Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Claire Zillman — How Obama’s National Security Advisor Landed at the Center of Trump’s Wiretapping Claims


What we know so far is that Susan Rice did receive unredacted intelligence reports in which US citizens names were revealed ("unmasked"). 

Rice admits this and adding that it was not illegal to do so and no political use was made of the information. She points out that "unmasking" is not leaking, which is illegal, and she asserts that she did not leak anyone's name.

Who leaked Michael Flynn's name to David Ignatius, who then wrote in the New York Times about Flynn's meetings with the Russian ambassador, remains unknown. 

Since this information improperly identifying Flynn publicly was obtained through intelligence, it is a felony offense punishable by a prison sentence of up to ten years.

Presently, I have not seen a comprehensive non-partisan objective analysis of the situation. The alternative is piecing together a scenario using different sources.

This is complicated by Trump proponents and the Obama/Clinton proponents spinning the story oppositionally and sometime in a contradictory way. So it is difficult to tease out where the truth may lie in these narratives whose purpose is to dominate the news cycle.

It has been established, however, that the Obama administration had specific intelligence about the Trump team, which had previously not been established. What they did with it is so far unclear, as it the identity of the leaker(s). 

Fortune
How Obama’s National Security Advisor Landed at the Center of Trump’s Wiretapping Claims
Claire Zillman

48 comments:

Matthew Franko said...

One or two sore loser political appointees at the NSC does not a "Deep State!" make....

Tom Hickey said...

The intel community is not supposed to provide unredacted (raw) intel to the civilian government without the civilian government official requesting it explaining why the unmasking is required from their perspective.

The obvious question here is how Rice knew to request the names involved, which included the Trump team. Was she informed by an intelligence official about it, e.g., Clapper or Brennan.

Even if there is a congressional investigation a lot won't be made public for security reasons, and Clapper was already caught lying to Congress to protect intel.

The big question is whether the actual leaker(s) will be discovered.

Down the rabbit hole again.

Tom Hickey said...

BTW, what this is showing is that US surveillance and dissemination thereof is out of control.

Col. Pat Lang: Did Susan Rice break the law? Probably not. She was probably legally able to obtain the true identities of Americans in these intercepts (otherwise known as US Person 32, etc.). Was that an abuse of power? It was. There will be more to come.

Bob said...

Don't you have to do an investigation of a future president in case there are skeletons in the closet?

Tom Hickey said...

Don't you have to do an investigation of a future president in case there are skeletons in the closet?

No. No fishing expeditions. Investigations of US citizens are authorized only for cause

Matthew Franko said...

Fox News guy who is covering this was on Levin yest and Levin (former DOJ) asked Housley if there were other GOPers names involved and Houseley said 'no comment.'

It depends on how the tool works technically, iow the tool might unmask any user of a NUMBER or group of NUMBERS and then, anyone using that NUMBER is unmasked from then on... iow it may just do a voice to text on any unmasked NUMBER and upload the text transcript to the person using the tool where ever they are ie DOJ, FBI, NSC, CIA, DIA, etc... ie there might not be much human involvement at the NSA (cuz "we're out of money!") other than setting the unmask command at the start once they get orders to unmask it and then it is up to the end users to monitor the storage and use of the unmasked information they compile ... and the standard SysAdmin function just logs all the activity for record purposes so they can see what is going on and/or what was going on by going back into the System logs at the NSA ex post...

so if they got Trump's NUMBER at the Tower unmasked then they might be able to take down all calls in or out of that NUMBER... so they could get transcripts of all of his calls with all the people he was talking to about the transition and new admin, etc... this is maybe why Trump said they "put a tapp on the Tower" ... they would have picked up a treasure trove on a slew of GOPers if they were taking in the Tower NUMBER(S) and anybody who was talking on those lines...

So the timeline where Rogers met with Trump at the new SCIF at the Tower in Nov and then the next day Trump moved his transition operation out to his golf course in NJ is perhaps revealing in this regard... And even now he is using his golf course in northern Va. lately maybe for the same reasons as those NUMBERS were not and are not unmasked while his Whitehouse converstaions were leaked with the Australian guy and the Japanese guy from the Whitehouse...

