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Just Who Was the Russian Agent After All?

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A Special Report from the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Journalism; Cliff Kincaid, Director.

Ever since President Trump’s missile strike on Syria on April 6, which angered Russia’s Vladimir Putin, The Washington Post has ever-so-subtly backed away from its robotic “Russian interference to help elect Trump” claims, asserted with absolute certainty. The Post now, on April 7, calls it the “alleged” Russian efforts to “interfere in the 2016 presidential race.” The Post no longer sounds so sure of itself and its anonymous anti-Trump intelligence agency sources.

The U.S. strike on a Syrian air base not only demonstrates that Trump will take decisive action against a Russian client state, but that his predecessor, President Barack Obama, is the real Russian dupe, for making an admittedly flawed agreement with Russia that allowed Syria to keep (and use) some of its chemical weapons.

With the narrative that Trump is/was a Russian agent fading fast, perhaps the media will now get serious about exploring the abundant evidence that the real scandal is the political surveillance of Trump and his associates by the outgoing Obama administration. What’s more, the direct evidence points to Obama’s personal role. The motive? Covering up Obama’s own deals with the Russians on Syria and Iran.

In Syria, Obama had armed one side of the Syrian civil war, through CIA arms shipments to the “rebels,” and had then struck a deal with Russia that gave the appearance of having removed all of the chemical weapons from the arsenal of the other side. The resulting civil war has cost 500,000 lives and left President Trump with a series of bad options. He decided to strike the Shayrat Syrian airbase when he was informed that aircraft from that base conducted the chemical weapons attack on April 4.

On top of this, Trump is also facing the prospect of Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, supposedly limiting Iran’s nuclear weapons development, coming completely apart. In this case, Obama once again joined with the Russians in actually safeguarding a Russian client’s weapons arsenal through an agreement claiming to achieve the opposite.

As we noted in July 2015, Obama actually thanked Putin for bringing about the Iran deal. We said at the time, “This demonstrates something worse than the deal itself and the real nature of the Iranian threat. Putin should thank Obama because the U.S. is helping Iran, Russia’s client state, get tens of billions of dollars in international financial aid. Down the line, Russia gets U.S. approval to supply more weapons to the anti-American regime.”

The Smoking Gun

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) says that what he calls the “smoking gun” revelations about Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice unmasking Trump team names from NSA wiretap databases are “actually eerily similar to what President Trump accused them of” in tweets on March 4. (MSNBC, April 4.)

They point directly to President Obama. Rice surely must have informed her boss during the more than one year period of her “unmasking” Trump campaign and transition team names in NSA wiretap reports on numerous occasions.

Obama’s right-hand adviser Rice herself points to Obama. In the middle of a long MSNBC interview on April 4 discussing Rice’s “unmasking” of names in reports of intercepted Trump team-Russia communications and those communications with no connection to Russia, Rice was evasive but kept dragging Obama into the mix. She never says, for example, that she did unmasking on her own without ever informing Obama, or that she kept it all to herself.  She never says that.

Instead, Rice kept implicating Obama whenever she could, while minimizing her own role as somehow a passive one. Rice said that Obama ordered the compilation of intelligence reports on Russian hacking and election interference, which implied that the reports included the unmasked name of Trump adviser Gen. Michael Flynn in wiretap intercept reports of phone calls with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. This is what MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell had been asking Rice about.

MSNBC kept pressing Rice about the NSA-intercepted Flynn conversations with the Russian ambassador in December 2016, which Rice kept trying to dodge until Andrea Mitchell brought up the intercepted Flynn/Russian ambassador “conversations” (plural) one last time, noting that it was after the Obama sanctions and expulsion of Russian spy-diplomats.

Rice finally replied by taking it back to August 2016, and confirming Obama knew about it and was “concerned,” saying:

“Well, Andrea, from basically August [2016] through the end of the [Obama] administration [in January 2017] we were hearing more and more—getting more and more information about Russian interference in our electoral process. It was of grave concern to all of us in the national security team of the President [Obama] and the President himself….

“So YES there was a pace of reporting that accelerated as the Intelligence Community got more and more information on that and shared it with U.S. [Obama] officials…I can say that from when this first came to light in intelligence channels to when the administration ended we got more and more information” (emphasis added except “YES” was Rice’s voice emphasis; bracketed [ ] clarifications added).

The Nature of the Spying

Senator Paul explained that today’s “wiretapping” mainly means “reverse targeting” of existing digital taps that already massively eavesdrop on everyone’s communications, then searching the databases of transcripts, not physically tapping wires to phones. (AIM made the same points in its Special Reports on March 18 and April 4.)

These were not wiretaps about Russia or “incidental collection” on legitimate foreign intelligence subjects, though they may have begun that way. It was clearly procured for partisan political purposes to spy on the Trump opposition using the full weight of the U.S. government’s NSA spying apparatus (or NSA facilities used by the British GCHQ.)

According to Rep. Peter King (R-NY) of the House Intelligence Committee—who was briefed on the contents of the wiretap reports on the Trump campaign and his associates obtained by Rice and other Obama officials—they were like a private investigator’s file, with nothing on Russia-type intelligence:

“This [NSA wiretap] is information about their everyday lives. Who they were talking with, who they were meeting, where they were going to eat… just trying to lay out a dossier on somebody. Sort of like in a divorce case where lawyers are hired, investigators are hired to just find out what a person is doing from morning until night and then you try to piece it together later on” (bracketed [ ] clarification added).

The former Obama defense official and Hillary campaign adviser, Evelyn Farkas, proudly admitted during an MSNBC interview on March 2 that she had urged her “former colleagues” to collect and spread the NSA wiretap intelligence on Russia and Trump and “that’s why you have the leaking!” She had been “getting winks and nods from inside” the Obama administration since last summer, she said in an earlier interview.

MSNBC queried Farkas in response to the just-breaking New York Times March 1 story on Obama officials spreading around the government all the wiretap surveillance data on Trump and associates such as Gen. Flynn, and MSNBC had the Times article up on the video screen.  President Trump then tweeted on March 4 that Obama had his “‘wires tapped’” (two words).

The fake news media have ridiculed Trump for claiming anyone “wiretapped” him, insinuating he had said Obama physically tapped his phone wires—when he said no such thing. He merely used simplified terminology in quotes for a short tweet, rather than a book-length definition. FISA law as it stands today talks about “wire” taps or interception, even though it is understood to apply to digital communications (50 U.S. Code 1801 et seq.).

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