A liberal watchdog group founded by former officials of the Obama administration is accusing President Donald Trump of lying about NSA spying, after finding the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) do not have records that matched their specific requests. Their accusation depends on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, which are flawed.
The organization, American Oversight, appears to have used a propaganda technique known as “disinformation.” Among the technique’s many tactics is citing technically true information to draw false conclusions. The instigator can then use these conclusions to form false narratives to lodge attacks against an opponent.
American Oversight filed FOIA requests for any records the FBI or the DOJ’s National Security Division may have of former president Barack Obama wiretapping Trump Tower. It outlined the response to its request on Sept. 2, which states neither the FBI nor the National Security Division have records that Obama wiretapped the Trump Tower.
The FOIA requests were in response to a series of tweets sent out by President Donald Trump on May 4, where he alleged that “President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”
I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
The group’s accusation that “Trump lied,” appears to have been formed by taking information out of context, and by using a play on words.
FOIA requests are very literal. One only gets an answer to the information requested. It is highly unlikely that President Obama would have himself physically placed a wiretap (although it’s still uncertain whether he made requests for the NSA to carry out the monitoring of Trump and his team). And wiretaps are not the primary means used by the federal government to monitor phone calls.
Public records show the NSA was used to spy on members of the Trump team, and officials of the Obama administration have admitted to requesting or seeing the transcripts of this monitoring. It’s unclear why American Oversight filed its requests to the FBI and DOJ, and not to the NSA.
White House lawyers discovered in April that Susan Rice, the national security adviser under former President Barack Obama, requested the identities of individuals on the Trump election campaign and transition team from intercepted communications.
Bloomberg reported on April 3 that Rice made such requests on dozens of occasions.
House Intelligence Committee Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said on March 22 that information gathered by intelligence agencies on Trump and his transition team had appeared in intelligence reports.
The cases involved “unmasking.” When the NSA intercepts communications, it is required to seal names of U.S. citizens. Unmasking is when U.S. officials with access to these intelligence reports request the names revealed.
In an interview on MSNBC, Rice said the frequency of these requests increased after Obama called for an investigation into whether Russia interfered with the 2016 elections.
According to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the spying on Trump’s team was unrelated to Russia. He said in March, “None of this surveillance was related to Russia, or the investigation of Russian activities, or of the Trump team.”
Records of Rice’s unmasking requests are now allegedly sealed in the Barack Obama Presidential Library.
While Trump did specifically use the term “wiretap” in his accusations, the technical terms for the type of spying used by the Obama administration would be “unmasking” or “requests for upstream data.”
Among the few cases of a FBI “wiretap” known to have been used in surveying Trump associates was the FBI’s secret court order to monitor communications of Carter Page, an oil industry consultant and founder of Global Energy Capital, which was revealed in April. Page was allegedly a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, although Trump’s team denies his role.
The House Intelligence Committee is investigating the Obama administration’s spying on and unmasking names of Americans. On May 31, it issued three subpoenas seeking information on unmasking requests made by Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power.
Nunes told The Daily Beast on June 5 that “This is only the beginning. There are many more officials that we have concerns about abusing the intelligence programs.”
From The Epoch Times