Friday, May 5, 2017

Obamagate update: Intelligence reports raise questions

Nationally known attorney John Hinderaker of the blog PowerLine has pored through a little-noticed intelligence report that reveals that thousands of Americans were surveilled by the National Security Agency in the final year of President Barack Obama's administration.

He writes:
At the end of April, the Director of National Intelligence released a report titled Statistical Transparency Report Regarding Use of National Security Authorities. The report, which is mandated by statute, conveys basic data about the intelligence community’s use of the FISA process and other intelligence-gathering techniques.

Like most such reports, it raises more questions than it answers. It describes the National Security Agency’s sweeping up of international electronic communications, and describes minimization procedures that are designed to keep confidential the identities of Americans whose communications are caught up in the dragnet. It also describes the unmasking procedures whereby bureaucrats can be allowed to identify “U.S. persons.”

The report indicates that in 2016, there were 5,288 occasions when some or all of the database of international communications collected by NSA under Section 702 of FISA was searched to find information on a known U.S. person, using, e.g., his email address or phone number as an identifier.
Using a series of charts, Hinderaker reports a "rapidly increasing pattern of searches" by the Obama administration.
The number more than tripled between 2013 and 2016, the election year when the Obama administration is suspected of spying on Trump associates.
Further, Hinderaker notices that of the 2,964 Americans whose names were originally "masked" or redacted in NSA reports in 2016, 1,934 were later identified "in response to specific requests" from other federal officials. That's nearly triple the 654 U.S. persons who had their names revealed in 2015, lending credibility to the idea that the election had a lot to do with last year's number of people who were "outed."
The data in these two reports cry out for witness testimony. Only witnesses familiar with the processes described in the reports, and who know which Obama officials requested “unmasking” of American citizens, and why, can shed meaningful light.
This explains why former national security adviser Susan Rice has refused to appear before the subcommittee investigating the matter. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said Congress may subpoena her.

The Obama folks apparently cast a wide net. Sen. Rand Paul told Breitbart News today that several sources have told him that the Obama administration spied on his presidential campaign.

One New Media outlet wants President Donald Trump to blow the doors wide open. From Circa, a five-year-old online news and entertainment service:
Circa has formally requested that the Trump administration declassify records showing how often government officials have searched National Security Agency intercepts for intelligence on U.S. presidential candidates, members of Congress, journalists, clergy, lawyers, federal judges and doctors and how often such Americans had their identities unmasked by the intelligence community after Barack Obama made it easier to do so in 2011.

The request follows an exclusive Circa report on Wednesday that revealed that the Obama administration conducted more than 35,000 searches on NSA intercepts seeking information about Americans during the divisive 2016 election year.

“The law makes President Trump the ultimate declassifying authority, and we believe the president can answer many troubling questions by declassifying this information, including how often First Amendment protected professionals had their privacy impacted by NSA intercepts and why some of Trump’s own aides were unmasked in NSA data by the prior White House,” said John Solomon, the chief operating officer of Circa and the author of Wednesday’s story.
If you want to see abject white-knuckle panic not only in the halls of the administrative state but also in newsrooms at places like the New York Times and Washington Post, start declassifying these documents. It wouldn't be more than a matter of minutes before people started connecting the dots of who requested which names to be "unmasked" and with whom in the major corporate media they were conspiring.

I have a hunch that even the most cynical Americans would be shocked at the degree to which some media outlets are tied to all of this. As an example of how coordination of a message works: Hillary Clinton gives a speech on Tuesday blaming FBI director James Comey for her election loss; Comey tells Congress on Wednesday that he's nauseated by the thought that he may have cost her the election; and within hours ABC News correspondent and New York Times blogger Nate Silver unveils a detailed and lengthy report on how Comey's decision in October to reopen the investigation into Clinton's emails supposedly swung the election. He just happened to have it ready to go.

This has all the appearance of people at the levers of power in Washington coordinating with people in major media to create a political narrative. And if you still have cable television, you are footing the bill.

That's why it would take outlets like Circa and PowerLine and Breitbart and probably a few others we haven't heard of yet to blow the lid off this story, if it were to ever happen. That and continued political pressure from voters to keep Congress on the trail.

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