Did Obama Dismantle Iran Terror Finance Investigations to Protect Cash Smuggling?

Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, June 9, 2017:

While the media was pushing its Comey agenda, another hearing revealed something truly explosive about the White House and its relationship with an enemy state.

David Asher, who previously served as an adviser to Gen. John Allen at the Defense and State Departments, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday that top officials across several key law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the Obama administration “systematically disbanded” law enforcement activities targeting the terrorism financing operations of Iran, Hezbollah, and Venezuela in the lead-up to and during the nuclear negotiations with Tehran.

“Senior leadership, presiding, directing, and overseeing various sections [of these agencies] and portions of the U.S. intelligence community systematically disbanded any internal or external stakeholder action that threatened to derail the administration’s policy agenda focused on Iran,” he testified.

The United States squandered the chance “at a very low financial cost” to take apart Hezbollah’s finances, its global organization, and the Iran proxy’s ability to “readily terrorize us, victimize us, and run a criminal network through our shores, inside our banking systems—and in partnership with the world’s foremost drug cartels—target our state and society,” he said.

“We lost much of the altitude we had gained in our global effort, and many aspects including key personnel, who were reassigned, budgets that were slashed—many key elements of the investigations that were underway were undermined,” he said.

Were these merely efforts to avoid offending Iran. Or something more.

Recall that Obama Inc. was caught smuggling $400 million to Iran in foreign cash on an unmarked cargo plane. 

The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.

This known set of payments amounted to $1.7 billion. It’s suspected that some of the money was passed to the IRGC. The Revolutionary Guards are Iran’s terror masters and currently being sanctioned. Obama had resisted such sanctions even during his time in the Senate.

The question is was Obama dismantling enforcement of Iran’s terror finance just as a diplomatic measure. Or to prevent detection and exposure of his own terror finance.

The problem is that we have not had a serious investigation of this, among many other crimes by Obama Inc and its allies, by law enforcement rather than by members of Congress. While the left pushes their election conspiracy theory, the administration needs to make all relevant documents public, particularly in Iran’s side deals, go over any laws that were broken or unethically bypassed and move to further action to hold those responsible, accountable.

Report: Global Terrorism Has Tripled Since 2011, Now At An All Time High

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, June 1, 2017:

The Institute for Economics and Peace has released their annual “Global Peace Index” for 2017, reporting some shocking findings.

According to the report, global terrorism has nearly tripled since 2011, and terrorism is now at an all-time high.

The Voice of America reports:

Worldwide terrorism is at an all-time high, and violence cost the global economy $14.3 trillion last year, with a $2.5 trillion impact in the United States alone.

These new figures from the latest Global Peace Index, a report on conflict and security, indicate that world peace has been deteriorating for the past decade, largely driven by terrorism and conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

The study says the decline interrupts long-term improvements the world had been making since the end of World War II.

According to the report, the annual number of terrorism incidents has almost tripled since 2011.

Deaths from terrorism have risen more than 900% since 2007 in the 35 countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Of those members, 23 nations experienced terrorism related deaths over the past year.

Those countries include Denmark, Sweden, France and Turkey.

One eye-popping graphic from the report (p. 36) shows that terrorism deaths in OECD countries has increased 900 percent since 2007.

This is quite a turn-around from this time last year during the presidential campaign when the media was trumpeting major declines in terrorism.

Only a few were willing to acknowledge the growing terrorism problem developing in the West:

As I noted here at PJ Media after the terror attack in Nice last July, attacks in the West were occurring at a rate of one every 84 hours.

After last month’s suicide bombing in Manchester, among other recent attacks, it appears that another “Summer of Terror” may be in the offing.

But wait!? Didn’t we hear from President Obama that Osama bin Laden was dead, and al-Qaeda had been decimated? The Islamic State was the “JV team”?

In fact, we did.

Going back to April 2013, we had senior Obama State Department officials telling us that the “War on Terror” was over, and the primary reason was that Obama’s Arab Spring had unleashed the forces of democracy by encouraging hardcore Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood, to take over in several critical countries in the Middle East.

[…]

The so-called Arab Spring and the Syrian War – both openly cheered and supported by the Obama administration – unleashed deadly and destructive forces whose full manifestation are only now being seen.

This new data documents the terrorism that has ripped open the Middle East, southeast Asia and Africa. Now it is literally exploding across Europe.

