Unit 450, The Syrian Chemical Weapons Program Details

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

If you still think the chemical weapons attack was fake news, read on. Further, it must be stated that the Pentagon and CIA have extraordinary skills and ability to gather quality intelligence, intelligence that was gained under the Obama administration and did not stop the program but rather deferred it to Russia to handle. This was done under threat by Tehran to the Obama White House to leave Assad alone during the JPOA, the Iran nuclear talks. Obama complied.

For Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and for U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley to lay the blame at the feet of Russia and Iran for the Assad/Syria chemical weapons program was exact and right.

Further in 2013, a Syrian army defector gave testimony to Western officials and the United Nations on the Unit 450 operations.

Bassem Al-Hassan, the head of the Syrian clandestine unit for special assignments, was appointed the position after Muhammad Suleiman, another key aide to Assad, was assassinated in his home in August 2008, Western intelligence sources told Fox News.

The close aide to Assad had been on the U.S. radar, and is one of the individuals named on the Office of Foreign Assets Control Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN). The list names individuals and companies who pose as a national security threat to the U.S.

Hassan is also considered a very close friend and contact to Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard general, and has connections with Russian officials.

Western intelligence sources said Hassan was the head of Unit 450, Syria’s chemical weapons unit, and was responsible for any activities, including producing and ordering the weapons for the department.

Syria agreed in 2013 to destroy its stockpiles of chemical weapons as part of a deal brokered between former President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. A year later, then-Secretary of State John Kerry said that Syria’s chemical weapons were “100 percent” destroyed.

The statement came into question on Tuesday when a chemical weapons attack in an opposition-held town in northern Syria killed more than 80 people, including at least 30 children. The U.S. blamed Assad for the attack.

President Trump on Friday authorized to launch 60 U.S. Tomahawk missiles on the Shayrat air base, southeast of Homs, in retaliation to the chemical weapons attack. The Pentagon said the airstrikes will not eliminate the country’s chemical weapons supply completely, but reduce the government’s ability to deliver them.

Elite Syrian Unit 450 Scatters Chemical Arms Stockpile

Assad Regime Has Moved Weapons to as Many as 50 Sites

2013: A secretive Syrian military unit at the center of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons program has been moving stocks of poison gases and munitions to as many as 50 sites to make them harder for the U.S. to track, according to American and Middle Eastern officials.

The movements of chemical weapons by Syria’s elite Unit 450 could complicate any U.S. bombing campaign in Syria over its alleged chemical attacks, officials said. It also raises questions about implementation of a Russian proposal that calls for the regime to surrender control of its stockpile, they said.

U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies still believe they know where most of the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons are located, but with less confidence than six months ago, U.S. officials said.

Secretary of State John Kerry met Thursday in Geneva with his Russian counterpart to discuss a road map for ending the weapons program. The challenges are immense, Mr. Kerry said.

The U.S. alleges a chemical-weapons attack by the Syrian government on Aug. 21 killed more than 1,400 people, including at least 400 children. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday again denied any involvement in a chemical attack, but he said his government was prepared to sign an agreement banning the use of chemical weapons. Syrian officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the weapons.

Unit 450 – a branch of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center that manages the regime’s overall chemicals weapons program – has been moving the stocks around for months, officials and lawmakers briefed on the intelligence said.

Movements occurred as recently as last week, the officials said, after Mr. Obama said he was preparing to launch strikes.

A man affected by what activists say was nerve gas received assistance in the Damascus suburbs last month.

The unit is in charge of mixing and deploying chemical munitions, and it provides security at chemical sites, according to U.S. and European intelligence agencies. It is composed of officers from Mr. Assad’s Alawite sect. One diplomat briefed on the unit said it was Alawite from “janitor to commander.”

U.S. military officials have looked into the possibility of gaining influence over members of Unit 450 through inducements or threats. “In a perfect world, you would actually like to co-opt that unit. Who cares who pays them as long as they sit on the chemical weapons,” said a senior U.S. military official.

Although the option remains on the table, government experts say the unit is so close-knit that they doubt any member could break ranks without being exposed and killed.

The U.S. estimates the regime has 1,000 metric tons of chemical and biological agents. “That is what we know about. There might be more,” said one senior U.S. official.

The regime traditionally kept most of its chemical and biological weapons at a few large sites in western Syria, U.S. officials said. But beginning about a year ago, the Syrians started dispersing the arsenal to nearly two dozen major sites.

Unit 450 also started using dozens of smaller sites. The U.S. now believes Mr. Assad’s chemical arsenal has been scattered to as many as 50 locations in the west, north and south, as well as new sites in the east, officials said.

The U.S. is using satellites to track vehicles employed by Unit 450 to disperse the chemical-weapons stocks. But the imagery doesn’t always show what is being put on the trucks. “We know a lot less than we did six months ago about where the chemical weapons are,” one official said.

The movements, activities and base locations of Unit 450 are so sensitive that the U.S. won’t share information with even trusted allies in the opposition for fear the unit would be overrun by rebels, said current and former U.S. officials.

The U.S. wants any military strikes in Syria to send a message to the heads of Unit 450 that there is a steep price for following orders to use chemical weapons, U.S. officials said.

At the same time, the U.S. doesn’t want any strike to destabilize the unit so much that it loses control of its chemical weapons, giving rebels a chance to seize the arsenal.

Attacking Unit 450, assuming we have any idea where they actually are, would be a pretty tricky affair because”¦if you attack them you may reduce the security of their weapons, which is something we certainly don’t want,” said Jeffrey White, a veteran of the Defense Intelligence Agency and a defense fellow at The Washington Institute.

Within Syria, little is known about Unit 450 or the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center. One of the buildings is in a sprawling complex on the outskirts of Damascus.

Even high-ranking defectors from the Syrian military that form the core of the rebel insurgency – including those who served in units trained to handle chemical attacks – said they hadn’t heard of Unit 450.

The Pentagon has prepared multiple target lists for possible strikes, some of which include commanders of Unit 450.

But a senior U.S. official said no decision has been made to target them, reflecting the challenge of sending a message to Unit 450 without destabilizing it.

In some respects, officials said, the hands-on role that Unit 450 plays in safeguarding the regime’s chemical weapons secrets makes it too valuable for the U.S. to eliminate, even though the U.S. believes the unit is directly responsible for the alleged chemical weapons abuses.

The Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center answers only to Mr. Assad and the most senior members of his clan, according to U.S. and European officials. Attack orders are forwarded to a commanding officer within Unit 450.

If the Russians clinch a deal for Mr. Assad to give up his chemical weapons, any prospective United Nations-led force to protect inspectors and secure storage sites would likely need to work closely with Unit 450 and the research center, current and former administration officials said.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that President Barack Obama directed him to plan for “a militarily significant strike” that would deter the Assad regime’s further use of chemical weapons and degrade the regime’s military capability to employ chemical weapons in the future.

But officials said the U.S. doesn’t plan to bomb chemical weapons sites directly because of concerns any attack would disperse poison agents and put civilians at risk.

In addition to satellites, the U.S. also relies on Israeli spies for on-the-ground intelligence about the unit, according to U.S. and Israeli officials.

