Posts Tagged ‘surveillance’

US Says Aircraft to Help Philippines Fight Pro-IS Militants

August 7, 2017

MANILA, Philippines — The United States has been providing the Philippines with surveillance capabilities, training, information and aircraft to help it fight a months-long siege of a southern city by pro-Islamic State group militants, the top U.S. diplomat said Monday as he prepared to meet the country’s polarizing president.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in Manila for a regional gathering, said the equipment includes a few Cessna aircraft and a few drones. He said they’ll help the Philippines battle “an enemy that fights in a way that most people have never had to deal with.”

“We think they are beginning to get that situation under control,” Tillerson told reporters. “But the real challenge is going to come with once they have the fighting brought to an end how to deal with the conditions on the ground to ensure it does not re-emerge.”

Human rights groups have questioned President Donald Trump’s willingness to engage with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been roundly criticized for a bloody war on illegal drugs that has killed thousands of suspects. But Tillerson argued there’s no contradiction presented by the U.S. decision to help his country fight the militants, whose insurgency in the Philippines has stoked global fears about the Islamic State group exporting violence into Southeast Asia and beyond.

“I see no conflict — no conflict at all in our helping them with that situation and our views of the human rights concerns we have with respect to how they carry out their counter narcotics activities,” Tillerson said.

Ahead of the meeting, the U.S. said Tillerson indeed would discuss with Duterte human rights along with all other relevant issues. Duterte’s presidential spokesman, Ernesto Bella, said Monday that the topic would include discuss global terrorism threats, economic cooperation and security in Marawi, the city that has been under militant siege for more than two months.

“We also welcome the opportunity to address concerns such as human rights if and when raised,” Bella said in a statement. “We have always included this issue in our discussions and engagements with foreign governments, particularly Western democracies.”

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Associated Press writer Jim Gomez contributed to this report.

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Philippines: Australia offers to send aircraft to help hunt and destroy Islamic State inspired terrorists

June 23, 2017
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Two AP-3C Orion aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force will provide surveillance support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines in its operation against ISIS-inspired groups. BY/Jason Baker

MANILA, Philippines — The Australian government has offered to send two surveillance aircraft to assist the Philippines in its fight against ISIS-inspired militants in Marawi City.

Two AP-3C Orion aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force will provide surveillance support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that the government gladly welcomes any form of foreign assistance to help suppress the rebellion in Marawi.

“Our Defense officials are in close coordination with their Australian counterparts in the latter’s offer of providing surveillance support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Abella said in a televised press briefing.

Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne earlier said that the regional threat of terrorism, particularly from ISIS, is a direct threat to Australia and their interests.

“Australia will continue to work with our partners in Southeast Asia to counter it,” Payne said.

The United States had also offered its help in the government forces’ operations against local terror groups in the region.

The military earlier confirmed the presence of American troops in Marawi but clarified their participation was limited to intelligence sharing.

On May 23, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao following a clash between government forces and the Maute group in Marawi.

Almost the entire population of Marawi of about 246,000 have been displaced since the seizure of the city by fighters allied to ISIS.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/06/23/1712907/australia-sends-spy-planes-marawi

Japan passes controversial anti-terror law despite protests

June 15, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Kyoko HASEGAWA | Protesters demonstrate against a controversial anti-terror bill near parliament in Tokyo. Rights groups say it is so broad it could be abused to allow wiretapping of innocent citizens and threaten privacy and freedom of expression

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan passed a controversial anti-terror law Thursday that critics warned would stomp on privacy rights and lead to over-the-top police surveillance.

Thousands protested outside the legislature after a full night of debate by sleepy parliamentarians and unsuccessful efforts by Japan’s weak opposition to block the law’s passage.

The government said the law, which criminalises the planning of serious offenses, is necessary to prevent terrorism ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

It doesn’t give police new powers, but critics say the legislation could be abused to allow wiretapping of innocent citizens and threaten privacy and freedom of expression guarantees in the constitution.

Terrorism “won’t disappear because of this law,” said 29-year-old demonstrator Yohei Sakano outside parliament.

“It’s mostly designed to crack down on citizens’ movements, not terrorism.”

Retired government worker Toshiaki Noguchi added: “We’re turning into a society of censorship.”

US surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden and Joseph Cannataci, UN special rapporteur on the right to privacy, have both criticised the law, and polls show the public is divided on its merits.

The bill’s passage overcame a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet and a censure bid aimed at Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda.

Tokyo insists the law — which calls for a prison term of up to five years for planning serious crimes — is a prerequisite for implementing a UN treaty against transnational organised crime which Japan signed in 2000.

“We will uphold the law in an appropriate and effective way to protect people’s lives,” Abe told reporters after the legislation passed.

“Three years ahead of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, we hope to cooperate with the international community to prevent terror,” he added.

– ‘Forced vote’ –

The bill was revised several times over the years as earlier versions met with fierce resistance and never made it through parliament.

The latest version reduced the number of targeted crimes to around 270 offences and narrowed the definition of terrorist and criminal organisations. Earlier versions encompassed more than 600 crimes, many unrelated to terrorism or crime syndicates.

