The last two weeks have been a bizarre trip through previously unknown government surveillance techniques, and broached a subject between U.S. And British Intelligence agencies that most people were not aware of.
On March 4th Trump Tweeted out (as he often does) that the Obama administration had secretly wiretapped Trump Tower before the election:
On March 7th Wikileaks released what they call “Vault 7”, revealing to the public the extent of the CIA’s ability to hack every communication device on the planet (rivaling that of the NSA), including “smart appliances” and automobiles.
On March 10th various news outfits reported that the FBI had been investigating a Russian bank that had repeatedly connected or attempted to connect with a computer server used by the Trump campaign:
The FBI is reportedly examining why a Russian bank with ties to Putin wanted to reach the Trump Organization during the campaign
“The FBI is examining why a computer server for a Russian bank led by oligarchs with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin had a disproportionate interest in reaching a server used by the Trump Organization during the US presidential campaign.
CNN reported on Thursday that last summer a computer server owned by the Russia-based Alfa Bank “repeatedly looked up the contact information for a computer server being used by the Trump Organization — far more than other companies did, representing 80% of all lookups to the Trump server.”
Slate and The New York Times first reported on the unusual server activity, which was akin to looking up someone’s phone number thousands of times….
Heat Street reported last November that the FBI had sought and obtained a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court after presenting evidence “of a server, possibly related to the Trump campaign, and its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank.”
Two months later, the BBC reported that the FBI — part of a counterintelligence task force led by the CIA — requested the FISC warrant to investigate the banks after former CIA Director John Brennan received a recording of a conversation about Kremlin money potentially going into Trump campaign coffers.”
So now we know that there was indeed an investigation that may have indeed involved wiretaps and the Trump campaign. This was of course followed by denials from U.S. Investigative agencies and as of this writing Trump has produced no evidence of a wiretap, which he claimed was politically motivated by the Obama administration.
Normally we could dismiss this as more outrageous ranting by Trump (even if partly true), but in an interesting twist Team Trump shifted the narrative to suggest that the tap had originated with the British “cousin” of the NSA, GCHQ. That agency is part of the Anglo “Five Eyes” program, previously referred to as “Echelon”. This surveillance sharing network consists of the U.S., Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
One of the biggest mouthpieces confronting the allegations of spying on Trump is former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence expert John Schindler. Schindler, who has rightfully mounted a Twitter campaign against Trump and is thought to represent the adverse reaction to Trump in the intelligence community.
But on the subject of GCHQ sharing wiretaps with the NSA, methinks the spook doth protest too much. Here’s a smattering from Schindler’s latest article in the New York – New Jersey-based “Observer”:
Donald Trump Challenges ‘The Cousins’ and Loses Bigly
The President tried to blame the Brits for his own self-created debacle. That wasn’t smart.
By John R. Schindler • 03/17/17
“In other words, nobody in the Intelligence Community was spying on the Republican candidate or president-elect, period. While it seems highly likely that members of Trump’s inner circle—perhaps even the president himself—wound up on the radar of NSA and other Western spy agencies due to their frequent chats with senior Kremlin officials, in no way were the Americans the intended target of that intelligence collection, which was legal and legitimate under our laws.”
Well, that is simply not true. The second half of his paragraph implies Team Trump may have “wound up on the radar of NSA”. You can take a look at this Salon article to find out about the scandalous dossier that was assembled regarding Trump’s Russia ties:
WASHINGTON — It was a bombshell story, emerging on the eve of Donald Trump’s first news conference as president-elect: U.S. intelligence officials had presented Trump with unsubstantiated claims that Russia had amassed compromising personal and financial allegations about him.
“The purported Russian efforts were described in a newly released and uncorroborated dossier produced in August. But they had circulated more widely in Washington in October — following early reports and opaque warnings from elected officials that something was afoot involving the Kremlin and Trump.
In October, Mother Jones magazine described how a former Western spy — assigned to look into Trump’s Russian ties for a private American firm — had presented his findings to the FBI in August. Those findings, the magazine said, were produced for political opposition research and said that Russian intelligence had compromised Trump during his visits to Moscow — information that, if true, could be used to blackmail him or undermine his presidency.”
The “Orbis Dossier”, as it is called, was compiled by ex British Intelligence officer Christopher Steele, a man highly regarded in spook circles. The dossier found it’s way into the FBI through the hands of none-other-than Senator John McCain. This is yet another example that Trump was being spied on, very likely for good reason. So Schindler is being disingenuous by saying nobody was spying on Trump, and this goes back to August.
Schindler goes on to take Judge Napolitano of Fox News to task as a source:
“Things went from bad to worse when Spicer cited one especially ridiculous far-right claim verbatim:
On Fox News on March 14th, Judge Andrew Napolitano made the following statement: “Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI, and he didn’t use the Department of Justice. He used GCHQ—what is that? It’s the initials for the British Intelligence Spying Agency. So simply, by having two people saying to them, ‘the President needs transcripts of conversations involved in candidate Trump’s conversations involving President-elect Trump,’ he was able to get it and there’s no American fingerprints on this.”
“As I explained a couple days ago, Napolitano has zero background in intelligence and has no idea what he’s talking about. His accusation against Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, London’s NSA equivalent, was patently absurd, as well as malicious, demonstrating that neither Napolitano nor Fox News have the slightest notion how intelligence works in the real world.”
Well, I have zero background in intelligence also, but I can read what former Justice Department investigator John Loftus, who does have an intelligence background, has to say.
From “America’s Nazi Secret”, page 21:
“The third round of censorship for this book took place when I updated it for release in the UK. I wanted to include mention of how the British intelligence services used American National Security Agency (NSA) computers at Fort Meade, Maryland for warrantless wiretapping of our citizens, while we used their computers at GCHQ in Cheltenham to tap the phones of the British public. This arrangement allowed each side to swear to its own legislatures that its law abiding agency never bugged its own citizens without a search warrant.”
Loftus goes on to elaborate, but that paragraph pretty well sums it up; to get around the law you have your “cousin” handle the wiretap for you. And the fact that Christopher Steele of “The Orbis Dossier” is “former” British intelligence, increases the likelihood that GCHQ could indeed have been involved in spying on Trump.
It may take weeks, months, years to find out what is really going on here, but is clear that Trump has gotten off to a very bad start with the intelligence agencies.
But when I see a “former” NSA guy like John Schindler go full-tilt “cover the agency’s ass” over the NSA-GCHQ collaboration theory, there may be some fire with that smoke. Yet another intelligence secret was spilled this week, and it should alarm the public.
Schindler makes the comment:
“This is the stuff of tin-pot dictatorships—not high-functioning democratic republics.”
Well, I would suggest that we no longer have a “high-functioning democratic republic”.
Also see: Buzzfeed: Trump Obsessed With Surveillance
Trump properties have cameras everywhere and files on guests