to newly-elected Pindosi presidents as often as possible during the transition period, first to congratulate them and then to get a read on the incoming president and to influence their views on global politics. But Trump’s transition, as reported at the time, was extremely chaotic. The president-elect’s team apparently went outside normal procedures to arrange many such calls, an approach that involved many staffers and others in Trump’s orbit. For instance, former GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole played a role in setting up Trump’s precedent-breaking call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. President Mauricio Macri of Argentina said that he spoke with Ivanka Trump during his call with Trump. Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull got Trump’s phone number from professional golfer Greg Norman. The governments of Japan and China found it difficult to build contacts within Trump’s transition team and spent a great deal of time trying to do so. So what would truly be “startling” would be if the Pindosi intelligence apparatus hadn’t picked up many Trump staffers speaking with foreign targets of surveillance. This also means that comments like those of Rep Ted Lieu, who said on Twitter that Trump “officials were either talking to agents of a foreign power, or people suspected of crimes,” are not meaningful. The people with whom Trump’s transition team would be speaking would of course be agents of a foreign power, and there would be nothing wrong with that. All that said, Trump absolutely will have a legitimate complaint if Nunes was correct when he claimed:

Details about Pindosi persons associated with the incoming administration with little or no intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting. Additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked.

Privacy advocates have long been concerned about exactly this type of scenario. When the communications of Pindosi persons are swept up in spy agency surveillance, their identities can be used in queries against intelligence databases, but must eventually be masked through a process known as minimization. However, many identifying characteristics remain available to intelligence agents, both before and after minimization, allowing the government to engage in something akin to spying on Pindosis without a warrant. Moreover, NSA staff may decide to unmask Pindosis’ identity on their own, or be asked to do so by their superiors. This almost certainly is how it was possible for anonymous “current and former Pindo boxtops” to know that Michael Flynn discussed sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador, and then leak it to the WaPo. The best outcome now would be for Trump use his power as president to declassify anything he wants, and make as much information public as possible about this “incidental collection.” If in fact any surveillance was conducted on his transition team that was improper by the government’s own standards, he has the power to prove it. If it wasn’t, he owes it to the country not to hide what happened behind the classification curtain. Moreover, releasing everything would be an extremely valuable education for the Pindo creeple about how much the government collects on its citizens even when it’s following its own rules. In a recent conversation at the SXSW conference with Jeremy Scahill, Edward Snowden explained in more detail how the communications of Trump or his staff could have been picked up, and why Pindosis should be concerned not about Trump’s vulnerability to such wiretapping, but about their own:

Now if you are a Pindosi citizen and they say, “I want to look at your communications, I want to listen to this person’s phone calls and everyone they contacted,” this in theory is supposed to require a warrant, but the actual reality here is that they can do something different, and they do do this without a warrant, if they look at the other side of that communication, the communication that went overseas or involved a non-Pindosi person in any way, that’s entirely legal. That happens without a warrant. If anybody at the NSA or anybody at the FBI wanted to review communications about Pres Obama, like me sitting at the NSA, I could do that simply by typing in an IP address that doesn’t even have to be the president’s IP address. Or if I want to search for his private email address or something like that, all I have to do is type it in the system, hit ‘enter’ and say: “Show me Pindosi results for this.” This is entirely legal so long as I’m not targeting him officially, so I’m saying: “I’m not interested in Obama. I’m interested in this known system that’s affiliated with Chinese cyber-espionage or whatever, that just happens to be Obama’s Blackberry.” I think it is possible, based on everything we see and what we hear, there may be some indication that something like this happened on the backend. Where there’s been some searches that implicate not Donald Trump directly, because if he had that, he’d be up on the stage waving it around on TV. That’s the problem. It’s not so much that this actually happened here, there, or the other, because we don’t have evidence for that. If Donald Trump wants to take this seriously, he needs to fix the problem that the communications of everyone in Pindostan are being collected right now without a warrant and then going into the bucket, and they’re protected by very lax internal policy regulations and this simply is not enough. If he’s worried about the fact that somebody could have been wiretapping Trump Tower, that this could have happened without a warrant, or even with a warrant, the problem is not “poor Donald Trump!” You’re the president! You should be asking questions about, “Why was this possible in the first place, and why haven’t I fixed it?”

