The Ever-Changing Story

There are some serious problems with the actions of the Obama Administration in terms of unmasking American citizens making phone calls. It is not an incredible coincidence that the unmasked citizens were people closely connected to the Trump presidential campaign. One name that has continually been mentioned as part of this unmasking is Susan Rice. She appeared on the Sunday News Shows (hasn’t she done that before?) today to explain her innocence.

The details are posted at Hot Air today.

Ms. Rice stated this morning:

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice denied President Donald Trump’s claim that she tried to unmask Americans in an attempt to implicate Trump campaign officials, adding that she never did anything “untoward with respect to the intelligence” she received.

During an interview with CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” airing Sunday morning, Rice said Trump’s accusation is “absolutely false” and that members of Congress have not found anything inappropriate in the situation.

“I think now we’ve had subsequently members of Congress on the intelligence committees on both sides of the aisle take a look at the information that apparently was the basis for Chairman [Devin] Nunes’ concern, and say publicly that they didn’t see anything that was unusual or untoward,” Rice said, referring to the California Republican.

But what has she said before? The article reports:

You may recall that when the story first broke Rice spoke to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC and at least heavily implied that Trump’s initial accusations were all some sort of fever swamp fantasies. (What she actually said was that she never leaked anything.) But before very long the details which emerged told a very different story. Within days it was revealed that she had, in fact, actively sought to have names revealed to her even if they had originally been picked up “incidentally.” Eventually we reached the point where the best they could say was that it appeared that she hadn’t done anything that was technically illegal.

Now, in the fashion so typical of politicians (as opposed to national security experts), she’s answering an entirely different question. Yes, she did get that information but she never did anything “unusual or untoward” with it. And why would we be so suspicious as to think she might have seen some value in data collected on people associated with the guy who was then in a heated battle to defeat the candidate who was promising to carry on her boss’s legacy? Perish the thought.

If the Justice Department has actually become the Justice Department rather than a political arm of the Democrat party, someone will be charged with a crime in this matter. The leaking of the names and information to the media was illegal. The leaking of the information was exactly what some members of Congress warned about when the Patriot Act was passed–that there would be eavesdropping on Americans that would be used for political purposes. What happened during the 2016 presidential campaign is an example of this. If no one is held accountable, it will continue to happen. That is not good news.

 

The Nightmare The Opponents Of The Patriot Act Saw Coming

It would be nice to believe that we are a nation led by honorable men. In the past that has occasionally been true and I am sure that it will occasionally be true in the future. I am hoping it is true in the present. However, our Founding Fathers understood that we would not always be led by honorable men and set up the U.S. Constitution accordingly. The power was supposed to rest with the people–not with the government. The government was supposed to be responsive to the wishes of the people and accountable to the people. The framework was beautiful. Had we paid closer attention to following it, we would be in a very different place. I am particularly concerned about recent violations of the Fourth Amendment.

The Fourth Amendment states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Patriot Act allowed for the collection of electronic data unprecedented in American history. The idea behind it was to prevent terrorist attacks. Some Congressmen warned that the act could be used to violate the rights of average Americans. Evidently they were right.

Yesterday The Gateway Pundit posted a story about electronic surveillance under the Obama Administration. Evidently that surveillance went far beyond what was necessary or legitimate.

The article reports:

Barack Obama‘s CIA Director John O. Brennan targeted Trump supporters for enhanced surveillance, intelligence sources confirm to GotNews’ Charles C. Johnson.

The surveillance took place between Trump’s election on November 8 and the inauguration in January, according to White House and House intelligence sources.

The focus was on General Mike Flynn, billionaire Erik Prince, and Fox News host Sean Hannity — all of whom had close ties to Trump before and after the November election and had helped the future president with managing his new diplomatic responsibilities.

Hannity was targeted because of his perceived ties to Julian Assange, say our intelligence sources. Hannity was reportedly unmasked by Susan Rice at Brennan’s behest thanks to his close relationship with Trump and Julian Assange.

Blackwater founder Erik Prince, a former CIA covert asset, has long criticized the CIA’s bloat and incompetence, including the Brennan-run CIA drone program’s failure to properly target terrorists rather than Afghan civilians. Prince has repeatedly called for restructuring the CIA and argued against Brennan’s tenure.

This is a violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of these citizens. At the very least, lawsuits are in order. More appropriately, people who authorized or participated in this need to lose their jobs and possible go to prison. In the Watergate Scandal, which is peanuts compared to this, people went to prison. That would also be appropriate here.

 

 

Unfortunately We Don’t Live In A Vacuum

This is an article about the eavesdropping scandal currently dominating press reporting on the Obama Administration. I will say offhand that I have very mixed emotions about the intelligence gathering going on. First of all, if the intelligence gathering is so universal and has been going on since 2007, why did it miss the Fort Hood shooting, the 2009 recruiting office shooting in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the Boston Marathon bombings? Of these three the Boston Marathon bombing should have been the easiest to foresee simply by looking at the travel records of the older brother involved.To add to my mixed emotions is the fact that Andrew McCarthy, someone I totally trust on matters of terrorism and the role of government, has stated that he is not bothered by the National Security Agency’s intelligence gathering. I have also heard a recent interview of John Bolton, someone whose opinion I also respect, in which he stated that he was not overly concerned about the information gathering.

I am adding to the discussion an article posted in the Guardian by Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin. Representative Sensenbrenner released the following statement last Thursday:

Washington, Jun 6 – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) today sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s application for a top secret court order to collect the phone records of essentially every call made by millions of Verizon customers. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the FBI’s interpretation of this legislation. While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses. The Bureau’s broad application for phone records was made under the so-called business records provision of the Act.  I do not believe the broadly drafted FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.”

Since Representative Sensenbrenner was one of the authors of the Patriot Act, I believe he needs to be listened to on this matter.

In his article for the Guardian, Representative Sensenbrenner states:

Technically, the administration’s actions were lawful insofar as they were done pursuant to an order from the Fisa court. But based on the scope of the released order, both the administration and the Fisa court are relying on an unbounded interpretation of the act that Congress never intended.

The released Fisa order requires daily productions of the details of every call that every American makes, as well as calls made by foreigners to or from the United States. Congress intended to allow the intelligence communities to access targeted information for specific investigations. How can every call that every American makes or receives be relevant to a specific investigation?

This is well beyond what the Patriot Act allows.

As I said at the beginning of this article, I have very mixed emotions on this. Because someone in the Obama Administration used the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to target conservatives, how do we know that the NSA information will not also be used to target specific groups? We don’t live in a vacuum. Without the IRS scandal, I might be willing to ignore the NSA snooping, but with the IRS scandal, it has a much more sinister look. I have reached no conclusion except to conclude that I need more information.

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