Though small in size, Unit 450 controls a vast infrastructure that makes it easier for the U.S. and Israel to track its movements. Chemical weapons storage depots are guarded by the unit within larger compounds to provide multiple layers of security, U.S. officials said.

Whenever chemical munitions are deployed in the field, Unit 450 has to pre-deploy heavy equipment to chemical mixing areas, which the U.S. and Israel can track.


Latest Obama-Rice Scandal Comes into Focus

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

What started out last year as an investigation by the Obama administration into Russian interference in our presidential elections has turned into the latest scandal involving both former President Barack Obama and his national security adviser, Susan Rice. The media are in full panic mode, attempting to keep the focus of the investigation on President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans, while trying to shield Obama and Rice from the consequences of their actions.

What has become clear during the past week is that the focus of the investigation should clearly be shifting from alleged collusion between President Trump’s associates and the Russian government, in order to influence the election—for which no evidence has emerged—to the role of the Obama administration in surveilling, incidental or otherwise, unmasking and leaking information about the Trump campaign and transition teams, for which all sorts of evidence has emerged.

The question for the Republicans, who control every congressional committee as well as the executive branch, is whether or not they have the fortitude and integrity to ignore the pressure from the corrupt, liberal media and to expand or re-direct the investigation wherever the new evidence compels them to go.

The latest development is the unmasking of former national security adviser Susan Rice. Rice was outed this week as someone who requested the unmasking of people associated with Trump’s campaign and transition team.

As Accuracy in Media reported in a recent special report, “Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice has now been implicated in illegally unmasking Trump campaign and post-election Trump transition officials in monitored conversations, according to Bloomberg News and Fox News. The story was originally broken by Mike Cernovich, who has more of the details including the cover-up of Rice’s role by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who was trying to protect Rice and Obama.”

In fact, Cernovich later revealed that his sources were people inside both Bloomberg and The New York Times “who revealed that both Eli Lake (Bloomberg) and Maggie Haberman (NYT) were sitting on the Susan Rice story in order to protect the Obama administration.”

The media went into full protection mode. A panel on CNN’s 360 With Anderson Cooper was confident that Rice had done nothing “improper.” Why? Jim Sciutto, CNN’s chief national security correspondent, who worked at the Obama State Department when Susan Rice was UN Ambassador, defended Rice, saying that this story was “largely ginned up, partly as a distraction.” CNN’s Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo also dismissed the story, with Lemon saying that the Susan Rice story is a “fake scandal ginned up by right-wing media and Trump,” and that he wasn’t going to be baited into covering it. What little coverage it received on the three broadcast networks’ evening news shows was focused on Rice’s claim that she had done nothing “improper.”

Comments made in February and March by former Obama administration official Evelyn Farkas, but only noticed and highlighted last week, did a lot to shift the narrative. But the establishment media refuse to acknowledge that shift, and are determined to keep Trump, House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Russia as the villains of what everyone agrees is an enormous scandal, if only they could agree on what that scandal is.

“It was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can before President Obama leaves the administration,” said Farkas on MSNBC on March 2. She also said that “The Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump’s staff’s dealings with Russians that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence” (emphasis added).

Farkas’ comments appear to serve as confirmation that the Obama administration was spying on Trump’s staff during the 2016 election. That was reinforced through the reporting of Fox News’ Adam Housley, who wrote that “Susan Rice, former national security adviser under then-President Barack Obama, requested to unmask the names of Trump transition officials caught up in surveillance.” He added that “The unmasked names, of people associated with Donald Trump, were then sent to all those at the National Security Council, some at the Defense Department, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan—essentially, the officials at the top, including former Rice deputy Ben Rhodes.” According to Housley, “The names were part of incidental electronic surveillance of candidate and President-elect Trump and people close to him, including family members, for up to a year before he took office.”

Note that Farkas said “we” when referring to intelligence issues, and the Trump staff’s Russian contacts. As the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, she left the Obama administration in 2015, yet she was boldly talking about intelligence matters and informing the Hill while out of office.

As for leaks, she told MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, “That’s why you have the leaking: people are worried.”

As that story was swirling, accusations that Rice had been requesting the names of intelligence officials listed in an intelligence report began to emerge, including a Wall Street Journal report that said Ms. Rice “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,” making the masking essentially meaningless. “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.”

Former prosecutor and National Review contributor Andy McCarthy wrote that “the reported involvement of former national-security adviser Susan Rice in the unmasking of Trump officials appears to be a major scandal—it suggests that the Obama White House, of which she was a high-ranking staffer, abused the power to collect intelligence on foreign targets, by using it to spy on the opposition party and its presidential candidate.”

He said that while it may not have broken the law, “The issue is not technical legality, it is monumental abuse of power.”

Before Rice was outed for her involvement in the unmasking and possible distribution of the information obtained from the intelligence community, she had denied having any knowledge of “the intelligence community’s alleged incidental surveillance of Trump’s transition team” when she appeared with Judy Woodruff on the PBS Newshour on March 22.

After the articles appeared this week citing Rice’s role, she went to the friendly confines of an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. Rice acknowledged her role in requesting the unmasking of certain people picked up in the incidental surveillance, but claimed it was normal, and nothing improper or illegal was done. “Imagine if we saw something of grave significance that involved Russia or China or anybody else interfering in our political process and we needed to understand the significance of that, for us not to try to understand it would be dereliction of duty.”

But Rice has a history of making provably false statements to protect Obama. Her comment about a “dereliction of duty” reminded me of her role in the Obama administration’s cover-up following the terrorist attacks in Benghazi. Yes, she lied on five Sunday talk shows about what led to the attacks on September 11 and 12, 2012. But in addition, our Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi identified another dereliction of duty: the Obama administration’s failure to send in the military to attempt to rescue the Americans who were under attack at the CIA Annex near the Special Mission Compound. Four Americans died in the attacks, others were wounded.

Rice also lied for the Obama administration when she said that Bowe Bergdahl, a deserter in Afghanistan who the Obama administration traded for five high-ranking Taliban terrorists, had served in the military “with honor and distinction.” This latest controversy further highlights why I recently questioned Susan Rice as an appropriate person to criticize President Trump’s credibility, which she did in an op-ed in The Washington Post. Rice must be put under oath to explain what she did with the names that were unmasked, who she was communicating with about it, and what Obama knew and when he knew it.

Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.


Watergate-style Wiretapping Confirmed

Accuracy in Media

A Special Report from the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Journalism; Cliff Kincaid, Director.

A very disturbing report has come out from Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Fox News that Hillary Clinton and six top staffers kept their Top Secret and/or Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) clearances after she left her Secretary of State position in 2013.  And they also kept their physical access to TS/SCI facilities and databases, which required those TS/SCI clearances, possibly up through the 2016 election and beyond.

The facilities are called SCIFs, Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities, pronounced “skiffs,” which are vault-like secure buildings or rooms for protecting the most sensitive intelligence and defense data.

Hillary and her cronies may still have their SCIF clearances and access even today in 2017.  The State Department has stonewalled Senator Grassley, Fox News and Judicial Watch for months, refusing to answer questions about such outrageous continued access to the most highly sensitive secrets by the most reckless and irresponsible official in all of history.