And it may take more than hugs and hashtags to roll it back.

Read more

Democrats Finally Care About The Constitution, But Only If It Can Undermine Trump [VIDEO]

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) listens as Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin delivers remarks in the US Treasury Department building on April 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump is making his first visit to the Treasury Department for a memorandum signing ceremony with Secretary Mnuchin. Shawn Thew/Pool/Getty Images.

Daily Caller, by Ginni Thomas, May 6, 2017: (go to Daily Caller for the video)

President Donald Trump’s ideological opponents have opened up a serious challenge to governance since election day, according to one prolific scholar and national security expert.

Dr. J. Michael Waller, who has taught on subversion, propaganda and information warfare, says no other president has had his 100-day honeymoon stolen from him. Additionally, no other president has had their predecessor organizing private funds to undermine him as former President Barack Obama has done in concert with the left’s resistance to Trump.

Waller discusses the weaponization of government by Obama where he used the IRS, Department of Justice (DOJ), FBI and the national intelligence community against his political opponents, in this exclusive video interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation interview.

Did Obama’s FBI, CIA, NSA and DOJ meddle more in our national election than Russia? Did the Obama team use pretexts to allege Russian collaboration in order to spy on their political opponents?

Waller describes the various forces against Trump that make the president appear illegitimate. He names the militant extreme left, the permanent bureaucracy and mainstream elected Democrats who, with varying interlocking narratives, create a climate of fear, suspicion and hatred.

Commenting on the flimsy accusations by Democrats of Russian interference as part of this delegitimization project of the left, Waller reminds us that Democrats were calling conservatives “Russophobes” for holding on to Cold War antagonisms toward Russia recently.

Waller says, “This is the first time you have ever had left-wingers protesting Kremlin subversion of American politics and actually caring about the Constitution.”

The Congress should expand the one-sided Russian subversion probe about 2016, he says, since Russia has worked to subvert American political efforts with propaganda and disinformation since the 1920s. Waller has 13 memory-jarring reasons why the Democrats would find such an expanded probe uncomfortable, if only Republicans would consider such a tact.

Part of Waller’s list includes the “Anna Chapman case” in New York in 2010, where Russians penetrated the Democratic political machine in the Empire State. He also discusses the Clinton “pay for play” uranium deal that seemed to result in zero political outrage from congressional Republicans.

According to Waller, “George Soros is the number one private sponsor of subversion against the United States,” with the Chinese, Saudis and the Russians as the predominant state sponsors of subversion. Soros funds a full range of groups that seek to bring down America, including Black Lives Matter, which promotes murderous violence against police officers, drug legalization, and open border policies that threaten self-government and national security.

Waller thinks he seeks to “cripple institutions of national identity, national security and individual liberty insofar as it protects the constitutional rights of Americans.”

For more on Waller see his writings here or on his blog, or follow him on Twitter @JMichaelWaller.

Team Trump and Iran: Obama and the ‘swamp’ have just scored a huge win

Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, April 29, 2017:

Despite Donald Trump’s insistence during the presidential campaign that the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – was the “worst deal ever” and Iran’s failure to fully comply with this agreement, the Trump administration Tuesday certified to Congress that Iran is in compliance with the agreement and will continue to receive sanction relief.  The administration added, however that the agreement is under review.

Make no mistake: this is a huge win for the Obama administration and the permanent foreign policy bureaucracy – the so-called swamp – who desperately want to protect this flawed and dangerous agreement at all costs.

The certification probably indicates the outcome of the Trump administration’s review of the JCPOA is a forgone conclusion just like a similar review in 2001 by the Bush administration of a deeply-flawed nuclear agreement with North Korea.

The publicly known reasons that Iran is not in compliance with the JCPOA include:

  • Iran is not allowing International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors access to military sites.  If Iran is engaged in covert nuclear weapons work, this is where it is taking place.  As long as Iran refuses to allow the IAEA unfettered access to all military sites, it is not in compliance with the JCPOA and the international community cannot be confident that Iran’s nuclear weapons program has been halted.
  • According to a March 3, 2017 report by the Institute for Science and International Security, Iran has produced and stockpiled more heavy-water than it is allowed under the JCPOA and is storing some heavy-water outside of Iran. Heavy-water is a proliferation concern because it can be used in a nuclear reactor design that produces large amounts of plutonium, a nuclear weapons fuel.
  • The Institute report also said that although a February 2017 IAEA report claimed Iran was in compliance with a commitment to limit its stockpile of reactor-grade uranium to 300 kg, it only met this cap because the JCPOA’s Joint Commission granted Iran exemptions to exclude several quantities of enriched uranium from the cap. Concerning the IAEA’s reporting on this issue, the Institute report said the IAEA was being forced to use “convoluted and potentially deceptive language.”