NY observer is jared kushner’s (phil weiss quit when jared took over)

Demagogs Embrace Conservative Conspiracy Theorist to Lead Russia Hysteria
Michael Sainato, NY Observer, Mar 22 2017

Since her short-lived political career, Louise Mensch has developed a reputation among Clinton partisans as a constant purveyor of Russian election interference allegations and conspiracy theories. Like several Clinton partisans, her Twitter feed is completely focused on the anti-Russia narrative. In Nov 2016, the pro-Brexit former Conservative member of Parliament managed to transmogrify a tweet about the passing of Leonard Cohen, who is Canadian, into a pro-Pindo anti-Russian attack. In Jan 2017, she claimed without any evidence that a terrorist attack at a nightclub in Istanbul was a false-flag Russian operation. On Mar 20, Mensch retweeted a tweet claiming, “We are at war with Russia.” Mensch has previously called for all-out war on Russia, with “precision bombing raids. Bank hacks. Massive cyber war.” This warmongering hysteria from Mensch has lead her to claim that anything she disagrees with is a Russian plot, including her insistence that Anthony Weiner was sexting a Russian hacker instead of a 15 year-old girl, despite the teen having been interviewed in person. When Newsweek‘s Kurt Eichenwald was sent a GIF by a Twitter user to trigger his epilepsy, Mensch claimed that a Russian did it, though the FBI recently arrested a Pindosi for the attack. Her false claims venture into other topics too. In 2012, Mensch told reporters that she suffered ill-effects of taking hard drugs in her 20s while in the music industry. Mensch said on BBC Question Time:

I did serious drugs, and it messed with my head, and it’s a terrible thing, and I do not want to see other young people exposed to that by legalization.

In 2015, the Independent reported that Mensch tried to smear the UK Labour Party as anti-Semitic by citing her own search history. On Jan 27 of this year, she claimed that NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the single greatest recruiter for Donald Trump because he took a stand against racism. Though many of her claims lack evidence, the Demagog establishment increasingly praises Mensch for her work. Obama’s Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe tweeted Mensch’s embarrassing recent interview with BBC, during which she defended propagating a conspiracy theory that Putin murdered Andrew Breitbart. Glenn Greenwald wrote for the Intercept on Mar 7:

Mensch is now routinely cited as some sort of credible journalistic source on Russia conspiracies by unhinged, mainstream anti-Trump fanatics such as MSNBC and Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, who will launder any insanity as long as it promotes their Tom Clancy fever dreams of Trump as a Kremlin asset.

The NYT lent credence to Mensch’s conspiracy theories by publishing her recent op-ed about Russian hacking. Several NYT reporters criticized Mensch and refuted a claim she made in the op-ed about a FISA court order issued for the FBI to examine communications between the Trump campaign and Russian banks. NYT reporter Eric Lichtblau tweeted:

You’ve conned your followers @LouiseMensch in believing you have any clue what you’re talking about and created a shitstorm of ignorance.

Despite Mensch’s long record of fabricating claims and perpetuating conspiracy theories, several Demagogs have elevated her work. Rep Ted Lieu commended Mensch on Twitter, calling Mensch’s NYT op-ed a “great piece.” Former DNC Interim Chair Donna Brazile, who was exposed by WikiLeaks for helping the Clinton campaign cheat during the Demagog primaries, tweeted at Mensch in response to the op-ed: “thank you for great journalism.” Demagog Party fundraiser Scott Dworkin regularly cites and converses with Mensch about Russia. This embrace of Mensch and her Russian conspiracy theories from Demagog leadership illuminates how desperate the Demagog Party is to propagate the Russian hysteria narrative in lieu of advocating policy stances that would benefit voters. The party would rather praise conservative war hawks, who salivate at the thought of escalating military conflict with Russia, than develop meaningful policies.

witless nytness

Demagog Party floats proposal for a palace coup
Andre Damon, WSWS, Mar 23 2017

On Wednesday, NYT columnist Thomas Friedman addressed an open letter to a group of generals, deep state operatives and a corporate executive in Pres Trump’s cabinet, effectively calling on them to organize a palace coup. The recipients of Friedman’s letter, codenamed “Calling On a Few Good Men,” are three generals, Sec Def James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, National Security Adviser H R McMaster and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, along with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the former oil tycoon and current Sec State Rex Tillerson. Using the language of a political toady, Friedman’s column begins:

Dear Sirs, I am writing you today as the five adults with the most integrity in the Trump administration. Mattis, McMaster and Kelly, you all served our nation as generals in battle. Pompeo, you graduated first in your class at West Point and served as a cavalry officer. I am writing you directly because I believe you are the last ‘few good men’ who can stand up…

Referring to the impeachment of Richard Nixon, Friedman declares:

The last time our country faced such a cancer on the presidency, the Thug Party leadership stood up and put country before party to get to the truth… But today’s Thug Party has declared moral bankruptcy and abdicated its responsibility.

