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Susan Rice’s Unmasking Was Political: FBI, Not White House Conducts Criminal Investigations

April 6, 2017 1 comment

There would have been no intelligence need for Susan Rice to ask for identities to be unmasked

Susan Rice's Unmasking Was Political: FBI, Not White House Conducts Criminal Investigations

Chris Menahan | Information Liberation

Susan Rice was a political adviser working for Obama, she was not a criminal investigator working for the FBI, therefore her unmasking of Trump transition officials was almost certainly done to advance Democratic Party interests.

As Andrew McCarthy reports in The National Review:

The thing to bear in mind is that the White House does not do investigations. Not criminal investigations, not intelligence investigations.

Remember that.

Why is that so important in the context of explosive revelations that Susan Rice, President Obama’s national-security adviser, confidant, and chief dissembler, called for the “unmasking” of Trump campaign and transition officials whose identities and communications were captured in the collection of U.S. intelligence on foreign targets?

Because we’ve been told for weeks that any unmasking of people in Trump’s circle that may have occurred had two innocent explanations: (1) the FBI’s investigation of Russian meddling in the election and (2) the need to know, for purposes of understanding the communications of foreign intelligence targets, the identities of Americans incidentally intercepted or mentioned. The unmasking, Obama apologists insist, had nothing to do with targeting Trump or his people.

That won’t wash.

In general, it is the FBI that conducts investigations that bear on American citizens suspected of committing crimes or of acting as agents of foreign powers. In the matter of alleged Russian meddling, the investigative camp also includes the CIA and the NSA. All three agencies conducted a probe and issued a joint report in January. That was after Obama, despite having previously acknowledged that the Russian activity was inconsequential, suddenly made a great show of ordering an inquiry and issuing sanctions.

Consequently, if unmasking was relevant to the Russia investigation, it would have been done by those three agencies. And if it had been critical to know the identities of Americans caught up in other foreign intelligence efforts, the agencies that collect the information and conduct investigations would have unmasked it. Because they are the agencies that collect and refine intelligence “products” for the rest of the “intelligence community,” they are responsible for any unmasking; and they do it under “minimization” standards that FBI Director James Comey, in recent congressional testimony, described as “obsessive” in their determination to protect the identities and privacy of Americans.

Understand: There would have been no intelligence need for Susan Rice to ask for identities to be unmasked. If there had been a real need to reveal the identities — an intelligence need based on American interests — the unmasking would have been done by the investigating agencies.

The national-security adviser is not an investigator. She is a White House staffer. The president’s staff is a consumer of intelligence, not a generator or collector of it. If Susan Rice was unmasking Americans, it was not to fulfill an intelligence need based on American interests; it was to fulfill a political desire based on Democratic-party interests.

There’s more. Read McCarthy’s full breakdown in The National Review.

WSJ reports that Susan Rice Was Not Alone In “Unmasking” Team Trump

April 6, 2017 Leave a comment

Unmasking is justified for national security reasons but is governed by strict rules across the U.S. intelligence apparatus that make it illegal to pursue for political reasons

WSJ reports that Susan Rice Was Not Alone In "Unmasking" Team Trump

Zero Hedge

As part of its daily wrap of the Susan Rice newsflow, which focused on her first media appearance since she was “outed” as the persona responsible for “unmasking” members of team Trump, the WSJ provides two new pieces of incremental information: i) in addition to Michael Flynn, at least one more member of the Trump transition team was “unmasked” in intelligence reports due to multiple foreign conversations that weren’t related to Russia; and ii) Rice wasn’t the administration official who instigated Mr. Flynn’s unmasking, confirming there is at least one more high-level official giving “unmasking” orders. 

But first, a brief detour.

