Posts Tagged ‘National Security Agency’

Alleged Obama administration spying on Trump team — Is there a potential ‘smoking gun’?

March 24, 2017

By

Nunes: Surveillance reports I’ve seen are ‘concerning’

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Republican congressional investigators expect a potential “smoking gun” establishing that the Obama administration spied on the Trump transition team, and possibly the president-elect himself, will be produced to the House Intelligence Committee this week, a source told Fox News.

Classified intelligence showing incidental collection of Trump team communications, purportedly seen by committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and described by him in vague terms at a bombshell Wednesday afternoon news conference, came from multiple sources, Capitol Hill sources told Fox News. The intelligence corroborated information about surveillance of the Trump team that was known to Nunes, sources said, even before President Trump accused his predecessor of having wiretappedhim in a series of now-infamous tweets posted on March 4.

House Intelligence chief Devin Nunes says the FBI provided no evidence on Friday of a warrant to wiretap Trump Tower

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the panel, accused Trump of leading Congress on a 'wild goose chase' in a competing interview on NBC's Meet the Press

House Intelligence chief Devin Nunes says the FBI provided no evidence on Friday of a warrant to wiretap Trump Tower (top). Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the panel, accused Trump of leading Congress on a ‘wild goose chase’ in a competing interview on NBC’s Meet the Press (bottom)

The intelligence is said to leave no doubt the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump, according to sources.

The key to that conclusion is the unmasking of selected U.S. persons whose names appeared in the intelligence, the sources said, adding that the paper trail leaves no other plausible purpose for the unmasking other than to damage the incoming Trump administration.

The FBI hasn’t been responsive to the House Intelligence Committee’s request for documents, but the National Security Agency is expected to produce documents to the committee by Friday. The NSA document production is expected to produce more intelligence than Nunes has so far seen or described – including what one source described as a potential “smoking gun” establishing the spying.

Some time will be needed to properly assess the materials, with the likely result being that congressional investigators and attorneys won’t have a solid handle on the contents of the documents – and their implications – until next week.

Because Nunes’s intelligence came from multiple sources during a span of several weeks, and he has not shared the actual materials with his committee colleagues, he will be the only member of the panel in a position to know whether the NSA has turned over some or all of the intelligence he is citing. However, Fox News was told Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., had been briefed on the basic contents of the intelligence described by Nunes.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo is also sympathetic to the effort to determine, with documentary evidence, the extent of any alleged Obama administration spying on the Trump team, sources said.

At a dramatic Wednesday news conference, Nunes claimed to have seen evidence that members of the Trump transition team, possibly including the president-elect, were subjected to “incidental surveillance” collection that Nunes characterized as legal but troubling.

“What I’ve read bothers me,” he told reporters, “and I think it should bother the president himself, and his team because I think some of it seems to be inappropriate.”

Schiff blasted Nunes for not coming first to the Intelligence Committee with the information.

“If accurate, this information should have been shared with members of the committee, but it has not been,” Schiff said in a Wednesday statement.

James Rosen joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1999. He currently serves as the chief Washington correspondent and hosts the online show “The Foxhole.” His latest book is “A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century” (Crown Forum, October 4, 2016).

Includes video:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/03/23/potential-smoking-gun-showing-obama-administration-spied-on-trump-team-source-says.html

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FBI investigating ties between Russia and Trump campaign

March 20, 2017

AFP and The Associated Press

© Nicholas Kamm, AFP | FBI Director James Comey (pictured left) and NSA Director Mike Rogers on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on March 20, 2017

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-03-20

FBI Director James Comey confirmed Monday that the bureau is investigating possible links and coordination between Russia and associates of President Donald Trump as part of a probe of Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

The extraordinary revelation came at the outset of Comey’s opening statement in a congressional hearing examining Russian meddling and possible connections between Moscow and Trump‘s campaign. He acknowledged that the FBI does not ordinarily discuss ongoing investigations, but said he’d been authorized to do so given the extreme public interest in this case.

“This work is very complex, and there is no way for me to give you a timetable for when it will be done,” Comey told the House Intelligence Committee.

Earlier in the hearing, the chairman of the committee contradicted an assertion from Trump by saying that there had been no wiretap of Trump Tower. But Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican whose committee is one of several investigating, said that other forms of surveillance of Trump and his associates have not been ruled out.

Comey was testifying at Monday’s hearing along with National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers.

Trump, who recently accused President Barack Obama of wiretapping his New York skyscraper during the campaign, took to Twitter before the hearing began, accusing Democrats of making up allegations about his campaign associates’ contact with Russia during the election. He said Congress and the FBI should be going after media leaks and maybe even Hillary Clinton instead.

“The real story that Congress, the FBI and others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!” Trump tweeted early Monday as news coverage on the Russia allegations dominated the morning’s cable news.

Trump also suggested, without evidence, that Clinton’s campaign was in contact with Russia and had possibly thwarted a federal investigation. U.S. intelligence officials have not publicly raised the possibility of contacts between the Clintons and Moscow. Officials investigating the matter have said they believe Moscow had hacked into Democrats’ computers in a bid to help Trump’s election bid.

The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!

Monday’s hearing, one of several by congressional panels probing allegations of Russian meddling, could allow for the greatest public accounting to date of investigations that have shadowed the Trump administration in its first two months.

The top two lawmakers on the committee said Sunday that documents the Justice Department and FBI delivered late last week offered no evidence that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower, the president’s New York City headquarters. But the panel’s ranking Democrat said the material offered circumstantial evidence that American citizens colluded with Russians in Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the presidential election.

“There was circumstantial evidence of collusion; there is direct evidence, I think, of deception,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ”There’s certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation.”

The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!