Combining flattery with self-abasement, he continues:

I ask those of you who honored our country as military officers how you would have reacted if your commanding officer had charged his predecessor with a high crime that violated his constitutional oath … Would you military men have simply said, ‘Sorry, I just do artillery’ or ‘I’m just staying in my lane?’ Knowing some of you, I’d like to think not.

Friedman reveals the completely reactionary character of the opposition of the Demagog Party to the Trump administration. Trump and his band of fascists, generals and billionaires have provoked the hatred of tens of millions in Pindostan who oppose the administration’s attacks on democratic rights, its police state persecution of immigrants, and its appeals to chauvinism, racism and militarism. But the opposition of Friedman and the Demagog Party on whose behalf he speaks has nothing to do with these democratic sentiments. Friedman gives voice to tendencies in and around the Demagog Party that are prepared, in pursuit of their McCarthyite-style demonization of Russia, to welcome a palace coup that would impose a military/intelligence/corporate junta on the Pindo creeple. The wealthy and corrupt social layers for whom the millionaire columnist speaks are motivated by two primary concerns. First, that Trump is threatening Pindos imperialist interests around the world by backing away from the Obama administration’s warmongering policies toward Russia, and at the same time undermining the image of Pindostan internationally with his overt lying and bullying of Faschingstein’s vassals. He makes this clear in his column, pointing to discussions in the UAE and polls in Germany showing declining support for Pindostan and warning that “the world is watching.” He cites imperialist strategist Richard Haass, president of the CFR, who warns:

Without an urgent course correction, Pindostan could find itself not with Pindostan first, but with Pindostan alone.

The second major concern is that Trump is stoking popular discontent at home that could spiral out of control and threaten the entire economic and political system. Far from appealing to the broad popular opposition to Trump that began to erupt in the days after his inauguration, the Demagog Party is fixated on avoiding at all costs the emergence of a movement of the working masses. That is why it appeals to the military/intelligence apparatus and the corporate aristocracy in its struggle with the faction of the ruling class represented by Trump. The war between the two is a war of liars between two deeply reactionary factions of the same capitalist elite. The Trump camp seeks to pursue a different approach in the drive of Pindosi imperialism for global hegemony, putting off for now war plans against Russia in order to focus aggression first on China. Both factions would drag the people of Pindostan and the world into a third world war, with the prospect of nuclear annihilation. And there is no difference between the two on the need to escalate the war against the working class. Those opposed to Trump’s policies of anti-immigrant racism, the destruction of social programs and war must reject the efforts of the Demagogs to corral popular anti-Trump sentiment behind their own program of war and social reaction.

you can see the walnut in his left cheek (cf someone in catch 22)

Is McCain ‘Beyond His Prime’?
Doug Bandow, National Interest, Mar 21 2017

mccain_1McCain at the 2016 Arizona Manufacturing Summit. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Walnuts McCain has the reputation of a foreign-policy maven. He pays attention to little other than foreign affairs. When he ran for president in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, he admitted that he didn’t know much about economics, which helped doom his candidacy. Unfortunately, he shows no greater sophistication when it comes to his favorite topic. Nor does he brook disagreement, even when well-founded. In his view, those who disagree with him are little better than traitors. Especially Pindosis who believe that McCain’s most important duty is to protect this nation. In fact, he has routinely advocated what amounts to sacrificing Pindosi interests while pushing confrontation and sometimes war with a long list of countries around the globe: Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, North Korea and worst of all, Russia. There is scarcely a conflict he doesn’t want Pindostan to plunge into. And rarely a military deployment he does not want to make permanent. Whatever the international issue, he sees Pindo military action as the answer. In his view, circumstances are irrelevant to foreign policy. Insurgency and secession in the Balkans. Terrorism in Central Asia. Dictatorship and conflict in the Middle East. Nonproliferation in Northeast Asia. The geopolitical detritus of the Soviet Union’s dissolution. In every case he pushes military intervention and action as the answer.