The Hillary staffers with continued SCIF access for bogus “memoir research” and book writing for their boss include Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan.

This raises the ominous possibility that the Obama administration deliberately spread raw wiretap intercepts of Donald Trump phone calls and communications throughout the government in Obama’s twilight days so that Hillary’s people could do the leaking of the intercepts, thus giving Obama officials “plausible deniability.” The Obama people could deny that “they” leaked anything, if it was Hillary people with illegal and potentially criminal SCIF access who may have done the leaking.

Intelligence sources tell Fox News that there was unprecedented “surveillance of Trump and people close to Donald Trump including some supporters for up to a year before inauguration,” disseminated through NSA channels with names “unmasked,” and circulated to the highest officials in the Obama administration—the National Security Council, Defense Department, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, and others.

Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice has now been implicated in illegally unmasking Trump campaign and post-election Trump transition officials in monitored conversations, according to Bloomberg News and Fox News. The story was originally broken by Mike Cernovich, who has more of the details including the cover-up of Rice’s role by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who was trying to protect Rice and Obama.

The wiretap surveillance summaries obtained by Rice “contained valuable political information on the Trump transition such as who the Trump team was meeting, the views of Trump associates on foreign policy matters and plans for the incoming administration.”

Thus they were illegal, Watergate-style wiretapping of political opponents, contrary to Bloomberg News’ pro-Obama spin.

This needs to be a high-priority matter of investigation.

The Farkas Farce

Obama and Hillary officials, recently out of government, retain contacts and access to remaining colleagues still in place within intelligence agencies and national security positions. These are holdovers who have yet to be removed by the Trump administration.

Former Obama defense official Evelyn Farkas was caught redhanded and flatfooted over her March 2 revelation to MSNBC that she had known about and encouraged the leaks (“that’s why you have the leaking!” she said) and the spread of raw NSA-type intercepts of unmasked names of “Trump folks” that The New York Times had just headlined (NYT: “intercepted communications of Russian officials, some of them within the Kremlin, discussing contacts with Trump associates”).

Fox News caught Farkas dead to rights and then caught her lying when exposed, trying to deny what she said on videotape, which had been broadcast to the world. She said (twice) that she had encouraged “former colleagues” to leak secret intelligence on Russia and Trump “folks;” and then when caught she deleted the words “former colleagues” in her new narrative and substituted “the Hill” (Congress).

Farkas even dragged out the phony Obama-Hillary claim that “17 intelligence agencies unanimously” agreed that Russia interfered with the U.S. elections, omitting the fact that the 17 agencies never actually signed off on the words put in their mouths by the DNI and Obama’s strong-arm political hacks, but instead stayed silent.

She also neglected to mention that very few of the 17 alphabet-soup miscellaneous agencies have any special expertise in cybersecurity and broad governmental responsibility—basically it’s only the NSA and Homeland Security. The rest of the 17 use cybersecurity merely to protect their own agencies, not U.S. elections, for example. Coast Guard intelligence can hardly be an expert at cybersecurity or Russian hacking of U.S. elections.

State Department intelligence—one of Farkas’ 17—is the same agency that failed to protect the United States from Hillary’s unsecured private email server.

Farkas fell prey to the ever-changing leftist media narrative. On March 2, the narrative (in The New York Times article shown on the MSNBC Morning Joe screen) was that courageous Obama intelligence officials sought to thwart the evil cover-up of this Trump-Russia wiretap intelligence by the incoming Trump administration—which had not done anything at all, not even taken office yet in December/early January.

Republican Counterattack

But then on March 4, the White House and Republicans pushed back on the criminal illegality of this massive leak factory of the most highly classified intelligence possessed by the U.S. The left then changed the narrative to bury their previous proud admissions of felony leaking of wiretap intercept intelligence of Trump for political purposes.

Former Obama official Evelyn Farkas was trapped. She had embraced the old narrative too quickly and too enthusiastically, and was left out on a limb that was cut off. The new narrative deep-sixed the “heroic wiretap leakers” narrative, and they pretended that the wiretapping never happened and that The New York Times had never said it happened.

The new media narrative was that Trump was lying about Obama wiretapping him, always with the reductio ad absurdum caricature lurking in the background of images of Obama personally shimmying up the telephone pole to physically wiretap Trump’s phones and no one else’s.

The new fake narrative is designed to evade the actual legal meaning (under FISA law, etc.) of “wiretapping” as mainly the interception of digital data streams of voice (phone calls), emails, texts, etc., or “broad surveillance.” “Wire communication” is the statutory language of FISA, contrary to the lying media’s acid attacks on President Trump who used “wire tapped” in quotes. It is still called “wires” under the FISA law.

Suddenly the lying media can no longer remember the technical details of “warrantless wiretapping” in NSA spying on Americans that they obsessed over, in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, and their outrage over this NSA intrusion into our privacy.

The Media Flip-Flop

Orwell described this process in 1949 in his classic novel of totalitarian government, 1984. The previous history is regularly put down the “memory hole” by the lying Ministry of “Truth,” to be destroyed so that a new contradictory history, a new narrative, is published as if nothing was amiss. The lying leftist media today is Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth.”

We are watching this happen right in front of our eyes, and we see the flip-flop literally from one day to the next. On March 2 and 3, the narrative was the heroic Obama wiretappers of Trump spreading and leaking the classified wiretap data. On March 4, President Trump tweets his protest of this Obama wiretapping of political opponents that targeted him, and the fake media’s new narrative flipped, feigning ignorance of what it said literally the day before.

The fake “Trump dossier” of bogus intelligence that was fabricated by a supposedly “ex” British agent Christopher Steele—alleging Trump collusion with Russia and nasty sex acts—lurks behind all of the political theater staged by the lying fake media and the Democrat deceivers. The FBI is now reported to have been using the (fake) “Trump dossier” as its investigative “roadmap.”

Devious Half-Denials

Britain’s GCHQ, the counterpart of our NSA wiretap surveillance agency, issued a devious partial denial laced with insult designed to distract: “Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president-elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.” (emphasis added)

GCHQ only denies “wiretapping” (within their scare quotes) of “the then president-elect” Trump—thus from the November 8 election to the January 20 inauguration.

They do not deny they “wiretapped” candidate Trump prior to November 8 or President Trump after January 20. Judge Napolitano specifically reported that the GCHQ spying was against “candidate” Trump as well as “president-elect” Trump, and GCHQ chose to deny only the latter, not the former.

They do not deny spying on Trump’s associates, who are not mentioned.

How slick. The GCHQ “denial” is priceless, deceptive and evasive.

Even more troubling is the fact that GCHQ director Robert Hannigan suddenly and unexpectedly resigned on January 23 after only two years on the job. Was he sacked in advance of a possible emerging scandal over the wiretapping surveillance of Trump? A GCHQ (partial) denial of wiretapping Trump coming from the new director’s spokesman on March 17 might be positioned to enable them to say later that they were not fully apprised of the former GCHQ director’s actions. A no-firing, no-disciplinary resignation can be suddenly changed into a was-fired, was-disciplined sacking if ever needed. How convenient.

Keep in mind that the GCHQ traces its history back to its wartime origins at Bletchley Park, where codebreakers parsed every word of meaning in order to crack the German Enigma codes. They know that words have meanings.

