(NationalSentinel) Intelligence: There is little doubt that elements of the Deep State are not at all enamored with the fact that Donald J. Trump is now commander-in-chief, but there is another reason why so much intelligence involving Team Trump has been leaked to the media: President Obama changed the rules.
In 2011, ostensibly as a way to better conduct the fight against terrorism, hacking and foreign espionage, Obama expanded an earlier Reagan-era executive order governing intelligence-sharing, which included sharing with top political figures and aides in the final days of his administration.
The rule changes meant that political operatives within the Obama administration – who believed they had every reason to sabotage the incoming administration – were given access to very sensitive signals intelligence collected by the NSA that involved foreign figures and any Americans they may have talked with. In the data shared by the NSA, many of these Americans were “unmasked” – identified – while others were described in such a way it became apparent who they were.
Circa News reported today:
As his presidency drew to a close, Barack Obama’s top aides routinely reviewed intelligence reports gleaned from the National Security Agency’s incidental intercepts of Americans abroad, taking advantage of rules their boss relaxed starting in 2011 to help the government better fight terrorism, espionage by foreign enemies and hacking threats…
Dozens of times in 2016, those intelligence reports identified Americans who were directly intercepted talking to foreign sources or were the subject of conversations between two or more monitored foreign figures. Sometimes the Americans’ names were officially unmasked; other times they were so specifically described in the reports that their identities were readily discernible. Among those cleared to request and consume unmasked NSA-based intelligence reports about U.S. citizens were Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice, his CIA Director John Brennan and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Some intercepted communications from November to January involved Trump transition figures or foreign figures’ perceptions of the incoming president and his administration. Intercepts involving congressional figures also have been unmasked occasionally for some time.
Today, the power to unmask an American’s name inside an NSA intercept — once considered a rare event in the intelligence and civil liberty communities — now resides with about 20 different officials inside the NSA alone. The FBI also has the ability to unmask Americans’ names to other intelligence professionals and policymakers.
If you wondered why Democrats on Capitol Hill and their allies in the discredited Washington media are now so furiously attempting to smear House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and get him to recuse himself from the panel’s “Russia investigation” is because the NSA is expected to hand over to his committee logs “detailing who consumed reports with unmasked Americans’ identities from their intercepts since the summer of 2016,” Circa News reported.
And when that happens, Democrats know the jig is up: The president, who has famously tweeted that Obama had his “wires tapped,” will be vindicated in his allegations. There could even be criminal charges forthcoming if former Obama political operatives and officials violated federal statutes in unmasking, and the leaking, information about Team Trump, all of whom are, of course, American citizens.
Like our reporting? Sign up for our daily email newsletter and never miss a story! Click here
As for Obama, Circa News notes that in 2011, the White House submitted changes to existing policy and protocol for approval by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, which operates in secrecy, regarding the unmasking of American citizens:
…[T]he justification for requesting such unmasking can be as simple as claiming “the identity of the United States person is necessary to understand foreign intelligence information or assess its importance,” according to a once-classified document that the Obama administration submitted in October 2011 for approval by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It laid out specifically how and when the NSA could unmask an American’s identity.
The NSA told Circa News that it still regards the unmasking of an American’s identity in intelligence reports as something that should not be done lightly. But obviously, when so many more people have access to sensitive information, the risk of having it purposefully leaked rises dramatically.
It will be interesting to see what Chairman Nunes with the information gleaned from the NSA’s logs. It will be more interesting to find out who is named in the logs. Stay tuned.