So he does not yet fully trust the NUMBERS at the Tower maybe MarALago or at the Whitehouse .. he's been using his Northern Virginia property instead... maybe he has been given assurance that those No. Va. numbers were never unmasked so he's ok with there for now...

This is only based on my (limited) knowledge of digital telephony in general .... I have no specific info on how the thing is really set up, etc.. but this is just the way I might do it if I had to do it...

Trump's not an idiot... other than he thinks "we're out of money!"...



Tom Hickey said...

There is supposed to be a separation between the US civilian government and the US intel services. Each of the US intel services has a mission. FBI is internal (domestic), CIA is external (foreign), DIA is military, etc. DNI oversees US intel.

The reason for this separation is not only organization but also to put leash on intel and government surveillance. Intel is perhaps the greatest threat to democracy, and surveillance the greatest threat to privacy. This use to be done though espionage, wiretaps, and bugs, but with digital intel it's a whole new ballgame.

In addition, there is a huge amount of intel ("data") collected, processed, sold and used privately. Government knows this and has opened backdoors to it, too.

The people haven't gotten a handle on this yet and are only now coming to know how deep and pervasive it is.

Matthew Franko said...

I think it could be handled with just establishing a more thorough administrative process of unmasking... maybe bring in the Congress on the approval process in some way...

Like get both the Chairman and minority ranking member of the House and Senate Intel committees to BOTH also sign off on any unmasking... might do the trick... you'd have all three branches and both parties in agreement...

Salsabob said...

IC out of control? No.

Try calling the Russian Ambassador and see if he talks to you; he won't because you are a nobody. Any US citizen that does get through to him and has a prolonged converstaion, I want our IC to know what that was about. You got a problem with that, you need to go try life under Tsar Putin.

Matt Franko said...

Salsa you still can't disclose the information...

Dave said...

Agreed salsa, if you speak to Russia and they want to speak to you, then don't be surprised if your unmasked. For an eleventh dimensional chess player, that should have been something Trump would have seen in advance. But alas, he didn't. And now he's in deep shit.

DAB said...

Rice has no power to unmask anyone.

She can ask, you can ask, I can ask, but only a handful of people in the intelligence community can authorize it.

Matt Franko said...

Unmasking would not be technically necessary IF the system transfers the entire transcript of the conversation to the user's client system in the first place .... THEN it would normally be masked at the client agency by an analyst... OR not...

Tom Hickey said...

Rice has no power to unmask anyone.

She can ask, you can ask, I can ask, but only a handful of people in the intelligence community can authorize it.


That is correct as I understand it from experts in that field that have served in that capacity.

She had to ask, give reasons, and someone in authority had to approve it.

This is no small matter in a democracy where civilian control of government is fundamental and the constitution and laws protect the people from government abuse of power.

It's delicate and the current "debate" is not bringing this out in the way it needs to be brought out and discussed intelligently.

There is a great deal of interest in these issues now though. The headline in the local paper (Iowa City Press Citizen) this AM was about the resurgence of Orwell's "1984."

Ryan Harris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan Harris said...

If you go back and listen to the hearings, in hind sight, the house members were telling the media where to look and what to investigate. Now I noticed, they are saying there is another person in the Admin. That people in the admin gave lists of names to search for surveillance prospectively. Names to monitor. Using the NSA. Domestic-to-domestic. AFTER FISA court denied request. This investigation could go on and on.

I hope it doesn't get in the way of single payer health care.
Dismantling climate change.
Infrastructure etc.
Cutting taxes and boosting the EITC.
Trump needs to be more left than the left and give the right their social issues and tax cuts too.

Dave said...

I'd like to know what the tweeter in chief plans to do about the chemical attack on civilians in Syria. Russia is claiming Syrian bombs hit a rebel cache, but no one is denying that chemical weapons were in fact responsible for the deaths of civilians, including children. Where is the outrage? Oh yeah, he blamed Obama. Sorry big guy, your the president. This is your mess now.