Nunes said: “For the first time the American people, and all the political parties now, are paying attention to the threat that Russia poses.”

“We know that the Russians were trying to get involved in our campaign, like they have for many decades. They’re also trying to get involved in campaigns around the globe and over in Europe,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has scheduled a similar hearing for later in the month.

It is not clear how much new information will emerge Monday, and the hearing’s open setting unquestionably puts Comey in a difficult situation if he’s asked to discuss an ongoing investigation tied to the campaign of the president.

At a hearing in January, Comey refused to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation exploring possible connections between Trump associates and Russia, consistent with the FBI’s longstanding policy of not publicly discussing its work. His appearances on Capitol Hill since then have occurred in classified settings, often with small groups of lawmakers, and he has made no public statements connected to the Trump campaign or Russia.

Any lack of detail from Comey on Monday would likely be contrasted with public comments he made last year when closing out an investigation into Clinton’s email practices and then, shortly before Election Day, announcing that the probe would be revived following the discovery of additional emails.

(AP)

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FBI Director Comey: Justice Dept. has no information that supports President Trump’s tweets alleging he was wiretapped by Obama

March 20, 2017

James Comey. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images (File Photo)

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The Washington Post
March 20 at 11:27 AM
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FBI Director James B. Comey acknowledged on Monday the existence of a counterintelligence investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, and said that probe extends to the nature of any links between Trump campaign associates and the Russian government.
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Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, Comey said the investigation is also exploring whether there was any coordination between the campaign and the Kremlin, and “whether any crimes were committed.”
.The acknowledgment was an unusual move, given that the FBI’s practice is not to confirm the existence of ongoing investigations. “But in unusual circumstances, where it is in the public interest,” Comey said, “it may be appropriate to do so.”

Comey said he had been authorized by the Justice Department to confirm the wide-ranging probe’s existence.

He spoke at the first intelligence committee public hearing on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, along with National Security Agency head Michael S. Rogers.

Comey: No information to support Trump’s wiretapping tweets

FBI Director James B. Comey said at a House Intelligence Committee hearing that he has no information that Trump Tower was wiretapped by former president Barack Obama. (Reuters)

The hearing comes amid the controversy fired up by President Trump two weeks ago when he tweeted, without providing evidence, that President Barack Obama ordered his phones tapped at Trump Tower.

Comey says there is “no information’’ that supports Trump’s claims that his predecessor Barack Obama ordered surveillance of Trump Tower during the election campaign.

“I have no information that supports those tweets,’’ said Comey. “We have looked carefully inside the FBI,’’ and agents found nothing to support those claims, he said. He added the Justice Department had asked him to also tell the committee that that agency has no such information, either.

Under questioning from the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif,), Comey said no president could order such surveillance.

Committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in his opening statement, “The fact that Russia hacked U.S. election-related databases comes as no shock to this committee. We have been closely monitoring Russia’s aggressions for years…However, while the indications of Russian measures targeting the U.S. presidential election are deeply troubling, one benefit is already clear – it has focused wide attention on the pressing threats posed by the Russian autocrat. In recent years, Committee members have issued repeated and forceful pleas for stronger action against Russian belligerence. But the Obama administration was committed to the notion, against all evidence, that we could ‘reset’ relations with Putin, and it routinely ignored our warnings.”

Nunes said he hoped the hearing would focus on several key questions, including what actions Russia undertook against the United States during the 2016 election and did anyone from a political campaign conspire in these activities? He also wants to know if the communications of any campaign officials or associates were subject to any improper surveillance.

“Let me be clear,” he said. “We know there was not a wiretap on Trump Tower. However, it’s still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.”

Finally, Nunes said he is focused on leaks of classified information to the media. “We aim to determine who has leaked or facilitated leaks of classified information so these individuals can be brought to justice,” he said.

In his opening statement, Schiff said, “We will never know whether the Russian intervention was determinative in such a close election. Indeed it is unknowable in a campaign in which so many small changes could have dictated a different result. More importantly, and for the purposes of our investigation, it simply does not matter. What does matter is this: the Russians successfully meddled in our democracy, and our intelligence agencies have concluded that they will do so again.”

He added: “Most important, we do not yet know whether the Russians had the help of U.S. citizens, including people associated with the Trump campaign. Many of Trump’s campaign personnel, including the president himself, have ties to Russia and Russian interests. This is, of course, no crime. On the other hand, if the Trump campaign, or anybody associated with it, aided or abetted the Russians, it would not only be a serious crime, it would also represent one of the most shocking betrayals of our democracy in history.”

Just hours before the start of the hearing, Trump posted a series of tweets claiming Democrats “made up” the allegations of Russian contacts in an attempt to discredit the GOP during the presidential campaign. Trump also urged federal investigators to shift their focus to probe disclosures of classified material.

“The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information,” Trump wrote early Monday. “Must find leaker now!”

Republican members pressed hard on the subject of leaks to the media that resulted in news stories about contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign or administration officials. Nunes sought an admission from the officials that the leaks were illegal under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court act, the law that governs foreign intelligence-gathering on U.S. soil or of U.S. persons overseas.

“Yes,” Comey answered. “In addition to being a breach of our trust with the FISA court.”

One story in particular that apparently upset the Republicans was a Feb. 9 story by The Washington Post reporting that Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, discussed the subject of sanctions with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in the month before Trump took office. The Post reported that the discussions were monitored under routine, court-approved monitoring of Kislyak’s calls.

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) pressed Rogers to clarify under what circumstances it would be legitimate for Americans caught on tape speaking with people under surveillance to have their identities disclosed publicly, and whether leaking those identities would “hurt or help” intelligence collection.

“Hurt,” Rogers noted.