Codebreaking often turns on subtle nuances of wording. Nautical language in a partially deciphered message, for example, is a clue that the rest of message deals with ships and navies, thus helping codebreakers to decrypt the rest of the intercepted message. GCHQ knows how to exploit those word tricks to their advantage. They made no mistake in their weasel-worded half-denial of wiretapping Trump. It was no careless slip of the tongue verbiage.

NSA Doubletalk

Equally devious was NSA Director Mike Rogers in his testimony on March 20 to the House Intelligence Committee that he and the NSA did not ask the British to “wiretap” Trump. But that is not what Judge Napolitano said (see quote below). This “wiretap” wording leaves it ambiguous as to whether he means the ridiculous climbing-the-telephone-pole physical “wiretap,” or what President Trump and sane people mean—the digital tapping of voice and data streams at an NSA computer console.

Like GCHQ, NSA chief Rogers dropped Trump’s associates from his narrative so his answer was solely about Trump personally being “wiretapped.” And Rogers says he has seen “no evidence” that Obama officials asked the British to wiretap Trump, without explaining how he could possibly know about all the activities of all of Obama’s officials.

In any case, that’s not what Judge Napolitano said on March 14:  His three sources said very plainly that Obama officials went directly to the British, bypassing the NSA, bypassing the “chain of command” of the NSA and NSA Director Rogers, etc. This bypassing of the NSA was apparently illegal and a felony. It was a convenient setup for NSA director Rogers to deny that he had anything to do with it or even to “know” about it. And did he ever suspect it without directly “knowing” it was being done?

Judge Napolitano said all that legal NSA procedure was bypassed:

“Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn’t use the NSA. He didn’t use the CIA. He didn’t use the FBI, and he didn’t use Department of Justice. He used GCHQ.

“What the heck is GCHQ? That’s the initials for the British spying agency. They have 24/7 access to the NSA database.

“So by simply having two people go to them saying, ‘President Obama needs transcripts of conversations involving candidate Trump, conversations involving president-elect Trump,’ he’s able to get it, and there’s no American fingerprints on this.” (emphasis added)

AIM has confirmed Judge Napolitano’s account from one of his three sources and found other confirmation of the likely procedure used, from a former NSA/CIA contractor. Judge Napolitano was suspended by Fox News for a week for revealing the GCHQ spying on Trump, but returned saying he and his sources stood by what he had reported.

FBI Director James Comey likewise made a devious half-denial to the House Intelligence Committee on March 20: He testified that the FBI internally has no information about wiretapping of Trump, nothing “inside the FBI.” What about “outside the FBI?” He did not say the NSA or CIA or DNI, etc., had no information, only his own agency.

But it is standard operating procedure within the U.S. Intelligence Community, or “IC,” that when highly sensitive intelligence is shared with other agencies within the IC, “sources and methods” are normally concealed or masked. If the FBI received such wiretap surveillance data on Trump from the NSA, CIA or British GCHQ they would not necessarily know it came from wiretap surveillance because that fact itself is a sensitive “source and method” and would be redacted, disguised or masked.

As we have pointed out at AIM, it has been long-standing procedure pursuant to “UKUSA” intelligence agreements that British GCHQ staff physically stationed at NSA headquarters in Maryland use NSA computer terminals and other equipment to spy on U.S. citizens designated by the NSA—or now, it appears, designated through the direct intervention of high-level Obama officials, thus bypassing the NSA itself.

Former DIA intelligence officer Mike Pregent has explained how a process of “reverse targeting” is used to turn “incidental collection” of NSA-type wiretap surveillance into direct targeting, as in the case of Trump. This ruse bypasses the need for new FISA warrants by repurposing old existing blanket FISA warrants for essentially global surveillance. The intercepted raw data on Russians are scrutinized for Trump data, which is then unmasked, spread and leaked.

It is Watergate by digital burglary.


First They Came for Judge Napolitano

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

An admitted CIA mouthpiece writing for The Washington Post receives classified information and publishes it. He remains in good standing at the paper. Yet the Senior Judicial Analyst for Fox News offers his informed opinion that the British helped conduct surveillance on President Trump and is suspended for several days from on-air appearances.

This action by Fox News reflects disrespect for someone who has worked for the channel since 1998. It sends a message that the intelligence community, here and abroad, cannot be investigated.

Since the British NSA, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had issued a denial of what Napolitano had said, the feeling of most of the media (and the management of Fox News Channel) was apparently that this was the Gospel and must not be challenged.

The scalp of Judge Napolitano will forever be nailed to the wall of Fox News, setting an example of what happens when the establishment narrative about Russia and Trump is undermined. Napolitano was made into an example of what happens when the intelligence agencies are embarrassed.

We understand that journalists use intelligence officials as anonymous sources and therefore accommodate them. But when a commentator like Napolitano breaks the mold with information that embarrasses the intelligence community, he must be supported, not punished with a suspension. Otherwise, the notion of a free and independent press is a joke.

Meanwhile, an anchor for Fox News, gay activist Shepard Smith, makes a mockery of conservative values on a regular basis and continues to enjoy the blessings of the channel’s owners. This is what happens when a conservative channel takes its conservative base for granted and moves to the left in order to appear more acceptable to the rest of the media. Smith was actually designated to declare on the air that Napolitano’s report was incorrect. No details were offered on what investigations were done, if any, to question the sources behind his claims. One source came forward to validate what the judge had said.

His “return” was instructive and quite uncomfortable. Host Bill Hemmer offered a lame joke that Napolitano “had a few quiet days” and “likely needed them.” Napolitano said he stood by his report that the British played a role in the surveillance, “and the sources stand by it.”

Meanwhile, over at The Washington Post, CIA mouthpiece David Ignatius is still on the payroll of Jeff Bezos, the Amazon billionaire owner of the paper with CIA and NSA connections. Little is said or reported about this curious arrangement.

The Post is an example of the corporate marriage between the media and intelligence establishments. It has become a weapon in the arsenal of the Democratic Party and the Obama officials still ensconced in the intelligence agencies.

As we should all know by now, Ignatius received an illegal leak of classified information about conversations involving Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, and reported them in the paper. Both the leak and the publication of the information constitute potential felonies under the law.

Ignatius continues to write from the viewpoint of those who want to use anonymous sources to destroy the Trump presidency. His latest column is a blast at the courageous head of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), for continuing to probe the issues of illegal leaks and illegal surveillance of the Trump team. Ignatius knows the trail leads to his desk and then to a high-ranking Obama official in the CIA, NSA or FBI.

His obvious conflict of interest is cause for concern among anyone with a remote sense of journalistic ethics.

But the Post, whose owner Jeff Bezos does business with the CIA and NSA, looks the other way.

Incredibly, Ignatius tried to turn the tables on Nunes, saying, “He needs to demonstrate that he’s the chairman of a bipartisan oversight panel trusted with the nation’s secrets, rather than a conduit for information from the Trump White House.”

For the record, nobody knows the identity of the source that provided evidence to Nunes of improper or illegal surveillance of the Trump team. It is completely absurd, however, for Ignatius to posture as someone concerned about the protection of “the nation’s secrets.”

