The Surveillance State Behind Russia-gate
Ray McGovern, Bill Binney, Antiwar.com, Mar 29 2017
Although many details are still hazy because of secrecy and further befogged by politics, it appears House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes was informed last week about invasive electronic surveillance of senior government officials and, in turn, passed that information onto President Trump. This news presents Trump with an unwelcome but unavoidable choice: confront those who have kept him in the dark about such rogue activities or live fearfully in their shadow. The latter was the path chosen by President Obama. Will Trump choose the road less traveled? What President Trump decides will largely determine the freedom of action he enjoys as president on many key security and other issues. But even more so, his choice may decide whether there is a future for this constitutional republic. Either he can acquiesce to or fight against a Deep State of intelligence officials who have a myriad of ways to spy on politicians and other citizens and thus amass derogatory material that can be easily transformed into blackmail. This crisis (yes, “crisis” is an overused word, but in this highly unusual set of circumstances we believe it is appropriate) came to light mostly by accident after President Trump tweeted on Mar 4 that his team in Trump Towers had been “wiretapped” by President Obama.
Trump reportedly was relying on media reports regarding how conversations of aides, including his ill-starred National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, had been intercepted. Trump’s tweet led to a fresh offensive by Demagogs and the mainstream press to disparage Trump’s “ridiculous” claims. However, this concern about the dragnets that Pindosi intelligence or its foreign partners can deploy to pick up communications by Trump’s advisers and then “unmask” their names before leaking them to the news media was also highlighted at the Nunes-led House Intelligence Committee hearing on Mar 20, where Nunes appealed for anyone who had related knowledge to come forward with it. That apparently happened on the evening of Mar 21, when Nunes received a call while riding with a staffer, then switched to another car and went to a secure room at the Old Executive Office Building next to the White House, where he was shown highly-classified information, apparently about how the intelligence community picked up communications by Trump’s aides. The next day, Nunes went to the White House to brief President Trump, who later said he felt “somewhat vindicated” by what Nunes had told him. But the corporate news media continued to heckle Trump over his use of the word “wiretap” and cite the insistence of FBI Director James Comey and other intelligence officials that President Obama had not issued a wiretap order aimed at Trump. As those paying rudimentary attention to modern methods of surveillance know, “wiretapping” is passé. But Trump’s use of the word allowed FBI and DoJ officials and their counterparts at the NSA to swear on a stack of bibles that the FBI, DoJ and NSA have been unable to uncover any evidence within their particular institutions of such “wiretapping.” At the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Mar 20, FBI Director Comey and NSA Director Michael Rogers firmly denied that their agencies had wiretapped Trump Towers on the orders of President Obama.
So were Trump and his associates “wiretapped?” Of course not. Wiretapping went out of vogue decades ago, having been rendered obsolete by leaps in surveillance technology. The real question is: Were Trump and his associates surveilled? Wake up, Pindostan! Was no-one paying attention to the disclosures from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013> He exposed DNI Clapper as a liar, for denying that the NSA engaged in bulk collection of communications inside Pindostan. The reality is that EVERYONE including the President is surveilled. The technology enabling bulk collection would have made the late demented FBI Director J Edgar Hoover’s mouth water. Allegations about the intelligence community’s abuse of its powers also did not begin with Snowden. Several years earlier, former NSA worker and whistleblower Russell Tice warned about these “special access programs,” citing firsthand knowledge, but his claims were brushed aside as coming from a disgruntled employee with psychological problems. His disclosures were soon forgotten. However, earlier this year, there was a stark reminder of how much fear these surveillance capacities have struck in the hearts of senior officials, when Chuck Schumer told Rachel Maddow that Trump was “being really dumb” to take on the intelligence community, saying:
They have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.
Maddow shied away from asking the logical follow-up:
Senator Schumer, are you actually saying that Trump should be afraid of the CIA?
Perhaps she didn’t want to venture down a path that would raise more troubling questions about the surveillance of the Trump team than on their alleged contacts with the Russians. Similarly, the corporate media is now focused on Nunes’s alleged failure to follow protocol by not sharing his information first with Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Demagogs promptly demanded that Nunes recuse himself from the Russia investigation. On Tuesday morning, reporters for CNN and other news outlets peppered Nunes with similar demands as he walked down a corridor on Capitol Hill, prompting him to suggest that they should be more concerned about what he had learned than the procedures followed. That’s probably true because to quote Jack Nicholson’s character in “A Few Good Men” in a slightly different context, the mainstream media “cannot handle the truth” even if it’s a no-brainer. At his evening meeting on Mar 21 at the Old Executive Office Building, Nunes was likely informed that all telephones, emails etc, including his own and Trump’s, are being monitored by what the Soviets used to call “the organs of state security.” By sharing that information with Trump the next day, rather than consulting with Schiff, Nunes may have sought to avoid the risk that Schiff or someone else would come up with a bureaucratic reason to keep the President in the dark.