In his press conference Wednesday, Sean Spicer seemed to contradict an earlier statement by the State Department that it determined Iran is in compliance with the agreement. Both Spicer and State are ignoring violations like those listed above that should have caused the Trump administration to declare Iran in noncompliance with the JCPOA months ago.

Although the above violations are serious, it is worth stressing that Iran can continue making progress in its nuclear weapons program without violating the JCPOA since the deal allows it to enrich uranium with over 5,000 centrifuges, develop and test advanced centrifuges and construct a plutonium-producing heavy-water reactor.

As Israeli Ambassador to the United States put it in an April 14, 2017 Wall Street Journal oped, the JCPOA “is so inherently flawed that Tehran doesn’t even have to break it. Honoring it will be enough to endanger millions of lives.”

As I explained in my book “Obamabomb: A Dangerous and Growing National Security Fraud,” the Obama administration was fully aware of these concerns but agreed to the JCPOA anyway because it desperately wanted a legacy Iran nuclear deal for President Obama and probably did not view Iran’s nuclear weapons program as a serious threat.

Foreign policy careerists – the swamp — share the Obama administration’s views on the Iran deal and are working hard to protect it. They are claiming the only alternative to this agreement is war with Iran and that withdrawing from the deal would isolate the United States. In a November 2016 article I explained why these arguments are false and why it is urgent that the Trump administration kill or substantially renegotiate the fraudulent Iran deal.

Unfortunately, it appears that some Trump officials have been convinced to stick with the deal.

A major reason for this is because almost all foreign policy posts responsible for the Iran deal are staffed by Obama administration holdovers due to the failure of the Trump administration to fill jobs at the State and Defense Departments.

When Secretary of State Tillerson certified Iran was in compliance with the JCPOA on Tuesday, he added that U.S. Iran policy “is under review.”

Wednesday, Tillerson tried to respond to conservative criticism of his compliance finding by stating that Iran remains a state sponsor of terror and the JCPOA is an incredibly flawed agreement.

I don’t take any comfort from these statements because they remind me of the 2001 review by the Bush administration of the disastrous nuclear deal with North Korea – the Agreed Framework – which allowed North Korea to keep its nuclear weapons and was violated by Pyongyang while the ink was drying on the agreement.

The 1994 Agreed Framework was also strongly opposed by congressional Republicans and was supported by the foreign policy establishment which claimed there was no alternative to this deeply flawed pact.

The Bush administration repeatedly said North Korea was in compliance with this deal even though it wasn’t and completed a policy review in June 2001 that kept the deal but promised tougher enforcement.

The Agreed Framework collapsed when the U.S. presented North Korea with evidence that it had a covert uranium enrichment program that violated this agreement.

North Korea used the time and huge concessions it gained from the Agreed Framework to accelerate its nuclear weapons and missile programs. It conducted its first of five nuclear tests in 2006.

I fear history is about to repeat itself.

Tuesday’s certification that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA and statements by some Trump officials may indicate the Swamp will once again convince a Republican administration to keep a deeply flawed nuclear agreement with a rogue state negotiated by a prior Democratic administration.

Meanwhile, I believe Iran’s nuclear weapons program continues, probably in close coordination with North Korea.

Fortunately, there is still time for President Trump to get this right and fulfill his campaign promises to tear up, or substantially renegotiate, the fraudulent nuclear deal with Iran.

The first thing he should do is to tell Secretary Tillerson to immediately start filling State Department jobs that deal with the Iran deal with appointees who support the president’s position on this issue. — Tillerson also must be told to stop declaring that Iran in compliance with this agreement.

Most importantly, President Trump must publicly restate his strong opposition to the JCPOA to make it clear to his appointees and the Swamp that he will not tolerate a nuclear agreement with Iran unless it actually halts Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and also addresses Iran’s missile program, support of terrorism and its efforts to destabilize the Middle East.

