Reblogged from the WMR Report
Although it appears, at first glance, that President Trump’s charge that the Obama administration is without merit, the president may have an important and crucial ace up his sleeve.
On March 4, 2017, Trump tweeted: “How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” As is the usual case with Trump, his fingers type out words on his smart phone before he engages his brain. It would not have been Obama who ordered surveillance on Trump Organization phones in New York. The president cannot legally order such surveillance. The Federal Bureau of Investigation or the DNI would have asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), made up of U.S. federal judges, for a warrant to conduct such surveillance based on either a foreign intelligence angle regarding a “U.S. person” — thus involving the DNI — or a Title III criminal investigation wiretap order that would involve the FBI and Justice Department prosecutors. Such orders would have involved either Attorney General Loretta Lynch or Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
The eavesdropping story that incurred Trump’s wrath was published by that wellspring of exaggerated stories, Breitbart News.
The story was that in June 2016, the FBI/Department of Justice or the DNI
asked the FISC for a warrant to monitor the communications of Trump and officials of his Trump Organization and presidential campaign. According to Breitbart, that request was denied by the FISC, which has a record of generally approving all surveillance requests. In October 2016, so the story goes, a second, more narrowly-focused warrant is requested from the FISC to conduct surveillance of a dedicated network server at the Trump Tower that was only linked to two servers located at Alfa Bank, located in Moscow. The story about the FISC warrant requested on the Trump server comes solely from former British Tory MP Louise Mensch, a churlish columnist for Rupert Murdoch, whose two years in the British Parliament were highlighted by her membership on a media investigative committee where she defended Murdoch over the infamous phone-hacking scandal.
At the height of the Greek financial crisis, Mensch tweeted: “Fuck you, Greece. Nasty things happening to nasty people.” Mensch insists that the word “Zionist” is an anti-Semitic code word for “Jew.” Mensch has opined that Theodor Herzl, a founder of the modern Zionist movement, was anti-Semitic because he used the word “Zionist.” In 2012, Mensch told the BBC, “I messed with my brain [taking hard drugs] . . . It’s had long-term mental health effects on me.” That is perhaps the only truthful thing Mensch, who is married to Metallica manager Peter Mensch, has ever said. Mensch and former Naval War College professor John Schindler form a Twitter pair. The duo constantly reference each others’ tweets, especially if they are bashing Russia, Trump, or anyone who criticizes Western intelligence agencies. Schindler was fired by the Naval War College for “sexting” a photo of his genitalia to a woman not his wife.
Mensch runs a disreputable web site called Heat Street. Although an avid Twitter user, Mensch called for Twitter and Facebook to be shut down in the UK during 2011 riots. Ironically, Mensch accused the social networking sites of spreading false rumors, something at which she excels, as seen in her baseless claims of electronic surveillance of Trump and his advisers in 2016.
Although Mensch and Schindler are untrustworthy sources, there may be something to Trump’s allegations about electronic surveillance. On November 19, 2016, some three weeks after reports of Russian involvement with Russia had made their way to the U.S. Intelligence Community, courtesy of a controversial dossier compiled by former British MI-6 officer Christopher Steele, The Washington Post, reported that the director of the National Security Agency (NSA), the nation’s primary signals intelligence collection agency, visited Trump at Trump Tower in New York.
Rogers’s meeting with Trump was not authorized by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter or DNI Clapper, both of whom recommended to President Obama that Rogers be fired. Rogers’s meeting with Trump occurred on November 17. The Post article stated: “The heads of the Pentagon and the nation’s intelligence community have recommended to President Obama that the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, be removed. Rogers was one of the names floated by the Trump transition team as a replacement for Clapper as DNI. The Post article continued: “In a move apparently unprecedented for a military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday [November 17] at Trump Tower. That caused consternation at senior levels of the administration, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal personnel matters.”
It is quite possible that Trump was made aware by Rogers of an NSA contrivance, authorized by Clapper, normally used to circumvent both FISA and Title III requirements for judicial warrants. Had NSA been ordered to conduct surveillance of Trump Tower, using the excuse of a “training exercise,” applicable federal law could have been bypassed. WMR reported on such training exercises being used by NSA to conduct surveillance of phone calls between Secretary of State Colin Powell and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. In a conversation with WMR, Richardson confirmed that his phone was tapped by NSA while he was engaged in unofficial negotiations, approved by Powell, with North Korea.
The communications of U.S. persons identified in NSA training operations are to be “minimized,” or redacted, according to U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID), the NSA’s “bible” on the legal conducting of operations pursuant to FISA, and its amplifying regulations. Data collected on U.S. persons after the training exercise is also to be destroyed. However, as seen by the surveillance of Powell and Richardson and as accurately portrayed in the fictional movie, “Enemy of State,” which was produced with input from a retired high-ranking NSA official, that is not always the case.
In August 2016, Booz Allen Hamilton contractor for NSA, Harold Martin III, was arrested after it was discovered he and another unnamed individual, also arrested, had compromised NSA’s sophisticated digital network surveillance capabilities and cyber-snooping tools, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO), to a party that was not a foreign power. Martin and the other individual were in possession of TAO information called the “keys to the kingdom.” Rogers was NSA director at the time of the breach. There is a distinct possibility that Rogers briefed Trump on November 17 about the nature of TAO and how it may have been used to conduct surveillance of Trump Tower in the same manner it is used to monitor the communications and computers of the United Nations and foreign missions to the UN and consulates in Manhattan.
On February 16, 2017, CBS News reported that Trump screamed at Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo over reports that the intelligence community was withholding information from the commander-in-chief. There is a possibility that the CIA was involved in the TAO breach discovered in August that involved Martin and his unidentified colleague and that TAO was used to target Trump Tower, particularly after Trump secured the Republican Party presidential nomination in Cleveland at the end of July. Whatever is the case, relations between Trump and Pompeo are frayed. Rogers has remained at NSA and may be feeding Trump information on an unauthorized and illegal operation conducted by TAO in concert with CIA plants inside NSA or the joint NSA-CIA Special Collection Service in Beltsville, Maryland that conducts TAO surveillance in the field.
Trump is not an expert in U.S. intelligence capabilities or operations, so he may have only understood a small part of the story of the details that were relayed by Rogers in November of last year. If TAO “training exercise” were involved in eavesdropping Trump and his advisers and staff, it would, in fact, make Watergate look like a minor infraction by comparison. However, as president, Trump is empowered to declassify all or part of any such operation and provide it to the public.
Note: As we were going to press, it was revealed that the CIA maintains its own version of NSA’s TAO and U.S. Cyber Command, the Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI). CCI includes the Remote Devices Branch’s UMBRAGE group. A party, as yet unknown, has revealed the existence of UMBRAGE, as well as other operations in the CIA, including the Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), Mobile Development Branch (MDB), Automated Implant Branch (AIB), Network Devices Branch (NDB), and Engineering Development Group (EDG). A huge tranche of some 8,761 highly-classified CIA documents describing the CIA’s hacking capabilities has just been released to WikiLeaks by an unknown source.