Most notably, McCain does not appear to view a threat to Pindostan as necessary for going to war. Only in the case of Afghanistan was Pindostan attacked, and by a terrorist group located within the country, not the government. Within weeks, Faschingstein had scattered AQ and ousted the Taliban regime, punishing it for hosting the terrorist group. Yet more than fifteen years later, he insists that Pindostan must continue its Quixotic quest to create a liberal Western-oriented republic where one has never existed, governed by a strong central government in Kabul, which has never ruled the many villages and valleys across the land. In no other case were the targets of Pindosi action interested in fighting Pindostan. Not Serbia, Iraq, or Iran. Certainly not Libya or Syria. Not North Korea, which wants to deter Pindosi military action rather than trigger it. Not even Russia, which desires respect and security rather than conflict. But for McCain, the military is not a last resort or even just another option. It’s a first resort almost irrespective of the issue. Bomb, invade and occupy, and if that doesn’t work, bomb, invade and occupy some more. McCain’s lack of geopolitical sense has been on dramatic display with the issue of NATO expansion. Never mind that the transatlantic alliance was created to promote Pindosi security. In recent years NATO has added numerous nations that are security black holes, offering far more costs than benefits. The alliance was established to temporarily shield war-ravaged, vulnerable Europe from Soviet aggression. It has turned into a welfare agency that permanently shifts responsibility for defending prosperous and populous Europe onto Pindostan.

The latest wannabe security dependent with McCain’s backing is Montenegro, a postage stamp country with maximum political conflicts and minimum military capabilities. The Obama administration sought Senate ratification of Podgorica’s membership during the lame-duck session, but Mike Lee and Rand Paul refused to give unanimous consent. Reasonably enough, they insisted that what is supposed to be the world’s greatest deliberative body should devote at least a few minutes to debating the issuance of yet another security guarantee enforced by Pindosi money and lives. And so far, McConnell has not taken the time necessary to push the measure through. So McCain again demanded unanimous consent. But Paul took to the floor to object. McCain, long known for his explosive temper, which worried colleagues when he ran for president, could no longer contain himself. Actually, McCain smeared anyone who disagreed with him. He complained:

Senator Paul has no justification for his objection to having a small nation to be part of NATO that is under assault from the Russians. So I repeat again, the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin! If there’s objection, you are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin! If they object, they are now carrying out the desires and ambitions of Vladimir Putin! And I do not say that lightly!

Accusing Paul, and everyone else with the temerity to oppose NATO’s inclusion of Montenegro, of being traitors revealed McCain as at best a nasty crank, and at worst a shameless demagogue. The next day, Paul observed that McCain’s outburst made a “really, really strong case for term limits.” The venerable Arizona legislator was “past his prime,” and even maybe had “gotten a little bit unhinged.” It’s hard to disagree with that assessment. The thought of such a person as president should give anybody nightmares, even in the era of Pres Trump. In fact, McCain forgets who he represents. His spox said:

The people of Montenegro deserved an explanation from Sen Paul on the Senate floor as to why he sought to prevent this small, brave country from joining in the defense of the free world.

Of course, the spox misleads her listeners by suggesting that this modern variant of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, the star of the novel The Mouse that Roared, could help protect someone else. Without a navy or air force, and with an army in name only, Podgorica isn’t defending anyone or anything. Moreover, McCain knows why Paul objected, since he, unlike McCain, has long has made his belief that Pindo foreign policy is to serve the interests of Pindostan, not would-be client states. A Pindosi senator from the state of Kentucky owes no explanation to the people of Montenegro. Whether heroic or not, they have no right to expect to be defended by Pindostan. The purpose of NATO was to make Pindostan more secure, not turn defense guarantees into charity for states irrelevant to Pindostan’s defense. If McCain believes that Montenegro aids Pindostan, he is living in a parallel universe. Podgorica has 1,950 men under arms. However brave they may be, they won’t stop the Russian hordes from conquering Europe, Pindostan and presumably the rest of the world. His mental confusion is even greater if he actually believes Montenegro is under attack. Russia would gain nothing from war. The country does not even border Russia. Putin has made no territorial claims against the quaint movie set for Casino Royale. The ruling regime blames a recent coup attempt on Moscow, but the evidence is thin. In fact, the country’s political divisions are real and as Paul pointed out, as many Montenegrins oppose NATO membership as support it, hardly the kind of backing one would want from a military ally.

