Senator Jeff Sessions

The Pronk Pops Show 908, June 9, 2017, Story 1: Cover His Assets Comey Leaked Documents To Friend Who Leaked Them To Press — Crime of Mishandling Government Documents with Confession and Evidence — “I Could Be Wrong.” — Trump Winner and Big Lie Media and Lying Lunatic Left Losers — President Trump: No Investigation, No Collusion, No Obstruction, No Evidence — Videos — Story 2: Will Prime Minister May Remain Prime Minister? Yes, But Not For Very Long — Videos — Story 3: President Trump On New Infrastructure and Regulation — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 893,  May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889,  May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 864: March 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 863: March 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 861: March 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 859: March 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 858: March 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 857: March 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

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Story 1: Cover His Assets Comey Leaked Documents To Friend Who Leaked Them To Press — Crime of Mishandling Government Documents with Confession and Evidence — Videos —

The lasting impact of Comey’s testimony

Comey’s leaked memos spark fierce legal debate

Eboni’s Docket: Was James Comey’s leak a crime?

Trump hits back at James Comey’s claims

LAURA INGRAHAM FULL ONE-ON-ONE EXPLOSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SEAN HANNITY (6/8/2017)

Alan Dershowitz Weighs in on James Comey Testimony. Very Interesting!

Alan Dershowitz Says Trump Cannot Be Guilty of Obstruction While Exercizing His Constitutional Autho

Is Trump’s “Obstruction of Justice” Enough For Impeachment?

Do Donald Trump’s Action Amount To Obstruction Of Justice? #POTUS #Justice

Klayman Discusses Comey Testimony and His Obstruction of Justice

Leftist Host Chris Matthews Admits Russia Collusion Narrative Destroyed

Tucker: The truth about what we learned from Comey hearing

Tucker Carlson Interviews Krauthammer on Comey Testimony

Bob Schieffer on “extraordinary” Comey testimony

Bob Woodward says Comey reputation “enhanced” by testimony

Retired Adm. McRaven on Comey testimony, Navy SEAL lessons

Rush Limbaugh gives his opinion about James Comey hearing on Trump-Russia probe (06-08-2017)

Mark Levin Show 06-08-2017 James Comey testifies before Senate Intelligence Committee

Ben Shapiro gives his opinion about James Comey hearing on Trump-Russia probe (06-08-2017)

Will media admit they were ‘dead wrong’ about Russia?

Sen. Graham on Comey statement: Pretty good day for Trump

Sen. Lankford speaks out about Comey’s opening remarks

COMEY ADMITS LEAKING MEMO Through Columbia Law Prof Friend 6/8/2017

Senator Cotton Questions James Comey

Rubio Corners Comey and LAYS REST to Trump-Russia Question

Senator Burr Questions James Comey

Senator Cornyn Questions James Comey

Sen. McCain’s questioning confuses Comey

The fallout from Comey releasing his prepared remarks

FULL: Trump’s Lawyer Marc Kasowitz Press Conference – Responds to James Comey Hearing (FNN)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: The Democrats Are Now Exposed, “James Comey Is A Leaker”

Full hearing: James Comey testifies to Senate intel committee regarding Russia-Trump

James Comey Hearing on Trump/Russia: Opening Remarks and Questioning

FBI Director James Comey EMOTIONAL Opening Statement in Testimony at Senate Hearing 6/8/2017

Sen. Risch to Comey: Trump’s exact words didn’t direct or order you to let go of Flynn probe

WATCH LIVE: James Comey Testifies on President Trump & Russia Investigation at Senate Hearing

Trump Attorney Responds To Testimony By James Comey

Comey: Trump Did Not Ask To Stop Russia Investigation

COMEY HEARING: COMEY FINALLY ANSWERS – “Do You Believe Donald Trump Colluded With Russia?”

Comey: “I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in”

COMEY HEARING: On CLINTON EMAILS – “Brutally Unfair” To Call For Special Counsel. “No Case There!”