The opposition has warned that petty crimes could fall under the scope of the law, and mocked Japan’s justice minister when he earlier conceded that, hypothetically, mushroom hunting could be targeted if the fungi were stolen to raise money to fund terrorism.

But even the slimmed-down legislation gives police and investigators too much leeway, some said.

“What comes next will probably be legislation allowing police to wiretap and eavesdrop on telephone and every day conversations,” said Setsu Kobayashi, a constitutional expert and professor emeritus at Keio University.

Japanese police have relatively limited access to wiretapping.

“The law makes it possible for authorities to investigate even before a crime has been committed,” said Hisako Tsuruta, 63, at a protest outside parliament Thursday afternoon.

“The activities of civil society and labour groups could come under surveillance.”

The opposition chastised Abe for trying to push the law through quickly, as he faces mounting criticism over allegations that he gave friends special consideration in a couple of unrelated business deals.

“This is an ultimate form of forced vote — it shut down sensible debate,” Renho, head of the leading opposition Democratic Party who goes by one name, told reporters.

Some Japanese media have likened the bill to the World War II-era “public order maintenance law” under which ordinary people were arrested for political offences, exercising labour rights and anti-war activities.

by Kyoko HASEGAWA

House Intelligence Panel Issues Seven Subpoenas in Russia Probe

May 31, 2017

Four are related to Russia investigation, three to ‘unmasking’ controversy, individuals say

Former CIA Director John Brennan testifying before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last week.

Former CIA Director John Brennan testifying before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last week. PHOTO: DREW ANGERER/GETTY IMAGES

The House Intelligence Committee issued seven subpoenas on Wednesday, in a sign that its investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election is ramping up in scope and intensity, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Republican-led committee issued four subpoenas related to the Russia investigation. Three subpoenas are related to questions about how and why the names of associates of President Donald Trump were unredacted and distributed within classified reports by Obama administration officials during the transition between administrations.

The committee has subpoenaed the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency for information about what is called “unmasking.” Republicans on the committee have been pushing for a thorough investigation of how the names of Trump campaign officials became exposed in classified intelligence reports based off intelligence community intercepts.

Those subpoenas seek information on requests made by former national security adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power for names to be unmasked in classified material. The three didn’t personally receive subpoenas, the people familiar with the matte said. Mr. Brennan, Ms. Rice and Ms. Power didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ms. Power hasn’t previously been reported as a potential witness in the probe so her inclusion in the subpoenas may mean Republicans are broadening their areas of investigation.

Typically, information about Americans intercepted in foreign surveillance is redacted, even in classified reports distributed within the government, unless a compelling need exists to reveal them. Unmasking requests aren’t uncommon by top intelligence community officials but Republicans want to know whether any of the unmaskings of Trump campaign officials during the transition were politically motivated.

The four subpoenas related to the Russia investigation remain unknown but Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the panel, has previously said that former national security adviser Mike Flynn would be subpoenaed by the panel. It is unclear if Mr. Flynn is one of the four targeted Wednesday.

The House Intelligence Committee is one of two bodies currently probing the question of whether Russian meddled in the 2016 election and whether anyone from Mr. Trump’s campaign played a role. The Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting its own investigation and has already issued subpoenas to Mr. Flynn and his businesses. Mr. Trump has said there was no collusion with Russia and called the investigation a witch hunt. Russia has denied the allegations.

The House panel also sent a letter to former White House press aide Boris Epshteyn asking him to voluntarily submit information to the committee. Mr. Epshteyn briefly served as special assistant to the president in the Trump administration before departing his post earlier this year.

“Like many others, Mr. Epshteyn has received a broad, preliminary request for information from the House Intelligence Committee,” an attorney for Mr. Epshteyn said Wednesday. “This is a voluntary request. Mr. Epshteyn has not been subpoenaed nor do we anticipate that he will be. We have reached out to the committee with several follow up questions and we are awaiting their response in order to better understand what information they are seeking and whether Mr. Epshteyn is able to reasonably provide it.”

Write to Byron Tau at byron.tau@wsj.com

NSA collected 151 million phone records in 2016 despite only having 42 court orders

May 4, 2017

The amount of surveillance activity appears lower than in recent years, but privacy activists are still concerned

By Emily Shugerman New York

The Independent

The US National Security Agency (NSA) collected records of more than 151 million American phone calls last year, despite only receiving permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to collect records from 42 people.

The NSA revealed the breadth of its US data collection in its annual statistical transparency report. While statistics showed a reduction in activity from previous years, the numbers still sparked concern with privacy activists.

Previous policies allowed the NSA to collect so-called “call detail records” of US citizens in bulk. These detail records can include the originating or terminating telephone numbers and the time or duration of the call. Studies show the NSA may have been collecting billions of phone records per day in past years.

When former NSA employee Edward Snowden revealed the extent of NSA’s data collection in 2013, the shocking disclosure spurred several reforms. The NSA is now prohibited from collecting call detail records in bulk, and must request court orders from the FISC to collect detail records. Data collection is restricted exclusively to those suspected of being linked to terrorism.

Last year, the NSA received orders to collect records from 42 terrorism suspects in 2016 – as well as a handful from the year before – but still collected records of more than 151 million calls.