“Unmasking” is a term used when the identity of a U.S. citizen or lawful resident is revealed in classified intelligence reports. Normally, when government officials receive intelligence reports, the names of American citizens are redacted to protect their privacy. But officials can request that names, listed as “U.S. Person 1,” for example, be unmasked internally in order to give context about the potential value of the intelligence. Unmasking is justified for national security reasons but is governed by strict rules across the U.S. intelligence apparatus that make it illegal to pursue for political reasons or to leak classified information generated by the process.

It is the accusation that Rice unmasked members for purely political reasons – ostensibly in coordination with president Obama – that has gotten Republican smelling blood in the water.  Republicans have for weeks signaled that they saw unmasking as the key to investigating the source of media leaks damaging to the Trump administration — such as the exposure of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign in February after media reports revealed that he misled Vice President Pence about the contents of his discussions with the Russian ambassador.

To that end, earlier this month, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) pressed FBI Director James Comey in a public Intelligence Committee hearing: “It would be nice to know the universe of people who have the power to unmask a U.S. citizen’s name… because that might provide something of a roadmap to investigate who might’ve actually disseminated a masked U.S. citizen’s name.”

He went on to press Comey on whether specific Obama officials, including Rice, would have had the authority to request that a name be unmasked. “Yes, in general, and any other national security adviser would, I think, as a matter of their ordinary course of their business,” Comey answered.

Shortly thereafter, The Hill notes Nunes made his shocking announcement that he — and he alone — had viewed documents that showed inappropriate unmasking by Obama-era officials.

Today, Susan Rice came out to defend herself and told MSNBC that “the allegation is that somehow, Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes,” Rice told Mitchell. “That’s absolutely false.”

She added that “The notion, which some people are trying to suggest, that by asking for the identity of the American person is the same is leaking it — that’s completely false. There is no equivalence between so-called unmasking and leaking.”

And yet, that is precisely what many republicans are suggesting because otherwise there is no explanation for how the WaPo and NYT received, on a virtual silver platter, stories about Mike Flynn’s communications with intel-level detail.

Perhaps Rice is simply lying as she lied on March 22 when in a PBS interview she said “I know nothing” about unmasking Trump officials. Less than two weeks later, we learn that she did.

But perhaps there is more to the story than what we know so far.

* * *

And this is where the WSJ comes in, with the new info that according to a Republican official familiar with deliberations by GOP lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee said that the names of two U.S. citizens who were part of Mr. Trump’s transition team have been unmasked in intelligence reports. One is Mr. Flynn and the other hasn’t been identified. The report involving Mr. Flynn documented phone conversations he had in late December with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

The WSJ then reports that Rice had requested the unmasking of at least one
transition official — not Mr. Flynn — 
who was part of multiple foreign
conversations that weren’t related to Russia.

And the punchline: “The Republican official and others said Ms. Rice wasn’t the administration official who instigated Mr. Flynn’s unmasking.

In other words, the story that Susan Rice is the unmasker is incomplete as there is at least one more person exposing the identities of people in Trump’s circle, and that the NSA and other intel agencies have been surveiling, accidentally or otherwise,  at least one, so far unnamed individual, from Trump’s circle. It may well be someone that the WaPo and NYT have already published about, or it may be someone who has yet to hit the newswire, delivering the latest twist of the ongoing intelligence-fed news cycle.

For now the answer is unknown, although when Rice testifies under oath before the House Intel Committee, we hope that all outstanding questions will finally get answers.

Media Is Ignoring the 500-Pound Surveillance Elephant in the Room

April 5, 2017 Leave a comment

(Breitbart) The Mainstream media are watching their Russia election-meddling narrative teeter on the brink of collapse. They’re holding their collective breath hoping it doesn’t topple over, like the world’s highest stakes game of Jenga.

