Big Brother Doesn’t Need A Warrant

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported the following:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation performed potentially millions of searches of American electronic data last year without a warrant, U.S. intelligence officials said Friday, a revelation likely to stoke longstanding concerns in Congress about government surveillance and privacy.

An annual report published Friday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed that the FBI conducted as many as 3.4 million searches of U.S. data that had been previously collected by the National Security Agency.

Senior Biden administration officials said the actual number of searches is likely far lower, citing complexities in counting and sorting foreign data from U.S. data. It couldn’t be learned from the report how many Americans’ data was examined by the FBI under the program, though officials said it was also almost certainly a much smaller number.

The report doesn’t allege the FBI was routinely searching American data improperly or illegally.

The disclosure of the searches marks the first time a U.S. intelligence agency has published an accounting, however imprecise, of the FBI’s grabs of American data through a section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that governs some foreign intelligence gathering. The section of FISA that authorizes the FBI’s activity, known as Section 702, is due to expire next year.

I think the Republicans need to be very careful about any law they pass that involves searching records, electronic or otherwise. This section of the FISA law needs to be allowed to expire next year. The fuse that began the use of government agencies for political purposes is found in the Patriot Act.

On Thursday, The Conservative Treehouse noted:

After the Patriot Act was triggered, not coincidentally only six weeks after 9/11, a slow and dangerous fuse was lit that ends with the intelligence apparatus being granted a massive amount of power. The problem with assembled power is always what happens when a Machiavellian network takes control over that power and begins the process to weaponize the tools for their own malicious benefit. That is exactly what Barack Obama was all about.

The Obama network took pre-assembled intelligence weapons we should never have allowed to be created, and turned those weapons into tools for his radical and fundamental change. The target was the essential fabric of our nation. Ultimately, this corrupt political process gave power to create the Fourth Branch of Government, the Intelligence Branch. From that perspective the fundamental change was successful.

The Wall Street Journal article concludes:

“For anyone outside the U.S. government, the astronomical number of FBI searches of Americans’ communications is either highly alarming or entirely meaningless,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), a privacy advocate, said. “Somewhere in all that overcounting are real numbers of FBI searches, for content and for nonconsent—numbers that Congress and the American people need before Section 702 is reauthorized.”

At a conference later Friday, Matt Olsen, the chief of the Justice Department’s national security division, said agencies were discussing what they could declassify about the use of Section 702 to demonstrate its value. He added that he expected to be able to share more information in the coming months.

The FBI has previously faced scrutiny for its oversight of how authorities plumb Section 702 data, including a rebuke from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2018 that found some searches violated the constitutional privacy rights of Americans.

In response, the FBI has imposed new safeguards meant to better ensure compliance. Those include a requirement that all searches involving 100 or more query terms get additional approvals and that analysts actively opt in to search Section 702 data, rather than passively allowing it.

Friday’s report also revealed four instances last year in which the FBI, due to specific factual considerations about a search of data, should have sought approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before performing a search and looking at the content of U.S. communications that were produced.

The FBI has never sought approval from the court since the requirement was adopted in 2018, officials said.

Please follow the links above to read both articles. Big brother is watching all of us.

The Timeline Is Important

When you look up Sharyl Attkisson this is what you find, “Sharyl Attkisson is a nonpartisan Investigative Journalist who tries to give you information others don’t want you to have. What you do with it is your own business. Do your own research. Seek advice from those you trust. Make up your own mind. Think for yourself.” That is a pretty accurate description of a lady who works hard to report the truth.She has received numerous awards for her investigative reporting and was under surveillance during the Obama administration because she got too close to the truth in her reporting about Fast and Furious.

On her website, she recently posted a timeline of all of the illegal surveillance carried out by the Obama administration. Please follow the link to see the entire timeline. I am going to focus only on the part beginning in the summer of 2016.

The article reports:

Summer 2016:

The FBI reportedly tries to obtain a secret FISA court order to monitor communications of Trump adviser Carter Page, alleging that Page is acting as a Russian agent. The application is turned down but approved in October when the anti-Trump “dossier” is included to justify the wiretap application.

2016:

It’s not yet known publicly, but CNN later reports that the Obama Justice Department wiretapped Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort before the 2016 election over Russia ties, closed the investigation, then began surveillance anew sometime in the fall and continued it through the early part of 2017.

Fall 2016:

Trump opponents “shop” to reporters a political opposition research “dossier” alleging Trump is guilty of various inappropriate acts regarding Russia. The information is unverified (and some of it is false) and the press doesn’t publish it, but a copy is provided to the FBI.