The NSA explained that this number includes multiple calls made to or from the same phone numbers. A single phone call logged by two telecom companies is also counted as two records.

The NSA also increases the number of calls it can record by using “second-hop collection,” according to Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Andrew Crocker. This collection method allows the agency to collect information on the phone numbers with which their targets have been in contact.

“Imagine each [target] is in contact with 100 numbers and each of those numbers is in contact with 100 more numbers. That would allow the NSA to collect records belonging to 10,000 numbers,” Mr Crocker told The Independent.

“Depending on how many calls each of these numbers make, you can see how the number of total records could get very large, very quickly,” he added.

New NYT article: Program shrinking because NSA violating privacy rules for years on 702. Again, ignored court imposed limits for YEARS.

Privacy advocates also point to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as allowing the NSA to collect intelligence on Americans without express permission. The acts allows the agency to collect messages of foreigners abroad without a specific court order – even if they are communicating with Americans.

“There’s no probable cause or criminal activity necessary [in these cases],” Michelle Richardson of the Centre for Democracy & Technology told The Independent. “These people fall general classification that their communications may include foreign intelligence.”

The NSA distributed almost 4,000 reports last year containing information about Americans gathered using this warrantless surveillance programme.

The government also reported making fewer surveillance requests for “pen register/trap-and-trace” orders and fewer requests using national security letters than in years prior. They did not explain this reduction in the report.

The Director of National Intelligence began releasing statistics on its surveillance measures in 2014. Congress added to the statistics required to be released in the 2015 USA Freedom Act, This is the first report issued using USA Freedom Act standards.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/nsa-surveillance-phone-records-millions-despite-reforms-court-orders-a7716561.html

WSJ: Obama Administration may have abused domestic surveillance for its political purposes — Susan Rice unmasked (again)

April 4, 2017

Obama’s security adviser sought the name of at least one Trump official in intelligence reports.

Susan Rice speaks during a conference on the transition of the U.S. Presidency from Barack Obama to Donald Trump at the U.S. Institute Of Peace, Jan. 10.

Susan Rice speaks during a conference on the transition of the U.S. Presidency from Barack Obama to Donald Trump at the U.S. Institute Of Peace, Jan. 10. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Well, what do you know. On the matter of who “unmasked” the names of Trump transition officials in U.S. intelligence reports, we now have one answer: Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s national security adviser.

A U.S. intelligence official confirms to us the bombshell news, first reported Monday by Bloomberg, that Ms. Rice requested the name of at least one Trump transition official listed in an intelligence report in the months between Election Day and Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Ms. Rice received summaries of U.S. eavesdropping either when foreign officials were discussing the Trump team, or when foreign officials were conversing with a Trump transition member. The surveillance was legally authorized, but the identities of U.S. citizens are typically masked so they cannot be known outside intelligence circles. Ms. Rice asked for and learned the identity of the Trump official, whose name hasn’t been publicly disclosed and our source declined to share.

Our source did confirm that Ms. Rice also examined dozens of other intelligence summaries that technically masked Trump official identities but were written in such a way as to make obvious who those officials were. This means that the masking was essentially meaningless. All this is highly unusual—and troubling. Unmasking does occur, but it is typically done by intelligence or law-enforcement officials engaged in antiterror or espionage investigations. Ms. Rice would have had no obvious need to unmask Trump campaign officials other than political curiosity.

We’re told by a source who has seen the unmasked documents that they included political information about the Trump transition team’s meetings and policy intentions. We are also told that none of these documents had anything to do with Russia or the FBI investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. While we don’t know if Ms. Rice requested these dozens of reports, we are told that they were only distributed to a select group of recipients—conveniently including Ms. Rice.

All of this helps to explain the actions in the last week of House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, the one official in Washington who seems interested in pursuing the evidence of politicized surveillance. Mr. Nunes was roundly criticized by Democrats and the media last week for publicly revealing at least one instance of Obama White House unmasking, albeit without disclosing any names.

Now we know he is onto something. And we know that Mr. Nunes had to go to the White House to verify his information because the records containing Ms. Rice’s unmasking request are held at the National Security Council.

Where are the civil libertarians when you really need them? These columns support broad surveillance powers for national security, but executive officials need to be accountable if those powers are abused. If congressional oversight of U.S. intelligence operations is going to be worth the name, then it should include the unmasking of a political opponent by a senior official in the White House.

Democrats certainly raised a fuss during the Bush years and after Edward Snowden kicked off the debate about “metadata,” which are merely telephone numbers without names. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden went so far as to introduce a bill in 2013 to strengthen the ban on “reverse targeting”—in which intelligence agencies surveil foreigners but with the goal of capturing U.S. citizen communications.

Yet now that there’s evidence that the Obama Administration may have unmasked Trump officials, Democrats couldn’t care less. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on House Intelligence, has spent the past week denouncing Mr. Nunes for revealing that a name was unmasked and for having sources at the White House. But he hasn’t raised a peep about the unmasking itself or who was behind it.

Image result for susan rice, photos

The news about Ms. Rice’s unmasking role raises a host of questions for the Senate and House intelligence committees to pursue. What specific surveillance information did Ms. Rice seek and why? Was this information related to President Obama’s decision in January to make it possible for raw intelligence to be widely disbursed throughout the government? Was this surveillance of Trump officials “incidental” collection gathered while listening to a foreigner, or were some Trump officials directly targeted, or “reverse targeted”?