Susan Rice photo

Photo by scriptingnews (CC)

Every week the Russia story crumbles a bit more. Whether it is the loss of credibility of Crowdstrike’s hacking report, or the revelation by WikiLeaks that the CIA can make a cyber attack look like it came from wherever they want, the leftist media can’t catch a break. The FBI and NSA have both testified that there is no evidence that there was any hacking of actual voting, and the WikiLeaks allegations throw doubt on Russia’s involvement in hacking the DNC or Podesta emails. Even if they did, the media and the Democrats still have yet to convince anyone that the emails are the reason that voters chose Trump in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Despite this, the media zealously chase after every angle of the story, mostly using “anonymous sources” and “individuals familiar with the investigation.”

Well, they chase almost every angle on the Russia story — except for the very real connections between the Clinton campaign and Russia.

The media keep the Russia story at the presidential level, failing to provide any sort of context for Trump’s win. The Democrats lost more than 1,000 seats at the federal and state level during Obama’s presidency, including 9 Senate seats, 62 House seats, 12 governorships, and a startling 958 state legislative seats. Did the Russians have a hand in all of those elections? Or are those election results clear signals of America’s shift away from Obama and Clinton, who promised to be a third Obama term?…

Original Source

Obama Surveillance Of Trump ‘Much Worse Than Expected’

April 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Obama surveillance of Trump is much worse than originally believed

Sources in the intelligence community have confirmed that spying conducted by the Obama administration on Donald Trump is “much worse” than the public are being led to believe. 

According to insiders, Obama illegally revealed names of people in the Trump camp who were under surveillance in order to score political points for the Democrats and to help the Clinton campaign win.

These bombshell claims come from top officials of the intelligence community who say they want to fight back against the propaganda and lies being spewed by the press and by their bosses.

According to reporter Adam Housley, sources from within the FBI are “frustrated with the politics that is taking place in these (intelligence) agencies.”

Wnd.com reports:

And what they have revealed is amazing. Here is what they told Fox:

1) Surveillance targeting the Trump team during the Obama administration began months ago, even before the president had become the GOP nominee in July.

2) The spying on the Trump team had nothing to do with the collection of foreign intelligence or an investigation into Russia election interference.

3) The spying was done purely “for political purposes” that “have nothing to do with national security and everything to do with hurting and embarrassing Trump and his team.”

4) The person who did the unmasking was someone “very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world, and is not in the FBI.”

5) Congressional investigators know the name of at least one person who was unmasking names.

6) The initial surveillance on the Trump team led to “a number of names” being unmasked.

7) House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has known about the unmasking since January.

8) Two sources in the intelligence community told Nunes who did the unmasking and told him at least one of the names of someone in the Trump team who was unmasked. The sources also gave Nunes the serial numbers of the classified reports that documented the unmasking.

9) It took Nunes a number of weeks to figure out how to see those intelligence reports because the intelligence agencies were stonewalling him, and not allowing the chairman or other people to see them.

10) There were only two places Nunes could have seen the information: where the sources work, which would have blown their cover; and the Eisenhower Executive Office building on the White House grounds, which houses the National Security Council and has computers linked to the secure system containing the reports he sought.

11) Nunes got access to that system on March 21 with the help of two Trump administration officials.

The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel reported that the documents Nunes saw confirming the Obama administration spied on the Trump team for months “aren’t easily obtainable, since they aren’t the ‘finished’ intelligence products that Congress gets to see.”

She said there were “dozens of documents with information about Trump officials.”

Strassel also reported there was a stonewall against the Intelligence committee chairman because, “for weeks Mr. Nunes has been demanding intelligence agencies turn over said documents—with no luck, so far.”

She also learned that, along with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, one other Trump official was unmasked.

(Flynn resigned after his unmasking was leaked to the press as part of reports that he spoke on the phone with the Russian ambassador before the new administration took office. President Trump said the two discussed nothing inappropriate and Flynn was just doing his job, but the president asked for the aide’s resignation because he was not completely honest in his initial account of the conversation.)

But even the reports that did not unmask identities “were written in ways that made clear which Trump officials were being discussed.”

And, importantly, the documents were “circulated at the highest levels of government.”

Strassel concluded, “To sum up, Team Obama was spying broadly on the incoming administration.”

