A special report from the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Journalism; Cliff Kincaid, Director.
(Editor’s Note: Public hearings on this controversy are scheduled for March 20 and 28 by the House Intelligence Committee.)
Senate Intelligence Committee leaders from both parties, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA), have issued a disingenuous statement that “no element of the United States government” surveilled “Trump Tower.” They dishonestly evade the fact that media reporting two days earlier had said that British intelligence operating at U.S. behest had likely been implicated in wiretapping Trump and Trump associates, all at the instigation of the U.S. government.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on March 16 that Fox News sources have reported through retired Judge Andrew Napolitano that then-President Obama had used two officials to arrange with the British NSA, called GCHQ or Government Communications Headquarters, to carry out the wiretapping of both Trump and Trump associates. (See this AIM guest column.) The British now dispute this claim.
This evasive use of British spying is done in order to leave no American “fingerprints” on the highly illegal operation, as the White House quoted Judge Napolitano. It is a long-standing practice under treaty-like intelligence agreements that British intelligence can use NSA facilities, and vice versa, for shell-game eavesdropping.
The trick is for the two agencies to swap places so that the NSA can deny they are wiretapping, and the GCHQ can deny that they are wiretapping. The Brits are trying to escape in between these moves of what a key expert has called the US-UK “wiretapping shell game.”
This is the first time that news sources have explicitly stated that Obama personally ordered the wiretapping of Trump himself, through Obama officials going to the British, though it has been implied in the past by the suspicious lack of any circumspect denials, even when The New York Times said on January 19 and 20 that “wiretapped communications” went to the Obama White House. No one in the article said “Obama White House—but not Obama personally.”
Consider how one important person—President Trump—got the clear media message that he was indeed the target of the spying: President Trump told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson that he read this New York Times story of January 20 before he tweeted about Obama “wiretapping” him. White House spokesman Spicer quoted from this article.