***

Also see:

CAIR thinks the Muslim Brotherhood has triumphed. The Trump administration should prove them wrong

Belal Darder | AP Photo

Conservative Review, by Benjamin Weingarten, Aprl 5, 2017:

Back in January, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson broke ranks with his predecessors in a fundamental and dramatic way during his confirmation hearings.

“The demise of ISIS would also allow us to increase our attention on other agents of radical Islam like al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and certain elements within Iran,” said Tillerson, who would be tasked with leading the historically progressive Foggy Bottom agency that had actively partnered with both the Muslim Brotherhood and mullah-controlled parties within Iran during the Obama years.

Calling the Muslim Brotherhood an “agent of radical Islam” and lumping it in with ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Shia jihadists in Iran during prepared remarks signaled the Trump administration’s commitment to defeating radical Islam.

For in spite of its portrayal by the Obama administration and its media allies as a “moderate” organization, the Muslim Brotherhood is the tip of the Islamic supremacist spear.

Its credo, which it has never disavowed, reads: “Allah is our objective; the Koran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

It engages in activities both “peaceful” and violent, covert and overt, geared toward the goal of spreading Sharia over all the world.

As summarized in a recent piece for the Gatestone Institute, legislation re-upped by Senator Ted Cruz provides a wealth of evidence for designating the group as a foreign terrorist organization, including:

  • The many countries that have declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization or barred it from operating
  • The explicit calls for violent jihad, with the end goal of imposing Islamic law over all the world of the group’s founder and spiritual leader Hassan al-Banna, and the consistently violent Islamic supremacist content of the Brotherhood’s core membership texts
  • The terrorist efforts of numerous jihadist groups explicitly tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the efforts of individual Muslim Brotherhood members designated as terrorists by the U.S. government themselves
  • The litany of terrorist financing cases involving the Muslim Brotherhood, including the … Holy Land Foundation case, whereby:

Department of Justice officials successfully argued in court that the international Muslim Brotherhood and its United States affiliates had engaged in a widespread conspiracy to raise money and materially support the terrorist group Hamas …

Developments large and small are testing the administration’s commitment to countering Islamic supremacist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood — essential tests to pass if the president is to carry out his stated agenda to defeat radical Islam.

Mere months after Secretary Tillerson put the Muslim Brotherhood on notice, followed by news that the administration was indeed evaluating designating the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, recent reports indicate that the administration has now shelved this plan.

What changed within the first hundred days of the Trump presidency?

The Muslim Brotherhood and much of the foreign policy establishment carried out a concerted campaign to protect the organization from terrorist organization designation, producing a loud echo chamber that would make Ben Rhodes blush.

As documented by the Middle East Media Research Institute, as early as November 2016, the Muslim Brotherhood undertook efforts to develop a lobby and execute an information operation geared towards dissuading the U.S. government from pursuing actions against it.

The Clarion Project revealed that a senior Muslim Brotherhood official let it be known through the Arab language press that the group was putting $5 million behind such a public relations effort.

According to the Washington Times, officials from Arab governments like Jordan allegedly advised U.S. government officials against such a designation.

Meanwhile, fixtures of the foreign policy establishment took to publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Foreign Policy, publishing and/or providing comments for a slew of pieces defending the Muslim Brotherhood, while arguing that terrorist designation was either wholly unmerited, impractical, or impracticable. The New York Times notably gave the Clinton Foundation-linked, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad space on its editorial page to propagandize.

In early February, as these efforts were ramping up, Politico obtained a CIA memo signaling its aversion to Muslim Brotherhood terrorist designation, on grounds that it could “fuel extremism.” National security analyst Patrick Poole suggests that this was no coincidence. According to Poole, “the CIA and the U.S. intelligence community were directly involved in funding the experts who pushed the bogus ‘moderate Muslim Brotherhood’ narrative beginning in the latter end of the Bush administration.” More importantly, Poole suggests that this report is dubious in that it contradicts the recent intelligence assessments of several European nations and the CIA’s own prior analyses on the Muslim Brotherhood, which indicate the group’s continued devotion to its Islamist creed.

The State Department also apparently produced a memo advising against foreign terrorist organization designation, which may have been the decisive effort that caused the administration to drop the executive order.

