Obamagate is worse than a single surveillance scandal. It’s three huge ones, intertwined. All were abuses of power. Some were crimes.Read more here.
...Scandal No. 1: Massive, illegal surveillance of American citizens, using the database of the National Security Agency
...This illegal practice ended in summer 2016 when the agency’s head, Adm. Mike Rogers, learned about it. He stopped it immediately and reported it to the Rosemary Collyer, chief judge of the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Court. Judge Collyer issued a scathing, heavily redacted report about the illegal activity, but, so far, no one has been indicted.
Scandal No. 2: Spying on the Trump campaign
When NSA surveillance was halted, the Obama administration lost its secret eyes on domestic political activity and especially on the rising Trump campaign. To regain that vision, the CIA and FBI launched new surveillance efforts. Three elements stand out. First, the executive branch, then controlled by Democrats, was determined to spy on the opposition party. Second, much of the spying was conducted by agencies that are limited, by law, to foreign operations. Since their goal was actually domestic surveillance and since that was illegal, they apparently outsourced some of it to friendly foreign governments, who relayed the information back to Washington. Third, since the FBI wanted to spy on Trump aides who were not actually suspected of crimes, they couldn’t get regular warrants. To work around that, the FBI (under James Comey) and Department of Justice (under Loretta Lynch) falsely claimed the targets were foreign spies, making them eligible for FISA warrants. They also tried to entrap them (with help from CIA assets abroad), hoping they would commit illegal acts or say their colleagues had done so.
...Scandal No. 3: Covering up this spying, continuing it during the new administration, charging that Trump was not legitimately elected, and impeding his presidency with major investigations, based on false charges
...What do these three scandals mean, individually and collectively? The first, accessing the NSA database, is the largest violation of basic constitutional protections against illegal search and seizure in American history.
The second, surveillance of the Trump campaign, involves illegally using of the government’s most powerful tools of national intelligence and law enforcement against an opposition political party. These crimes directly attack two pillars of constitutional democracy: (1) elections should be free and fair, not corrupted by the party in power, and (2) law enforcement and intelligence should never be used as partisan instruments.
The third scandal attacks yet another pillar of constitutional democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a new administration. Handing government authority to the opposition party is a hallmark of stable democracy. Much as the Obama administration hated to see Hillary Clinton lose, it was obliged to transfer power seamlessly to Donald Trump. On the surface it did so. Beneath the surface, it erected every obstacle it could.
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Three scandals that make up Obamagate
In Real Clear Politics, Charles Lipson writes in part,