I Spy

NO!  This is not a rehash of the ’60’s TV show with Bill Cosby(never was a fan of that show)……

By now every American has heard of the CIA….and the NSA….and even the ultra secret DIA…..but do you think that is all there is to the intel agencies?

If so then you would be mistaken.

There is an even a more secret agency than any of the ones you thought you knew.

Ever heard of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency?

Of course you have not…that is until now.

If you’re one of the countless Americans who was distraught to learn of the revelations made by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, the mere idea that there might be yet another agency out there — perhaps just as powerful and much more intrusive —  should give you goosebumps.

Foreign Policyreports that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or NGA, is an obscure spy agency former President Barack Obama had a hard time wrapping his mind around back in 2009. But as the president grew fond of drone warfare, finding a way to launch wars without having to go through Congress for the proper authorization, the NGA also became more relevant. Now, President Donald Trump is expected to further explore the multibillion-dollar surveillance network.

Source: More Dangerous Than the NSA? The Massive Spy Agency You Haven’t Heard Of

There is so much more to our intel apparatus than what you see on cheap TV shows….and now you know a bit more than you did when you started this post.

Now do you feel safer or what?

You are welcome!

The Walls Have Ears

I begin my day at 0100 hours…..I read and post as I finish my research.  Most days I have two posts waiting for the earlier ones I post and then I set about getting my stuff together for the rest of the day.

And this is what happens when I take the weekend off…..

Today is Monday and the big news is this wiretapping accusation by the man in the White House….our fearless leader is a paranoid tool….and what better way to try and change the conversation fro his and his boyz involvement with the Russians and than a new scandal in the making.

Before I start let me say that I do not say this NEVER happened but I am a bit suspicious at the timing of this revelation.

President Trump started his Saturday with a series of extraordinary allegations against his predecessor. In a series of early-morning tweets, Trump accused Barack Obama of having his “wires tapped” in Trump Tower during the election campaign, the Guardian reports. “Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Trump tweeted. In follow-up tweets, he claimed a court order had rejected the alleged surveillance, wondered if it was “legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election” and said: “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!”

“I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!” Trump said in yet another tweet. He didn’t provide any evidence or make it clear what report he was basing the accusations on, though the Hill notes that Breitbart reported Friday on radio host Mark Levin’s claim that the Obama administration used “police state” tactics to undermine Trump.

Of course the Obama team has denied all such allegations…….

A spokesperson for Barack Obama says President Trump’s accusations about Obama wiretapping Trump Tower are “simply false,” NBC News reports. “Neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen,” Kevin Lewis says. The Obama camp wasn’t the only one denying the veracity of Trump’s claim, which came in a flurry of tweets Saturday morning and was presented without evidence. A senior US official says Trump didn’t speak to anyone in the government who would have knowledge of a wiretap. And a former deputy national security adviser says presidents don’t have the power to order wiretaps on citizens.

Nancy Pelosi responded to Trump’s tweets by calling him the “deflector-in-chief” and demanding an independent investigation into his alleged Russia connections, USA Today reports. According to CBS News, Howard Dean pointed out that if Trump Tower was actually wiretapped, it means a judge found probable cause of Trump being involved in something criminal. And Paul Ryan says he doesn’t believe the Obama administration was conducting surveillance on Trump. But Lindsey Graham said he was concerned about the accusations and promised “to get to the bottom of this” during a town hall meeting Saturday. In recent days, right-wing media has started accusing Obama of leading a “silent coup” to take down Trump.

This is starting to smell like a “Fire” moment that I have been waiting for…..the alt-Right has embraced this so-called incident with both hands….I expect to see the blogosphere blow up with these accusations.

But what promoted this outrage and accusations from the Prez?