Of course, as readers know, Obama administration officials continue to populate key positions in the State Department. They are likely supportive of his pro-Muslim Brotherhood posture. This leads to several questions. Among them: Who produced the Muslim Brotherhood memo at State? If it was not President Trump’s appointees, was the memo subjected to significant scrutiny?

Concurrent with the Muslim Brotherhood campaign, counter-jihadists in the Trump administration — and those most likely to support measures to neutralize the Brotherhood — such as Sebastian Gorka and Michael Anton were subjected to constant attacks. The targeting of these individuals came on the heels of the departures of counter-jihadists including Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and would-be Deputy National Security Advisor Monica Crowley, who themselves were in part victims of smear campaigns.

Last but not least, the president’s terror entry/immigration executive order, a lynchpin of his counter-jihadist policy, has fallen under siege, remaining mired in litigation.

In the face of this onslaught, did the president’s brain-trust deem an executive order aimed at designating the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization politically untenable?

Or was it that their philosophical view on the issue shifted?

These are critical questions demanding answers.

For what it’s worth, if the actions of its offshoots are any indication, it would appear that the Muslim Brotherhood believes it has won.

The Muslim Brotherhood-linked CAIR, an unindicted co-conspirator in the aforementioned Holy Land Foundation case, continues audaciously attempting to discredit and ultimately claim the scalps of national security officials who understand the jihadists’ threat doctrine.

Readers will recall that at the urging of groups including CAIR, under its “countering violent extremism” paradigm, the Obama administration engaged in a purge of the very training materials that would have provided national security officials with an understanding of the jihadist threat based upon the theopolitical Islamic supremacist ideology at its core.

It also waged war on the officials best equipped to train national security officials in countering the jihadist threat.

Judicial Watch reports that one such expert, Patrick T. Dunleavy, is now being targeted by CAIR for removal from his role as counterterrorism instructor at the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School (USAFSOS) in Florida.

According to CAIR, Mr. Dunleavy is an “anti-Muslim propaganda mouthpiece…[who] has made a number of false statements betraying a personal prejudice against Islam and Muslims.”

These attacks are self-evidently baseless and outrageous.

Dunleavy’s real crime, apparently, is his willingness to confront the jihadist threat and dedicate his career to waking others up to it, as he has done through his book, The Fertile Soil of Jihad: Terrorism’s Prison Connection, congressional testimony, and roles briefing America’s national security officials at institutions like USAFSOS.

That CAIR would strive to bring down Dunleavy, a former New York State deputy inspector general for New York’s Department of Corrections who has investigated jihadist infiltration of our prison system, is telling.

It means it believes the status quo is going to be maintained and it can continue to act with impunity.

The status quo means continuing to seek to silence and thus chill anyone who speaks openly and honestly about the jihadist threat.

CAIR’s actions can be seen as a proxy for the Muslim Brotherhood’s view as to America’s willingness to counter it.

The Trump administration can send a clear signal that it remains dedicated to defeating radical Islam by standing with Mr. Dunleavy.

Ben Weingarten is Founder & CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and publication services firm. A graduate of Columbia University, he regularly contributes to publications such as City Journal, The Federalist, Newsmax and PJ Media on national security/defense, economics and politics. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Did the Obama Administration’s Abuse of Foreign Intelligence start before Trump?

One clue: The Russia story is a replay of how the former White House smeared pro-Israel activists in the lead-up to the Iran Deal

Tablet Magazine, by  Lee Smith, April 5, 2017:

The accusation that the Obama administration used information gleaned from classified foreign surveillance to smear and blackmail its political opponents at home has gained new traction in recent days, after reports that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice may have been rifling through classified transcripts for over a year that could have included information about Donald Trump and his associates. While using resources that are supposed to keep Americans safe from terrorism for other purposes may be a dereliction of duty, it is no more of a crime than spending all day on Twitter instead of doing your job. The crime here would be if she leaked the names of U.S. citizens to reporters. In the end, the seriousness of the accusation against Rice and other former administration officials who will be caught up in the “unmasking” scandal will rise or fall based on whether or not Donald Trump was actively engaged in a conspiracy to turn over the keys of the White House to the Kremlin. For true believers in the Trump-Kremlin conspiracy theories, the Obama “spying and lying” scandal isn’t a scandal at all; just public officials taking prudent steps to guard against an imminent threat to the republic.

But what if Donald Trump wasn’t the first or only target of an Obama White House campaign of spying and illegal leaks directed at domestic political opponents?