We were unable to locate Ms. Rice Monday to ask for comment, and she hasn’t addressed the unmasking as far as we know. But asked last month on the “PBS NewsHour” that Trump officials might have been surveilled, she said, “I know nothing about this” and “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today.” She certainly deserves her turn under oath on Capitol Hill.

None of this should deter investigators from looking into the Trump-Russia connection. By all means follow that evidence where it leads. But the media have been running like wildebeest after that story while ignoring how the Obama Administration might have abused domestic surveillance for its political purposes. Americans deserve to know the truth about both.

Appeared in the Apr. 04, 2017, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/susan-rice-unmasked-1491262064

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 (Eli Lake)

Image result for Ben Rhodes, susan rice, photos

Ben Rhodes and Susan Rice (Right)

Image result for Benghazi late on Sept. 11, 2012, photo, man with gun
An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi late on Sept. 11, 2012. US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three of his colleagues were killed in an attack on the consulate in the eastern Libyan city by Islamists outraged over an amateur American-made Internet video mocking Islam. Stevens died less than six months after being appointed to his post. STR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
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Image result for Susan Rice September 16, 2012, photos

Susan Rice, Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blockbuster Scandal: The Obama Administration Weaponized Intelligence for Use Against Trump

April 3, 2017

From The Rush Limbaugh Show

Apil 3, 2017

USH: I want to circle back here to the story that just won’t go away, and it won’t go away because the Democrats have continued to try to make something out of nothing. Even, you know, that bobblehead figure, Adam “Shifty” Schiff, known affectionately here as the Pencil Neck. This guy last week went out there and said there is evidence of Russian collusion. He went out there and said it in an act of total desperation.

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Pencil Neck Schiff

It turns out that Devin Nunes has been running rings around the Democrats, and it looks like they’ve known it all along, and the effort to get Nunes to, quote, unquote, recuse himself as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee or the effort to get rid of him in some other way obviously was undertaken to stop what he is doing and what he is learning. But yesterday on the Sunday shows, Pencil Neck Adam Schiff had to grudgingly admit yet again that there is still not one shred of evidence of any collusion between Trump and the Russians, not a shred.

This is after last week, making the announcement that there was evidence. He just couldn’t help himself. He just couldn’t contain himself. These people are living in a dreamland where they’re hoping that everything they suspect is true, just remains to be found. And he just screwed up and couldn’t help himself and went ahead and announced it when he didn’t have any evidence for it. And it’s a sign of how out of control these people are and unhinged. And I don’t use those terms lightly. I’m not just coming up with descriptive phrases. They genuinely are out of control, and they genuinely are unhinged.

Now, I don’t know if Adam Schiff was embarrassed at all. I don’t know if these people are capable of it. But it helps somebody like him when you know the media is gonna do everything they can to cover for you. But he had to admit, after all of this, folks, after all of this, we now know that Trump has been surveilled for a year. We now know that the Obama administration was responsible for the unmasking. We now know that it was Susan Rice, who lied on five Sunday shows about Benghazi, we know that it was Susan Rice who requested the unmasking of all of these Trump officials.

We now know that what I suspected all along — and I’m not alone — that was happening indeed did happen, that Russians were surveilled, and that they were talking to Americans, the transcript of the conversations was turned over to people in the Obama administration, such as Mike Flynn, and there are others, and now Susan Rice has been fingered as one of the sources who asked that these people be unmasked so that details of the conversations could be leaked.

And they were leaked. But these people were not targets of the surveillance. They are never to be identified. And we now know that it was the Obama administration — go back to the story where Obama, when he left office, proudly said not one scandal in my administration, scandal free eight years. Not so fast. So Schiff has to eat dirt.

Remember, James Comey testified the Russians just wanted Hillary to lose. So why would they involve Trump in their scheme? The Russians know their calls are monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies. Why would they risk their effort to defeat Hillary by colluding with Trump’s people? If that had come out before the election, she would have won for sure. In fact, everything that was known today has been known for quite a while by people in the intelligence community, by people at the FBI.

But the real scandal here — and it’s becoming increasingly clear — is that the Obama administration weaponized politically our intelligence services against the Republicans and against Trump. I, for one, am not surprised. The Obama administration weaponized everything else to use against the GOP, from the IRS to NOAA to any of these agencies, EPA, involving climate change.

So here’s where we are. In bullet-point fashion, details to come, here is where we are. This is what we know in this developing blockbuster story about the Obama the White House — and it is a story about the Obama White House. It is not a story about Trump and the Russians. We know that the Obama Regime surveilled Trump’s transition team. We know now that the Obama White House unmasked people who were not targets of legitimate surveillance and investigation. We know now that the Obama White House illegal leaked protected information. And, by the way, we knew this long ago.