So where did President Trump’s bombshell accusation that his predecessor tapped his phones come from? The White House tells the Fact Checker blog at the Washington Post that he’s relying on reports “from BBC, Heat Street, New York Times, Fox News, among others.” After an analysis, the Post finds that the two most important ones are from the right-leaning Heat Street and the BBC. (Other reports have cited an article at Breitbart News, but it relies on the Heat Street piece.) The two articles say that US intelligence officials went to the FISA court (which deals with intelligence matters) because they wanted to investigate possible activity between two banks in Russia and a computer server in Trump Tower (which, to make matters more confusing, might actually be located in Philadelphia). Excerpts:

  • Heat Street: “Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.”
  • BBC: It says Justice Department lawyers went to the FISA court. “Their first application, in June, was rejected outright by the judge. They returned with a more narrowly drawn order in July and were rejected again. Finally, before a new judge, the order was granted, on 15 October, three weeks before election day.”

Obama’s DNI has called this a falsehood (I would expect him to do so…so this is nothing new)……you would think that the leak atmosphere in DC these days it would a simple thing to find the FISA warrant, right?

The Fact Checker’s assessment? Even if the stories are accurate, and that hasn’t been confirmed, they do not say that President Obama was behind the request. Plus, they involve a computer server, not the tapping of phone lines. And, finally, they “do not back up the administration’s revised claim of politically motivated investigations.” As a result, Trump gets the blog’s worst rating of Four Pinocchios.

The man who was the director of national intelligence until January 20 wasted little time in shooting down President Trump’s claim that former President Obama’s administration wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election, reports the AP. “There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, as a candidate or against his campaign,” James Clapper told Meet the Press on Sunday, shortly after the White House demanded a congressional investigation into the issue. Clapper says he would have been aware of a “FISA court order on something like this. Absolutely, I can deny it.”

Now fearless leader is calling on Congress to get involved…..something they are good at…wasting time and money on investigations…..

The White House demanded on Sunday that Congress investigate whether former President Obama abused his executive powers in connection with the 2016 presidential election, reports the AP. President Trump leveled that claim Saturday when he accused his predecessor of tapping telephones at Trump Tower. But Trump offered no supporting evidence, a spokesman for Obama denied the claim as “simply false,” and lawmakers in both parties asked for proof. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement Sunday that reports “concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling.”

“President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016,” Spicer said. It was unclear what reports Spicer was referring to, and what prompted Trump to make the allegation. Spicer ended the statement by saying that neither the White House nor Trump will comment further “until such oversight is conducted.” In a series of morning tweets Saturday, Trump suggested Obama was behind a politically motivated plot to upend his campaign. He compared the alleged events to “Nixon/Watergate” and “McCarthyism!” And he called Obama a “Bad (or sick) guy.”

Is that really a good idea, Mr. President?

This could backfire on him.

Like I have said….stranger things have happened….but this sounds like an attempt to change the tone of the news…a diversion from all the Russian noise these days.

Instead of blaming Obama maybe Trump should look to his VP….whose side is he really on?

See what happens when I step away from the keyboard?  Sorry but Pence has a look about him….I would not trust him one inch…just saying…..

News Update:  FBI Director James Comey has waded into the controversy surrounding President Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped by Barack Obama last fall, the New York Times reports. Officials say Comey has asked the Justice Department to publicly reject Trump’s explosive claim, both because he believes it is false and because he believes it suggests the FBI was engaged in illegal behavior. The Times‘ sources say senior FBI officials are also worried that if the public believes there was a court-approved Trump wiretap, they might expect them to find solid evidence of Russian interference in last year’s election.

You just cannot make this stuff up…..this is looking more and more like reality TV…..what can we expect from a star of that genre?

Will There Be Freedom Of The Press?

Praise the internet gods!  My connectivity has returned……(for now)…….

In the past year there has been an uproar about “fake news”….both sides claim the other is the fake and no one but them can know what is true and what is false.  Of course when this type of debate rages there will always be one side or the other that claims something about the freedom of press, which usually includes that old thing about free speech.

I wrote a post earlier about “free speech” and what it means……

Source: That Thing Called “Free Speech” – In Saner Thought

The 1st amendment and the 2nd are about the only ones that most Americans know by heart (that may be a bit of a stretch)…..but just in case….