In a December 29, 2015 article, The Wall Street Journal described how the Obama administration had conducted surveillance on Israeli officials to understand how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, like Ambassador Ron Dermer, intended to fight the Iran Deal. The Journal reported that the targeting “also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”

Despite this reporting, it seemed inconceivable at the time that—given myriad legal, ethical, political, and historical concerns, as well as strict National Security Agency protocols that protect the identity of American names caught in intercepts—the Obama White House would have actually spied on American citizens. In a December 31, 2016, Tablet article on the controversy, “Why the White House Wanted Congress to Think It Was Being Spied on By the NSA,” I argued that the Obama administration had merely used the appearance of spying on American lawmakers to corner opponents of the Iran Deal. Spying on U.S. citizens would be a clear abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance system. It would be a felony offense to leak the names of U.S. citizens to the press.

Increasingly, I believe that my conclusion in that piece was wrong. I believe the spying was real and that it was done not in an effort to keep the country safe from threats—but in order to help the White House fight their domestic political opponents.

“At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism—activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.”

This is what systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection for domestic political purposes looks like: Intelligence collected on Americans, lawmakers, and figures in the pro-Israel community was fed back to the Obama White House as part of its political operations. The administration got the drop on its opponents by using classified information, which it then used to draw up its own game plan to block and freeze those on the other side. And—with the help of certain journalists whose stories (and thus careers) depend on high-level access—terrorize them.

Once you understand how this may have worked, it becomes easier to comprehend why and how we keep being fed daily treats of Trump’s nefarious Russia ties. The issue this time isn’t Israel, but Russia, yet the basic contours may very well be the same.

***

Two inquiries now underway on Capitol Hill, conducted by the Senate intelligence committee and the House intelligence committee, may discover the extent to which Obama administration officials unmasked the identities of Trump team members caught in foreign-intelligence intercepts. What we know so far is that Obama administration officials unmasked the identity of one Trump team member, Michael Flynn, and leaked his name to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

“According to a senior U.S. government official,” Ignatius wrote in his Jan. 12 column, “Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?”

Nothing, the Times and the Post later reported. But exposing Flynn’s name in the intercept for political purposes was an abuse of the national-security apparatus, and leaking it to the press is a crime.

This is familiar territory. In spying on the representatives of the American people and members of the pro-Israel community, the Obama administration learned how far it could go in manipulating the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for its own domestic political advantage. In both instances, the ostensible targets—Israel and Russia—were simply instruments used to go after the real targets at home.

In order to spy on U.S. congressmen before the Iran Deal vote, the Obama administration exploited a loophole, which is described in the original Journal article. The U.S. intelligence community is supposed to keep tabs on foreign officials, even those representing allies. Hence, everyone in Washington knows that Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer is under surveillance. But it’s different for his American interlocutors, especially U.S. lawmakers, whose identities are, according to NSA protocol, supposed to be, at the very least, redacted. But the standard for collecting and disseminating “intercepted communications involving U.S. lawmakers” is much less strict if it is swept up through “foreign-foreign” intercepts, for instance between a foreign ambassador and his capital. Washington, i.e. the seat of the American government, is where foreign ambassadors are supposed to meet with American officials. The Obama administration turned an ancient diplomatic convention inside out—foreign ambassadors were so dangerous that meeting them signaled betrayal of your own country.

During the long and contentious lead-up to the Iran Deal the Israeli ambassador was regularly briefing senior officials in Jerusalem, including the prime minister, about the situation, including his meetings with American lawmakers and Jewish community leaders. The Obama administration would be less interested in what the Israelis were doing than in the actions of those who actually had the ability to block the deal—namely, Senate and House members. The administration then fed this information to members of the press, who were happy to relay thinly veiled anti-Semitic conceits by accusing deal opponents of dual loyalty and being in the pay of foreign interests.

It didn’t take much imagination for members of Congress to imagine their names being inserted in the Iran deal echo chamber’s boilerplate—that they were beholden to “donors” and “foreign lobbies.” What would happen if the White House leaked your phone call with the Israeli ambassador to a friendly reporter, and you were then profiled as betraying the interests of your constituents and the security of your nation to a foreign power? What if the fact of your phone call appeared under the byline of a famous columnist friendly to the Obama administration, say, in a major national publication?