Rogers stressed that the identities of U.S. persons picked up through “incidental collection” – that being the way intelligence officials picked up on Flynn’s phone calls with Kislyak – are disclosed only on a “valid, need to know” basis, and usually only when there is a criminal activity or potential threat to the United States at play.

Rogers added that there are a total of 20 people in the NSA he has delegated to make decisions about when someone’s identity can be unmasked.

The FBI probe combines an investigation into hacking operations by Russian spy agencies with efforts to understand how the Kremlin sought to manipulate public opinion and influence the election’s outcome.

In January, the intelligence community released a report concluding that Russian President Vladi­mir Putin wanted to not only undermine the legitimacy of the election process but also harm the campaign of Hillary Clinton and boost Trump’s chances of winning.

Hackers working for Russian spy agencies penetrated the computers of the Democratic National Committee in 2015 and 2016 as well as the email accounts of Democratic officials, intelligence official said in the report. The material was relayed to WikiLeaks, the officials said, and the anti-secrecy group began a series of damaging email releases just before the Democratic National Convention that continued through the fall.

On Friday, the Justice Department delivered documents to the committee in response to a request for copies of intelligence and criminal wiretap orders and applications. Nunes, speaking Sunday, said the material provided “no evidence of collusion” to sway the election toward Trump and repeated previous statements that there is no credible proof of any active coordination.

But Schiff, also speaking Sunday, said there was “circumstantial evidence of collusion” at the outset of the congressional investigations into purported Russian election meddling, as well as “direct evidence” that Trump campaign figures sought to deceive the public about their interactions with Russian figures.

The concerns about Moscow’s meddling are also being felt in Europe, where France and Germany hold elections this year. “Our allies,” Schiff said, “are facing the same Russian onslaught.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-director-to-testify-on-russian-interference-in-the-presidential-election/2017/03/20/cdea86ca-0ce2-11e7-9d5a-a83e627dc120_story.html?utm_term=.2b44421224ec

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The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – FBI Director James Comey confirmed Monday that the bureau is investigating possible links and coordination between Russia and associates of President Donald Trump as part of a broader probe of Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

The extraordinary revelation came at the outset of Comey’s opening statement in a congressional hearing examining Russian meddling and possible connections between Moscow and Trump’s campaign. He acknowledged that the FBI does not ordinarily discuss ongoing investigations, but said he’d been authorized to do so given the extreme public interest in this case.

“This work is very complex, and there is no way for me to give you a timetable for when it will be done,” Comey told the House Intelligence Committee.

Earlier in the hearing, the chairman of the committee contradicted an assertion from Trump by saying that there had been no wiretap of Trump Tower. But Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican whose committee is one of several investigating, said that other forms of surveillance of Trump and his associates have not been ruled out.

Comey was testifying at Monday’s hearing along with National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers.

Trump, who recently accused President Barack Obama of wiretapping his New York skyscraper during the campaign, took to Twitter before the hearing began, accusing Democrats of making up allegations about his campaign associates’ contact with Russia during the election. He said Congress and the FBI should be going after media leaks and maybe even Hillary Clinton instead.

“The real story that Congress, the FBI and others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!” Trump tweeted early Monday as news coverage on the Russia allegations dominated the morning’s cable news.

Trump also suggested, without evidence, that Clinton’s campaign was in contact with Russia and had possibly thwarted a federal investigation. U.S. intelligence officials have not publicly raised the possibility of contacts between the Clintons and Moscow. Officials investigating the matter have said they believe Moscow had hacked into Democrats’ computers in a bid to help Trump’s election bid.

Monday’s hearing, one of several by congressional panels probing allegations of Russian meddling, could allow for the greatest public accounting to date of investigations that have shadowed the Trump administration in its first two months.

The top two lawmakers on the committee said Sunday that documents the Justice Department and FBI delivered late last week offered no evidence that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower, the president’s New York City headquarters. But the panel’s ranking Democrat said the material offered circumstantial evidence that American citizens colluded with Russians in Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the presidential election.

“There was circumstantial evidence of collusion; there is direct evidence, I think, of deception,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” `’There’s certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation.”

Nunes said: “For the first time the American people, and all the political parties now, are paying attention to the threat that Russia poses.”

“We know that the Russians were trying to get involved in our campaign, like they have for many decades. They’re also trying to get involved in campaigns around the globe and over in Europe,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has scheduled a similar hearing for later in the month.

It is not clear how much new information will emerge Monday, and the hearing’s open setting unquestionably puts Comey in a difficult situation if he’s asked to discuss an ongoing investigation tied to the campaign of the president.

At a hearing in January, Comey refused to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation exploring possible connections between Trump associates and Russia, consistent with the FBI’s longstanding policy of not publicly discussing its work. His appearances on Capitol Hill since then have occurred in classified settings, often with small groups of lawmakers, and he has made no public statements connected to the Trump campaign or Russia.

Any lack of detail from Comey on Monday would likely be contrasted with public comments he made last year when closing out an investigation into Clinton’s email practices and then, shortly before Election Day, announcing that the probe would be revived following the discovery of additional emails.


PUBLISHED: MARCH 20, 2017, 8:01 A.M. 

Comey expected to rebut Trump’s wiretap claims before House Intelligence Committee — What to Watch For

March 20, 2017

By Janet Hook and Shane Harris
The Wall Street Journal
Updated March 19, 2017 5:32 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — FBI Director James Comey will be called before lawmakers Monday as part of an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated accusation that he had been wiretapped by his predecessor during the campaign.