A savvy politician, Nunes knew there would be high political cost in doing what he did. Inevitably he would be called partisan. There would be more appeals to remove him from chairing the committee. The character assassination of him already well under way in the WaPo for example might move him to the top of the unpopularity chart, displacing even bête noire Putin. But this episode was not the first time Nunes has shown some spine in the face of what the Establishment wants ignored. In a move setting this congress crittur apart from all his colleagues, Nunes had the courage to host an award ceremony for one of his constituents, retired sailor and member of the USS Liberty crew, Terry Halbardier. On Jun 8 1967, by repairing an antennae and thus enabling the USS Liberty to issue an SOS, Halbardier prevented Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats from sinking that Navy intelligence ship and ensuring that there would be no survivors to describe how the Israeli “allies” had strafed and bombed the ship. Still, 34 Pindo seamen died and 171 were wounded. At the time of the award ceremony in 2009, Nunes said:
The government has kept this quiet I think for too long, and I felt as my constituent, he needed to get recognized for the services he made to his country.
Ray McGovern took part in the ceremony in Nunes’s Visalia office. Now we suspect that much more may be learned about the special compartmented surveillance program targeted against top Pindo national leaders if Nunes doesn’t back down and if Trump doesn’t choose the road most traveled: acquiescence to Pindostan’s Deep State actors.
See if you can untangle these diabolical attempts to blame the victims:
Devin Nunes refuses to reveal intelligence source to House Committee investigating Trump ties to Russia
Eileen Sullivan, Eric Tucker, Independent, Mar 29 2017
The chairman of the House intelligence committee has refused to step away from its investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as fresh political allegations brought new cries of protest from Demagogs. Asked if he should recuse himself, committee chairman Devin Nunes responded, “Why would I?” Later in the day, the White House vehemently denied a report that it had sought to hobble the testimony of a former acting attorney general before Nunes cancelled the hearing where she was to speak. Sean Spicer lashed out at reporters, claiming they’re seeing conspiracies where none exist and suggesting:
If the President puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that’s a Russian connection.
The embattled House Intelligence Committee is conducting one of three probes into the election campaign, its aftermath and potential contacts between Trump officials and Russians. The Senate Intelligence Committee is doing its own investigation, and since late July the FBI has been conducting a counter-intelligence investigation into Russia’s (purported) meddling and possible coordination with the Trump campaign. Nunes’ decision to cancel Tuesday’s hearing was the latest in a series of actions that Demagogs contend demonstrate that his loyalty to Trump is greater than his commitment to leading an independent investigation. Nunes, who was a member of Trump’s presidential transition team, has said he met with a secret source last week on White House grounds to review classified material that showed Trump associates’ communications had been captured in “incidental” surveillance of foreigners in November, December and January. Nunes would not name the source of the information, and his office said he did not intend to share it with other members of the committee. Nor would he disclose who invited him on the White House grounds for the meeting. He described the source as an intelligence official, not a White House official. In an interview on CNN, he suggested the president’s aides were unaware of the meeting. Trump has used Nunes’ revelations to defend his unproven claim that Barack Obama tapped phones at Trump Tower. In a series of tweets Monday night, Trump said that instead of probing his associates, the committee should be investigating Hillary Clinton’s ties to the Kremlin. He tweeted:
Trump Russia story is a hoax.
Adding to the swirl of questions was the publication of a series of letters dated Mar 23 & 24 involving a lawyer for former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who had agreed to testify publicly before the House Intelligence Committee along with former D/CIA Brennan and DNI Clapper. The cancelled hearing would have been the first opportunity for the public to hear Yates’ account of her role in the firing of Michael Flynn. The letters from lawyer David O’Neil, published by the WaPo, appeared to be in response to a meeting O’Neil had at the DoJ on Mar 23 in advance of the hearing. In them, O’Neil pushes back against what he says is DoJ guidance on what Yates could say about conversations she had with Trump, which the department indicated could be covered by executive privilege. O’Neil wrote in a Mar 23 letter to DoJ boxtop Samuel Ramer:
We believe that the Department’s position in this regard is overbroad, incorrect, and inconsistent with the Department’s historical approach to the congressional testimony of current and former senior officials.
He also wrote that Yates’ testimony would cover details that others have publicly recounted. The DoJ responded to O’Neil saying that the question of what privileged conversations Yates could discuss was ultimately up to the White House. Spicer on Tuesday said the White House never sought to stop her. He said:
We have no problem with her testifying, plain and simple.
O’Neil declined to comment Tuesday, and a DoJ spox did not return a message seeking comment. Yates was fired in January as acting attorney general after she refused to defend the Trump administration’s first travel ban. She alerted the White House in January that Flynn had been misleading in his account of a December phone call with the Russian ambassador to the United States in which economic sanctions against Russia were discussed. Flynn was ousted after those discrepancies were made public. Mark Warner, the top Demagog on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that White House meddling is not helping to “remove the cloud that increasingly is getting darker over the administration.” Demagog members of Nunes’ committee said his ability to lead a bipartisan probe is compromised. Rep Jim Himes said:
It’s irregular, to be benign about it, to have a lead investigator kibbitzing with the people being investigated.
House Speaker Paul Ryan reiterated his support for Nunes, and Nunes himself said all of the controversy was standard for Faschingstein, remarking:
It’s the same thing as always around this place, a lot of politics, people get heated but I’m not going to involve myself with that.