Ultimately, McCain’s nastiness is less important than his willingness to sacrifice Pindosi interests, wealth, and lives in an endless attempt to transform the globe. Social engineering is difficult enough at home. The presumption that Faschingstein politicians can transcend differences in history, religion, geography, ethnicity, culture, politics and more to remake other nations is a fantasy. Tragically, over the last sixteen years this hubris shared by McCain and so many other policy-makers, has killed thousands and injured tens of thousands of Pindosis, slaughtered hundreds of thousands of foreign civilians, generated millions of refugees, wasted trillions of dollars, multiplied terrorist threats and created geopolitical chaos. Pindostan continues to pay the price for Faschingstein’s bipartisan commitment to promiscuous intervention. McCain symbolizes a discredited foreign policy disconnected from geopolitical reality. If anyone is serving the interests of Putin, it is McCain, who advocates squandering Pindosi lives and wealth in an endless succession of counter-productive crusades abroad.

i don’t know why amconmag chose this illustration

Could the President Spy on His Political Opponents?
Nima Guliani, AmConMag, Mar 22 2017


The controversy continues over Pres Trump’s Twitter storm accusing Pres Obama of wiretapping him. On Monday, Congress critturs peppered FBI Director James Comey with questions about the claims, but he once again dismissed them as lacking support. Even Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who originally defended Trump’s claims, has defected. He said last week at a news conference:

I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.

None of these statements seem to have affected Pres Trump, who continues to stand by his accusations. But regardless of whether these claims turn out to be completely false, which is all but certain now, they do raise a question that shouldn’t be casually dismissed: Could Pres Obama’s administration have surveiled his political opponents under its interpretation of the law? Could Pres Trump’s administration now do the same? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. And that should make Thugs and Demagogs nervous enough to work together to reform our surveillance laws. Many have dismissed Pres Trump’s accusations as the unsubstantiated ramblings of a Twitter addict with little understanding of how our intelligence laws work. These may be fair criticisms. Today, the president cannot simply order the intelligence agencies to wiretap his domestic political opponents. But many of our surveillance authorities have been interpreted so broadly that they put vast amounts of Pindosis’ data easily within the president’s reach. Without significant reform, exploiting this immense pool of data may one day prove irresistible. Thus, whether Pres Trump’s accusations are true or not, the potential for White House officials to abuse our spying laws for political purposes is real.

It is important to remember that surveilling political opponents in the name of security is something of a Pindosi pastime. In the 1960s, the FBI targeted political activists, including Martin Luther King Jr, claiming they posed “national security” threats. Cesar Chavez, the prominent labor and civil-rights activist, was similarly tracked for years because of his supposed communist ties. In response to many of these types of abuses, Congress created the Church Committee to investigate surveillance practices. The widespread crimes and abuse they uncovered led to the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 1978. But recent disclosures demonstrate that the law did not go far enough. Moreover, passage of the Patriot Act in 2001 and other laws have undercut the protections in FISA, further opening the door to biased, unjustified or politically motivated spying. There are jarringly few protections against these abuses. The result: if the president wanted to surveil his critics, he could exploit at least three national security authorities.

Section 702 of FISA

Section 702 of FISA was passed at the request of the Bush administration and extended at the request of the Obama administration with bipartisan support. Now the Trump administration is reportedly pushing for reauthorization of this law when it is set to expire in 2017, with the nominee for the director of national intelligence calling it the “crown jewels” of the intelligence community. FBI Director Comey once again defended the controversial program. While Section 702 was passed to protect against international terrorism, its tentacles reach much farther. Under the law, without a warrant, the government collects the emails and phone calls of nearly 100,000 foreign “targets.” These include their conversations with people in Pindostan. These targets can include journalists, human rights workers and other individuals who have no connection to terrorism or criminal activity and whose only offense may be discussing information related to “foreign affairs,” a nebulous term.

Over 250 million internet communications alone are collected under Section 702 annually. While the government refuses to disclose how many Pindosis have been swept up in this dragnet, analysis of leaked documents suggests that at least half those communications contain information about a Pindo citizen or resident. If that’s accurate, the Trump administration will collect over 125 million internet communications that contain information about someone in Pindostan. Given that much of the data collected under Section 702 is stored for five years or longer, it means the government likely has access to hundreds of millions of stored emails and phone calls. Once collected, the government asserts that they can mine this information to scrutinize the activities of Pindosis, opening the door to political abuse. For example, if the intelligence agencies under Pres Obama had wanted to search through Section 702 data for information about Mitch McConnell on the argument that he might possess information about “foreign affairs,” no technological barrier or explicit provision in Section 702 would have stopped them. Under current procedures, no court would have needed to approve this, and Sen McConnell would not need to be notified that he had been the subject of such a search. Under the government’s current interpretation of the law, this information could then be used as the basis for a criminal prosecution, criminal investigation, civil action or additional surveillance.