In advance of Comey’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, a number of lawmakers of both parties have said they have seen no evidence to support Trump’s allegation about then-president Barack Obama

Trump in early March tweeted that Obama had tapped the phones at Trump Tower, the New York building where Trump lived and worked during the campaign, an extraordinary claim of illegal activity by a president.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the Intelligence panel who received a classified briefing on the issue Friday, said on NBC that he expected Comey to rebut the president’s claim at Monday’s hearing. “I hope that we can put an end to this wild goose chase because what the president said was just patently false,” Schiff said.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/james-comey-could-shed-light-on-russia-trumps-wiretap-charge-1489954181

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Comey to Testify About Wiretaps and Russia: What to Watch For

By Chris Strohm, Alan Bjerga, and Billy House

Bloomberg News

March 19, 2017, 7:03 PM EDT
  • FBI chief said to see no evidence Obama wiretapped Trump
  • Republican Chairman Nunes asks about ‘unmasking’ of names

James Comey. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

FBI Director James Comey is about to testify on the continuing U.S. investigation into Russia’s meddling in last year’s presidential election, but much of the attention will be on President Donald Trump’s unsupported claim that his predecessor had Trump Tower “wiretapped.”

The House Intelligence Committee will try to untangle a web of conspiracies — and conspiracy theories — Monday morning when it hears from Comey and Admiral Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, in a rare open session.

Here’s what to watch for:

Was Trump wiretapped?

After Trump’s Twitter posting March 4 claiming that former President Barack Obama “had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory,” Comey unsuccessfully urged the Justice Department to publicly deny the allegation, according to a U.S. official who requested anonymity in order to discuss sensitive issues.

Now, the hearing may give Comey and Rogers an opportunity to deny there was any such bugging. They’re not likely to hear dissent from committee members on that score.

Representative Devin Nunes of California, the committee’s Republican chairman, said on “Fox News Sunday” that “the president doesn’t go and physically” wiretap someone. So if you take Trump literally, he said, “it didn’t happen.”

The panel’s top Democrat, Representative Adam Schiff of California, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that a classified dossier from the Justice Department delivered on Friday showed “no evidence to support the president’s claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor” so “I hope we can put an end to this wild goose chase, because what the president said was patently false.”

Was Trump’s campaign under surveillance?

After the uproar that followed Trump’s tweets on Obama and wiretapping, the president and his spokesmen recast the claim, saying he was referring to surveillance more broadly.

While many lawmakers from both parties have said there’s no sign that Obama ordered spying on Trump, Nunes said Sunday he’s pursuing whether there “were any other surveillance activities that were used” that led to the “unmasking of names and the leaking of names.”

Nunes cited the case of Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. Flynn was forced to resign in February after it was revealed he’d spoken to Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., during the presidential transition — and, crucially, misled Vice President Mike Pence about their discussions.

This month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from probes related to Russia’s role in the 2016 campaign and potential contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign team, after acknowledging that he met twice last year with Kislyak.

Intelligence agencies are known to listen in on communications by foreign leaders and diplomats, including ambassadors like Kislyak, but the contents of those calls aren’t supposed to be disclosed.

Whatever happened to Russian hacking?

The ostensible topic of Monday’s hearing is the Intelligence Committee’s “Russian Active Measures Investigation” — in other words, the finding by U.S. intelligence agencies in January that Russia hacked into Democratic emails and leaked them to sow confusion in the U.S. electoral process, damage Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and help Trump’s candidacy.

There was no finding, though, that hackers affected the actual vote-counting process. Russia has denied it engaged in hacking.

As intelligence agencies and congressional committees continue to investigate Russia’s actions, lawmakers and intelligence experts have expressed concern that Moscow’s model of interference — including selective leaking of information and attempts to control media narratives — could be replicated in other countries such as France, which holds its first round of presidential voting April 23.

Read how cyber-attackers may try to affect Europe’s elections

Did Trump’s aides collude with Russia?

Tying all of this together is the question of whether anyone close to Trump worked with the Russians during the campaign, whether in the hacking of Democrats or potential deal-making after the election.

Trump supporters including Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and energy consultant Carter Page have denied any improprieties in their contacts with Russian officials or intermediaries. Documents released last week by congressional Democrats show Flynn received more than $45,000 from RT, the Russian government-backed television network, for his participation at a December 2015 gala where he sat at President Vladimir Putin’s table.

“Were there U.S. persons who were helping the Russians in any way?” Schiff asked Sunday. “Was there any form of collusion?”

Asked if there was evidence of collusion, Nunes responded, “I’ll give you a very simple answer: No.”

Can Comey satisfy lawmakers?

Comey, 56, angered Republicans in 2016 when he announced there weren’t sufficient grounds to prosecute former Secretary of State Clinton or her aides for improper handling of classified information on her private email system.

Then, many Democrats were infuriated when Comey announced in late October that he was looking at some new evidence, believing he cost Clinton the election.

Comey is in his fourth year of a 10-year term heading the Federal Bureau of Investigation and can be removed only if he resigns or is fired by the president.

In an aside during a March 8 speech, the director indicated he has no intention of stepping down voluntarily. “You’re stuck with me for about another six and a half years,” he said.

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-19/comey-to-testify-about-wiretaps-and-russia-what-to-watch-for?cmpid=socialflow-twitter-business&utm_content=business&utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

FBI Director James Comey To Testify Before The House Intelligence Committee — Expected To Shed Light on Hacking, Spying and Wire Tapping Allegations from Trump Tower to Russia

March 20, 2017

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Image may contain: outdoor

By EILEEN SULLIVAN and ERIC TUCKER

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A congressional inquiry into Russian interference in the presidential election that has so far unfolded behind closed doors moves into the open with a public hearing featuring FBI Director James Comey.

A hearing Monday before the House Intelligence Committee, one of several congressional panels probing allegations of Russian meddling, could allow for the greatest public accounting to date of investigations that have shadowed the Trump administration in its first two months.