Our column, “Investigate and Prosecute the Press,” remains as valid today as when we published it.

In a promotional advertisement trying to drum up subscriptions, the Post declares, “Democracy needs great journalism. Great journalism needs you.”

Bezos ought to be indicted for false advertising and consumer fraud. He ought to be invited to testify after Nunes is done with Ignatius.

Indeed, Ignatius ought to be hauled in front of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and grilled on his relationship with the anonymous sources who provided him with classified information.

Nunes just might have the guts to do this. But it’s clear that the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr (NC), is in over his head, and is letting the ranking minority member, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), virtually run the hearings on the Senate side.

In their “Statement on Inquiry into Russian Intelligence Activities,” Burr and Warner didn’t indicate any effort would be undertaken to discover the source of the illegal leaks and whether surveillance of the Trump team had taken place.

No wonder the Post wants to destroy Nunes. He is standing in the way of the establishment reasserting the primacy of their narrative on the Russians and Trump. They got Napolitano’s scalp; now they want to get that of Nunes.

  • Call 202- 225-4121 and support Rep. Nunes, urging him to hold the media and the intelligence community accountable for illegal leaks of classified information.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.


The Denise Simon Experience – 03/30/17

The Denise Simon Experience

Hosted by DENISE SIMON, the Senior Research / Intelligence Analyst for Foreign and Domestic Policy for numerous flag officers and intelligence organizations.


THURSDAYS: 9:00 PM (eastern) on:

WJHC – Talk 107.5FM
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And on her Digital Flagship Station: RED NATION RISING RADIO – The NEW Dominant Force in Conservative Talk Radio

#RedNationRising #Radio


Media Kiss Brass as America’s Enemies Grow Stronger

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

With massive leaks of classified information, some of them stemming from undiscovered moles in the intelligence community, the media continue treating former officials of the CIA and NSA who have presided over this debacle with honor and respect.

The Business Insider article, “7 things the CIA looks for when recruiting people,” is one of the worst examples of this obsequiousness. It is a plug for a book by former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror. Hayden was once photographed with former CIA/NSA analyst Edward Snowden, who fled to Moscow after disclosing classified information that helped our enemies. Snowden posted the photograph on his Twitter page.

Hayden can’t be personally faulted for Snowden’s betrayal, but the series of leaks from the intelligence community certainly has cast doubt over hiring practices within the CIA and the NSA. Ironically, this is the subject that Business Insider wanted to know more about. In a video interview with the publication, Hayden “explains what the Central Intelligence Agency looks for in a candidate.” He listed the following characteristics as being attractive in a candidate: a second language, life experience, success, foreign travel and living in a foreign country.

He failed to mention love of country and living a moral lifestyle. He did say that the CIA goes to college fairs looking for candidates, and “We go to Arab-American week up in Dearborn, Michigan.” He explained, “Have a big tent up there where we talk to Americans of Arab descent. We recruit just like any other enterprise.”

The recruitment of Muslims during an “age of terror” involving radical Islamic terrorism is obviously problematic. But the idea of recruiting college students is also questionable. I asked former CIA intelligence officer Michael Scheuer who was behind the most recent leak of classified information from the CIA and he suggested it might be a product of our “rotten educational system that offers nothing in civic education or loyalty to the country.”

Scheuer, who ran the Osama bin Laden unit and retired in 2004 after a 22-year career, told me in an interview that when he joined the agency he was interrogated over potential background problems such as homosexuality and narcotics. By contrast, Obama’s CIA director John Brennan said he joined the agency after voting for the Communist Party USA ticket and got accepted anyway. Under Brennan, Scheuer noted, the CIA held a month-long celebration of LGBT “nonsense.” He added, “They’ve staffed the whole agency with it. The Obama administration definitely salted our security services and military services with people who felt like the Democrats are their protectors.” The implication is that these people may be behind the anti-Trump leaks coming out of the intelligence community.

The intelligence community is spared serious scrutiny for the obvious reason that journalists depend on their “anonymous sources” for news, leads and tips. In this case, the name of the game is taking down Donald Trump. But they could take America down with him.

Hayden wrote his own anti-Trump piece, “Donald Trump Is Undermining Intelligence Gathering,” for the March 9, 2017 New York Times. Interestingly, his book thanks Vernon Loeb, formerly of The Washington Post, for proposing that Hayden write his book. Loeb was supposed to be his collaborator but took a job with the Houston Chronicle instead. Loeb had covered the CIA and the Pentagon for the Post before becoming its metro editor.

With people like Hayden so clueless about the failures of U.S. intelligence in “the age of terror,” we have to wonder if the Trump administration will seek major changes and budget cuts in the intelligence community, which spends $50 billion a year.

Since President Trump first expressed reservations about the work of the intelligence community, the problems have only gotten worse. Scheuer told me that the recent CIA leak gives terrorists the ability to evade hacking tools that were used on their methods of communication.

But rather than examine the hiring practices at the CIA and other agencies, the House and Senate intelligence committees are mostly looking at allegations launched by anonymous sources from within the intelligence community against Trump and his “Russian connections.” These leaks appear to be the fulfillment of what Scheuer alluded to—the revenge of the Democratic staffers and sexual minorities put in place by the Obama administration. They have taken the offensive against Trump in order to protect their privileged positions.

Going beyond this dreadful possibility, the leaks could be a way to divert attention away from moles for Russia or China in the CIA and other agencies. This would be a classic case of communist-style disinformation.

Meanwhile, we can expect more damaging leaks, leading to possible terrorist attacks or blindness regarding the nuclear capabilities or intentions of countries like North Korea and Iran.

If this traitorous conduct within the intelligence community continues, and Congress spends its time on other matters, the only alternative Trump might have is to drastically cut the intelligence community’s $50 billion budget. Perhaps that would get their attention.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.


The Washington Post, Amazon, and the Intelligence Community

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

One of The Washington Post’s big disclosures on Sunday was a front-page story about President Donald Trump’s choice of a cemetery. It was the latest contribution from reporter David A. Fahrenthold, whose job it is to probe every aspect of the life of the new President, no matter how esoteric and trivial. On the other hand, when it comes to covering the paper’s owner, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and his ties to the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA), the paper is AWOL.

Bezos is known for Amazon.com, the world’s largest online shopping retailer, and said at the time he purchased the paper for $250 million in 2013, “The Post has the good fortune of being the newspaper of the capital city of the United States of America. That’s a great starting point to being a national and even global publication.”

During and after the 2016 presidential campaign and election, writes Cheryl K. Chumley of The Washington Times, a competitor, Bezos decided to “sic his Post team on Mr. Trump.” This is evident in the paper’s obsessive focus on Trump as an alleged Russian agent of influence, a charge also peddled by the U.S. intelligence community. She notes the CIA’s “shady background with media infiltration,” as well as the “present-day tight, multimillion dollar relations” between the Post (via Bezos) and the CIA.

This untold story involves an important global aspect of his business—the secretive Amazon Web Services (AWS), which specializes in cloud-computing systems for storage. It advertises its wares to the federal government by saying, “Our cloud services can be employed to meet mandates, reduce costs, drive efficiencies, and increase innovation across Civilian agencies and the Department of Defense.”