Marco Rubio Crushes Democrat Media ‘Collusion’ Narrative at Comey Hearing

James Comey Admits Loretta Lynch Tried To Cover Up Hillary Clinton Investigation

James Comey Admits He Leaked Trump Memo To Reporters

FULL TESTIMONY: Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before Senate Intelligence Committee

Many news stories about Russia probe are dead wrong, Comey tells Sen. Lankford

Rubio questions former FBI Director James Comey

Comey ‘never initiated a communication with the president,’ he tells Sen. King

Comey to Sen. Cornyn: FBI agents have duty to report crime

Sen. Harris asks Comey if it was appropriate for Sessions to be involved in firing after recusal

Heinrich Questions Former FBI Director James Comey In Senate Intel Committee Hearing

Comey: ‘I’m A Little Confused Senator’

Former FBI director James Comey full testimony on Donald Trump at Senate hearing

Comey’s testimony makes things better for Trump: Fmr. DOJ official

Judge Napolitano: Comey statement a lot of parsing of words

 

The ‘Independent’ Mr. Comey

His prepared testimony shows why he deserved to be fired.

The desk in the Hart Senate Office Building from which former FBI director James Comey will testify, June 7.

The desk in the Hart Senate Office Building from which former FBI director James Comey will testify, June 7. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

The Senate Intelligence Committee released James Comey’s prepared testimony a day early on Wednesday, and it looks like a test of whether Washington can apprehend reality except as another Watergate. Perhaps the defrocked FBI director has a bombshell still to drop. But far from documenting an abuse of power by President Trump, his prepared statement reveals Mr. Comey’s misunderstanding of law enforcement in a democracy.

Mr. Comey’s seven-page narrative recounts his nine encounters with the President-elect and then President, including an appearance at Trump Tower, a one-on-one White House dinner and phone calls. He describes how he briefed Mr. Trump on the Russia counterintelligence investigation and what he calls multiple attempts to “create some sort of patronage relationship.”

But at worst Mr. Comey’s account of Mr. Trump reveals a willful and naive narcissist who believes he can charm or subtly intimidate the FBI director but has no idea how Washington works. This is not new information.

When you’re dining alone in the Green Room with an operator like Mr. Comey—calculating, self-protective, one of the more skilled political knife-fighters of modern times—there are better approaches than asserting “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” Of course the righteous director was going to “memorialize” (his word) these conversations as political insurance.

Mr. Trump’s ham-handed demand for loyalty doesn’t seem to extend beyond the events of 2016, however. In Mr. Comey’s telling, the President is preoccupied with getting credit for the election results and resentful that the political class is delegitimizing his victory with “the cloud” of Russian interference when he believes he did nothing wrong.

Mr. Comey also confirms that on at least three occasions he told Mr. Trump that he was not a personal target of the Russia probe. But Mr. Comey wouldn’t make a public statement to the same effect, “most importantly because it would create a duty to correct” if Mr. Trump were implicated. This is odd because the real obligation is to keep quiet until an investigation is complete.

More interesting is that Mr. Trump’s frustration at Mr. Comey’s refusal raises the possibility that the source of Mr. Trump’s self-destructive behavior isn’t a coverup or a bid to obstruct the investigation. The source could simply be Mr. Trump’s wounded pride.

The most troubling part of Mr. Comey’s statement is his belief in what he calls “the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch,” which he invokes more than once. Independent? This is a false and dangerous view of law enforcement in the American system.

Mr. Comey is describing an FBI director who essentially answers to no one. But the police powers of the government are awesome and often abused, and the only way to prevent or correct abuses is to report to elected officials who are accountable to voters. A director must resist intervention to obstruct an investigation, but he and the agency must be politically accountable or risk becoming the FBI of J. Edgar Hoover.

Mr. Comey says Mr. Trump strongly suggested in February that he close the Michael Flynn file, but after conferring with his “FBI senior leadership” he decided not to relay the conversation to Attorney General Jeff Sessions or any other Justice Department superior. If he thought he was being unduly pressured he had a legal obligation to report, and in our view to resign, but he says he didn’t because “we expected” that Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from Russia involvement.