The media is our source. The Drive-By Media reported all of this. We know that there had to be unmasking. We know that there had to be leaking. The media proudly told us that sources who could not be identified, blah, blah, blah, blah, fed them data. We know now that the media was complicit. And here’s a little detail. Mike Cernovich reports in his story on all this today that Maggie Haberman at the New York Times has known for two days that Susan Rice was behind the unmasking and sat on it to protect President Obama. That’s an assertion made by Mike Cernovich on his web page today.

There are two stories on this — one by Eli Lake at Bloomberg, the other Mike Cernovich, and he specifically claims that Maggie Haberman of the New York Times has known it was Susan Rice for 48 hours and sat on it. Much like Newsweek sat on the story of Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton, and then eventually spiked the story leading the way to the Drudge Report. We know that Susan Rice lied about her knowledge of this illegal activity in an interview. The Democrats have loved saying, “We’re not doing that! No, no, no. We’re just following the facts. We’re just going with the facts take us.”

They’re not gonna want to go there anymore. They haven’t been doing that anyway. The facts are beginning to roll in, and it turns out that Trump and Devin Nunes are not the story. They are victims of abuse of power by the Obama administration and Democrat collusion with the media. The first the Eli Lake story: “Top Obama Adviser Sought Names of Trump Associates in Intel.” Eli Lake is an intel/foreign policy expert/reporter/journalist. He’s a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the senior national security correspondent for The Daily Beast, which is a deranged, lunatic, left-wing site started by Tina Brown.

He covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun and UPI. I don’t know how he ended up briefly at The Daily Beast, but he was. His story begins thus: “White House lawyers last month…” Discovered last month! White House lawyers! This is the Office of Presidential Counsel. This is the office of Don McGann, essentially. That’s the counsel’s office. That’s the official counselor to the president.

“White House lawyers last month discovered that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.” She requested their identities. She, in other words, demanded that they be unmasked so she could find out who they were. You put this together with Evelyn Farkas, who appeared on MSNBC on March the 2nd pretty much admitting all of this, that they were gathering the evidence.

They were preserving the evidence. They didn’t trust the Trump administration not to throw it all away; so they decided to leak it. “The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on ‘unmasking’ the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally.” The New York Times has also reported this back in January! They’ve used the word “wiretaps.” They’ve used the word “incidentally.”

To review briefly, here’s what happens. An intelligence agency — take your pick: CIA, NSA, DIA, you name it — survivals foreign actors, nations, individuals, spies. In this case, in this example, the Russian ambassador is survived; his phone calls are tapped. The Russian ambassador knows it. This is standard operating procedure standard. They survival us in Moscow, or try. Statecraft, it’s what happens. Nothing illegal about that. That’s what Devin Nunes meant when he said that what he had seen at the Old Executive Office Building, there was nothing illegal about it, because the surveillance was not targeting Americans. It was targeting Russians. So they’re surveilling the Russian ambassador.

You’re tapping his phone, and in the process you overhear conversations that he’s having with, say, Michael Flynn of the Trump transition team. When that happens, those transcribing this call are supposed to not identity the American involved, instead referring to him as “American number one.” If there’s another American in the same call, that would be called “American number two” and so on. The name is not revealed nor are the details of what the American says because the American isn’t the target.

That’s where the Obama administration steps in. Susan Rice asked for the American in these calls to be unmasked so that she and Obama and Valerie Jarrett and probably the whole kit and caboodle would know who was saying what was said on these calls. The interesting thing is the backtrack. Since they’ve had… And there’s a tape of this call between the Russian ambassador and Flynn.

If Flynn had indeed promised anything about lifting sanctions once Trump was inaugurated, they wouldn’t have reported that by now. It is clear that Flynn did not do anything actionable because all they’ve been able to do is leak supposition and create mystery about it. But they’ve known all along that nothing happened! They’ve known all along that Flynn didn’t do anything illegal in his conversation with the Russian ambassador. So the leaks have been intended to create suspicion rather than allay it.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Quickly back to the Eli Lake piece: “The pattern of” the requests made by Susan Rice of the Obama administration to unmask all of these Americans in this treasure trove of wiretapped intelligence and retrieved intelligence “was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on ‘unmasking’ the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally.”

.

 

Last week, there were a number of Republicans who were going against the grain and saying the NSA had a bombshell coming. Do you remember that? Immediately there were people who were distrustful of it because the NSA and the FBI and the CIA are all perceived to be part of the Obama deep state, where a number of Obama embeds and holdovers remain attempting to sabotage both the Trump transition and the Trump presidency.

But it turns out that the NSA did indeed have a bombshell. Somebody there — a whistleblower, somebody — revealed that it was Susan Rice who was requesting that all of these Americans incidentally caught up in foreign surveillance be unmasked, and it has to be agents of the Obama administration (which we know instinctively) who were leaking all of this to the media. But it gets even better.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: We are in the middle of a blockbuster piece of news that the mainstream still sits on. They still have not reported this. Now, I want to go back to the Eli Lake piece, this one allusion here that “[T]he pattern of [Susan] Rice’s requests” that Americans incidentally caught an intelligence and surveillance of others — the unmasked and identified — again, were “discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on ‘unmasking’ the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets…”

She was instrumental in this.