Executive Order 12333 (“twelve triple three”)

Under Executive Order 12333, the government engages in the bulk collection of communications and data—with no approval from a court or any other independent judicial body. This surveillance primarily takes place abroad. While the government is not supposed to target Pindosis under EO 12333, this spying likely results in the collection of information of millions of Pindosis. We know for example that the government reportedly relied on EO 12333 to steal data transmitted between certain Yahoo and Google data centers; to capture the content of all phone calls to, from and within the Bahamas and other countries; and to collect millions of text messages from individuals around the world. Under EO 12333, the government can target foreigners for “foreign intelligence” purposes which, like Section 702, is a category so broad that it easily encompasses individuals who have no nexus to a national security threat. As a result of recent changes made by Obama in NSA procedures, agencies across the federal government now have the right to request access to the raw information collected under EO 12333, which can contain the information of both Pindosis and foreigners.

While NSA officials have said there are procedures that limit the ability of the NSA to search through electronic surveillance captured under EO 12333 for information about Pindosis, those procedures are largely secret and can be modified purely at the discretion of the president. Moreover, the government has taken the position that information collected under the executive order can be used to prosecute Pindosis for certain ordinary domestic crimes, even though it was collected without a warrant. In practice, this means that if the president decided to unilaterally change EO 12333 procedures to allow him to search for information for purposes unrelated to national security, he would have broad latitude to do so under the government’s current legal interpretations. In addition, it means that if the government stumbles across information related to these individuals in the trove of data they collect, they may assert the right to use it as the basis to prosecute or further investigate these individuals, without ever notifying them. This creates a bizarre incentive for any ill-intentioned president: the more information collected under EO 12333 in the name of security, the more information that can be mined for other purposes.

“Traditional” FISA

Although FISA was passed with the admirable goal of halting many of the surveillance abuses of the 1960s, this statutory scheme is not nearly as protective as a warrant. Specifically, unlike an ordinary warrant or wiretapping order, a traditional FISA order does not require the government to believe that its spying will produce evidence of a crime, and the secrecy surrounding the FISA court undermines effective oversight. For these reasons, the ACLU has long cautioned that FISA authorities are prone to abuse. Under FISA, when the government seeks to conduct electronic surveillance, it must submit an application to the secret intelligence court demonstrating that there is probable cause that its individual target is a “foreign power or an agent of a foreign power,” and it must identify the particular phone line or communications facility used by the target. The terms “foreign power or agent of a foreign power” are broadly defined. They include foreign government officials, foreign political organizations not substantially composed of Pindosi citizens or green card holders, and foreign individuals engaged in terrorism. While this authority is certainly narrower than EO 12333 or Section 702, it too leaves room for abuse. For example, under traditional FISA, the government would have the authority to surveil virtually any foreign government official, including that official’s entirely legal conversations with individuals in Pindostan. These communications can be retained or disseminated under procedures that are more lenient than those that apply to federal wiretaps. For instance, in the wiretapping context, the government is supposed to immediately purge communications that are considered irrelevant. FISA, by contrast, permits retention, analysis, and dissemination of Pindosis’ information for years, regardless of whether there is any evidence of criminal activity.

The Potential for Abuse Is Real, No Matter What the Intel Community Says

The intelligence agencies would argue that these authorities do not permit the government to deliberately “target” Pindosis, at least not without a warrant, mitigating constitutional concerns. But that explanation only tells half the story. The reality is that these authorities are used to vacuum up large amounts of Pindosis’ data, do not prevent the government from knowingly capturing the communications that Pindosis have with tens of thousands of foreign “targets” and in some cases, routinely collect purely domestic communications. Moreover, once Pindosis’ information is collected, there are inadequate safeguards to ensure that such data is not inappropriately used. The fact that our intelligence-gathering laws leave room for politically motivated surveillance should give us pause. And it’s not enough for Pres Trump or Congress critturs to simply express outrage that the private communications of political leaders could have been surveilled. With the expiration of Section 702 looming, they have the opportunity to push for a complete overhaul of our surveillance authorities, and ensure that they are brought fully in line with the requirements of our Constitution. In other words, Pres Trump should match his action to his tweets, and demand that Section 702 and other authorities be reformed.