In 2015, Amazon reached $100 billion in annual sales, while AWS reached $10 billion in annual sales, according to Bezos’ letter to stockholders.

It appears that much of the growth for AWS has come because of relationships with the intelligence community.

Post reporter Amrita Jayakumar wrote a story published on April 23, 2015, mentioning that Amazon Web Services “is widely known for providing computing power to start-ups and companies such as Netflix and Airbnb, and media organizations, including The Washington Post.” The next to the last paragraph of the story noted, “The company also won a $600 million contract to design a private cloud for the CIA, and prevailed against a bid protest, cementing its status as a trusted vendor, analysts said.”

This is journalistic jargon designed to conceal the fact that Amazon’s bid was $54 million higher than IBM’s. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), which reviews contract-bidding processes at government agencies, looked into the matter and urged the CIA to re-open the bids. IBM eventually gave up the fight.

After the CIA began using Amazon cloud services, it was announced that the NSA was moving some of its IT infrastructure to AWS.

But how secure are these cloud networks?

At a conference in 2015, representatives of the CIA and NSA were said to be confident and happy with Amazon’s cloud services. “Intelligence community loves its new Amazon cloud” was the headline over a Fortune story by Barb Darrow on June 29, 2015. Amazon senior vice president of web services Andy Jassy said that security-conscious companies would use the same kind of services because they figured that “if the security and performance is good [enough] for the CIA, then it’s probably good enough for us.”

Now, that security is being questioned. The highly classified CIA documents released by WikiLeaks originated from an “isolated, high-security network” at the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia. The leaks involve tools that the CIA can reportedly use to hack smartphones, apps and other gadgets for surveillance. The hacking tools can be used against terrorists and other foreign enemies and adversaries. But the purpose of the leak from WikiLeaks, a known conduit for Russia, is to create the impression that the hacking tools are being used on ordinary Americans.

An AP story carried by the Post said, “It was not immediately clear how WikiLeaks obtained the information,” but that it could have come from a rogue employee, a federal contractor or penetration of a staging server where such information might have been temporarily stored. A staging server can be in a cloud.

Don’t look for the Post to investigate the source of the leaks. After all, it is dependent on similar leaks for stories damaging to the Trump administration.

But wouldn’t it be interesting to discover that one of Amazon’s cloud services had been penetrated by the Russians or their agents? It would mean that the paper is attacking Trump for ties to the Russians when an associated company was aiding them.

The Post is so bad on reporting on the CIA—in contrast to using information supplied by the CIA—that on February 20 it published an article from a former agency official who took a shot at President Trump without disclosing his own partisan connections. “I didn’t think I’d ever leave the CIA. But because of Trump, I quit,” was the headline, with the author’s bio as the following: “Edward Price worked at the CIA from 2006 until this month, most recently as the spokesman for the National Security Council.”

“Nearly 15 years ago, I informed my skeptical father that I was pursuing a job with the Central Intelligence Agency,” Price said. He added that he intended to pursue a career there. “That changed when I formally resigned last week. Despite working proudly for Republican and Democratic presidents, I reluctantly concluded that I cannot in good faith serve this administration as an intelligence professional.”

The allegations were picked up by many other media organs. “Veteran CIA Analyst Quits Agency Over Trump’s Intel Moves, Criticism,” was an NBC headline. “CIA analyst quits over Trump disregard for intelligence,” was the MSNBC headline. Mediaite ran with, “Former National Security Council Spox Writes Op-Ed to Explain How Trump Led Him to Quit CIA.” Real Clear Politics proclaimed, “Former CIA Analyst Edward Price: I Left the CIA Because Of Trump.”

But his alleged bipartisan credentials were a lie. This “professional” had been acting in an unprofessional manner.

The Post was forced to add a clarification which said, “This column should have included a disclosure of donations made by author Edward Price in support of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. In August, Price gave a total of $5,000 to the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party.”

It apparently didn’t occur to anyone at the Post to question this former CIA official’s credentials before running his misleading piece.

If the standards are this low for an op-ed contributor to The Washington Post, you can imagine that the owner’s relationship with the CIA will be treated in strictest confidence and never questioned.

The investigative engines of the paper were revved up to cover his purchase of the biggest house in Washington, D.C. Digging through real estate records, the paper determined that Bezos bought the house through a front company for $23 million in cash. The buyer of the house was identified as “Cherry Revocable Trust.” The Post unleashed its investigative reporters and revealed that Bezos was the purchaser.

The Bezos house is located in the Kalorama neighborhood, one of the most expensive, where the Obamas live. Just a coincidence, we’re sure.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.


Investigate This: Russia, Obama, Trump and Hillary

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

Once again the dominant media narrative has shifted overnight. Last week the media exploded with stories about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ admitted contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., the latest attempt to somehow derail and delegitimize the Donald Trump presidency. It is part of the narrative concocted by the Democrats and their allies in the media to claim that Trump won the election thanks in part to help from Russia. Collusion has been the word of choice, though no evidence has surfaced to support it.

The narrative changed over the weekend when President Trump sent out a series of tweets asserting that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped him “during the very sacred election process,” and that it was “Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

It turns out that the Obama administration, according to reports, did go to the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court to gain permission to spy, or electronically eavesdrop, or wiretap some members or elements of Trump’s campaign. They apparently were turned down back in June, and approved in October, after taking Trump’s name out of the request.

Former federal prosecutor and journalist for National Review Andy McCarthy examined how disingenuous the denial coming from an Obama spokesman was. In essence, it comes down to, “It depends on what the definition of ‘surveillance’ is,” and who is a “White House official.”

The media called foul after Trump’s tweets, and the word of the day became “baseless,” as in baseless accusations by Trump. They said he had “no evidence” to support these very serious charges against his predecessor, Barack Obama.

But the allegations of Russian influence were largely orchestrated by the Obama administration, and were ramped up when Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in November. That is when he decided to impose new sanctions and expel Russian diplomats, which never would have happened if Hillary had won.

Now, using his group Organizing for Action (OFA), Obama intends to continue influencing the political scene with a shadow government apparatus. OFA has been coordinating with groups such as the Soros-linked Indivisible. “Obama is intimately involved in OFA operations and even tweets from the group’s account,” writes Paul Sperry for the New York Post. “Run by old Obama aides and campaign workers, federal tax records show ‘nonpartisan’ OFA marshals 32,525 volunteers nationwide.” It has also raised over $40 million, according to Sperry.

The New York Times recently reported that Obama’s intelligence agencies kept documents related to the alleged Russian influence operation “at a relatively low classification level to ensure as wide a readership as possible across the government—and, in some cases, among European allies.’”

In other words, President Obama wanted information potentially damaging to his successor kept at the forefront of the national discussion whenever possible. It could be even better for Obama if there were Congressional investigations; that might distract Trump from rolling back Obamacare or the unsigned Iran deal. The Times also reports that the administration “sent a cache of documents marked ‘secret’ to Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland days before the Jan. 20 inauguration.” These documents were shared with Congressional Republicans, as well.

It should come as no surprise that the Obama administration would be aggressive, since the Obama administration waged a war on leakers, prosecuting more cases than all previous administrations combined, while harassing numerous media figures.