Susan Rice Ordered Spy Agencies To Produce ‘Detailed Spreadsheets’ Involving Trump

April 4, 2017 Leave a comment

“Detailed spreadsheets of intercepted phone calls with unmasked Trump associates.”

Susan Rice Ordered Spy Agencies To Produce ‘Detailed Spreadsheets’ Involving Trump

Former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice ordered U.S. spy agencies to produce “detailed spreadsheets” of legal phone calls involving Donald Trump and his aides when he was running for president, according to former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova.

“What was produced by the intelligence community at the request of Ms. Rice were detailed spreadsheets of intercepted phone calls with unmasked Trump associates in perfectly legal conversations with individuals,” diGenova told The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group Monday.

“The overheard conversations involved no illegal activity by anybody of the Trump associates, or anyone they were speaking with,” diGenova said. “In short, the only apparent illegal activity was the unmasking of the people in the calls.”

Other knowledgeable official sources with direct knowledge and who requested anonymity confirmed to TheDCNF diGenova’s description of surveillance reports Rice ordered one year before the 2016 presidential election.

Read more

Bit by bit, Trump methodically undoing Obama policies

April 4, 2017 Leave a comment

(AP) — Amid the turmoil over staff shake-ups, blocked travel bans and the Russia cloud hanging overhead, President Donald Trump is steadily plugging away at a major piece of his agenda: Undoing Obama.

From abortion to energy to climate change and personal investments, Trump is keeping his promises in methodically overturning regulations and policies adopted when Barack Obama was president.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

Trump recently failed to fulfill his pledge to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which continues to stand as Obama’s most recognizable domestic policy achievement. Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan couldn’t persuade enough fellow Republicans to back new health care legislation last month. Ryan pulled the measure just before a scheduled House vote.

Trump has had better outcomes in other areas.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Trump signed an executive order last week to deliver on his pledge to unravel Obama’s efforts to curb global warming. The order launched a review of the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s chief effort to curb carbon emissions by restricting greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants. Trump also lifted a 14-month-old halt on new coal leases on federal lands. The Obama administration had imposed a three-year freeze on such leases in January of last year.

The executive order covers a range of other Obama-era rules, including requirements to factor the “social cost” of carbon emissions into all regulatory actions and to crack down on methane emissions at oil and gas wells. Business groups had complained to Trump, himself a businessman, that the rules were intrusive and expensive.

INTERNET PRIVACY

Trump is expected to sign a measure soon to block online privacy regulations the Federal Communications Commission issued during Obama’s final months in office. It’s a first step toward allowing internet providers to sell information about their customers’ browsing habits. The FCC rule was designed to give consumers more control over how companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon share information. Critics complained that the rule would have increased costs, stifled innovation and picked winners and losers among internet companies.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer says the rule represents the type of “federal overreach” that Trump pledged as a candidate to reverse.

ABORTION/FAMILY PLANNING

Trump is expected to sign legislation erasing another Obama rule, one that barred states from withholding federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood affiliates and other clinics that provide abortions. The rule was finalized shortly before Obama left office in January.

The measure cleared the Senate last week with Vice President Mike Pence, who is also president of the Senate, casting the tie-breaking 51st vote in the 100-member chamber.

KEYSTONE XL OIL PIPELINE

Trump greenlighted the long-delayed project on March 24, reversing Obama’s decision less than 18 months earlier. After Trump invited TransCanada, the Canadian company building the $8 billion pipeline, to resubmit its application, the State Department approved the project, saying it would advance U.S. national interests. Obama had said the project would not.

Approval came nearly a decade after TransCanada applied to complete the 1,700-mile (2,735 kilometers) pipeline to carry oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Trump says the project will reduce costs and reliance on foreign oil, and create thousands of jobs. Obama had said it would undercut U.S. credibility in international efforts to tackle climate change.

DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE

Under Obama, the Army Corps of Engineers had declined in December to allow pipeline construction under South Dakota’s Lake Oahe on grounds that alternate routes needed to be considered. Native American tribes had sued to block construction, arguing that the pipeline threatened their water supply and cultural sites.

The project has moved forward again under Trump, who acted shortly after taking office. In February, the Army Corps of Engineers abandoned further study and granted an easement that was needed to complete the pipeline. Energy Transfer Partners immediately began drilling under the lake.

FUEL EFFICIENCY STANDARDS

The Trump administration is re-examining federal requirements governing the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks. In 2012, the Obama administration set fuel economy regulations for model years 2017-2025 and agreed to complete a midterm evaluation by next year. Then, days before Obama left office, the Environmental Protection Agency decided to keep stringent requirements it had set in place for model years 2022-2025.

The auto industry balked. Trump announced in Michigan that he’s putting the midterm review back on track. His decision has no immediate effect but requires the EPA to determine no later than April 2018 whether the 2022-2025 standards are appropriate.

TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP

Obama was his administration’s biggest cheerleader for the sweeping agreement involving the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations. But the Senate needed to ratify it, and bipartisan opposition basically doomed it before he left office.

As a candidate, Trump railed against this agreement and pledged to withdraw from it, saying he was a better negotiator and could strike better deals. Shortly after taking office, he directed the U.S. trade representative to withdraw and said he would pursue individual deals with the other countries.

ABORTION/MEXICO CITY POLICY

Trump reinstated a ban on providing federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information about them. Obama had lifted the ban when he took office in 2009.

Known as the “Mexico City Policy” or, by critics, as the “global gag rule,” the regulation has been a political volleyball, instituted by Republican administrations and rescinded by Democratic ones since 1984. Trump signed it one day after the 44th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States. The policy also prohibits taxpayer funding for groups that lobby to legalize abortion or promote it as a family planning method.

PERSONAL FINANCE

Trump has instructed the Department of Labor to delay an Obama-era rule that would require financial professionals who charge commissions to put their clients’ best interests first when advising them on retirement investments. The “fiduciary rule” was aimed at blocking consultants from steering clients toward investments with higher commissions and fees that can eat away at retirement savings. The rule was to take effect this month. The financial services industry argued that the rule would limit retirees’ investment choices by forcing asset managers to steer them to low-risk options.

Undoing the rule was part of a promised assault by Trump on banking rules enacted after the Great Recession. He has directed the Treasury secretary to review the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law, which he has said is a disaster. The law’s aim was to keep banks from repeating practices that many blamed for the financial meltdown.

___

Obama Spying Even Worse Than Trump Claimed

April 2, 2017 Leave a comment

(WND.com) The spying by the Obama administration on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump reportedly was even worse than what he has alleged.

64 Ways Obama is Sabotaging Trump

And it had nothing to do with Russia but everything to do with politics.

Sources in the intelligence community claim the potentially illegal revealing of names, or unmasking, of people in the Trump camp who were under surveillance was done purely “for political purposes” to “hurt and embarrass (candidate) Trump and his team.”

The bombshell revelations come from rank and file members of the intelligence community who are fighting back against a stonewall by the leaders at the nation’s spy agencies, according to Fox News.

Reporter Adam Housley said the sources are “not Trump” people but are “frustrated with the politics that is taking place in these (intelligence) agencies.”

And what they have revealed is amazing. Here is what they told Fox:

1) Surveillance targeting the Trump team during the Obama administration began months ago, even before the president had become the GOP nominee in July.

2) The spying on the Trump team had nothing to do with the collection of foreign intelligence or an investigation into Russia election interference.

3) The spying was done purely “for political purposes” that “have nothing to do with national security and everything to do with hurting and embarrassing Trump and his team.”

4) The person who did the unmasking was someone “very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world, and is not in the FBI.”

5) Congressional investigators know the name of at least one person who was unmasking names.