Comey, whose agents have been investigating, has been invited to testify along with Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency.

Rep. Devin Nunes, the California Republican who chairs the committee, told The Associated Press that there would be plenty of time for questions and answers.

The committee is investigating, among other things, Russian hacking that intelligence officials have said was meant to influence the election. Also of interest to the committee are any connections between Russia and associates of President Donald Trump and whether any surveillance was conducted for political reasons.

The top two lawmakers on the House intelligence committee said Sunday that documents the Justice Department and FBI delivered late last week offered no evidence that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower, the president’s New York City headquarters, but the panel’s ranking Democrat says the material offers circumstantial evidence that American citizens colluded with Russians in Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the presidential election.

“There was circumstantial evidence of collusion; there is direct evidence, I think, of deception,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ”There’s certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation.”

House Intelligence chief Devin Nunes says the FBI provided no evidence on Friday of a warrant to wiretap Trump Tower

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the panel, accused Trump of leading Congress on a 'wild goose chase' in a competing interview on NBC's Meet the Press

House Intelligence chief Devin Nunes says the FBI provided no evidence on Friday of a warrant to wiretap Trump Tower (top). Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the panel, accused Trump of leading Congress on a ‘wild goose chase’ in a competing interview on NBC’s Meet the Press (bottom)

 

Nunes said: “For the first time the American people, and all the political parties now, are paying attention to the threat that Russia poses.”

“We know that the Russians were trying to get involved in our campaign, like they have for many decades. They’re also trying to get involved in campaigns around the globe and over in Europe,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has scheduled a similar hearing for later in the month.

It is not clear how much new information will emerge Monday, and the hearing’s open setting unquestionably puts Comey in a difficult situation if he’s asked to discuss an ongoing investigation tied to the campaign of the president.

At a hearing in January, Comey refused to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation exploring possible connections between Trump associates and Russia, consistent with the FBI’s longstanding policy of not publicly discussing its work. His appearances on Capitol Hill since then have occurred in classified settings, often with small groups of lawmakers, and he has made no public statements connected to the Trump campaign or Russia.

But Comey may feel compelled to respond to Trump’s unproven Twitter assertions that President Barack Obama ordered a wiretapping of Trump Tower during the campaign. Congressional leaders briefed on the matter have said they’ve seen no indication that that’s true, and Obama’s top intelligence official, James Clapper, has publicly called the claims false.

The Justice Department’s disclosure Friday that it had complied with congressional demands for information regarding Trump’s tweets could allow Comey to avoid questioning by simply saying that the lawmakers already have the information they requested.

Yet any lack of detail from Comey will likely be contrasted with public comments he made last year when closing out an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices and then, shortly before Election Day, announcing that the probe would be revived following the discovery of additional emails.

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Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

UNLIKELY ALLY: Trump's sole defender in the legislature on Sunday was Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. The Texas lawmaker said on Face the Nation, 'I will point out this is not necessarily as outlandish as everyone in the press suggest'

UNLIKELY ALLY: Trump’s sole defender in the legislature on Sunday was Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. The Texas lawmaker said on Face the Nation, ‘I will point out this is not necessarily as outlandish as everyone in the press suggest’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4329060/House-intel-chief-says-no-evidence-wiretap-warrant.html#ixzz4bqrLGHG8
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Claims GCHQ wiretapped Trump ‘nonsense’ — U.S. National Security Agency source says

March 18, 2017

BBC News

People sit at computers in the 24 hour Operations Room inside GCHQ, Cheltenham on 17 November, 2015.
GCHQ, a British intelligence agency, wholly denies it helped wiretap Donald Trump

The claim that GCHQ carried out surveillance on Donald Trump during the election campaign is “arrant nonsense”, Rick Ledgett, the number two at the US National Security Agency (NSA) has told the BBC in an exclusive interview.

A commentator on Fox News had claimed that GCHQ had carried out the activity on America’s behalf, but Mr Ledgett said the claim showed “a complete lack of understanding in how the relationship works”.

Each side, he said, was prohibited from asking the other partner to carry out acts that they were prohibited from doing.

He also said the huge risks to the UK in carrying out such an act would completely outweigh any benefits.

“Of course they wouldn’t do it. It would be epically stupid,” he told me.

GCHQ had also dismissed the allegation as nonsense.

Mr Ledgett’s comments came in a wide-ranging – and long-scheduled – interview in his office at NSA headquarters at Fort Meade. He acknowledged that these were unusual times when it came to the political maelstrom surrounding America’s intelligence agencies and their relationship with the new administration.

“Our job in the intelligence community is to be apolitical. Our job is to speak truth to power,” he emphasised.

The origins of much of the tension lie in the assessment by the US intelligence community that Russia interfered in the presidential election, and the subsequent reaction from Donald Trump.

Mr Ledgett said the evidence of Russian involvement was “extraordinarily strong” and “irrefutable” and that the NSA had played a key role in establishing the case.

Mr Ledgett said he was “dead solid 100% confident” that the Russian state was behind the attempts – although he said it was not for the intelligence community to evaluate the actual impact of those attempts on the vote itself.

Russian President Vladimir Putin pictured on 16 March, 2017.
President Vladimir Putin insists that Russia did not interfere in the US election. AP photo

There has been speculation that Russia will interfere in upcoming European elections, but the NSA deputy director said it was hard for him to talk about any evidence supporting that.

There has been a shift towards more aggressive action in cyberspace in recent years – from Russia but also other states – with some commentators claiming that “cyber war” is breaking out.

Low-intensity conflict rather than war is a better description, Mr Ledgett said.

“Cyber war is going to look very different – you are going to see massive failures of key infrastructure systems in the countries that are being targeted in a way we have not seen yet.”

