Category Archives: spying

Cat Meet Pigeons

smoking-gunTrump has been tweeting again and this time he’s dropped the bomb on the Obama Administration’s alleged tapping of the Trump campaign.

Assorted Obama spokespeople have said that Obama himself did not order the wiretaps. Which many have taken as tacit confirmation that there were wiretaps but that the big O did not actually put them in place.

There is a bit of business about two separate applications to the FISA Court which grants wiretap authorizations for surveillance of agents of foreign states – but not Americans. And the wonderfully oily James Clapper told “Meet the Press”:

“For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the President-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign,” Clapper said Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Asked whether he could confirm or deny whether the FBI could have tapped Trump’s phones under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Clapper was unequivocal.
“I can deny it,” he said. “There is no FISA court order, not to my knowledge, of anything at Trump Tower.” CNN
That this activity was reported some time ago in the NYT is largely dismissed as the Times apparently relied on a report at Heat Street where the very excitable Louise Mensch reported that the FBI had been granted a FISA warrant.
Clapper has a bit of form as being willing to lie under oath but I can’t see any reason why he would lie in these circumstances when it is pretty much inevitable that a FISA application will or will not have been made and decided. There is a record and that record will come out.
At the same time, there is no reason to believe that Trump is not in possession of some evidence that his campaign was tapped. Otherwise, why make the allegation? (And, for sake of argument, let’s put aside the idea that the human Cheeto is simply a deranged lunatic liable to tweet anything.)
The  “Trump ties to Russia” story keeps surfacing as various members of the “intelligence community” leak material to MSM. There does not seem to be much there but what there is can be amped up and puts the Trump Administration on the defensive.  From his tweets and other statements, it is pretty clear Trump is, like many Presidents before him, annoyed with the leaks.
Unlike many Presidents whose response to leaks usually involves some sort of internal investigation, Trump seems willing to try and get to the source of the leaks. He has called for, and is apparently getting, a full scale Congressional investigation of his allegations within the context of an overall investigation of the “Russian influence” on the election.
One read of this is that Trump wants to put the Russian connection allegations on ice for a while and kicking the whole thing over to Congress might have that effect. It is a plausible explanation but it seems somehow inefficient. Very little reward for a significant risk.
My own sense is that Trump has, or thinks he has, a smoking gun. Something which will tie Obama and his administration to illegal activity. If there was a FISA application there would have to be affidavits in support of that application. There would have to be disclosure of the sources and methods whereby the DOJ (the only entity which appears before the FISA court) concluded that there was foreign agent activity at Trump Tower. And that would open several cans of worms.
It is also pure speculation. What is not speculation is that no one in the Obama administration ever, for a minute, believed that Trump would win. Playing a bit fast and loose with rules when there was a Hillary lock on the next administration might well have seemed like a good idea at the time.After all, the orangutang and his flying monkeys were hardly ever going to be in a position to find out.
If there is a “smoking gun”, Trump, by making his allegations and then calling for a Congressional investigation, is ensuring that its discovery will be the work of Congress and not the Trump Administration. Which is not to say the Trump Administration will not leave a trail of boulder-sized, glow in the dark, bread crumbs which even the thickest Congressional investigator will be able to follow.
Trump and his people know that if they are going to put the Russian claims behind them and, perhaps, tarnish the halo the MSM has placed on Obama’s head, the actual investigation has to be at arm’s length. Trump has got his arms-length investigation, now the question is whether he has the actual smoking gun.
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Credibility

The Big Zero is rolling out a few Generals and the Senate Intelligence Committee released some awful video about what gas does to people.

At the Childrens Table, Andrew Coyne asks “If not now, when?” and the Lying Jackal has found a moral crusade.

As Conrad Black points out,

Until recently, it would have been unimaginable to conceive of John Kerry as the strongman of the National Security Council. This is the man who attended political catechism classes from the North Vietnamese to memorize and repeat their accusations against his country of war crimes in Indochina, and, inter alia, ran for president in 2004 asserting that while he had voted to invade Iraq in 2003, he was not implicated in that decision because he did not vote to fund the invasion once underway. the new york sun

The rationale for a “strike” on Syria has gone from “punishing” Assad for his use of chemical weapons to propping up an incredibly lame President because he is the only President the poor Americans have. At least the latter makes some strategic sense.

Realists recognize Syria for the murderous sideshow it really is.

It is also a potential opportunity to brush back Iran and, more or less, destroy Hezbollah.

Michael Ledeen pointed out some time ago that the road to Damascus starts in Tehran. And that may very well be where a strategically effective strike should take place.

There is hard evidence that Hezbollah is aiding Assad. There is evidence that Iranian Revolutionary Guards are aiding Assad. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the intelligence agencies of the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and all the rest, have a pretty good idea as to where Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guards are headquartered.

Rather than a pointless exercise in Tomahawk throwing at empty buildings, it might be a good idea to send a few special forces people and some drones to clear these vipers’ nests. But, for God’s sake, don’t announce it. (And, for good measure, the same death from above could do the elements of Al Quada and the Chetcheyns no end of good. I am sure Mr. Putin would be delighted to help with the Chetcheyns.)

A good rule here is that you can’t go wrong killing thugs on either side. And you keep killing them. And you shut up about it.

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Open Source Intelligence?

Mr. Snowden now reports on the ways in which the US monitored Bin Laden. The Washington Post breathlessly reports every word. Between Snowden and Chelsea Manning a lot of semi secrets have been blown. (Some commentors at the post suggest it might not have been such a great idea to publish…silly people.)

So, a modest proposal: with the exception of actual operational detail before the fact – “Ok, Ranger 3, hit’em” – why not release all this wonderful intel product in real time on the net? The delights of Assad saying “What the fuck did you do that for?” The first moment Mrs. Merkel told her Finance Minister “What were we thinking on Greece?” The American ambassador in Afghanistan phoning home with the bad news that “Karzai is not actually our friend.”

Of course real intelligence agencies like Mossad will not play; but the big budget Team USA could provide information and entertainment with live transcripts of the bad guys’ email (and, for all we know, yours.)

Intel feeds now!

(Why let Glen Greenwald have all the fun?)

Update: I was just looking at the Black Budget Documents published by the patriotic Washington Post and came across this nugget:

20.1 billion dollars: Warning U.S. leaders about critical events
Warn policymakers, military and civilian authorities of threats, such as economic instability, state failure, societal unrest and emergence of regional powers.

A subscription to The Economist and, say, ten other publications, would provide ample warning given that no one is going to do anything about the collapse of Greece or the invasion of Georgia.

Net savings: 20.999 billion dollars – you can mail my 10%.

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