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04 March 2017

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Pat Shields

Col. Lang, what's your take on this revelation about Obama wiretapping and eavesdropping on Trump Tower during the election?

Secondly, can you imagine, in an alternate history, Trump losing and having a Hillary Presidency and none of this having come to light? I.e., the Deep State operation and its conspirators (the bi-partisan establishment).

Dmcna

Rogue neocon. Since Brexit it has stunned me how people who would claim respect have felt entitled to lie and cheat to mitigate the defeat of their side.

Ghostship

I wouldn't be too worried about it - if most Democrats and certain Republicans (McCain comes to mind) knew officially that Russia and the United States were co-operating in Syria against the "unicorns" there would be immediate calls for congressional hearings and impeachment charges against Trump. By sweeping it under the carpet, such unpleasantness is avoided and in a few months Trump and Putin get to announce that ISIS is defeated and the Caliphate is no more.

Pundita

"In summary: the Obama administration sought, and eventually obtained, authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the NSA rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government, virtually ensuring that the information, including the conversations of private citizens, would be leaked to the media.
[Mark] Levin called the effort a “silent coup” by the Obama administration and demanded that it be investigated."
- Breitbart (see below for link)

I don't know enough about the legal aspects to make a comment on Mark Levin's bombshell accusation on his Thursday show, which has now caught fire with Trump's tweets early this morning and 'gone global:'

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3009405/donald-trump-barack-obama-wires-tapped-trump-tower/

But I do know that Levin, an attorney, is a very experienced legal expert who worked at the highest level of the Justice Department during the Reagan administration.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Levin

I'll guess that Mark's discussion spans at least the first hour of his Thurs radio show (I've only listened to the first 20 minutes so far). Podcast of the show:

https://audioboom.com/posts/5667753-3-2-17-mark-levin-audio-rewind?playlist_direction=reversed&t=0

But Breitbart put together a summary of the timeline Mark laid out, as follows, and which on its own is a good review:

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/03/03/mark-levin-obama-used-police-state-tactics-undermine-trump/

"Mark Levin to Congress: Investigate Obama’s ‘Silent Coup’ vs. Trump"
By Joel B. Pollak
3 March 2017
Breitbart News

Radio host Mark Levin used his Thursday evening show to outline the known steps taken by President Barack Obama’s administration in its last months to undermine Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and, later, his new administration.

Levin called Obama’s effort “police state” tactics, and suggested that Obama’s actions, rather than conspiracy theories about alleged Russian interference in the presidential election to help Trump, should be the target of congressional investigation.

Drawing on sources including the New York Times and the Washington Post, Levin described the case against Obama so far, based on what is already publicly known. The following is an expanded version of that case, including events that Levin did not mention specifically but are important to the overall timeline.

1. June 2016: FISA request. The Obama administration files a request with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to monitor communications involving Donald Trump and several advisers. The request, uncharacteristically, is denied.

2. July: Russia joke. Wikileaks releases emails from the Democratic National Committee that show an effort to prevent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) from winning the presidential nomination. In a press conference, Donald Trump refers to Hillary Clinton’s own missing emails, joking: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.” That remark becomes the basis for accusations by Clinton and the media that Trump invited further hacking.

3. October: Podesta emails. In October, Wikileaks releases the emails of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, rolling out batches every day until the election, creating new mini-scandals. The Clinton campaign blames Trump and the Russians.

4. October: FISA request. The Obama administration submits a new, narrow request to the FISA court, now focused on a computer server in Trump Tower suspected of links to Russian banks. No evidence is found — but the wiretaps continue, ostensibly for national security reasons, Andrew McCarthy at National Review later notes. The Obama administration is now monitoring an opposing presidential campaign using the high-tech surveillance powers of the federal intelligence services.

5. January 2017: Buzzfeed/CNN dossier. Buzzfeed releases, and CNN reports, a supposed intelligence “dossier” compiled by a foreign former spy. It purports to show continuous contact between Russia and the Trump campaign, and says that the Russians have compromising information about Trump. None of the allegations can be verified and some are proven false. Several media outlets claim that they had been aware of the dossier for months and that it had been circulating in Washington.

6. January: Obama expands NSA sharing. As Michael Walsh later notes, and as the New York Times reports, the outgoing Obama administration “expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.” The new powers, and reduced protections, could make it easier for intelligence on private citizens to be circulated improperly or leaked.