6) The initial surveillance on the Trump team led to “a number of names” being unmasked.

7) House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has known about the unmasking since January.

8) Two sources in the intelligence community told Nunes who did the unmasking and told him at least one of the names of someone in the Trump team who was unmasked. The sources also gave Nunes the serial numbers of the classified reports that documented the unmasking.

9) It took Nunes a number of weeks to figure out how to see those intelligence reports because the intelligence agencies were stonewalling him, and not allowing the chairman or other people to see them.

10) There were only two places Nunes could have seen the information: where the sources work, which would have blown their cover; and the Eisenhower Executive Office building on the White House grounds, which houses the National Security Council and has computers linked to the secure system containing the reports he sought.

11) Nunes got access to that system on March 21 with the help of two Trump administration officials, but he said they were not the sources of any information.

The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel reported that the documents Nunes saw confirming the Obama administration spied on the Trump team for months “aren’t easily obtainable, since they aren’t the ‘finished’ intelligence products that Congress gets to see.”

She said there were “dozens of documents with information about Trump officials.”

Strassel also reported there was a stonewall against the Intelligence committee chairman because, “for weeks Mr. Nunes has been demanding intelligence agencies turn over said documents—with no luck, so far.”

She also learned that, along with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, one other Trump official was unmasked.

(Flynn resigned after his unmasking was leaked to the press as part of reports that he spoke on the phone with the Russian ambassador before the new administration took office. President Trump said the two discussed nothing inappropriate and Flynn was just doing his job, but the president asked for the aide’s resignation because he was not completely honest in his initial account of the conversation.)

But even the reports that did not unmask identities “were written in ways that made clear which Trump officials were being discussed.”

And, importantly, the documents were “circulated at the highest levels of government.”

Strassel concluded, “To sum up, Team Obama was spying broadly on the incoming administration.”

Fox also reports that the Senate Judiciary Committee is looking into whether leaks of information targeting the Trump team could have come from the FBI, because it requested Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, warrants that led to the acquisition of some of the foreign surveillance.

Nunes has said the FBI has not responded to his requests for information, and a source told Fox the agency is refusing to cooperate with the House investigation.

Fox also reported the Senate Judiciary Committee is looking into “whether the FBI wrongly included political opposition research from Trump’s opponents in its probe.”

And whether the FBI paid a former British spy who wrote a sensational and discredited report alleging wild improprieties by Trump and his aides.

On Friday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer noted the day before the president tweeted his accusation that Obama had spied on him, comments were made by “a senior administration official, foreign policy expert, Dr. Evelyn Farkas, (which) together with previous reports that have been out, raised serious concerns on whether or not there was an organized and widespread effort by the Obama administration to use and leak highly sensitive intelligence information for political purposes.”

As WND reported in depth, Farkas appeared to have inadvertently confirmed the former president’s administration spied on then President-elect Trump’s transition team for political purposes.

Speaking on MSNBC March 2, she confirmed that not only was the previous administration collecting intelligence on the Trump team, it was attempting to share it as far and wide as possible.

Farkas claimed the information was about Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, but just days later, intelligence chiefs who had seen the classified information in question, including Obama’s own former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as well as former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, said they have seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump team and the Russian government.

That would appear to indicate the real reason the Obama administration was feverishly collecting and sharing the classified information was not for national security purposes, but for political reasons.

On Friday, Spicer said, “Dr. Farkas’s admissions alone are devastating.”

And that, “[I]n the ordinary course of their work, NSC – National Security Council – staff discovered information that may support the questions raised by the President and Dr. Farkas’s claim. These are serious issues. They raise serious concerns. And if true, the issues would be devastating.”

Spicer then lectured reporters for ignoring the Farkas story and growing evidence that Obama did indeed spy on the Trump team, scolding them, “[I]f everyone was treating the President and the administration fairly, you’d ask a series of much different questions.”

Republished with permission from WND.com via iCopyright license.

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