The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to gather, publish, and distribute information and ideas without government restriction; this right encompasses freedom from prior restraints on publication and freedom from Censorship.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, in part, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the press.” The courts have long struggled to determine whether the Framers of the Constitution intended to differentiate press freedom from speech freedom. Most have concluded that freedom of the press derives from freedom of speech. Although some cases and some legal scholars, including Justice Potter Stewart, of the U.S. Supreme Court, have advocated special press protections distinct from those accorded to speech, most justices believe that the Freedom of the Press Clause has no significance independent of the Freedom of Speech Clause.

Okay I got you caught up a bit……

The reason I brought up the quick lesson was because of something that is happening….looks like the FBI will have an easy time spying on journalists…..

Secret FBI rules allow agents to obtain journalists’ phone records with approval from two internal officials — far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures.

The classified rules, obtained by The Intercept and dating from 2013, govern the FBI’s use of national security letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. They have previously been released only in heavily redacted form.

Media advocates said the documents show that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants before accessing journalists’ information.

Source: Secret Rules Make It Pretty Easy for the FBI to Spy on Journalists

This does NOTHING to protect the concept of a “Free Press”….and Obama help this process before he left office……

Source: The Birth Of The “Ministry Of Truth” – In Saner Thought

Do you feel much safer now?

Fusion–Word Of The Day

We have added a word to the vocabulary that is a bit confusing…..FUSION.

Most people immediately think of nuclear power and such when the word is mentioned……We have Fusion food, the combining of several different cultures for a unique flavor…..then we have Fusion Jazz, to some it sounds like the musicians are all playing a different song but it is more improv than anything….and finally we have a Fusion Center.

Okay now…what is a Fusion Center?

Basically it is a program under the auspices of the Dept. of Homeland Security……

“A fusion center is a collaborative effort of two or more agencies that provide resources, expertise and information to the center with the goal of maximizing their ability to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and terrorist activity.”

Fusion centers contribute to the Information Sharing Environment (ISE) through their role in receiving threat information from the federal government; analyzing that information in the context of their local environment; disseminating that information to local agencies; and gathering tips, leads, and suspicious activity reporting (SAR) from local agencies and the public. Fusion centers receive information from a variety of sources, including SAR from stakeholders within their jurisdictions, as well as federal information and intelligence. They analyze the information and develop relevant products to disseminate to their customers. These products assist homeland security partners at all levels of government to identify and address immediate and emerging threats.

Beyond serving as a focal point for information sharing, fusion centers add significant value to their customers by providing a state and local context to help enhance the national threat picture. Fusion centers provide the federal government with critical state and local information and subject matter expertise that it did not receive in the past – enabling the effective communication of locally generated threat‐related information to the federal government. Integrating and connecting these state and local resources creates a national capacity to gather, process, analyze, and share information in support of efforts to protect the country.

Now that there is a general definition and description of what these are…I shall move one…..this story is by the Future of Freedom Foundation….keep in mind it has a Libertarian tilt to their reporting….

When it comes to mindless excess in the war on terror, it is difficult to compete with the 70+ fusion centers bankrolled by the Department of Homeland Security. They began to be set up around the nation shortly after 9/11 as federal-state-local partnerships to better track terrorist threats. But the centers have been a world-class boondoggle from the start.

Fusion centers have sent the federally funded roundup of data on Americans’ private lives into overdrive. As the Brennan Center for Justice noted in 2012, “Until 9/11, police departments had limited authority to gather information on innocent activity, such as what people say in their houses of worship or at political meetings. Police could only examine this type of First Amendment-protected activity if there was a direct link to a suspected crime. But the attacks of 9/11 led law enforcement to turn this rule on its head.”

Source: A Billion Dollars of Federally Funded Paranoia – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Oh goodie….another government program that gets lots of cash and accomplishes little……the American way.

FBI Agents to Infiltrate Political and Religious Groups

In these days of massive fear the country has allowed the police and military to invade their privacy on the premise that they will be much safer if these groups have access to your stuff.

I read an article that talks about the FBI and their infiltration of groups in the name of security……

Beneath the FBI’s redaction marks are exceptions to rules on “undisclosed participation.”