The problems in attributing attacks and the lower barriers for entry mean that this trend may well continue, though.

The US last week indicted a group of Russian hackers as part of a broader strategy of trying to develop layered deterrence. Chinese and Iranian hackers have been indicted in the past.

“Our assessment is that it does cause actors to pause,” Mr Ledgett said, while acknowledging it did not provide absolute deterrence.

The spread of internet-connected devices in the home is another concern.

“It’s a truism that the more things you connect to a network, the more vulnerabilities you introduce,” Mr Ledgett argued, adding that he did not have what are called “Internet of Things” devices in his own home.

Last week there were claims that the CIA – along with Britain’s MI5 – had found vulnerabilities in some “smart” TV sets which allowed them to be turned into bugging devices.

CIA logo
It has been claimed that the CIA devised a spyware attack for Samsung TVs. Getty Images

Mr Ledgett emphasised that the mission of the NSA was to focus on foreign intelligence and not domestic.

He said that 90% of vulnerabilities in systems that the NSA spotted were reported to companies so they could fix them. And any vulnerabilities that the agency sought to leave in place to exploit for intelligence gathering needed to be approved by other government agencies.

“There’s a fringe narrative out there that the US and UK and all these other governments are willy-nilly just exploiting every vulnerability in every device they can in order to gather information into a big pile and then root through it for interesting things. That’s not what we do at all.”

He acknowledged that the debate around the NSA’s power was healthy, but said the way it came about was bad, referring to the Edward Snowden revelations.

He said that while he would not point to specific terrorist attacks or deaths as a result of disclosures, the NSA had seen one thousand “entities” (such as terrorist groups or foreign military units) which had tried to change behaviour to avoid surveillance.

An aerial view shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland, US on 29 January, 2010.
Mr Ledgett spoke to the BBC at the NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade. Reuters photo

Mr Ledgett is due to step down in the coming months after a 40-year career in national security. Twenty-nine of those years were spent at the NSA, where he ended up as its most senior civilian.

He acknowledged that the current environment – with the intelligence agencies drawn into political debate – was unprecedented.

“It is an uncomfortable place to be,” he said. “Intelligence needs to not be politicised to be at its best.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39312176

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Trump Doesn’t Budge on Wiretapping Claims

March 18, 2017

President tells Germany’s Merkel, ‘At least we have something in common’

 Video:
White House spokesperson Sean Spicer, in explaining President Donald Trump’s wiretapping tweets, set off a new controversy with the U.K. He repeated a commentator’s claim that British spies helped bug Trump Tower. How is Spicer defending his boss? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer. Photo: Getty

President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking during a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking during a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday. PHOTO: JIM LO SCALZO/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
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Updated March 17, 2017 8:20 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump on Friday stuck to his unsubstantiated claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor and brushed off tensions his White House ignited with the U.K. by citing a media report alleging British intelligence was involved.

Mr. Trump, asked about the citation in a news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, quipped: “As far as wiretapping by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps.”

His comment was a reference to reports of U.S. surveillance of Ms. Merkel’s phone, which was disclosed in 2013. He also dismissed the U.K.’s fury over White House press secretary Sean Spicer reading from the podium on Thursday a Fox News commentator’s report alleging the British intelligence agency GCHQ was involved in wiretapping Trump Tower, the New York building where the president lived and worked before moving to the White House.

“We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television,” Mr. Trump said.

In a statement, GCHQ, which rarely comments on media reports, said any claim that the agency was asked to conduct surveillance on Mr. Trump is “utterly ridiculous.”

White House spokesperson Sean Spicer, in explaining President Donald Trump’s wiretapping tweets, set off a new controversy with the U.K. He repeated a commentator’s claim that British spies helped bug Trump Tower. How is Spicer defending his boss? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer. Photo: Getty
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A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday that the White House had assured U.K. officials that it won’t repeat the allegations.

“We’ve made clear to the administration that these claims are ridiculous and they should be ignored, and we’ve received assurances that these allegations will not be repeated,” the prime minister’s spokesman said.

A White House official said Mr. Spicer spoke with the U.K. ambassador to the U.S., Kim Darroch, on Thursday at a St. Patrick’s Day event and gave an explanation similar to the one Mr. Trump offered on Friday. The official said Mr. Spicer didn’t apologize or promise not to repeat the allegation.

Another White House official said U.K. national security adviser Mark Lyall Grant expressed his concerns to Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster in a telephone conversation Thursday night. That official said Gen. McMaster also told Mr. Grant that Mr. Spicer was pointing to public reports, not endorsing them.

Mr. Spicer told reporters after the news conference that the White House has no regrets about citing the Fox News report. He said he and other officials “just reiterated the fact that we were just simply reading media accounts.”

“That’s it,” he said. “I don’t think we regret anything. We literally listed a litany of media reports that are in the public domain.”

In response to a request for comment, Fox News referred to an on-air statement made Friday afternoon by anchor Shepard Smith, which read: “Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way, full stop.”

The wiretapping drama began a couple of weeks ago, when Mr. Trump publicly accused former President Barack Obama of ordering the wiretapping of Trump Tower. “This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on March 4.

Mr. Obama forcefully denied the charge through a spokesperson.

The White House has ever since been trying to explain his comments and tried to justify the charge without putting forward any evidence to back it up, despite growing pressure to do so.

Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have increasingly distanced themselves from Mr. Trump’s claim, with the leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees and House Speaker Paul Ryan saying this week that they have seen no evidence backing up the accusation.

Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican and a member of the House GOP leadership, said Friday that Mr. Trump should put forward compelling evidence of his claim that he was wiretapped or apologize to Mr. Obama.

“Frankly, unless you can provide some pretty compelling proof, then I think the president, President Obama, is owed an apology,” Mr. Cole said.