Well, how did he know? Mr. Sessions didn’t recuse himself until two weeks later. Mr. Comey also didn’t tell the acting Deputy AG, who at the time was a U.S. attorney whom Mr. Comey dismisses as someone “who would also not be long in the role.”

This remarkable presumptuousness is the Comey mindset that was on display last year. He broke Justice Department protocol to absolve Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified material, without the involvement of Justice prosecutors or even telling then Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Mr. Comey’s disregard for the chain of legal command is why Mr. Trump was right to fire him, whatever his reasons.

Also on Wednesday two leaders of the intelligence community told the Senate Wednesday that they had not been pressured to cover up anything. “I have never been pressured—I have never felt pressured—to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relation to an ongoing investigation,” said Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers added that he never been asked “to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump announced that he is nominating respected Justice Department veteran Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. Let’s hope Mr. Wray has a better understanding of the FBI’s role under the Constitution than Mr. Comey does.

Appeared in the June 8, 2017, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-independent-mr-comey-1496878266

Comey: ‘Lordy, I Hope There are Tapes’
AP

COMEY SAYS HE WAS FIRED BECAUSE OF RUSSIA INVESTIGATION


AP Photo
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former FBI Director James Comey asserted Thursday that President Donald Trump fired him to interfere with his investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 election and its ties to the Trump campaign.

“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey told the Senate intelligence committee in explosive testimony that threatened to undermine Trump’s presidency.

“I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted,” Comey testified under oath. “That is a very big deal, and not just because it involves me.”

Comey also accused the Trump administration of spreading “lies, plain and simple” about him and the FBI in the aftermath of his abrupt firing last month, declaring that the administration then “chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI” by claiming the bureau was in disorder under his leadership. And in testimony that exposed deep distrust between the president and the veteran lawman, Comey described intense discomfort about their one-on-one conversations, saying he decided he immediately needed to document the discussions in memos.

“I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, so I thought it really important to document,” Comey said. “I knew there might come a day when I might need a record of what happened not only to defend myself but to protect the FBI.”

The revelations came as Comey delivered his much anticipated first public telling of his relationship with Trump, speaking at a packed Senate intelligence committee hearing that brought Washington and parts of the country to a standstill as all eyes were glued to screens showing the testimony. The former director immediately dove into the heart of the fraught political controversy around his firing and whether Trump interfered in the bureau’s Russia investigation, as he elaborated on written testimony delivered Wednesday. In that testimony he had already disclosed that Trump demanded his “loyalty” and directly pushed him to “lift the cloud” of investigation by declaring publicly the president was not the target of the FBI probe into his campaign’s Russia ties.

Comey said that he declined to do so in large part because of the “duty to correct” that would be created if that situation changed. Comey also said in his written testimony that Trump, in a strange private encounter near the grandfather clock in the Oval Office, pushed him to end his investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia asked Comey the key question: “Do you believe this rises to obstruction of justice?”

“I don’t know. That’s Bob Mueller’s job to sort that out,” Comey responded, referring to the newly appointed special counsel who has taken over the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.

In a startling disclosure, Comey revealed that after his firing he actually tried to spur the special counsel’s appointment by giving one of his memos about Trump to a friend of his to release to the press.

“My judgment was I need to get that out into the public square,” Comey said.

Trump’s private attorney, Marc Kasowitz, seized on Comey’s affirmation that he told Trump he was not personally under investigation. Though Comey said he interpreted Trump’s comments as a directive to shut down the Flynn investigation, Kasowitz also maintained in his written statement that Comey’s testimony showed that the president “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that that Mr. Comey ‘let Flynn go.'”

The Republican National Committee and other White House allies worked feverishly to lessen any damage from the hearing, trying to undermine Comey’s credibility by issuing press releases and even ads pointing to a past instance where the FBI had had to clean up the director’s testimony to Congress. Republicans and Trump’s own lawyer seized on Comey’s confirmation, in his written testimony, of Trump’s claim that Comey had told him three times the president was not directly under investigation.