But while Trump appears to have stumbled by not producing evidence to support his claim, in fact his move may result in changing the narrative once again. Now the investigation could include Obama’s and Hillary’s ties to the Russians. After all, the same Russian ambassador who met twice with then-Senator Sessions visited the Obama White House at least 22 times during Obama’s presidency, including four times in 2016. Were any of those meetings about presidential politics? Hillary’s ties to the Russians have been well documented, including the Uranium One deal and Skolkovo, the Silicon Valley of Russia that provided them with dual-use technology and handed millions of dollars to Hillary’s campaign manager, John Podesta.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) argued on Fox News Sunday this past weekend that based on statements from Trump’s Cabinet appointments, they will be much tougher on the Russians than the Obama administration, including Hillary. Cotton said:

“If you want to know what a pro-Russia policy would look like, Chris, here’s some elements of it. You’d slash defense spending. You’d slow down our nuclear modernization. You’d roll back missile defense systems. You would enter a one-sided nuclear arms control agreement. And you’d try to do everything you could to stop oil and gas production. That was Barack Obama’s policy for eight years. That’s not Donald Trump’s policy.”

He might have added that you empower Russia’s ally Iran with more than $100 billion dollars, and a pathway to becoming a nation with nuclear weapons, to go along with its current status as the number one state sponsor of terrorism.

We at Accuracy in Media find the allegations of Russian interference in the election to be flimsy at best.

And as Andy McCarthy points out in another piece, the new Obama/media narrative that his administration was never surveilling the Trump campaign for ties to Russia, cuts against what they have been arguing for months now:

“Now that we’re supposed to believe there was no real investigation of Trump and his campaign, what else can we conclude but that there was no real evidence of collusion between the campaign and Russia…which makes sense, since Russia did not actually hack the election, so the purported objective of the collusion never existed.”

Monday night’s Nightline on ABC picked up on this theme, with reporter David Wright stating that “It’s important to note that there’s an equally outlandish narrative on the other side [besides Trump’s claim about Obama]. The other narrative, also in the mix, is that the Trump campaign may have colluded with the Russian government to meddle in the 2016 election. Again, allegedly. No proof of that either. No smoking gun of collusion.”

Brian Ross then added that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he had seen no evidence of collusion when he left the government in January. With the Republicans controlling every committee in Congress, as well as the executive branch, they should be able to shape the scope of the investigations. We hope they are just and honest, as well as tough and fearless.

Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.


The “Alternative Government” Vs. Trump

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

President Trump gave a good speech on Tuesday night, but his presidency is still hanging by a thread. Attorney Larry Klayman says an “alternative government” in the intelligence community continues to target him. “These intelligence agencies are more powerful than the president himself,” Klayman said on the Fox Business Network. “They have the ability to blackmail people in this administration to the point that the American people’s interests are going to be subverted.”

Klayman, the founder of Freedom Watch, said, “How can he [President Trump] represent the interests of the American people when he knows the NSA is likely wiretapping everything he says with foreign leaders and everyone else?”

It may seem like ancient history, but the media used to be concerned about surveillance of American citizens by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies. After President Trump was elected, such concern suddenly disappeared. In fact, the media became the recipients of illegal leaks of private conversations by Trump administration officials. One such leak forced the resignation of national security adviser Michael T. Flynn.

Claude Barfield, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), writes that there was nothing improper with U.S. intelligence surveillance of phone calls to and from the Russian ambassador. However, in regard to Flynn, existing law does not permit the NSA or FBI to “listen to the communications of Americans who may be caught in…eavesdropping.”

The allegation that Flynn violated “the ancient 18th century Logan Act that forbids diplomatic activity by private U.S. citizens is no longer relevant, according to almost all legal experts,” notes Barfield. So the wiretaps could not be justified on that flimsy basis.

Flynn was forced out on the equally spurious grounds that he forgot to tell Vice President Mike Pence about elements of the conversations he had with the Russian official.

Barfield says that “a criminal—and certainly civil rights—violation did occur with the public leaks of the details of his conversations with the foreign ambassador from someone (or some persons) in the intelligence community.” The leak violated the Espionage Act, which makes intentional disclosure of classified “communications intelligence activities” a felony. What’s more, citing Timothy H. Edgar of Brown University, it is also a crime for national security officials “to leverage legitimate foreign intelligence collection to reveal public information in order to damage [an] individual they do not believe should serve.”

It is well-known that Flynn’s appointment as national security adviser was opposed by elements in the intelligence community, especially the CIA.

Edgar writes that “Flynn himself may be the first victim of civil liberties abuse during the Trump administration.” He says, “If officials had concerns about Flynn, the law requires they lodge those complaints through the system and not through leaks.”

This means that some intelligence officials viewed Flynn as a threat and wanted him out, using any means possible.

Edgar suggests that Flynn call the ACLU for legal help, but a far better course of action would be to call litigator Larry Klayman, who says it’s clear that “the NSA is spying on the President, his White House, and the administration in general.”

Klayman believes that “loyalists to former President Barack Hussein Obama, Hillary Clinton, and their leftist comrades” are behind the illegal surveillance.

Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) told Newsmax TV that the NSA “can collect on the Russian embassy, no problem,” but that “when they collect on an American, whether it’s here in the United States or when we collect inadvertently on an American overseas, that information immediately should be what we call minimized. The name should be taken away.”

“Hoekstra explained that a court order must be granted in order to receive permission to release the name of any American captured by the NSA’s spying techniques,” the Newsmax story said.

Rather than be minimized or eliminated, the name was illegally leaked to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. We discussed this sequence of events in the column, “Why the CIA Wants to Destroy Flynn.” Ignatius quoted “a senior U.S. government official” as the source of the information about Flynn.

During his appearance on the Fox Business Channel, Klayman discussed this illegal surveillance and offered to represent Flynn in a legal action. He repeated his claim that the intelligence community was engaged in illegal surveillance not only of Flynn but of other Trump officials, including the President himself.

Klayman has asked for an emergency hearing on this matter from Judge Richard Leon, who had previously ruled in Klayman’s favor in a lawsuit against NSA surveillance. He said the evidence suggests the existence of an “alternative government,” based in the intelligence community, which is more powerful than elected officials.

On the same program, a clip was played of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, saying that the Flynn case represented an abuse of authority. He said that Flynn had his telephone call listened to by the government and leaked to the press, and that if this had happened to a member of the Obama administration, “you can imagine the Democrats in the House and Senate would be going crazy…”

Nunes said that, in order for the intelligence community to listen to an American such as Flynn, a special warrant is required. “I am quite sure this wasn’t done in this case,” he said.

The Washington Monthly, a liberal publication, published a story by Martin Longman that began, “When it comes to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, I have long seen him as an informal member of the intelligence community who often acts as their mouthpiece.” Longman concluded that “the intelligence community took down Flynn…”

The official bio for Ignatius mentions that he covered the CIA when he worked for The Wall Street Journal.