Penguin pop said...

"Trump needs to be more left than the left and give the right their social issues and tax cuts too."

I don't think he's even that smart enough to figure it out. Until I see anything like this, it's a pipe dream unless you take away his Twitter and get him to focus on anything but himself. You'd have to give him an incentive to even go even slightly more to the left. He's outsourced much of his policies to the Heritage Foundation as well.

Penguin pop said...

"I'd like to know what the tweeter in chief plans to do about the chemical attack on civilians in Syria. Russia is claiming Syrian bombs hit a rebel cache, but no one is denying that chemical weapons were in fact responsible for the deaths of civilians, including children. Where is the outrage? Oh yeah, he blamed Obama. Sorry big guy, your the president. This is your mess now."

His bullshit strategy is deflect and blame Obama and Hillary for every one of his problems, even 5 months after the goddamn election. The routine's getting old and stale and he needs new material. Seriously.

Noah Way said...

I'd like to know what the tweeter in chief plans to do about the chemical attack on civilians in Syria.

A reversal of Obama's policy would be full and immediate withdrawal from the entire Middle East.

MRW said...

Dave,
I'd like to know what the tweeter in chief plans to do about the chemical attack on civilians in Syria. Russia is claiming Syrian bombs hit a rebel cache, but no one is denying that chemical weapons were in fact responsible for the deaths of civilians, including children. Where is the outrage?

The White Helmets and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) are the ONLY ones reporting this as Russia and the SAA (Assad’s army)’s fault. You must be unaware of the falsity of the White Helmets, who gin up support for the AQ and rebel forces with staged videos. As Colonel Lang points out below, both the White Helmets and the SOHR are frauds and propagandists. Someone tried to get us to believe the chemical attack on Ghouta was Russia’s fault in 2013, and we nearly went to war. Then Russia used satellite imagery to prove that wasn’t the case, and Obama backed down. Israel and the John McCain faction nearly got their wish of WWIII with Russia.

Lang: The MSM is filled with "news" of a supposed Syrian Government chemical warfare attack in Idlib Province.  All of the reporting is sourced to SOHR (one rebel supporter in a basement office in Coventry, England) and rebel media in Idlib Province.  How do we know this really happened?  The rebels have proven themselves extremely capable of staging propaganda pageants and they do have chemical weapons.  They make them in Syria.  These are not ignorant people.  The "White Helmets" were a fraud.  This is probably another, but the Borg loves the noise, especially the hysterics on CNN and MSNBC.

These AQ connected rebels in Idlib have been conducting an offensive in northern Hama.  This has been turned back and the rebels are being driven out of Hama in the direction of Idlib having lost many men.  As someone observed here the standard rebel reaction to severe adversity is to claim a chemical attack.  pl

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/04/ghouta-redux-was-this-attack-real.html

As someone noted in the comments there: A key source for the story of a chemical attack is Dr Shajul Islam, apparently in charge of the hospital in Khan Sheikhoun. Some commentators have noted that in the middle of a mass casualty incident he was more concerned with tweeting and making videos than with attending to patients.

A bit more digging reveals that Dr Shajul Islam, who qualified in London, was struck off the UK medical register in 2013 (http://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.i1831). He had been arrested on returning to the UK from Syria in 2012, and charged with kidnapping two journalists: John Cantlie, and Jeroen Oerlemans. However the trial collapsed when the two victims failed to appear as prosecution witnesses: Cantlie had been kidnapped again alongside James Foley. It's not clear what happened to Oerlemans. This didn't stop the General Medical Council, which is not bound by the same rules of evidence, from striking him off.

MRW said...

Dave,
“b” runs the reliable Moon of Alabama website, and has scooped many of the US majors with his reports, often months before the NYT or WashPo. He’s ex-intel, lives in Germany. [Colonel (ret.) Lang was DIA director in charge of all covert ops globally, as well as many other illustrious assignments with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He still has his security clearance, so his explications are brief.]

