THE WAY I SEE IT by Don Polson Red Bluff Daily News 3/28/2017
Unprecedented subversion of America
It sure seemed to me that the news coverage quickly transitioned to the failure of Congressional Republicans to coalesce around and pass a substantial “repeal and replace” bill for President Donald Trump to sign. I’ll not consume this column or glaze readers’ eyes with the “tall weeds” of health insurance minutia and Washington insider, who-won, who-lost reviews.
The relevant point is the obvious, supportable potential for Watergate-level scandal by Barack Obama’s apparatchiks after the November election; it had to be glossed over by the partisan Democrats-with-bylines, the news media. When intransigent ideologues (the Freedom Caucus of conservative Republicans) killed the health care bill, the news caravan moved on from what Obama’s people did, what Obama knew and why and how electronic surveillance of Trump’s transition members occurred.
Perhaps you know, the avoidance strategy of news outlets aside, that it is a federal crime, punishable by fines and hard time in prison, to reveal American names and the nature of conversations picked up by otherwise legal and legitimate surveillance of foreign targets. The foreign side is supposed to be targeted for the sake of American national security, whether for the protection of state, defense or industrial secrets. Unless a citizen is caught breaking laws in the course of such communications—given that we are free to associate and talk to people of any country, declared military enemies excepted—business, industrial, cultural and even state and local governmental actors may pursue their interests in talking to foreigners. Do the Dems agree?
Only time and serious investigation by proper committees and agencies will determine whether reportedly clear actions by outgoing Obama officials, to illegally leak names of Trump’s team that were “wiretapped” between the election and inauguration, turn up citable crimes by the Obama administration. Democrats have presumed guilt, even treasonous culpability, over as-yet-unsubstantiated collaboration and collusion between Trump and the Russians.
There isn’t, hasn’t been and never was any proof; I don’t see any surfacing going forward. Democrats’ presumptions and efforts have amounted to nothing more than shameful, shameless attempts to deny the clear, constitutional legitimacy of Donald Trump’s election. Such an un-American strategy has been unheard of in our history, which is a testament to the success of America’s peaceful transfer of governmental power between partisans. The only prior exception would, of course, be the last election of a Republican President, George W. Bush, wherein die hard leftist Democrats likewise could not bring themselves to regard Bush’s win as legitimate.
James Rosen of Fox News, a one-time target of Obama’s (meaning Obama’s people) spying, had this to say: “Republican congressional investigators expect a potential ‘smoking gun’ establishing that the Obama administration spied on the Trump transition team, and possibly the president-elect himself, will be produced to the House Intelligence Committee this week, a source told Fox News…The intelligence corroborated information about surveillance of the Trump team that was known to Nunes (Intelligence Committee chairman) even before President Trump accused” Obama of wiretapping him in tweets.
Sources say that it “leaves no doubt the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump… The key to that conclusion is the unmasking of selected U.S. persons whose names appeared in the intelligence, adding that the paper trail leaves no other plausible purpose for the unmasking other than to damage the incoming Trump administration.” Stay tuned; I see a massive scandal.
We know without any doubt that a crime occurred in “unmasking” the name of Trump’s Intelligence nominee, Michael Flynn, whose conversation with the Russian ambassador was proper, traditional for a transition member, and yet got him removed for the oversight (or deception) of not telling Trump. That is irrefutable. A half dozen or more news outlets used leaked names to smear Trump and his people with baseless accusations over Russia.
I would direct those on the other side to recall the outrage they trumped up over Pres. Bush’s then-newly-enacted practice of wiretapping phone calls between someone in America and a foreigner, over potential terrorism. It was a travesty, they said at the time, that an American, or anyone on our soil for that matter, should be routinely surveilled without a warrant for simply communicating with a foreigner.
They effortlessly change standards for outrage, no? “If a Bush-era intelligence agency had engaged in ‘incidental collection’ of Barack Obama’s phone calls in 2008, and then disseminated that information, the Earth would have stopped in its orbit.” David Harsanyi wrote that in “Democrats Shouldn’t Dismiss Nunes’ Spying Claims So Quickly—Liberals have been warning us for years about ‘incidental collection.’” He cites many examples of liberal concern.
In “What’s really hidden deep within all this intel squabbling,” by widely respected Andrew Malcolm, he lays out the firm rules for protecting the privacy of Americans in intercepted calls, assigning numbers to the person involved. “We now know Obama administration intelligence operatives listened in on Trump aides’ conversations. We now know they illegally leaked the identities. And it’s not a stretch…to wonder if those were incidental.”
Daniel Chaitin: “Bob Woodward warned on Wednesday that there are people from the Obama administration who could be facing criminal charges for unmasking the names of Trump transition team members from surveillance of foreign officials.” If true, Woodward said, “it is a gross violation.” I see it as unprecedented sabotage and subversion of American democracy.