To make its case for the Iran Deal, the Obama administration redefined America’s pro-Israel community as agents of Israel. They did something similar with Trump and the Russians—whereby every Russian with money was defined as an agent of the state. Where the Israeli ambassador once was poison, now the Russian ambassador is the kiss of death—a phone call with him led to Flynn’s departure from the White House and a meeting with him landed Attorney General Jeff Sessions in hot water.

Did Trump really have dealings with FSB officers? Thanks to the administration’s whisper campaigns, the facts don’t matter; that kind of contact is no longer needed to justify surveillance, whose spoils could then be weaponized and leaked. There are oligarchs who live in Trump Tower, and they all know Putin—ergo, talking to them is tantamount to dealing with the Russian state.

Yet there is one key difference between the two information operations that abused the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for political purposes. The campaign to sell the Iran deal was waged while the Obama administration was in office. The campaign to tie down Trump with the false Russia narrative was put together as the Obama team was on its way out.

The intelligence gathered from Iran Deal surveillance was shared with the fewest people possible inside the administration. It was leaked to only a few top-shelf reporters, like the authors of The Wall Street Journal article, who showed how the administration exploited a loophole to spy on Congress. Congressmen and their staffs certainly noticed, as did the Jewish organizations that were being spied on. But the campaign was mostly conducted sotto voce, through whispers and leaks that made it clear what the price of opposition might be.

The reason the prior abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus is clear only now is because the Russia campaign has illuminated it. As The New York Times reported last month, the administration distributed the intelligence gathered on the Trump transition team widely throughout government agencies, after it had changed the rules on distributing intercepted communications. The point of distributing the information so widely was to “preserve it,” the administration and its friends in the press explained—“preserve” being a euphemism for “leak.” The Obama team seems not to have understood that in proliferating that material they have exposed themselves to risk, by creating a potential criminal trail that may expose systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection.

Susan Rice Wanted to Unmask Names in Trump Wiretapping

Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, April 3, 2017:

Three things.

1. You’ve been hearing recently about various efforts to get rid of Ezra Cohen-Watnick. The question was why did the CIA, McMaster and assorted insiders want him gone so badly. We now know why. He was looking into their version of Watergate.

2. This comes from Eli Lake at Bloomberg. This is serious stuff. It can’t be easily waved away or dismissed. It’s not a random conspiracy theory. This is journalism from inside the media.

3. This goes right to the heart of the scandal.

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.

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. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like “U.S. Person One.”

To recap, Obama used FISA requests to spy on Trump’s people. The pretext was communicating with foreign agents. The Americans being overheard by this form of interception are supposed to have their identities concealed. Except that Rice was trying to unmask them.

You never go full Watergate. You just never do.

The National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, was conducting the review, according to two U.S. officials who spoke with Bloomberg View on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. In February Cohen-Watnick discovered Rice’s multiple requests to unmask U.S. persons in intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities. He brought this to the attention of the White House General Counsel’s office, who reviewed more of Rice’s requests and instructed him to end his own research into the unmasking policy.

The intelligence reports were summaries of monitored conversations — primarily between foreign officials discussing the Trump transition, but also in some cases direct contact between members of the Trump team and monitored foreign officials. One U.S. official familiar with the reports said they contained valuable political information on the Trump transition such as whom the Trump team was meeting, the views of Trump associates on foreign policy matters and plans for the incoming administration.

Rice did not respond to an email seeking comment on Monday morning.

This is bad. It’s really bad. The media will shortly dig into their pool of excuses, but they were gambling that Nunes had nothing and that Cohen-Watnick could be gotten rid of and replaced with the woman who helped draft the CIA’s talking points.  But Trump overruled McMaster.

And now we have pay dirt.

The ranking Democrat on the committee Nunes chairs, Representative Adam Schiff, viewed these reports on Friday. In comments to the press over the weekend he declined to discuss the contents of these reports, but also said it was highly unusual for the reports to be shown only to Nunes and not himself and other members of the committee.

It was widely noticed that Schiff suddenly seemed more subdued. We now know why. Offense is about to shift to defense.

Rice herself has not spoken directly on the issue of unmasking. Last month when she was asked on the “PBS NewsHour” about reports that Trump transition officials, including Trump himself, were swept up in incidental intelligence collection, Rice said: “I know nothing about this,” adding, “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today.”

#Lockherup