September 26, 2016:

It’s not publicly known at the time, but the government makes a proposal to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) court to allow the National Counter Terrorism Center to access “unmasked” intel on Americans acquired by the FBI and NSA. (The Court later approves as “appropriate”.)

October 7, 2016:

Former vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James Cartwright pleads guilty in a leak investigation to lying to the FBI about his discussions with reporters regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

October 26, 2016:

At  closed-door hearing before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Obama administration disclosed that it had been violating surveillance safeguards, according to Circa. It disclosed that more than 5 percent of its searches of the NSA’s database violated safeguards promised in 2011.

November 8, 2016:

Donald Trump is elected President.

November 2016-January 2017:

News reports claim Rice’s interest in the NSA materials accelerates after President Trump’s election through his January inauguration. Surveillance reportedly included Trump transition figures and/or foreign officials discussing a Trump administration.

December 2016:

FBI secretly monitors and records communications between Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who later became President Trump’s national security adviser.

After Trump’s election, Obama officials take steps to ensure certain intelligence gathered regarding Trump associates is “spread across the government.” One Obama official would later say it’s because they were afraid once Trump officials “found out how we knew what we knew,” the intelligence would be destroyed. However, Obama critics later theorize Obama officials were working to mount opposition to Trump’s presidency.

December 15, 2016:

National Security Adviser Susan Rice later reportedly acknowledged that the Obama administration spied on Trump officials in Trump Tower on this date, but claimed it was incidental to the administration’s spying on the foreign leader they were meeting with: the UAE crown prince. Rice also reportedly admitted to “unmasking” the names of the Trump officials who met with the crown prince, saying it was important to know who they were, although the identities of Americans are supposed to be strictly protected except in extraordinary circumstances. Trump officials who met with the crown prince reportedly included: Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner and Gen. Michael Flynn.

January 10, 2017:

The media reports on the leaked anti-Trump “dossier” compiled by a political opposition research group containing unverified and at least partly untrue allegations of misconduct involving Trump and Russia.

January 12, 2017:

The Obama administration finalizes new rules allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to spread certain intelligence to 16 other U.S. intel agencies without the normal privacy protections.

President Obama commutes all but the last four months of Manning’s sentence for leaking intelligence information to WikiLeaks.

February 2, 2017:

The news reports that five information technology (IT) computer professionals employed by Democrats in the House of Representatives are under criminal investigation for allegedly “accessing House IT systems without lawmakers’ knowledge.” The suspects include three brothers identified as Abid, Imran and Jamal Awan “who managed office information technology for members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and other lawmakers.” The brothers were said to have been employed by three Democrats on the Intelligence Committee and “five members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs which deal with with many of the nation’s most sensitive issues and documents, including those related to the war on terrorism.”

February 9, 2017:

News of the FBI recordings of Lt. Gen. Flynn speaking with Russia’s ambassador is leaked to the press. The New York Times and the Washington Post report that Flynn was captured on wiretaps discussing current U.S. sanctions, despite Flynn’s earlier denials.

The Washington Post also reports the FBI reviewed Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador and “found nothing illicit.”

I realize that is a long list, but there are a few things in it that stand out to me. President Trump took office on January 20th. Why would President Obama change long-standing rules on handling intelligence eight days before leaving office? Why have we heard nothing about any consequences the Awan brothers have suffered because of their activities? Why were there no consequences for the spying on Trump Tower?

The timeline of the increased unmasking during the transition period and during the early days of the Trump administration is very telling. This looks like the setting up of a shadow government to make sure the previous illicit activities were not discovered. I firmly believe that General Flynn was targeted because he was smart enough and had been around Washington enough to figure out quickly what was going on. Had General Flynn stayed on the White House staff, I suspect there might already be some people on trial for their misdeeds. That may well have been the reason he was targeted. The reason he is still being targeted is that those who broke the law want to make sure he is never put in a position to uncover their misdeeds.

This Is Not A Surprise, But It Is Really Tacky

The Center for Security Policy is reporting today that a new think tank has recently formed in Washington. The think tank, called National Security Action (NSA), is made up of about fifty former Obama administration officials. Three founding members are Ben Rhodes, Susan Rice and Samantha Power. Even in Washington, could anyone find three people with a worse record of telling the truth?

The article reports:

The mission statement of the group is anything but subtle: “National Security Action is dedicated to advancing American global leadership and opposing the reckless policies of the Trump administration that endanger our national security and undermine U.S. strength in the world.”