Trump himself was expected to dispute Comey’s claims that the president demanded loyalty and asked the FBI director to drop the investigation into Flynn, according to a person close to the president’s legal team who demanded anonymity because of not being authorized to discuss legal strategy. The president has not yet publicly denied the specifics of Comey’s accounts but has broadly challenged his credibility, tweeting last month Comey “better hope there are no ‘tapes'” of the conversations.

“Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey remarked at one point Thursday, suggesting such evidence would back up his account over any claims from the president.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California asked the question that many Republicans have raised in the weeks since Comey’s firing as one media leak followed another revealing Comey’s claims about Trump’s inappropriate interactions with him.

Discussing the Oval Office meeting where Comey says Trump asked him to back off Flynn, Feinstein asked: “Why didn’t you stop and say, ‘Mr. President, this is wrong,’?”

“That’s a great question,” Comey said. “Maybe if I were stronger I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation I just took it in.”

The hearing unfolded amid intense political interest, and within a remarkable political context as Comey delivered detrimental testimony about the president who fired him, a president who won election only after Comey damaged his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the final days of the campaign. Clinton has blamed her defeat on Comey’s Oct. 28 announcement that he was re-opening the investigation of her email practices. “If the election were on Oct. 27, I would be your president,” Clinton said last month.

Thursday’s hearing included discussion of that email investigation, as Comey disclosed that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch instructed him to refer to the issue as a “matter,” not an “investigation.”

“That concerned me because that language tracked how the campaign was talking about the FBI’s work and that’s concerning,” Comey said. “We had an investigation open at the time so that gave me a queasy feeling.”

Many Democrats still blame Comey for Clinton’s loss, leading Trump to apparently believe they would applaud him for firing Comey last month. The opposite was the case as the firing created an enormous political firestorm that has stalled Trump’s legislative agenda on Capitol Hill and taken over Washington.

Under questioning Thursday, Comey strongly asserted the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia did indeed meddle in the 2016 election.

“There should be no fuzz on this. The Russians interfered,” Comey stated firmly. “That happened. It’s about as unfake as you can possibly get.”

Trump has begrudgingly accepted the U.S. intelligence assessment that Russia interfered with the election. But he has also suggested he doesn’t believe it, saying Russia is a “ruse” and calling the investigation into the matter a “witch hunt.”


http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_COMEY?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2017-06-08-12-37-50

Former FBI Director James Comey’s planned testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday will provide President Trump’s opponents with plenty of opportunities to attack his conduct, while also giving his supporters the context they need to defend his actions.The seven-page opening statement Comey provided to the committee this week sheds new light on a series of private conversations and meetings between the president and the former FBI director that had previously been described only through anonymous leaks to the press.However, the statement contained few new revelations, and GOP allies — including the Republican National Committee quickly seized on the document to argue Trump had done nothing wrong.Here are seven takeaways from Comey’s opening statement, which he is slated to deliver before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning.Comey really did tell Trump he was not under investigation three times.In his letter last month asking Comey to resign, Trump thanked the former FBI director for telling him, on three occasions, that he was not personally the subject of an FBI probe.On Jan. 6, according to Comey’s statement, the former FBI director sought permission from the bureau’s “leadership team” to inform the president-elect that he was not under investigation.

“That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him,” Comey wrote. He noted the team concluded that he should indeed tell Trump he was not under investigation “if circumstances warranted” during a “sensitive” conversation at Trump Tower about an unverified dossier of salacious allegations against the president-elect.

“During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance,” Comey wrote.

Then, during a Jan. 27 dinner at the White House, Comey cautioned Trump against calling publicly for an investigation of the salacious dossier by warning him that doing so “might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t.”

Finally, during a March 30 phone call, Comey again told the president he was not the subject of an investigation.

“I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that,” Comey noted.

The former FBI director noted, however, that counter-intelligence investigations and criminal investigations differ in their scope and methods.

Comey had far more contact with Trump than with Obama.

