By Cliff Kincaid
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
Sen. 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 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  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
Sen. 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-N.Y., 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.).
Putin had no motive
In an unnoticed piece in Politico on Dec. 12, 2016, Evelyn Farkas, a Russia expert, inadvertently tripped up the entire leftist narrative on the (bogus) Trump-Russia plot, and in effect admitted that Putin had no motive to hack DNC emails and help Trump get elected to be a Russian ally.
This was just a month after the election, so it is fresh in terms of application to the campaign leading up to it. Farkas wrote in Politico:
“For domestic political reasons, Putin needs the United States as its public enemy, given Russia’s current and foreseeable economic situation, and Russian presidential elections are coming up in 2018″ (emphasis added).
Farkas explained that any positive “reset” of U.S.-Russia relations by President Trump as a result of purported Putin blackmail of Trump, making Trump his “puppet,” would be “very temporary” because Putin needs the U.S. as his “public enemy,” domestically and internationally (Trump and U.S. make it “international”). Putin doesn’t want good relations with the U.S. even with Trump as its president, according to Farkas.
Farkas apparently still believes Trump may be Putin’s “puppet,” but her Russia analysis contradicts her narrative and that of the Democrat/media/intelligence juggernaut against Trump, that it is all a plot to get a pro-Russian president into the Oval Office. President Trump’s missile strike against Russia’s ally, Syria, contradicts that narrative.
Other observers have also noticed a complete lack of any evidence that Putin wanted to interfere in the U.S. election to help Trump win. The New York Review of Books on Jan. 9 published this analysis of the report of the U.S. Intelligence Community (actually only three to five out of 17 agencies that make up the IC) on Russian interference that had claimed without a shred of evidence that Putin “ordered” the intervention to help Trump get elected.
“… the entirety of the evidence the [U.S. Intelligence Community] report offers to support its estimation of Putin’s motives for allegedly working to elect Trump: [is] conjecture based on other politicians in other periods, on other continents – and also on misreported or mistranslated public statements.”
“… the joint intelligence report on Russian interference in the campaign…is, plainly, laughable … the protracted national game of connecting the Trump-Putin dots is an exercise in conspiracy thinking.”
“Both of these appointments [Gen. McMaster and Russia expert Fiona Hill] – and the fact that sanctions [against Russia] remain in place six weeks into Trump’s fast-moving presidency – contradict the ‘Putin’s puppet’ narrative (as does the fact that Russian domestic propaganda has already turned against Trump). But such is the nature of conspiracy thinking that facts can do nothing to change it.”
“If … [Trump is impeached], it will have resulted largely from a media campaign orchestrated by members of the [U.S.] intelligence community – setting a dangerous political precedent that will have corrupted the public sphere and promoted paranoia” (emphasis added; bracketed [ ] clarifications added).
To sum up: No evidence, and no motive, is known for Russia hacking the DNC/Podesta emails to elect Trump or interfere with the election to defeat Hillary and support Trump. No smoking gun evidence, not even a whiff of smoke.
Surely such a “smoking gun” would have leaked by now – since Lt. Gen. Flynn’s trivial conversation with Russian ambassador Kislyak on Dec. 29, intercepted by NSA digital wiretap, leaked within weeks to David Ignatius of the Washington Post – and got Flynn fired. That was just a few words saying that the Trump administration will deal with Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian “diplomats” (spies) later, with not a hint of any promises or relief, and no mention even of the word “sanctions” (evidently leading Flynn to forget the conversation).
The fact that no “smoking gun” has leaked or even been hinted at makes us suspect that in fact the unmasked NSA wiretap transcripts actually prove the opposite of the leftist Democratic Party narrative – that they record positive evidence that Trump and his associates were not colluding with Russia, that they had nothing to do with the hacking or leaking of the DNC or the Podesta/Hillary emails or any Russian interference in the election.
It seems that the Trump-Putin conspiracy theory was designed to cover or excuse the illegal surveillance of Trump and his associates by the Obama administration. One of the motives may have been that Obama was fearful that the deals he struck with Putin on Syria and Iran would come unraveled. He had to know that he and his associates, including Susan Rice and former Secretary of State John Kerry, would look like dupes of the Russians for making such flawed agreements.
In order to brace for these developments, the idea was hatched to accuse Trump and his associates of being the Russian dupes, using their innocent contacts with Russian officials or businessmen as the excuse for surveillance. This made Trump look like the Russian dupe and Obama as the tough guy with Putin.
But the conversations captured in NSA digital wiretaps are turning out to be the opposite of the Democrat/media narrative. The remarks between Trump associates and Russian officials make it clear that no real relationship existed, that no insidious conspiracy was in play, that public events such as the WikiLeaks email releases were annoyances, that the “Trump dossier” was known to be fake, etc.
In fact, the New York Times has been forced to admit that the only thing anyone has turned up even in “intercepted calls” and “phone records” are benign “multiple contacts between Trump associates and Russians who serve in or are close to Mr. Putin’s government.”
Note in the New York Times quotes how the phony “Trump dossier” is always dragged in because the leaked NSA wiretaps show nothing, even on their face, that is incriminating or damaging to Trump, and only the “dossier” can (purportedly) supply that.
This was in the New York Times on March 3, the day before President Trump tweeted about the Obama “‘wire tapping'” against him, when it was still heroic in the left-wing narrative to admit to leaking highly classified NSA intelligence to try to destroy the president:
“Current and former American officials have said that phone records and [NSA-type] intercepted calls show that members of Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.”
“There have been courtesy calls, policy discussions and business contacts [in the intercepted phone calls of Trump campaign and associates], though nothing has emerged publicly indicating anything more sinister. A dossier of allegations on Trump-Russia contacts, compiled by a former British intelligence agent for Mr. Trump’s political opponents, includes unproven claims that his aides collaborated in Russia’s hacking of Democratic targets” (emphasis added; paras. reordered; bracketed [ ] clarification added).
“Former diplomats and Russia specialists say it would have been absurd and contrary to American interests for the Trump team to avoid meetings with Russians, either during or since the campaign.”
Intelligence agency officials have consistently denied finding any evidence for such Trump collusion with the Russians despite furious efforts to prove it in order to take down President Trump. The best anyone has come up with is the stupid claim that some internet “IP addresses” of attempted hackings trace back to Russian IP domains, when anyone with the slightest tech savvy knows that expert hackers cover their tracks to prevent such easy tracing, and even plant false trails (such as those pointing to, for example, Russian IP internet addresses).
No one has traced any specific hacking attempt to specifically attempt to capture the DNC emails, only alleged hacking attempts against the main DNC computer system. DNC emails are separated from the DNC computer system by the usual email client firewalls.
Trump himself pointed that out last year when these falsehoods first surfaced, that the supposed “Russian hackers” could be someone in New Jersey, etc., and that sophisticated hackers would not get caught digitally. Recently, the CIA’s hacker tools for planting false trails and the concealment of cybertraces were themselves leaked or hacked to WikiLeaks, causing worldwide consternation.
The pernicious misuse of the fake “Trump dossier” as an investigative “roadmap” by the FBI has been reported by the New York Times for months (with less dramatic prose than the BBC’s) (New York Times, Jan. 20, Feb. 14). Instead, the Times should be investigating and exposing the “dossier’s” glaringly obvious fraudulent nature and the political motives behind its compilation and release. The NSA’s (and/or British GCHQ’s) “actively monitored” surveillance of Trump communications reportedly has been justified on the basis of this fake sex tape “dossier.”
Thus, the Obama digital Watergate burglary even invades the bedroom, albeit in the fictional narrative of the “dossier.”
Cliff Kincaid is director of the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Journalism