“b” wrote this in the comments under Lang’s piece above: “
An AFP (al-Qaeda) reporter claims "the smell" hit him when he entered the hospital. He meant the gas smell. But Sarin does not smell at all.
https://twitter.com/AFPphoto/status/849289521892085760

The White Helmets "rescuers" worked without even basic protection. That pretty much excludes nerve agents like Sarin or they all would be sick or dead by now. The measures they took in the videos would not be helpful to any real victim.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oE6YjYyH1c
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTszOjAZNtI

A reporter from the opposition Orient News tweeted yesterday(!) that they would soon report on a gas attack in that place - "prediction"?!
https://twitter.com/WithinSyriaBlog/status/849240804556242944

The alleged "impact craters" shown on oppo TV of the "bombs" looked more like mortar craters and were in a widely open area. Where were the people when those "bombs" hit?
https://twitter.com/Gjoene/status/849276618711453697

The "doctor" who announced the attack first was jailed in UK for allegedly helping to kidnap journos in Syria. He was let go back to Syria (turned to work for MI-6?)
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/uk-doctor-key-iding-james-foley-killer-report-article-1.1913265

If Syria had gas would it not use it when militarily under pressure against the attacking enemy? Instead the army prefers to lose hundreds of soldiers?
Attack some civilians (why not AQ?) when it just won big in Hama and Damascus? Just days before new international talks come up? Just days after Trump admin said Assad leaving is not the priority no. 1?
IMHO: Whatever the incident was, it was no real Sarin attack and very likely staged


“b”’s other comment on the site is worth seeking out.

Dave said...

I appreciate it MRW, and I will definitely look into that further. Unfortunately, both sides in this conflict are guilty in my eyes, whether they actually directly caused the suffering or not. Use of violence always leads to innocents getting killed. The suffering is beyond description, and it would have been nice to hear some sort of humanitarian impulse come from the White House, not more of its Obamas/Hillarys fault.

MRW said...

Use of violence always leads to innocents getting killed. Wouldn't be war without it, Dave. Unfortunately.

Penguin pop said...

MRW, good information there. I also tend to trust people who actually have had their boots on the ground over there rather than what mainstream talking heads are saying to tell you the truth. It's quite a shame what's been happening in any case.

Tom Hickey said...

Thanks for having me the time of putting that up, MRW.

BTW, the same news sources in the West that are claiming that "Assad did it" are implying either that Putin staged a false flag in St. Petersburg or it was payback for Russia's attacks on rebels in Syria.

Anyone that would take such claims seriously is in need of a brain transplant.

And the people putting up this fake news that is risking wider war is disgusting in addition to be wildly irresponsible.

Are the bookies taking odds yet on where WWIII will break out, in Syria, NK, the South China Sea, or Ukraine? Or the odds on nuclear war in 2017?

Dan Lynch said...

Getting back to the OT of the phony Russian scandal & leaks, MMT's Michael Hudson claims to have inside knowledge that the DNC leaker was Seth Rich, the DNC staffer who was shot in the back.

"WikiLeaks, who actually got the information, said that it came from a DNC member who didn't hack it, who just copied the information, delivered it to him. And the hint that they told me when I was in London, was that this was... the hacker was the DNC worker who was mysteriously killed."

Bob said...

Will we make it to the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution?

lastgreek said...

Tom, check out Assad AbuKhalil's comment. As you know, he is no supporter of the Syrian rebels, but he finds the Russian explanation "unconvincing," and it's possible that a now "confident" Syrian regime carried out the attack.

http://angryarab.blogspot.ca/2017/04/gas-attacks-in-syria.html

Trump's not an idiot... other than he thinks "we're out of money!"...

Matt, you're too kind :)

Dave said...

Just read Steve Bannon removed from NSC. War with Syria on the horizon?

Tom Hickey said...