The former FBI director noted that he decided to document his conversations with Trump shortly after their first meeting on Jan. 6 at Trump Tower.

“Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward,” Comey wrote in the statement. “This had not been my practice in the past.”

Comey said he had spoken with former President Obama alone just two times throughout his presidency, and said he did not feel compelled to take notes about either encounter.

“I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months – three in person and six on the phone,” Comey wrote.

Comey did not perceive any interference on the Russia front.

After a Feb. 14 conversation with Trump in the Oval Office, Comey said he felt uncomfortable with comments the president made about his former national security adviser, Gen. Mike Flynn.

Trump asked Comey to “let this go,” referring to an investigation into whether Flynn made misleading statements to FBI agents about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, Comey said.

But the former FBI director clarified that he did not believe the president was asking him to abandon the bureau’s probe of Russian meddling in the presidential race.

“I did not understand the president to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign,” Comey noted.

Comey never told Sessions about his concerns.

The former FBI director defended his decision not to alert the attorney general to his concerns in February about Trump by arguing that he did not expect Attorney General Jeff Sessions or the acting deputy attorney general beneath him to remain involved in the Russia investigation for much longer.

“We concluded it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions, who we expected would likely recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigations. (He did so two weeks later.),” Comey noted.

However, Sessions did not recuse himself until his campaign-era contact with the Russian ambassador surfaced in news reports.

Trump told Comey “it would be good” to find out whether his associates “did something wrong.”

Rather than press Comey to close an investigation of his more distant associates, Trump told the former FBI director he would prefer to learn whether any had committed a crime.

“The president went on to say that if there were some ‘satellite’ associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him,” Comey wrote in his opening statement.

Several of Trump’s former campaign advisers — such as Carter Page, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort — have come under scrutiny for their activities during the presidential race. All three were dismissed from the campaign long before Trump won the White House in November 2016.

Yet one former campaign hand, Flynn, joined Trump in the administration and has since emerged as a top target of investigative focus. And the president did suggest Comey end his efforts to probe Flynn, although the former FBI director suggested the request fell short of obstruction.

Comey does not describe nearly half of his interactions with Trump.

Although the former FBI director claims he interacted one-on-one with Trump on nine separate occasions, his opening statement describes only five of those conversations.

Comey described all three in-person encounters in the statement he provided to the Senate. However, he described just two of the six phone calls he says he had with Trump between Jan. 6 and April 11, the day Comey said he last spoke with the president.

Comey feared Trump wanted a “patronage relationship.”

Comey said Trump’s unexpected move to host him for a private dinner at the White House on Jan. 27 “was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship.”

The former FBI director based that assessment on “[m]y instincts.”

Comey went on to describe an “awkward” moment that occurred when the president described his desire for “loyalty.”

“[T]he president said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’ I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner,” Comey noted.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/7-takeaways-from-comeys-opening-statement/article/2625257

Obstruction of justice

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The crime of obstruction of justice, in United States jurisdictions, refers to the crime of obstructing prosecutors or other (usually government) officials. Common law jurisdictions other than the United States tend to use the wider offense of perverting the course of justice.

Legal overview

Generally, obstruction charges are laid when it is discovered that a person questioned in an investigation, other than a suspect, has lied to the investigating officers. However, in most common law jurisdictions, the right to remain silent can be used to allow any person questioned by police merely to deny answering questions posed by an investigator without giving any reason for doing so. (In such a case, the investigators may subpoena the witness to give testimony under oath in court, though the witness may then exercise their rights, for example in the Fifth Amendment, if they believe their answer may serve to incriminate themselves.) If the person willfully and knowingly tried to protect a suspect (such as by providing a false alibi) or to hide from investigation of their own activities (such as to hide their involvement in another crime), this may leave them liable to prosecution. Obstruction charges can also be laid if a person alters, destroys, or conceals physical evidence.[1]Obstruction charges may also be laid in unique situations such as refusal to aid a police officer, escape through voluntary action of an officer and refusing to assist prison officers in arresting escaped convicts.

