Electronic surveillance: The bear pokes back
The first three articles in this quarter’s The Intellgencer: The Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies do not make good bedtime reading. First, we learn that the U.S. has gotten itself so wrapped around the enhanced interrogation axle to the point that a radical Islamist who knows when and where the next major attack on the U.S. will occur cannot be forced to talk. Next, we learn that current U.S. law prevents our law enforcement agencies from acting preemptively to prevent terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Finally, our vulnerability to Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack is huge. An EMP attack could collapse our entire economy and put us back into Stone-Age living.
On top of that, we learned last week from Wikileaks that the complex and expensive work done by the CIA with regard to cyber warfare has been hacked, exposing to the entire world the sources and methods being used by the CIA in the murky world of cyber warfare.
And, if all that were not bad enough, there are some bureaucrats in what is called the Administrative State or Deep State (take your pick) who are waging a War of Sedition versus the Trump Administration. Someone in the Executive Branch, which includes the intelligence community (IC) and the FBI, asked a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (AKA FISA Court) for a warrant to monitor Candidate Trump’s internal communications. That was refused. A non-FISA request from President Obama’s Department of Justice was approved, allowing the Trump Tower and his campaign staffers to be bugged. On March 5, 2017, James Clapper, President Obama’s former Director of National Intelligence, stated that the surveillance of President-Elect Trump by the IC and the FBI found zero evidence of unlawful communications between Trump’s staffers and the Russians. Should be end of story.
But wait! Because President Trump heads the Executive Branch and because President Trump is the ultimate authority with regard to the classification and declassification of investigations conducted by Executive Branch personnel, President Trump has the power to demand that all Executive Branch surveillance applications be placed on his desk. Gulp!
But what about rulings by the FISA Court? The Separation of Powers probably means that President Trump cannot see any rulings the Judicial Branch does not want him to see. No matter. President Trump is now sure to discover who in the Executive Branch wrote those FISA and non-FISA applications. Double Gulp! Moreover, and far beyond the surveillance applications, President Trump has the power to demand to see each and every work product of each and every Executive Branch employee and/or contractor. Triple Gulp!
Refusal to hand over Executive Branch work products would be grounds for dismissal, giving President Trump the opportunity to discover who is on his side and who is not. So, while President Trump’s tweet on the bugging issue was typically ham-fisted, President Trump has, once again, forced an issue that he probably wanted to force in the interest of cleaning up his own branch of government. President Trump has an uncanny ability to snatch victory from what the myth-stream media (MSM) might like to be the jaws of defeat. Advice for the Deep State: Don’t poke the bear!
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
©2017. William Hamilton.
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