Here is Assad AbuKhalil:

There is high likelihood that the Syrian regime was behind the gas attacks (I am not expert on chemical attacks but found the Russian explanation unconvincing) although there is a need for a reliable investigation and I am surprised that Ken Roth of HRW (who never EVER makes judgements about Israeli massacres and attacks as he calls calls for caution in the case of Israel pending further on-site investigations) has determined responsibility within seconds of the news. If the Syrian regime is sincere in its denial (which I doubt very much) it should be eager for an investigation. But having said all that: for those among the rebels who pick and select children from among the victims (unless there are only children among the victims) and then to pile them up on top of each other for extra photo-op effect is nothing short of another war crime. It is mutilation of bodies.

Opinion. Nothing substantial offered. I would dismiss it as adding nothing substantial.

Tom Hickey said...

Just read Steve Bannon removed from NSC. War with Syria on the horizon?

Read it as Trump neutered.

This confirms The Saker's judgment of some weeks ago. It's over for Trump now. He is already a lame duck. He has been outplayed, as Chuck Schumer said would happen.

Much the same thing happened to Obama-Kerry when the US deep state along with the US military sunk negotiations with Russia on Syria to head off another deal that would have the US and Russia focusing on terrorism rather than the US removing Assad, partitioning Syria and allowing an Islamist government in Damascus even if it involved terrorists. This is the objective the neocons and hawks are going to push until they get it, even at the cost of WWIII.

The world realized then that the US president is not in charge and that it is useless negotiating with the US because the US cannot keep its word.

It should not need saying that this beyond dangerous.

lastgreek said...

Opinion. Nothing substantial offered. I would dismiss it as adding nothing substantial.

Agreed, Tom. But unless there is an independent investigation, all there is is just that -- opinion.

Joshua Frank‏ @joshua__frank 20 hours ago
Just read @MoonofA's baseless claim that the chemical attack in Syria is fake b/c White Helmets are rescuing. No moral compass whatsoever.

MRW said...

Bannon wasn't on the NSC. He is "Special Adviser to the President."

MRW said...

CNBC reports: Bannon originally served on the committee as a check against Michael Flynn before Flynn was ousted as National Security Advisor, a top White House official told NBC News. However, Bannon only attended one meeting and felt he was no longer needed in that role after the selection of H.R. McMaster as national security advisor.

McMaster, who Bannon wanted in the role, was given authority to reorganize the committee when he joined the White House, according to NBC.

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/05/steve-bannon-reportedly-removed-from-national-security-council-in-reorganization.html

I wouldn’t read too much into it.

It also notes: A filing on Tuesday in the Federal Register did not list Bannon as a regular attendee of NSC "principals committee" meetings, as he previously was. The change adds Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, back to the committee. It also adds Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who controls the nation's nuclear arsenal.

Despite the move, Bannon retained his security clearance, NBC said.

Bob said...

That is a ridiculously short post on the Angry Arab's blog. Looks to be something he threw up as a placeholder. We'll have to wait and see...

MRW said...

lastgeek,

Joshua Frank is not necessarily correct because he’s the editor of Counterpunch. Moon of Alabama didn't say the chemical attack was fake; he said that blaming Assad was suspect, and that the claims of sarin use don't add up. I put FAR more truck in Colonel Lang’s assertions, so I'm waiting to find out what he finds out. Lang's definitive statements are based on his extraordinary sources among the current military intel higher-ups and his contacts from his years as Military Liaison in Israel and Yemen.

Do you know who the White Helmets are? Vanessa Beeley has been doing a yeoman’s job for the past two years investigating them. She speaks the language and grew up in the region as the daughter of Britain’s Ambassador to various countries in the ME.

EXCLUSIVE: The REAL Syria Civil Defence Exposes Fake ‘White Helmets’ as Terrorist-Linked Imposters
http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/09/23/exclusive-the-real-syria-civil-defence-expose-natos-white-helmets-as-terrorist-linked-imposters/

List of her recent articles on the region:
http://21stcenturywire.com/author/21vbeeley/

MRW said...