7. January: Times report. The New York Times reports, on the eve of Inauguration Day, that several agencies — the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Treasury Department are monitoring several associates of the Trump campaign suspected of Russian ties. Other news outlets also report the existence of “a multiagency working group to coordinate investigations across the government,” though it is unclear how they found out, since the investigations would have been secret and involved classified information.

8. February: Mike Flynn scandal. Reports emerge that the FBI intercepted a conversation in 2016 between future National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — then a private citizen — and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The intercept supposedly was part of routine spying on the ambassador, not monitoring of the Trump campaign. The FBI transcripts reportedly show the two discussing Obama’s newly-imposed sanctions on Russia, though Flynn earlier denied discussing them. Sally Yates, whom Trump would later fire as acting Attorney General for insubordination, is involved in the investigation. In the end, Flynn resigns over having misled Vice President Mike Pence (perhaps inadvertently) about the content of the conversation.

9. February: Times claims extensive Russian contacts. The New York Times cites “four current and former American officials” in reporting that the Trump campaign had “repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials. The Trump campaign denies the claims — and the Times admits that there is “no evidence” of coordination between the campaign and the Russians. The White House and some congressional Republicans begin to raise questions about illegal intelligence leaks.

10. March: the Washington Post targets Jeff Sessions. The Washington Post reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had contact twice with the Russian ambassador during the campaign — once at a Heritage Foundation event and once at a meeting in Sessions’s Senate office. The Post suggests that the two meetings contradict Sessions’s testimony at his confirmation hearings that he had no contacts with the Russians, though in context (not presented by the Post) it was clear he meant in his capacity as a campaign surrogate, and that he was responding to claims in the “dossier” of ongoing contacts.

The New York Times, in covering the story, adds that the Obama White House “rushed to preserve” intelligence related to alleged Russian links with the Trump campaign. By “preserve” it really means “disseminate”: officials spread evidence throughout other government agencies “to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators” and perhaps the media as well.

In summary: the Obama administration sought, and eventually obtained, authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the NSA rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government, virtually ensuring that the information, including the conversations of private citizens, would be leaked to the media.
Levin called the effort a “silent coup” by the Obama administration and demanded that it be investigated.

In addition, Levin castigated Republicans in Congress for focusing their attention on Trump and Attorney General Sessions rather than Obama.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, "How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution," is available from Regnery ...

[END REPORT]

The Porkchop Express

Col. Lang

Any chance you could do something of a primer on the neocon obsession with foreign policy and why, despite being overwhelmingly wrong and/or discredited over the last 20-30 years, they exhibit no shame, unabashedly worship power in the most unhealthy of ways, and continue to aggressively push ideological fantasies? I do not understand they can be so wrong for so long and still exist as a major force in any political decision making. It literally makes no sense. Do they have an end game beyond naked power and capitalistic tent pitching? At this point it seems beyond ideology and more pathological.

Bandolero

pl

I wouldn't put that as an either or question. I think it's pretty well possible to be ignorant and a liar.

In my opinion this is quite usual for the Borg.

dbk

Nicholas Burns is one of the few individuals in US diplomacy I actually met and spoke with at least perfunctorily when he was Ambassador to Greece. He is highly intelligent,suave, sophisticated, and clearly understood what was going on in the Eastern Med/Balkans when he was here (1997-2001).

I think your conclusion re: his aim in speaking as he did is correct.

Who speaks the truth these days about what happened/ is happening in MENA?

BillWade

I've sadly come to the conclusion that they don't care what the outcome is as long as people, lots of people, die.

turcopolier

BillWade

IMO they don't care about the dead and maimed so long as they can play "Game of Thrones." p

turcopolier

dbk

yes, a real slicky boy. PL

turcopolier

bandolero

That may be but I must work my way gradually to ultimate denunciations. pl

sid_finster

Sociopathy.

Brunswick

https://www.emptywheel.net/2017/03/04/the-conspiratorial-game-of-telephone-in-bannons-rag-that-made-left-right-and-potus-go-crazy/


To sum up:

The man playing the role of the President on the Worlds Worst Reality TV Show, reads a fake news story on a fake news website and then goes crazy on twitter.

turcopolier

Brunswick

See my response to Cee on this subject. pl

iowa steve

Garlic and crosses won't get rid of these folks.