National Security Action plans to pursue typical liberal foreign policy themes such as climate change, challenging President Trump’s leadership, immigration and allegations of corruption between the president and foreign powers.

This organization uses the acronym NSA, which is ironic. Three of its founding members – Ben Rhodes, Susan Rice and Samantha Power – likely were involved in abusing intelligence from the federal NSA (National Security Agency) to unmask the names of Trump campaign staff from intelligence reports and to leak NSA intercepts to the media to hurt Donald Trump politically. This included a leak to the media of an NSA transcript in February 2017 of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s discussion with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak. No one has been prosecuted for this leak.

…It is interesting that the new anti-Trump group says nothing in its mandate about protecting the privacy of Americans from illegal surveillance, preventing the politicization of U.S. intelligence agencies or promoting aggressive intelligence oversight. Maybe this is because the founders plan to abuse U.S. intelligence agencies to spy on Republican lawmakers and candidates if they join a future Democratic administration.

I am sure that the formation of this group is not unrelated to the 2018 and 2020 elections. I also suspect that part of the purpose of this group is to create a positive image of Barack Obama. As the Trump administration continues and the economy and foreign relations improve, it is becoming very obvious that America needed to move in a new direction after eight years of President Obama. I suspect that this group is going to work very hard to undermine President Trump and convince Americans that President Obama’s policies were successful. Good luck.

 

We Seem To Have A Problem With Our Intelligence Community Understanding That It Is Supposed To Work Within The Constraints Of Our Representative Republic

Townhall posted an article today by Sharyl Attkisson about misconduct by the intelligence community of our government.

The article lists ten examples of the intelligence community running amok:

Telecom takeover

Joe Nacchio, CEO of telecom giant Qwest, said that after he refused to spy on his customers for the National Security Agency (NSA) without a warrant in February of 2001, the government retaliated by yanking a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars and filing an insider trading case against him. He went to prison. The government denied charges of retaliation. 

Olympic spying

In 2002, the NSA reportedly engaged in “blanket surveillance” of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, collecting and storing “virtually all electronic communications going into or out of the Salt Lake City area, including … emails and text messages” to “experiment with and fine tune a new scale of mass surveillance.” NSA officials had denied such a program existed.

Spying on Congress

In 2005 intel officials intercepted and recorded phone conversations between then-Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.)  and pro-Israel lobbyists who were under investigation for espionage.

[…]

Journalist “witch hunts”

Internal emails from a “global intelligence company” executive in 2010 stated: “Brennan is behind the witch hunts of investigative journalists learning information from inside the beltway sources.

[…]

Misleading on mass spying

On March 12, 2013, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress that intel officials were not collecting mass data on tens of millions of Americans.

[…]

More spying on Congress

CIA officials improperly accessed Senate Intelligence Committee computers, according to an Inspector General report in July 2014, contradicting denials by then-CIA Director Brennan.

[…]

NSA privacy violations

In fall 2016, the government confessed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “significant non-compliance” of crucial procedures designed to protect privacy rights of U.S. citizens.

[…]

Intel mutiny?

Government requests to see or “unmask” names of Americans whose communications are “incidentally” captured during national security surveillance are supposed to be rare and justified.

[…]

Politically motivated press leak

In May 2017, former FBI Director James Comey secretly orchestrated a “leak” to The New York Times of negative memos he said he wrote contemporaneously about President Trump, with the motive of spurring the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the president’s alleged Russia ties.

[…]

Conflicted investigators

One purpose of special counsel investigations, such as the Russia investigation being led by former FBI Director Mueller, is to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest. But multiple investigators working on Mueller’s team have been removed after being caught in compromising positions.

The swamp has been operating successfully for a number of years. It is time for the leadership in the intelligence community to resign. The intelligence community needs to go back to doing their job of protecting Americans–not spying on people who disagree with their political philosophy.

The article reminds us:

This issue has special meaning to the former CBS reporter, who alleges she was spied on by the Obama administration. She’s documented the reported Obama surveillance timeline on her website as well. Even left leaning journalists, like Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, said the leaks from the intelligence community are a prescription to the destruction of our government. Granted, Greenwald’s publication is set up as a safe space for leakers, and to protect them, as they disseminate information relating to government corruption or wrongdoing. Leaking because Hillary Clinton lost isn’t any of those things. Now, Greenwald fears both the deep state and the Trump White House, but noted the former doesn’t have the institutional constraints to keep their power in check.