President Trump has inherited a vast domestic intelligence agency with extraordinary secret powers. A cache of documents offers a rare window into the FBI’s quiet expansion since 9/11.

Using loopholes it has kept secret for years, the FBI can in certain circumstances bypass its own rules in order to send undercover agents or informants into political and religious organizations, as well as schools, clubs, and businesses.

Source: Hidden Loopholes Allow FBI Agents to Infiltrate Political and Religious Groups

I am amused that people find this outrageous.

Has anyone out there ever heard of the COINTELPRO?  And yes this is another history lesson for you.

Between 1956 and 1971, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted a campaign of domestic counterintelligence. The agency’s Domestic Intelligence Division did more than simply spy on U.S. citizens and their organizations; its ultimate goal was to disrupt, discredit, and destroy certain political groups. The division’s operations were formally known within the bureau as COINTELPRO (the Counterintelligence Program). The brainchild of former FBI director j. edgar hoover, the first COINTELPRO campaign targeted the U.S. Communist party in the mid-1950s. More organizations came under attack in the 1960s. FBI agents worked to subvertCivil Rightsgroups, radical organizations, and white supremacists. COINTELPRO existed primarily because of Director Hoover’s extreme politics and ended only when he feared its exposure by his critics. A public uproar followed revelations in the news media in the early 1970s, and congressional hearings criticized COINTELPRO campaigns in 1976.

Read more……

Source: Cointelpro legal definition of Cointelpro

This is nothing new….the government has been invading groups for decades and all in the name of ….SECURITY.

Like A Cheap Spy Novel

In my younger days I was a fan of the pulp fiction spy novel….my fave character was the CIA’s Sam Durell….he always got the best assignments and the most beautiful women…..it appears that in today’s world these cheap novels are coming to life……

Let me explain……

Surely most of you have an opinion on the Trump “Dirty Dossier”…well it matters not what we want to believe….this post is about a situation around the alleged document….

Do I need to recap the story so far….then go to Google and do your own work….

It appears that one of the players in this supposed incident is no longer with us….

The body of Oleg Erovinkin, who was suspected of helping , was discovered in his car.He was an aide of Igor Sechin – the ex-Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, who now heads up state-owned Rosneft oil.Mr Steele, the former British spy behind the , wrote in an intelligence report that he had a source close to Sechin.

Now it’s suspected that Erovinkin, who’s been called a key liaison between Sechin and Vladimir Putin, was that source.Media reports suggest his death was a result of foul play and it’s been speculated that the Kremlin is to blame.In his report dated July 19, 2016, Mr Steele said his source revealed alleged links between Trump and Putin.
Source: Donald Trump ‘dirty dossier spy’ found dead in back of car in Moscow | Daily Star
I am not siding with one side or the other……my only interests in this situation is the people that keep dying around Putin….I think there is more to these deaths than most want to admit.
Just saying…is it life imitating art?

Whistleblowing

Yep you guessed it!  Time for one of the Professor’s historic perspectives.  (and the peasants weep)

There is a wealth of opinions around those people that have leaked information to Wikileaks….to some they are heroes to others they are traitors….

My first experience with a whistle blower was Daniel Ellsberg and the release of the “Pentagon Paper”(you may dash for the Google button now you need the exercise)….then there was other major “blowers” Manning and Snowden….there have been others but they were minor compared to those three.

you may call these people anything you like but the fact is that whistle blowing is a duty to the nation…..

John McCain and Paul Ryan and numerous other super-patriots condemned President Obama’s pardon of Chelsea Manning.

In 1778 the Continental Congress ruled that “it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds, or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states.”

Other pro-whistleblower legislation has been passed in recent years.

Apparently too many do not understand the term “duty”…..

Our nationalist leaders don’t care about any of this. They just want to make sure no one’s “gonna mess with us.” But as more of our misdeeds go unreported, more and more of the world is learning to hate us.

Personally, I have no problem with whistle blowers….any time we can expose the governmental darkness to the public light then they should be celebrated.

Class dismissed!