Tony Blair to be Trump's mideast peace envoy?

http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.775277

Sam Peralta

It seems that something is afoot. Is there a campaign to take down POTUS?

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-04/obama-first-us-president-ever-try-topple-his-successor

Pundita

Congratulations to Empty Wheel for their detailed deconstruction of the outlandish price of tea in Outer Mongolia.

Bandolero

Brunswick

From what I see Dems playing a game of having remnants from the Obama administration leaking (formerly) classified information on communication with Russians to media to discredit POTUS Trump. Then it seems Trump has responded to this tit for tat by using other media information suggesting that this is not the whole story, and now Emptywheel suggests the information publicly available, true or not, better fits the Dems story then Trump's so the Dems are winning the argument. However I'm not convinced. Please tell me where I'm wrong.

- as I understand it Trump is now CinC, he has access to all government secrets and the final authority to disclose classified information is his
- the Dems are acting unwise by establishing the de facto norm of leaking or using formerly classified information to target the political opponent in the U.S.
- after establishing that de facto norm Dems cannot plausibly complain if Trump responds in kind
- Trump doesn't have to limit his response to Russia, he may well include in his response disclosures about how Dems - or the Obama administration - collaborated (directly or indirectly) with Al Qaeda and it's offshoots from ISIS to Jund Al Aqsa, which is, unlike Russia, an enemy with whom the U.S. is at war
- if that happens, Trump will politically look better then the Dems, because unlike Russia Al Qaeda is a legal enemy of the U.S. declared by congress.

Since Trump is the de facto declassification authority, I cannot see how Dems may win such an argument. Trump could easily declassify more documents which underline that the previous Dem administrations knowingly helped to create the ISIS "caliphate", just as Mike Flynn outlined in 2015:

https://levantreport.com/2015/08/06/former-dia-chief-michael-flynn-says-rise-of-islamic-state-was-a-willful-decision-and-defends-accuracy-of-2012-memo/

When Trump would declassify more information on how Dems knowingly made Al Qaeda and it's offshoots strong, I cannot see how Dems could defend themselves against this.

Trump could even generate bipartisan for this counter attack on Dem attacks by supporting Tulsi Gabbard's "Stop arming terrorists act"

https://gabbard.house.gov/news/StopArmingTerrorists

So, to sum it up, what I think will come out of this is that Trump will be rightfully accused to have had contacts with Russia on how to defeat U.S. enemy of Al Qaeda and it's spin-offs, while Dems will be accused of knowingly helping U.S. enemy Al Qaeda and it's spin-offs to undermine Russia.

Fred

Sam,

Yes there is.

turcopolier

Sam Peralta

Certainly, and if things continue as at present I would not expect the president to survive his first year in office. pl

turcopolier

Bandolero

you raise an interesting point. Obama may have de-classified a lot of information before he left office. That would shield the disclosers from prosecution. pl

Sam Peralta

Bandolero

If the Trump team is smart this is exactly what they should do!

This will be a potent attack on the Democrats and in particular Obama, but even more importantly it could be used to compromise McCain and his office wife as well as all the neocons buried in the bureaucracy. Imagine Trump with his tweets skewering all his opponents including the fifth column in the intelligence agencies with a direct hit that they were aiding and abetting the jihadist enemy. It will be a neutron bomb!!

I hope Trump will go for the jugular here.

Imagine

The NSA mass surveillance violates the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment. (!!!!) NSA makes this worse by sending an unfiltered feed to Israel. (!!!!!) Do Israel and its neocon friends share this with other neocons, such as John McCain? Or can McCain/Graham get their own NSA feeds directly??? So the CIA can now get NSA feeds of basically all American citizens?????

Sam Peralta

Col. Lang

Don't you think that is extremely dangerous? It will have to be explosive for the Senate to convict.

Since, POTUS is the head of the executive branch can he fire en masse all the top echelons in the intelligence agencies? Are these positions easy to replace?

I have read that he wasn't happy that Sessions was left to hang and he chewed Bannon and Priebus.

Sam Peralta

Fred

If this is taken too far we could have a civil war here as there are already Trump supporters rallying to his side all over the country. And there was violence in the bastion of leftists - Berkeley, when Trump supporters were attacked.

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