Obstruction can include crimes committed by judges, prosecutors, attorneys general, and elected officials in general. It is misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance in the conduct of the office. Most commonly it is prosecuted as a crime for perjury by a non governmental official primarily because of prosecutorial discretion.

Notable examples

  • Richard Nixon was being investigated for obstruction of justice for his alleged role in the cover-up of the break-in at the Watergate hotel during his re-election campaign in 1972. Although it is unknown whether Nixon had foreknowledge of his re-election committee’s “dirty tricks” campaign against Democratic presidential candidates that led to the break-in, he was aware of it after the fact and paid money to keep the participants quiet.
  • Former Vice-Presidential adviser I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice in March 2007 for his role in the investigation of a leak to reporters that named a CIA agent, Valerie Plame. His prison sentence was commuted by President George W. Bush in July 2007, so that Libby was no longer required to serve a two and a half year prison sentence, but was still required to pay a $250,000 fine, be recorded as a convicted felon, obey probation terms, and be disbarred.
  • Conrad Black was convicted of obstruction of justice in July 2007[2] for removing 13 boxes containing financial records from his office in Toronto after they had been sealed by a court order, returning the boxes a few days later.
  • Barry Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice on April 13, 2011 for his testimony in front of the grand jury during the BALCO steroid scandal.[3] The conviction was later overturned by an appellate court.[4]
  • In United States v. Binion, malingering (feigning illness) during a competency evaluation was held to be obstruction of justice and led to an enhanced sentence.[5]

Obstruction trends

“Anticipatory obstruction of justice” has recently appeared on the horizon in cases such as US v. Wolff.[6] However, the operative section, 1519, passed in 2002, has thus far languished in quasi-obscurity. Titled “Destruction, Alteration or Falsification of Records in Federal Investigations and Bankruptcy,” the provision was passed under Section 802 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

The text of the statute is relatively straightforward:

Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsified, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under Title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

Aside from Section 1519’s 20-year maximum prison sentence (no small benefit to the government in big-dollar fraud loss cases such as Wolff), its primary appeal is that it uniquely removes certain key proof burdens from prosecutors’ collective shoulders.

Prosecutors charging violations of Section 1519 must still establish both of the following:

  • The accused knowingly directed the obstructive act to affect an issue or matter within the jurisdiction of any U.S. department or agency.
  • The accused acted at least “in relation to” or “in contemplation’” of such issue or matter.

Not on the list, however, is the requirement that prosecutors demonstrate to the finder of fact which specific “pending proceeding” the accused attempted to obstruct. That is a significant benefit to the government.[7]

See also

Footnotes

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obstruction_of_justice

Story 2: How Long Will Prime Minister May Remain Prime Minister? — Videos

 

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May, Corbyn Cast Ballots As Britain Goes To The Polls

Theresa May Could Lose Majority

Polls show UK PM May set to boost majority

Britons not rallying around PM Theresa May?

 

TABLE-British election results: PM May falls short of majority

LONDON, June 9 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May faced calls to quit on Friday after her election gamble to win a stronger mandate backfired as she lost her parliamentary majority, throwing British politics into turmoil and potentially disrupting Brexit negotiations. Below is a running total for how many seats each party holds. May is unable to get the 326 seats her Conservative party needs for an outright majority. She would need nine more seats, with only two more seats left to declare Party Seats so far Conservative 317 Labour 261 Lib Dems 12 SNP 35 Greens 1 UKIP 0 DUP 10 Other 12 Unreported 2 (Reporting by Alistair Smout and Georgina Prodhan; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-4586860/TABLE-British-election-results-seats-far-party.html#ixzz4jY3jgxZV

 

Humbled Theresa May says losing Tory candidates ‘didn’t deserve it’ but vows to be PM for five more years with support of the DUP… but do her rivals have other ideas?