And we know the National Security Council probably by way of the NSA, but regardless. “The news about Rice also sheds light on the strange behavior of Nunes in the last two weeks.” Now, remember how his behavior’s been characterized by the media: treasonous, unfair, cheating, that Devin Nunes secretly — under the cover of darkness — snuck into the White House grounds to take a look at intelligence that only he saw, and he didn’t share it with his counterpart, Adam Schiff, on the Intelligence Committee.

And this is unseemly, and he should recuse himself, and he should resign from the committee, and he maybe should even leave his office as a member of the House of Representatives. Now, it emerged last week that Nunes went to the White House last month, the night before he made an allegation about Trump transition officials caught up in incidental surveillance. At the time, he said he needed to go to the White House because reports were only on a database for the executive branch. I covered this last week. The National Security Council is in the Executive Office Building on the fourth floor, and nothing leaves there because it’s securely maintained there.

You want to see it; you go there. Nunes went there. It now appears that Nunes needed to view computer systems within the National Security Council that would include the logs of Rice’s requests to unmask Americans. That’s what he saw. That is what led to him alluding to the fact that the president was correct that he had been surveilled. Remember, unmasking — in this case, identifying Americans incidentally caught up in the surveillance of others — effectively means Americans are being surveilled. And in fact, I’ll go so… I want to repeat an allegation. Well, not quite an allegation.

 

I want to repeat a possibility that I mentioned, and it is this: That the Obama administration chose surveillance targets knowing that they would be talking to specific Americans, wanting to see what those specific Americans were talking about. So while they couldn’t get a FISA warrant to target Americans, they purposely targeted for surveillance foreign actors that they knew Trump transition people would be talking to and learned what they were saying that way. And that’s why Rice was requesting that these people be unmasked so that she and Obama and whoever else in this operation would understand who was being talked about and who was saying what.

Now, this brings us back to Pencil Neck, Adam Schiff. The ranking Democrat on the committee that Nunes chairs just had a gasket blown. He went nuts, claiming that the Democrats on the committee were being left out, that we shouldn’t trust what Nunes was saying. He might be making it up, that this was unseemly; it should not be tolerated. So he went up there; he viewed these reports on Friday. And in comments to the press over the weekend, he declined to discuss them, but he said “no evidence.”

After last week, earlier, claiming to have proof now that there was collusion between the Russians and Trump, Pencil Neck went on the Sunday shows and had to totally back out of that. And he’s reduced to once again saying (summarized), “We don’t have evidence of anything. That’s why we need to keep looking.” There isn’t evidence of anything that has been charged. The scandal here is not Trump. The scandal is not Trump and the Russians. The scandal is the Obama administration and these embeds in the deep state surveilling targets with the express purpose of hoping to capture Americans as part of the surveillance.

And as Eli Lake says, “[M]uch about this is highly unusual: if not how the surveillance was collected, then certainly how and why it was disseminated.” So Nunes is looking to be the exact opposite of the way the media portrayed him. Nunes was actually trying to get to the bottom of this and found out how deep the bottom is. Well, let’s go to the Schiff. From State of the Union on CNN Sunday morning. Jake Tapper: Congressman Pencil Neck, “The big issue is whether or not there was collusion among members of the Trump campaign or Trump advisers.

“Can you definitely say that there was collusion, that there were people affiliated with the Trump campaign who were working with the Russians to time the release of damaging information about Hillary Clinton that had been hacked either from John Podesta or the DNC?” That’s the entire Democrat case right there. That is it summed up. That is what they want everybody to believe. That’s what this lunatic Tom Perez, the new chairman of the DNC, said at a rally in Newark over the weekend, “Trump didn’t win the presidency.

“Trump and the Republicans don’t give an [excrement] about people.” The guy went off the rails. He made this militant Islamist Keith Ellison look mild-mannered by nature. Ellison was second in the voting for chairman of the DNC. This Perez guy is just an uber-partisan, and was just off the rails. And this is it, but they believe… You know what, folks? They know all of this is made up. Although they are so off the rails, I think they’ve bought their own lie and series of lies for so long now that they actually probably believe it happened.

There isn’t any evidence whatsoever.

There has never been any evidence that voters were tampered with. Nobody’s even alleged that. There was never any evidence whatsoever. And look at what the Democrats are admitting, if their version of events actually happened: That the Russians were able to plant fake news and that the Russians hacked Podesta and that the Russians got to WikiLeaks and WikiLeaks released all the emails. Look at what they’re asking us to believe: that the Russians were able to outsmart the American voter, that the Russians were able to screw with the minds of the American voter and make them vote against Democrats.

 

The Democrats are portraying themselves as weak, ineffective, and incompetent as they attempt to make the case that Russian collusion with Trump stole the election from them. So here is Schiff answering that question from Jake Tapper. (summarized) “Do you have any evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign, Trump advisers and Russia? Can you definitively say there was collusion? Can you say that this resulted in Hillary losing the election?”

SCHIFF: I — I don’t think we can say anything definitively at this point. Uh, we are still it he very early stage of the investigation. The only thing I can say that it would be irresponsible for us not to get to the bottom of this. We really need to find out exactly what the Russians did, because one of the most important conclusions that the Intelligence Committee reached is that they are gonna do this again to the United States. They’re doing it already in Europe. So we can say, y’know, conclusively: This is something that needs to be thoroughly investigated. Uh, but it — but it’s way premature to be reaching conclusions.