Dominic Grieve, the chairman of British Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, said Friday the GCHQ’s public denial indicates the strong feelings about the issue.

“First, I should make clear that the president of the United States is not able to task GCHQ to intercept an individual’s communications,” Mr. Grieve said in a statement. “Second, longstanding agreements between the Five Eyes countries means that the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand cannot ask each other to target each other’s citizens or individuals that they cannot themselves target, or in any other way seek to circumvent their own or each other’s legal and policy obligations.”

Mr. Grieve added that GCHQ can only legally target an individual with a signoff by a cabinet minister who deems it necessary and proportional for a valid national-security purpose, and that it is “inconceivable” that these legal requirements could have been met in these circumstances.

Write to Carol E. Lee at carol.lee@wsj.com and Peter Nicholas at peter.nicholas@wsj.com

Appeared in the Mar. 18, 2017, print edition as ‘Trump Stands By Wiretap Claim; No U.K. Apology.’

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Trump repeats charge that Obama ordered wiretaps against him

March 18, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Paul HANDLEY | US President Donald Trump has accused president Barack Obama of ordering wiretaps at his Trump Tower in New York, but has not delivered any evidence

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Donald Trump repeated his charge that predecessor Barack Obama had ordered a wiretap against him, rejecting rising calls from Republicans and Democrats to withdraw the charge and apologize.

Speaking at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump answered a question on the wiretap allegation by referring to the US National Security Agency’s reported tapping of Merkel’s phone several years ago.

“As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common perhaps,” Trump said.

But Trump also said he did not endorse a Fox News claim that Britain’s GCHQ spy agency did the wiretapping for Obama — an allegation repeated by Trump’s spokesman Thursday, sparking a sharp rebuke from London.

“We said nothing” about the GCHQ claim, Trump told journalists.

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and suit

“That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. And so you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox,” he said.

Fox News said it could not confirm the allegations.

“Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now president of the United States was surveilled at any time in any way, full stop,” anchor Shepard Smith said, reading an official statement on-air.

– Waiting for evidence –

Trump has accused Obama of ordering wiretaps at his Trump Tower in New York, but two weeks after the extraordinary claim, he has not delivered any evidence.

The claim has led to investigations in Congress and by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but so far no one has provided any evidence to substantiate it.

Top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate Intelligence Committee have all said they have seen no evidence.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has remained quiet, however.

On Friday, the Justice Department said it had complied with requests from the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees in both houses of Congress for information related to surveillance during the 2016 election.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes confirmed Friday evening that the DOJ had “fully complied” with his panel’s request for information regarding potential surveillance of Trump or his circle during the presidential race. He did not elaborate on the details of the information.

The National Security Agency had partially met the committee’s request with plans to fully comply by end of next week, Nunes said, but “the committee still has not received information requested from the CIA and FBI… that is necessary to determine whether information collected on US persons was mishandled and leaked.”

On Monday, FBI Director James Comey is to testify before lawmakers on that and other issues relating to what US intelligence says was Russian interference in the election.

Trump first made the wiretapping accusation on March 4.

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” he tweeted.

“Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” he continued, accusing Obama of crimes comparable to those of Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal.

Obama flatly rejected it, but the White House refusal to back down has kept the issue alive.

On Thursday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer defended his boss, citing news stories alleging wiretapping including the Fox News report.

That sparked a rebuke from GCHQ and calls from British officials.

The White House said Friday that Spicer “was simply pointing to public reports, not endorsing any specific story.”

by Paul HANDLEY
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Authorities Question CIA Contractors in Connection With WikiLeaks Dump

March 12, 2017

Digital trail has pointed investigators to a team of developers working with CIA’s Engineering Development Group

In recent months, there has been talk of “bad blood” in the small world of CIA contractors who are vital to the agency’s hacking projects, people familiar with the investigation have said.

In recent months, there has been talk of “bad blood” in the small world of CIA contractors who are vital to the agency’s hacking projects, people familiar with the investigation have said. PHOTO: CAROLYN KASTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

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March 11, 2017 8:59 p.m. ET

Investigators probing who may have provided WikiLeaks with classified information about the Central Intelligence Agency’s purported computer-hacking techniques are zeroing in on a small number of contractors who have worked for the agency and may have been disgruntled over recent job losses, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Authorities on Thursday questioned a handful of contractors working in at least two locations in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., these people said. Law-enforcement officials said no arrests had been made, but one person familiar with the investigation said it was “rapidly unfolding.”

This person added that a digital trail has pointed authorities, at least initially, to a team of software developers working with the CIA’s Engineering Development Group. The group designs tools that, according to the documents released this week by WikiLeaks, the CIA uses to break into smartphones, personal computers and televisions connected to the internet. The more than 8,000 pages of documents that WikiLeaks disclosed appear to have been taken last December from a server that the Engineering Development Group uses, this person said, and that “only a few contractors would have access to.”

More than a dozen companies work for the CIA on hacking projects, the bulk of them at a facility near Chantilly, Va. It wasn’t clear which companies the people who were questioned worked for. In recent months, there has been talk of “bad blood” in the small world of CIA contractors who are vital to the agency’s hacking projects, the people familiar with the probe said. One group of contractors recently had been working for the CIA overseas and expected to be given new jobs with the agency in the U.S., but their positions were later eliminated, one person said.

“There were definitely disgruntled people internally,” this person said, adding that he believes these individuals may have been among those questioned by investigators.

The CIA hasn’t confirmed whether the documents that WikiLeaks posted to its website are authentic. A spokesman for the agency declined to comment.

If CIA contractors ultimately are found to have been responsible for the massive leak, it will be the third disclosure of intelligence secrets in the past four years attributed to the hired experts that the intelligence community depends on to fill all kinds of sensitive jobs, from technology support for espionage programs to the design and testing of hacking tools.

