Slowly The Truth Comes Out

There are very few investigative reporters working in news media right now. I don’t claim to be one of them, but I truly appreciate the work they are doing, and when possible, try to share it. One internet site that I have recently become aware of is Circa. They have done a lot of investigating into illegal government surveillance of Americans.

Yesterday Circa posted an article about the sharing of spy data on American citizens by the FBI.

The article reports:

The FBI has illegally shared raw intelligence about Americans with unauthorized third parties and violated other constitutional privacy protections, according to newly declassified government documents that undercut the bureau’s public assurances about how carefully it handles warrantless spy data to avoid abuses or leaks.

In his final congressional testimony before he was fired by President Trump this month, then-FBI Director James Comey unequivocally told lawmakers his agency used sensitive espionage data gathered about Americans without a warrant only when it was “lawfully collected, carefully overseen and checked.”

Once-top secret U.S. intelligence community memos reviewed by Circa tell a different story, citing instances of “disregard” for rules, inadequate training and “deficient” oversight and even one case of deliberately sharing spy data with a forbidden party.

I have a friend who once worked for the National Security Agency (NSA). I year or so ago, he assured me that the agency was not spying on Americans. Recently, he told me that he had been wrong. The group he worked with was dealing with foreign issues and played by the rules. Since that time he has learned that not everyone played by the rules. He was heartbroken when he realized that. I say that to remind everyone that we have good people working in our investigative and security agencies. The challenge for the Trump Administration will be to get the people who have abused their positions out. FBI Director Comey was a good place to start. Criminal charges are also in order where laws have been broken.

The article further reports:

For instance, a ruling declassified this month by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) chronicles nearly 10 pages listing hundreds of violations of the FBI’s privacy-protecting minimization rules that occurred on Comey’s watch.

The behavior the FBI admitted to a FISA judge just last month ranged from illegally sharing raw intelligence with unauthorized third parties to accessing intercepted attorney-client privileged communications without proper oversight the bureau promised was in place years ago.

The court also opined aloud that it fears the violations are more extensive than already disclosed. 

“The Court is nonetheless concerned about the FBI’s apparent disregard of minimization rules and whether the FBI is engaging in similar disclosures of raw Section 702 information that have not been reported,” the April 2017 ruling declared.

All of this is part of the ‘deep state’ that is being used to undermine the Trump Administration. All members of the deep state need to receive their pink slips as soon as possible.

The Timeline Shows The History

Sharyl Attkisson was an investigative journalist who resigned from CBS News in 2014. She was unbiased and reported events as she saw them. In July 2012, Ms. Attkisson’s reporting on the Fast and Furious scandal received an Emmy Award. Ms. Attkisson has reported that her personal computer and work computer were illegally accessed beginning in 2012. She has posted an article on her website about some of the indications that government surveillance of Americans during the Obama Administration was not unusual.

The article includes a timeline. Here are some highlights:

 April 2009:

Someone leaks the unmasked name of Congresswoman Jane Harmon to the press. According to news reports, the Bush administration NSA incidentally recorded and saved Harmon’s phone conversations with pro-Israel lobbyists who were under investigation for espionage. The story is first broken by Congressional Quarterly’s Jeff Stein.

December 17, 2009:

The Obama administration prosecutes FBI contractor Shamai Leibowitz for leaking documents to the media in April 2009. Leibowitz says he leaked because he felt FBI practices were “an abuse of power and a violation of the law” which he reported to his superiors at the FBI “who did nothing about them.”  (According to the ACLU: “Amazingly, the sentencing judge said, ‘I don’t know what was divulged other than some documents, and how it compromised things, I have no idea’.”)

2010:

The IRS secretly begins “targeting” conservative groups that are seeking nonprofit tax-exempt status, by singling out ones that have “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names.

Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning begins illegally leaks classified information to WikiLeaks revealing, among other matters, that the U.S. is extensively spying on the United Nations.

Obama Attorney General Eric Holder renews a Bush-era subpoena of New York Times reporter James Risen in a leak investigation.

Obama administration pursues espionage charges against NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake. (According to the ACLU: spy charges were later dropped and Drake pled guilty to a misdemeanor. The judge called the government’s conduct in the case “unconscionable.”)

May 28, 2010:

The government secretly applies for a warrant to obtain Google email information of Fox News reporter James Rosen in a leak investigation, without telling Rosen.

September 21, 2010:

Internal email entitled “Obama Leak Investigations” at “global intelligence” company Stratfor claims Obama’s then-Homeland Security adviser John Brennan is targeting journalists.

“Brennan is behind the witch hunts of investigative journalists learning information from inside the beltway sources,” writes one Stratfor official to another.

The email continues: “Note — There is specific tasker from the [White House] to go after anyone printing materials negative to the Obama agenda (oh my.) Even the FBI is shocked. The Wonder Boys must be in meltdown mode…”

“The Wonder Boys” reportedly refers to the National Security Agency (NSA). Brennan later becomes President Obama’s CIA Director.

Early February 2011:

After receiving an anonymous tip, CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson begins researching the Department of Justice “gunwalking” operation nicknamed “Fast and Furious” that secretly let thousands of weapons be trafficked to Mexican drug cartels. One of the “walked” guns had been used by illegal aliens who murdered U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.

February 22, 2011:

CBS’ Attkisson breaks news about “Fast and Furious” on The CBS Evening News.

After the story airs, the government issues an internal memo that seeks to “push positive stories” to contradict the news.

Given the negative coverage by CBS Evening News last week…ATF needs to proactively push positive stories this week, in an effort to preempt some negative reporting, or at minimum, lessen the coverage of such stories in the news cycle by replacing them with good stories about ATF.

March 4, 2011:

CBS News’ Attkisson exclusively interviews sitting ATF special agent John Dodson. He gives a firsthand account contradicting government denials re: Fast and Furious.

The article continues with the timeline continuing through April 11, 2017, citing actions by the Obama Administration and by the people who remained in government positions after the Obama Administration ended. I think we have a problem. The only possible solution is to find the guilty parties and hold them accountable to the law. One wonders if we are not in a situation similar to what happened when J. Edgar Hoover headed the FBI and collected enough damaging information on everyone in government so that no one ever challenged him when he overstepped the limits of his position. If we have a similar situation now, we may not be able to solve the problem of overactive government surveillance for political purposes, and voters are simply going to have to be smart about what they believe.