  • Prime Minister Theresa May has lost seats in the general election in a stunning reversal of her hopes
  • Ashen faced Mrs May vows to stay on despite hammering insisting she can provide ‘certainty’ for the country
  • Mrs May said her government will keep Britain safe by cracking down on terrorism in the recent attacks
  • Serious questions remain over how terrorists behind the atrocities slipped through the net on her watch 
  • She has struck a deal with the 10 MPs from the DUP and is going to see the Queen to ask to form government 
  • But Tories are already breaking ranks to make clear that Mrs May must consider her position after the result
  • Mrs May is expected to reshuffle her cabinet this evening in an attempt to keep a grip on power
  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has demanded that Mrs May ‘go’ and make way for government led by him
  • With just one seat left to count, Conservatives are down from 330 to 318, and Labour up from 232 to 262
  • Ministers including Jane Ellison and Ben Gummer have been ousted in a surge by Mr Corbyn’s party 
  • The US woke to the news of a Tory humiliation and President Donald Trump said the result was ‘surprising’ 
  • Fully 23 hours after polls closed across UK, Kensington was claimed by Labour to draw a line under the results 

Theresa May has finally apologised to the Tory MPs who lost their seats overnight but refused to say if her election disaster had weakened her hand in Brexit negotiations

Theresa May has finally apologised to the Tory MPs who lost their seats overnight but refused to say if her election disaster had weakened her hand in Brexit negotiations

A humbled Theresa May has finally apologised to defeated Tory MPs and pledged to stay for five more years – but is now too ‘weak’ to sack rivals including Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson, it was revealed today.

The Prime Minister’s political career is hanging by a thread after she promised to offer ‘certainty’ for Britain as PM – despite the Tories suffering humiliating losses when her election gamble backfired.

She will now rely on the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland to prop her up when she had hoped for a landslide victory.

Mrs May has said Chancellor Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Brexit Secretary David Davis and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon – five favourites to replace her as leader – will keep their jobs.

The Chancellor and Foreign Minister could have been ‘goners’ but she is now ‘too weak to sack them’, a source said, while another expert suggested she has has been ‘taken prisoner’ by her Cabinet colleagues.

Earlier Mrs May stood in Downing Street and declared her determination to carry on for a full five-year term after getting permission from the Queen to form a government, even though she spectacularly lost her Commons majority overnight.

Incredibly she failed to mention that she had humiliatingly lost seats to Labour after calling the election three years early in a bid to capitalise on sky-high poll ratings.

Around two hours later she appeared on TV again and apologised to defeated Tory MPs after she was accused ‘lacking humility’.

Mrs May acknowledged that she had called an election three years early hoping for a ‘large’ majority, adding: ‘That was not the result that we secured’.

She said: ‘As I reflect on the result, I will reflect on what we need to do in the future to take the party forward.

‘I am sorry for those candidates and hard-working party workers who weren’t successful but also particularly sorry for those colleagues who were MPs or ministers who had contributed so much to our country and who lost their seats and didn’t deserve to lose their seats.’

Mrs May today refused to say if her election disaster has killed off Britain’s chances of a good deal to leave the EU – with former Chancellor George Osborne saying: ‘Hard Brexit went in the rubbish bin last night’.

Senior MPs such as Sarah Wollaston, Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan have openly called for Mrs May to step aside – with the latter suggesting she should go within ‘weeks or months’ because her credibility is shot.

One senior Tory MP told ITV News: ‘We all f***ing hate her. But there is nothing we can do. She has totally f***ed us’.

Mrs May declared her determination to carry on in Downing Street after going to see the Queen to request permission to form a government – even though she has lost her Commons majority

The PM was flanked by husband Philip on the steps of No10 as she delivered her statement after seeing the Queen today

The PM was flanked by husband Philip on the steps of No10 as she delivered her statement after seeing the Queen today

Mrs May was welcomed back into Downing Street by staff after the Queen gave her permission to form a new government

Mrs May was welcomed back into Downing Street by staff after the Queen gave her permission to form a new government

But the Tory leader looked slightly awkward being clapped by No10 staff after her poor showing in the general election

But the Tory leader looked slightly awkward being clapped by No10 staff after her poor showing in the general election