One source familiar with the investigation said the people who have been questioned so far all have top-secret level security clearances and recently passed polygraph examinations. But prior leakers had also been investigated and deemed trustworthy enough to work in some of the government’s most sensitive intelligence organizations.

In 2013, National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden disclosed classified information about surveillance programs and the agency’s relationship with major technology companies. U.S. prosecutors have charged him under the Espionage Act, and he is now living in Russia under a grant of asylum. Current and former intelligence officials have said Mr. Snowden’s leaks caused the NSA to suspend many intelligence-gathering operations and gave terrorists and spies clues into how the U.S. monitors global communications.

And this year, Harold “Hal” Martin III, also a former NSA contractor, was indicted on a charge of removing a huge amount of classified material from the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. Mr. Martin has pleaded not guilty. A group that calls itself Shadow Brokers claims to have some of the same information that Mr. Martin allegedly took and has tried to auction the material online.

One person with direct knowledge of the investigation of Mr. Martin said it is still not clear how the information, which the ex-contractor is suspected of taking to his home in suburban Maryland, ended up in others’ hands. But the volume of information is staggering—far more than what Mr. Snowden disclosed—and more sensitive because it pertains to the NSA’s own hacking operations by its elite Tailored Access Operations unit, this person said.

The WikiLeaks disclosure has put the White House in the awkward position of criticizing a group that President Donald Trump praised on the campaign trail.

“I love WikiLeaks,” Mr. Trump told supporters at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania last October, after the group began publishing emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. Some of those emails described paid speeches that Mrs. Clinton gave to financial-services firms.

But over the past week, White House spokesman Sean Spicer has struck a far different tone, blasting the antisecrecy group for damaging U.S. national security.

“This is the kind of disclosure that undermines our country, our security and our well-being,” Mr. Spicer said.

On Thursday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange offered to give companies the technical details of how the CIA has apparently hacked their products. Mr. Spicer suggested that companies who took up Mr. Assange on his offer could be breaking the law if they received classified information and advised that the firms consult the Justice Department.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he has additional information about ways the CIA tries to mask its attacks.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he has additional information about ways the CIA tries to mask its attacks. PHOTO: DOMINIC LIPINSKI/ZUMA PRESS
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The same day, the CIA blasted Mr. Assange, who has previously published classified government information, including from the military and the State Department.

“Julian Assange is not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity,” CIA spokesman Jonathan Liu said. “Despite the efforts of Assange and his ilk, [the] CIA continues to aggressively collect foreign intelligence overseas to protect America from terrorists, hostile nation states and other adversaries.”

Write to Shane Harris at shane.harris@wsj.com and Robert McMillan at Robert.Mcmillan@wsj.com

 

Tech sector scrambles after CIA device-hacking allegations

March 8, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Rob LEVER | The CIA’s hacking tools have targeted iPhones and Android systems such as the personal phone reportedly still used by President Trump, the WikiLeaks documents indicated
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The tech sector was scrambling Wednesday to understand the implications of an alleged broad CIA hacking arsenal, capable of spying on phones and other connected devices.

Major tech firms said they were looking at the allegations raised in the documents released by WikiLeaks on Tuesday.

“While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS, we will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities,” Apple said in an emailed statement.

Samsung offered a similar response, saying: “We are aware of the report in question and are urgently looking into the matter.”

Microsoft, meanwhile, said: “We’re aware of the report and are looking into it.”

Security analysts, however, said the documents, if authentic, were not on the same scale as the explosive 2013 revelations from former national security contractor Edward Snowden, who revealed mass surveillance tools used by the National Security Agency.

– Targeted, not bulk spying –

“These are targeted mechanisms, they can’t be used for bulk intelligence,” said Joseph Hall, a technologist with the Center for Democracy and Technology, a digital rights organization.

“It means they can’t attack things in the middle and the core of the network, they have to go to the endpoints, and that’s actually a nice thing. You have to be more precise about who you are targeting.”

But Hall said the report raises questions about the US government’s pledge to disclose security flaws to technology firms under a so-called “vulnerabilities equities process.”

That pledge means “security flaws should get back to the companies so they can get fixed, and not languish for years,” Hall said.

The WikiLeaks documents, the authenticity of which has not been verified, said the CIA tools could turn smart TVs into listening devices, bypass popular encryption apps, and possibly control connected automobiles.

The hacking tools have targeted iPhones, Android systems such as the personal phone reportedly still used by President Donald Trump, popular Microsoft software, and Samsung smart TVs, the documents indicated.

Open Whisper Systems, the company that developed the technology for the communications tool Signal, said the CIA documents showed its encryption works.

The WikiLeaks report “is about getting malware onto phones, none of the exploits are in Signal or break Signal Protocol encryption,” the group said in a tweet.

Other encryption experts agreed.

– Strength of encryption –

“The existence of these hacking tools is a testimonial to the strength of the encryption,” said Steve Bellovin, a Columbia University computer science researcher, in a blog post.

“It’s hard or impossible to break, so the CIA is resorting to expensive, targeted attacks.”

Robert Graham, a researcher with Errata Security, said most of these hacks are simply methods to “trick you into installing their software.”

“Snowden revealed how the NSA was surveilling all Americans. Nothing like that appears in the CIA dump,” Graham said in a blog post. “It’s all legitimate spy stuff (assuming you think spying on foreign adversaries is legitimate).”

Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer at IBM Resilient and a frequent critic of government surveillance, said on his blog, “There is absolutely nothing illegal in the contents of any of this stuff. It’s exactly what you’d expect the CIA to be doing in cyberspace.”

by Rob LEVER