RUSH: Really? He had just reached a conclusion a few days earlier when he went out and said that there was evidence of collusion. He had to pull it back because there isn’t any. This is gonna blow up on ’em. The media’s gonna cover for ’em when it happens, I understand, but it’s gonna blow up on them. This is going to be… Gorsuch is gonna blow up on ’em too.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: How many of you in the audience think that the Democrats actually believe they can force Trump out of office and that that’s why they are doing this? Think about that, will you? I’m gonna address that as we dig even deeper into this unmasking story, this blockbuster. Hang on. Be right back.

 (Eli Lake)

Obamacare repeal is still possible, Trump says

April 2, 2017

04/02/17 09:24 AM EDT

Updated 04/02/17 09:40 AM EDT

Repealing and replacing Obamacare is a goal that is not “dead,” President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday morning.

“Anybody (especially Fake News media) who thinks that Repeal & Replace of ObamaCare is dead does not know the love and strength in R Party,” Trump wrote. “Talks on Repealing and Replacing ObamaCare are, and have been, going on, and will continue until such time as a deal is hopefully struck.”

The president and Speaker Paul Ryan’s American Health Care Act — the bill that would have repealed and replaced the Affordable Care Act — failed to garner enough support and was pulled last month before being put to a vote in the House. Since then, Trump has blamed leaders and members of the House Freedom Caucus and Democrats for the bill failing.

Trump has claimed Obamacare will “implode” and that will lead lawmakers to create a better health care bill. On Saturday, Trump tweeted that “good things will happen” in regards to a new health care bill with either Republican or Democrats, implying that he may be willing to work with Democrats on such a bill.

Thirty minutes after his tweets on the possibility of a new health care bill, Trump turned his thoughts to leaking and his continued push about alleged surveillance of him and his campaign. The business mogul turned politician has experienced several leaks since the inception of his tenure as president, which has prompted several attempts from the White House to crack down on leakers.

“The real story turns out to be SURVEILLANCE and LEAKING! Find the leakers,” the president wrote.

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/trump-repeal-replace-obamacare-236786

Top Democrats call for Devin Nunes to recuse himself from Trump-Russia inquiry — Devin Nunes Cancels House Intelligence Committee Meetings

March 28, 2017

and in New York and in Washington

Nancy Pelosi joined Adam Schiff in demanding Nunes step aside from inquiry into 2016 election interference ‘in interest of a fair and impartial investigation’

Devin Nunes speaks to reporters outside the White House.
Devin Nunes speaks to reporters outside the White House. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Leading Democrats have escalated the controversy over the erratic behavior of Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, calling on him to recuse himself from the investigation into alleged links between the president’s associates and Russia.

Both Adam Schiff, Nunes’ counterpart on the committee, and Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, demanded that he step aside from the ongoing Russia affair that has become an enduring sore for the young Trump administration.

The intervention of senior Democrats takes the dispute to a new level of intensity, raising the prospect of the governing party being forced to make a second humiliating concession after US attorney general Jeff Sessions was forced this month to stand back from all Russian inquiries after he failed to disclose meetings with Moscow’s ambassador to Washington.

Schiff was the first to wade into the fray on Monday night, calling on Nunes to recuse himself in the wake of mounting controversy about his handling of the Russian inquiry. The ranking Democrat on the committee drew a parallel with the Sessions recusal and said in a statement: “I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president’s campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman.”

Less than an hour later, Pelosi came out with a similarly weighed statement, saying that her equivalent in the House, Paul Ryan, should lean on Nunes to make him stand aside. “Speaker Ryan must insist that chairman Nunes at least recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation immediately. That leadership is long overdue.”

The top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, also added his voice to the growing chorus for a Nunes recusal. The senator accused the Republican chairman of being “more interested in protecting the president than in seeking the truth. You cannot have the person in charge of an impartial investigation be partial to one side.”

The open partisan split within the powerful intelligence committee came as Schiff complained that members of the panel continue to wait for Nunes to present them with documents ostensibly relating to intelligence collected on Trump days after he had briefed the president. The embattled committee chairman raised further questions when he said he had no choice under classification rules except to view the sensitive intelligence at the White House, a statement likely to intensify speculation that the Trump administration fed Nunes the material.

The source who made the materials available to Nunes “could not simply put the documents in a backpack and walk them over to the House intelligence committee space”, Nunes’ office said on Monday.

In his statement on Monday night, Schiff tore into the chairman’s explanation. “There was no legitimate justification for bringing that information to the White House instead of the committee,” he said, adding: “That it was obtained at the White House makes this departure all the more concerning.”

Adam Schiff.
Adam Schiff. Photograph: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Further pressure on Nunes to stand down from the Russian investigation came from the top Democrat on the CIA subcommittee of the House intelligence committee, Eric Swalwell. The chairman should “no longer be anywhere near this investigation, let alone leading it”, he said.

Swalwell added that “too many people in the White House and administration, and now, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, have betrayed their duty to conduct an independent, bipartisan inquiry into the Trump team’s ties with Russia”.