Nima Singh Guliani is a legislative counsel at the ACLU focusing on surveillance, privacy, and national security issues. Prior to the ACLU, she worked at the DHS and as an investigative counsel with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

pondering the implications of nunes’ revelations

Nunes: Other Trump Team Members Were Surveiled And Identified
Kerry Picket, Daily Caller, Mar 22 2017

FASCHINGSTEIN — Devin Nunes revealed Wednesday other members of the Trump transition team were not only surveilled by the Obama administration, but their names were also unmasked. Nunes said:

I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked. To be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or any investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.

Nunes later told reporters that communications among Trump associates were recorded and dispersed among the federal government. He also said the intelligence committee still has no answers as to what actually happened to Michael Flynn when he was caught up in a surveillance dragnet. Nunes said:

We don’t actually know yet officially what happened to General Flynn. We just know that his name leaked out, but we don’t know how it was picked up yet. That was one of the things that we asked for in the Mar 15 letter, was for the NSA, CIA, and FBI to get us all the unmasking that was done. The NSA is being cooperative, but so far the FBI has not told us whether or not they’re going to respond to our Mar 15 letter, which is now a couple of weeks old.

Nunes also stated that presently, he “cannot rule out” that President Obama called for the surveillance.

general mayhem on the hill

Pelosi, Schiff Slam “White House Surrogate” Nunes’ “Act Of Diversion & Desperation”
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Mar 22 2017

It seems Devin Nunes has struck a chord given the level of rhetoric roaring out of Democrat HQ tonight. After briefing The White House on the fact that Trump was “incidentally surveilled” along with his team, somewhat vindicating the President’s tweets, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday that he has “grave concerns” over Nunes ‘impartiality” and Demagog leader Pelosi exclaimed in a statement that Nunes’ comments were an “act of desperation and diversion.” As The Hill reports, Adam Schiff criticized Nunes for his surprise announcement earlier in the day that he had seen intelligence intercepts that showed authorities had incidentally gathered information on members of the Trump transition team during investigations that the chairman said were not related to Russia. Of course MSNB was more than happy to host Schiff to explain how Nunes is a “White House surrogate”…

And to raise doubts about his independence…

And even better, to deny Clapper, Comey, and everyone else’s admissions that there is no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, and claim that he has new evidence:

Schiff maintained that if Trump and his aides ended up in a lawfully compiled intelligence report, they were likely not the subjects of surveillance. Then Schiff issued a statement for good effect:

Then Demagog Party leader Nancy Pelosi chimed in with the following statement:

The unprecedented comments of Chairman Nunes are an act of diversion and desperation. The Chairman’s highly irregular conduct with the White House raises serious questions about his impartiality, especially given his history as part of the Trump Transition team. Abandoning any pretense of bipartisanship, Chairman Nunes raced to the White House and to the press to perpetuate the Trump Administration’s misinformation campaign. The unmasking of legally intercepted intelligence is often appropriate and necessary to understand the context of foreign intelligence information. Chairman Nunes’ actions are disrespectful of Ranking Member Schiff and the bipartisan membership of the Intel Committee. Republicans are grasping at straws because the FBI Director confirmed that Pres Obama did not wiretap Pres Trump, and affirmed an investigation of coordination between the Russians and individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign in the election. Chairman Nunes is deeply compromised, and he cannot possibly lead an honest investigation. Congress must create a comprehensive, independent, bipartisan commission to expose the full truth of the Trump-Russia connection.

And finally, a Demagog member of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday pushed back on revelations from the panel’s Chairman Devin Nunes, saying his claims of incidental Pindosi surveillance of members of Pres Trump’s transition team were “trumped up.” Rep Jackie Speier said during an appearance on MSNBC:

If in fact this took place, it was incidental and it was done through what is legally allowed by the CIA when they are surveilling foreign persons. This could be a lot of theater. It looks very trumped-up to me. But we’ll have to wait and see.

Seems like Mr Nunes, who we are sure will be discovered to have had contact with some Russian official or other very soon, has hit a nerve, smashing yet another leg out from under the 1-legged stool of the Demagog narrative.