At the Post, Ignatius has expressed concern about whether Obama CIA director John Brennan’s “modernization” of the agency will survive Trump. “After interviewing several dozen CIA officers and veterans over the past several months,” Ignatius wrote, “my conclusion is that Brennan’s reforms should continue…”

Based on stories like this, it would appear that Ignatius is more than willing, even anxious, to advertise his CIA connections.

Any investigation of what Trump calls “illegal leaks” should begin with him.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.


How CNN Recycled Last Year’s Fake News

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

If you have any doubts about the basic dishonesty of CNN, consider how the channel not only broadcasts fake news but recycles it.

Remember that CNN “broke” the story about the “Russian Trump dossier” compiled by an ex-British intelligence agent for Hillary Clinton supporters. The document was opposition research against then-candidate Donald Trump, now President.

Despite the lack of any corroboration from any source, including hostile anti-Trump media or the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), after several months of secret efforts, CNN is now claiming in a February 10 story that its U.S. intelligence and investigative sources say that “some aspects” of the 35-page dossier “for the first time” have been “corroborated.”

Let’s examine this startling claim.

CNN is adamant as to how this is the very first shred of any purported confirmation of the “Trump dossier” ever to be found by U.S. official agencies:

Until now, US intelligence and law enforcement officials have said they could not verify any parts of the dossier.”

“The corroboration, based on intercepted communications, has given US intelligence and law enforcement ‘greater confidence’ in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier as they continue to actively investigate its contents, these sources say.” [emphasis added, here and elsewhere]

Yet these very same “aspects” were reported in the press in September 2016 as then under active investigation by “U.S. intelligence and law enforcement.” The latter are typical buzzwords for the CIA and FBI, which are indeed two of the main agencies CNN asked for official comment five months later in February 2017.

Did U.S. intelligence “forget” about their own investigations? Or did the CIA in particular simply wait several months and pretend ignorance of the September investigations in order to make an “aha” discovery that would be reported in a leak as sensational “breaking news” in February?

According to CNN, the intercepted data allegedly confirm that “some…conversations described in the dossier” actually “took place” and were between named Russians and/or foreigners. These allegedly involve confirming the existence of conversations between the “same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier” but do not confirm any of the “salacious allegations” about Trump (the purported lurid “sex perversions”).

But the “Trump dossier” is missing critical factual details such as many essential names, dates and places. So what is CNN talking about on the “dossier” detailing “same days” and “same locations?” The “Trump dossier” is almost devoid of any dates and locations of meetings of key figures, making its allegations suspiciously difficult to verify.

There are only two meetings in the entire 35-page “Trump dossier” with dates and locations of such alleged top-level meetings or conversations:

  1. Russian oil company head Igor Sechin supposedly meeting with sometime alleged Trump adviser Carter Page in Moscow about July 7-8, 2016; and
  2. Putin’s alleged meeting with ally and ex-ruler of Ukraine, Yanukovych, near Volgograd on Aug. 15, 2016.

A New York Times report similar to CNN’s indeed confirms that Page and Yanukovych are the targets of investigation using intercepted phone conversations, and that the “Trump dossier” is a major subject of review.

But the fact of Carter Page’s visit to Moscow was public news in a Reuters dispatch on July 7, 2016, and needed no six months of exhaustive review of “intercepted communications” to verify it. All one had to do was just Google it.

By September 23, 2016, Yahoo News was reporting that, based in part on U.S. intelligence sources who had “actively monitored” (or intercepted) Russian communications, the specific alleged Sechin-Page meeting was under investigation by U.S. intelligence sources. This, again, was easily discovered by Googling it. If the CIA “forgot” that it “knew” about this “monitoring,” officials could just Google the Yahoo story to help them “remember” its own investigation.

The same major media that fell all over themselves claiming they were so scrupulous in not publishing any of the “Trump dossier”—because they could not confirm any of it—in fact were leaking material from the “dossier” in veiled and not-so-veiled references as far back as The New York Times on July 29, 2016.

A Yahoo News report on September 23, 2016, reads like a long disguised excerpt from the July 19 report in the “Trump dossier” on the Page trip to Moscow, combined with the Reuters dispatch. Yahoo wrote that U.S. officials had received intelligence reports that during his trip to Moscow in July, Page met with Igor Sechin, a close Putin associate and head of Rosneft, Russian’s leading oil company, “a well-placed Western intelligence source tells Yahoo News.” Sechin supposedly discussed the issue of lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia, “the Western intelligence source said.” The same source said that Page met with another top Putin aide while in Moscow, named Igor Diveykin.

The “Trump dossier” says exactly the same things that appeared two months later in Yahoo News:

TRUMP DOSSIER, July 19, 2016, Report:

“Trump advisor Carter Page holds secret meetings in Moscow with Sechin and senior Kremlin Internal Affairs official, Divyekin [sic]…Sechin raises issue [of] lifting of western sanctions against Russia….Speaking in July 2016, a Russian source close to Rosneft President, Putin close associate and US-sanctioned individual, Igor Sechin, confided the details of a recent secret meeting between him and…Carter Page.”

(Steele report, dated July 19, 2016, all-caps emphasis removed)

Yahoo’s “well-placed Western intelligence source” very likely may be Christopher Steele, the ex-British MI6 intelligence agent, who was hired by Clinton financial backers to produce the “Trump dossier.”

Yahoo News went on to say that investigations of Carter Page and his Russian contacts were under way, including the “talks” that were being “actively monitored and investigated,” which sounds like the “monitoring” of intercepted communications.  Again, remember this is September 2016, not a sudden “first time” discovery in February 2017:

Yahoo News, September 23, 2016:

“The activities of Trump adviser [sic] Carter Page, who has extensive business interests in Russia, have been discussed with senior members of Congress during recent briefings about suspected efforts by Moscow to influence the presidential election, the sources said. After one of those briefings, Senate minority leader Harry Reid wrote FBI Director James Comey, citing reports of meetings between a Trump adviser (a reference to Page) and ‘high ranking sanctioned individuals’ in Moscow over the summer as evidence of ‘significant and disturbing ties’ between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin that needed to be investigated by the bureau.

“… a congressional source familiar with the briefings…added that U.S. officials in the briefings indicated that intelligence reports about the adviser’s [Carter Page’s] talks with senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin were being ‘actively monitored and investigated.’ [Emphasis added.]

“A senior U.S. law enforcement official did not dispute that characterization when asked for comment by Yahoo News.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer commented on this latest report on February 10, stating that “We continue to be disgusted by CNN’s fake news reporting.”

The CNN report is indeed fake news, old recycled fake news, dished up as brand new.

Why has there been no apparent progress in the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement investigation since September 23, 2016, given that this latest leak tells us nothing more than what was reported in September? Could it be that when something is fake one cannot find out anything more because there is nothing more to find? The tiny grain of truth around which the fake has been built (such as Page’s actual Moscow visit) was easily found in the original Reuters news dispatch.

Finally, something must be said about the hypocritical reversal of the media on what they were calling the rise of the “surveillance state” and the assault on our civil rights with the revelations of former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.

Now, suddenly, all that concern for civil rights is silenced when it comes to the much more intrusive actual intercepted conversations of U.S. citizens who happen to be connected to now-President Trump. Trump’s people apparently have no civil rights as far as the media and the “surveillance state” itself are concerned.