FBI director to testify on wiretapping, Russia hacking charges
Patrick Martin, WSWS, Mar 20 2017
The conflict within the Pindo ruling elite over charges of Russian interference in the US elections is set to come to a head today with the public testimony of FBI Director Comey before the House Intelligence Committee. Comey is to speak publicly and under oath on the two issues the committee and its Senate counterpart are investigating: the claim by Demagogs that Russian intelligence agencies hacked DNC + Podesta during the presidential election, and the claim by Trump that the Obama administration conducted illegal surveillance of his campaign during the same period. No evidence has been presented to support either claim, although the corporate media has treated the allegations of Russian hacking as virtually proven, because they come from anonymous sources within the military-intelligence apparatus. The Trump claim, by contrast, is treated as baseless, with backing only from the far-right commentators on Fox News and talk radio. Behind the mutual mudslinging and claims of Obama spying and Trump campaign collusion with Russia are real but largely unstated conflicts within the ruling elite over foreign policy. The bulk of the national security apparatus is opposed to Trump’s apparent shift in foreign policy away from immediate confrontation with Russia, which has been stoked up steadily over the past three years, since the coup in Ukraine. The Demagogs also used the allegations that Russian hacking was involved in the release of emails from DNC + Podesta to distract attention from the content of the emails, which exposed efforts by the DNC to rig the outcome of the Demagog primary campaign for Clinton and against Sanders. The emails also provided the texts of Clinton’s lavishly paid speeches to Wall Street banks, showing her groveling before the financial speculators and pledging to safeguard their interests. After eight months of media attacks on his alleged connections to Russia, On Mar 4, Trump fired off a series of tweets claiming that Obama had ordered the wiretapping of his campaign offices in Trump Tower. When challenged to provide evidence of this claim, the White House asked the House and Senate intelligence committees, already investigating the “Russian hacking” allegations, to look into his allegations as well. Speaking on Sunday TV on the eve of the House Intelligence Committee hearing, GOP chair Devin Nunes and ranking Demagog Adam Schiff both averred that Comey would deny that the Obama White House had ordered any wiretapping of Trump Tower or the Trump campaign, or that any such surveillance had been conducted in the course of an FBI investigation into alleged Russian interference into the elections. Nunes told Fox News Sunday that the FBI had informed him Friday that there had been no FISA warrant obtained for wiretapping of the Trump campaign, which would have been the legal step required to authorize such an FBI operation as a counter-intelligence measure. He said:
There was no FISA warrant that I’m aware of … to tap Trump Tower. There was no evidence in any of the briefings I received from the FBI of collusion between the Trump campaign and alleged Russian hacking of the DNC. The only crime I’m aware of is the leaking of classified information about FBI surveillance of Ambassador Kislyak.
Schiff confirmed this, speaking on NBC Meet the Press:
Once again, no evidence to support the president’s claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor. I expect Direector Comey to say as much when he testifies before the committee, so that we can put an end to this wild goose chase.
Additional uproar was created by Trump’s declaration through Sean Spicer that the British government had been the instrument of Obama’s alleged wiretapping, through GCHQ, their equivalent of the NSA. The notion that GCHQ would conduct surveillance against a Pindosi target at the request of the Pindosi government is not at all bizarre. The only bizarre element is the attribution of the request to Obama personally, when it would have come from the intelligence agencies. As detailed in the exposures of Edward Snowden, the security agencies of Pindostan, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand regularly share intelligence under the so-called Five Eyes program. In particular, because of Pindosi laws that bar the NSA from spying on Pindosis, and similar laws in each of the other countries, it is routine for the NSA to ask the GCHQ to spy on a targeted Pindosi and for the GCHQ to ask the NSA to spy on a targeted Briton, thus subcontracting the surveillance to evade the legal limitations. Spicer’s remarks produced a short-lived international incident, as GCHQ took the unusual step of issuing a public statement denouncing his comments as ridiculous and unbelievable, while the White House agreed not to repeat the allegation. The real concern on the part of the spy agencies, both in Britain and Pindostan, was that for political reasons Trump and his aides had drawn attention to a relationship they preferred to keep hidden.