Spicer repeatedly refused to offer any details about why Nunes was on the White House grounds and whom the California congressman was meeting with. “I’m not going to get into who he met with or why,” he said, while insisting the White House “was not concerned” over the possibility of classified information being leaked to Nunes.

Nunes, a member of Trump’s national security transition team, has come under sustained criticism that he is obstructing a high-profile investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia that he is running – a charge likely to intensify over the coming days.

On Wednesday, he stunned Washington by suggesting that communications from Trump’s associates were incidentally collected as part of “lawful” surveillance, with their identities insufficiently masked.

Contradicting testimony from the FBI and NSA directors, Trump claimed Nunes’ remarks provided a modicum of vindication for the president’s baseless claim that Obama placed Trump Tower under surveillance, something even Nunes continues to deny. Nunes has said the intelligence collection that “alarmed” him did not concern Russia.

Before making his statement calling for Nunes’ recusal, Schiff had publicly doubted the impartiality of the House inquiry. Those concerns escalated after Nunes abruptly canceled a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday into the Trump-Russia question.

Nunes has dodged questions, primarily from CNN, that his source came from the White House, and intimated that whistleblowers from the intelligence agencies brought the surveillance documents to him. Nunes told Bloomberg View on Monday that his source was an intelligence official and not a White House staffer.

But Nunes’ office has acknowledged that the chairman viewed whatever surveillance documents he has acquired on the White House grounds, apparently at the Eisenhower executive office building, where the national security council staff works.

Viewing the documents at the White House came under immediate scrutiny, since the House committee possesses secure facilities where it frequently accesses classified information as part of its routine responsibilities.

But Jack Langer, Nunes’ spokesman, told the Guardian that Nunes saw at the White House “executive branch documents” that Congress does not have.

“The White House grounds was the best location to safeguard the proper chain of custody and classification of these documents, so the chairman could view them in a legal way,” Langer said.

It remained unclear why, if Nunes’ source did not originate from the White House, viewing the documents had to occur at the White House complex. His explanation to Bloomberg was that the White House was the closest available location to access a classified computer network hived off from Congress. Nunes appears not to have paid visits to intelligence agency locations where the information would be accessible, including the offices of the director of national intelligence, FBI and NSA.

Langer did not immediately respond to a follow-up question about whether Nunes had in effect confirmed that his source for the documents came from the White House itself.

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/27/devin-nunes-white-house-intelligence-source-trump

**************************************

Devin Nunes Cancels House Intelligence Committee Meetings Amid Growing Questions

The chairman is in hot water.

.
03/28/2017 09:13 am ET

WASHINGTON ― Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Tuesday abruptly canceled all House Intelligence Committee meetings scheduled for this week, according to committee members, raising further questions on whether its investigation into ties between President Donald Trump’s administration and Russia can proceed.

“Not only [has] this investigation sort of had a shadow cast on it, but the committee has been put into suspended animation,” committee member Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) said on MSNBC, confirming previous reports that Nunes, the committee chair, had canceled the meetings.

The move comes amid growing scrutiny over whether Nunes can lead an independent investigation into ties between Trump’s team and Russian officials.

Nunes claimed last week that members of the president’s team were subject to “incidental” surveillance. One day before making these allegations, however, he met with a source on White House grounds. Nunes said he needed a secure location to view sensitive information, but the visit raised further doubts about the transparency of the investigation and whether Nunes is coordinating with the White House.

After holding a press conference about his findings, Nunes also briefed Trump, whose team is under FBI investigation for alleged ties to Russian officials who may have interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

Himes said Tuesday that Nunes had not shared his information with the rest of the committee.

“No member of the committee, Republican or Democrat, has seen, after a full week, this stuff that caused Nunes to make himself famous nationally,” Himes said Tuesday. “Not a single member of the committee. I don’t even think anybody on his own staff has any idea what caused him to do this sort of musical chairs thing with the White House.”

Democrats have called for Nunes, who served on Trump’s transition team, to recuse himself from the investigation or even to be replaced as head of the committee, with some speculating that the chairman wants to protect Trump.

“Chairman Nunes is falling down on the job and seems to be more interested in protecting the president than in seeking the truth,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday.

Several Democratic members of the committee said Nunes had lost their trust.

“In the interest of a fair and impartial investigation, whose results will be respected by the public, the Chairman’s recusal is more than warranted,” the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), said Monday.

I think that the writing is on the wall. It might make a good spy novel. It doesn’t make a good investigation.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), another member of the committee, said Nunes’ White House meeting was “the last straw.” She suggested he had “colluded in a desperate attempt to salvage the president’s credibility, after the president’s bogus wiretapping claims were debunked by his own FBI director.”

She told CNN on Tuesday that she believes “there is an effort under way to shut this committee down, by the president.”

“I don’t think he can just recuse himself and still chair the committee,” Speier said of Nunes. “I think that the writing is on the wall. It might make a good spy novel. It doesn’t make a good investigation.”

But Nunes said in interviews Monday night that he has no intention of stepping down.

“I’m sure the Democrats do want me to quit because they know that I’m quite effective at getting to the bottom of things,” he told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/devin-nunes-trump-intelligence-committee_us_58da50dbe4b00f68a5caa9cd

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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