This M of A post on White Helmets' videos is instructive:
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/10/assad-says-the-boy-in-the-ambulance-is-fake-we-show-why.html#more

lastgreek said...


Joshua Frank is not necessarily correct because he’s the editor of Counterpunch.


Of course not, MRW. It's just that everybody is jumping to conclusions.

lastgreek said...

Moon of Alabama didn't say the chemical attack was fake...

From MOA:

"The video footage, taken (when?) in a White Helmets base, shows "rescuers" spraying water on people who are claimed to have been effected by Sarin. If this were a real chemical incident involving Sarin or similar stuff these unprotected, unprofessional "rescuers" would be heavily effected if not dead"

Didn't actually say "fake" but it was inferred -- "if this were real."

MRW said...

Lastgeek, sarin isn't the only chemical weapon. They claimed sarin at Ghouta, but it wasn't. There's no doubt AQ, et al, have chemical weapons.

MRW said...

First responders at sarin attacks have to wear hazmat suits and gloves.

MRW said...

Lastgeek, you need to read the comments below Colonel Lang's post about this attack at http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/04/ghouta-redux-was-this-attack-real.html.

Some of his commenters are still active military in the region; many are retired and extremely knowledgeable about methods and procedures.

Lang is a tough motherfucker. Won't put up with nonsense spouted on his site. He'll ban you for what he considers stupidity, or write you privately to make you clarify yourself, as he has done with me quite a few times. As I wrote above, I'm waiting to hear what he finds out about the facts.

MRW said...

Lastgeek, I dont know how old you are, but did you ever see the original A-team series from the 70s? The cigar-chomping Colonel in that series was based on Colonel Lang's character and covert ops escapades in Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia with the tacit but secret permission and assignment of the head of the CIA. Jeremy Scahill details it in one of his books.

lastgreek said...

Thanks, MRW.

Tom recently had posted a link to a long article on the origins of the CIA -- excellent and well-worth the read -- and it got me thinking about Douglas Valentine's book "The Phoenix Program," which I had heard of but never got the chance to read. Looks like I'll be picking it up :)

MRW said...

buy the used copy on Amazon. Usually way cheaper even with the $3.99 shipping charge. ;-)

lastgreek said...

That is a ridiculously short post on the Angry Arab's blog. Looks to be something he threw up as a placeholder. We'll have to wait and see...

From his blog today,

Responses to my comments about Syrian regime and the gas attacks

Many comrades and friends have faulted me for jumping the gun on holding the Syrian regime responsible for the gas attacks.  I was a bit more cautious by saying that it is "most likely" in the absence of evidence to the contrary.  I am no expert and I know that caution is imperative amid an avalanche of Western and Gulf regime propaganda.  I don't above the regime but I don't absolve the rebels, although the use of fighter jets (if proven) would implicate the regime. A friend and comrade who is a professor at a major US medical school sent me this (I cite with his permission):

"There is no way that the Western powers could have determined virtually immediately the full nature of the attack and the culpability of the regime. They have not even done a forensic examination yet, not of the bodies nor of the materials involved. There is too much propaganda involved in packaging this story. You would think the English Guardian newspaper has a correspondent sitting in the Syrian defense ministry and being fed all the state secrets in real time.   And yes, As’ad, you jumped the gun too fast. This is not to say the regime is innocent, but that is different from firmly claiming it is guilty."

Dan Lynch said...

@lastgreek, what do you think of the possibility that the rebels had a chemical weapons warehouse or facility that was bombed by either the Syrian or Russian air force, inadvertently releasing some of the chemicals and causing civilian deaths?

I have no inside information to verify that theory, but it would explain everything we know about the incident.

The Syrian Air Force has destroyed a warehouse in Idlib province where chemical weapons were being produced and stockpiled before being shipped to Iraq, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman said.

The strike, which was launched midday Tuesday, targeted a major rebel ammunition depot east of the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

The warehouse was used to both produce and store shells containing toxic gas.