ELECTION 2017 RESULTS

UK results

Show
previous

SeatsVotes

650 of 650 seats declared 326 seats needed for majority
Con Theresa May (48.92%)
318
8short
Prev. held: 331
Lab Jeremy Corbyn (40.31%)
262
64short
Prev. held: 232
SNP Angus Robertson (5.38%)
35
291short
Prev. held: 56
Lib Dem Tim Farron (1.85%)
12
314short
Prev. held: 8
DUP Arlene Foster (1.54%)
10
316short
Prev. held: 8
Green Caroline Lucas (0.15%)
1
325short
Prev. held: 1
UKIP Paul Nuttall
0
Prev. held: 1
Lab vs. ConTurnout: 32,196,224 (68.73%)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4586042/Stunning-exit-poll-suggests-Theresa-LOST-seats.html#ixzz4jYp3DZSs

 

Story 3: President Trump On New Infrastructure and Regulation — Videos

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

~President Ronald Reagan

January 20, 1981: From Reagan’s Inaugural Address.

“Prosperity is the best protector of principle.”

~ Mark Twain

Trump launches week focused on improving US infrastructure

President Trump’s Plan to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure

President Trump Participates in the Roads, Rails, and Regulatory Relief Roundtable

President Trump Full Speech @ Department of Transportation 6/9/17

Trump’s full Transportation Department speech

President Trump Hosts Infrastructure Summit with Governors and Mayors

Vice President Pence Gives Remarks at an Infrastructure Summit

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 896, May 18, 2017, Story 1: A Broadcasting Legend, Roger Ailes, Dies at Age 77, Rest in Peace — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Tweets: “The is The Single Greatest Witch Hunt of A Politician in American History” — Special Counsel: Bad Idea — Robert Mueller: Good Choice — Videos

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Image result for roger ailes dead at 77Image result for roger ailes and familyImage result for cartoons branco trump witch huntImage result for trump russian investigation a witch hunt

Story 1: A Broadcasting Legend, Roger Ailes, Dies at Age 77, Rest in Peace — Videos

Image result for roger ailes and familyImage result for roger ailes and family

Rupert Murdoch statement on Roger Ailes’ passing

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Roger Ailes, Who Built Fox News Into an Empire, Dies at 77

Former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes dead at 77

Remembering Roger Ailes

World reacts to the death of Roger Ailes

Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes dead at 77

Roger Ailes leaves behind complicated legacy

Lionel Nation YouTube Live Stream: Roger Ailes Eulogium, Mueller the DNC Nightmare & Comey the Clown

Fox News anchors learned of the death of former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes from Drudge

  • Fox News anchors learned of death of former chairman and CEO from Drudge
  • Fox published a breaking news segment on Twitter following Roger Ailes’ death
  • Steve Doocy said: ‘They have published, Drudge has, a statement from his wife’
  • Ainsley Earhardt added: ‘Beth you are in our thoughts and our prayers, and so is Zachary, their beautiful son. Roger, rest in peace.’
  • Ailes died aged 77, according to his wife, who released statement to Matt Drudge
Roger Ailes has died at the age of 77, his wife Elizabeth revealed in a statement on Thursday

Roger Ailes has died at the age of 77, his wife Elizabeth revealed in a statement on Thursday

Fox News anchors only learned of the death of its former chairman and CEO from Drudge Report.

Roger Ailes died aged 77, according to his wife Elizabeth, who released a statement to Matt Drudge.

In a breaking news segment tweeted by the network on Thursday morning, Fox & Friends’ Steve Doocy reported: ‘Roger Ailes, one of the founders of the Fox News channel has died.

‘They have published, Drudge has, a statement from his wife Elizabeth.’

The statement was then read out before Ainsley Earhardt added: ‘Beth you are in our thoughts and our prayers, and so is Zachary, their beautiful son. Roger, rest in peace.’

His death comes less than a year after he resigned from the company over allegations of sexual harassment.

His wife Elizabeth, with whom he has one son, said: ‘I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning. Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many.

‘He was also a patriot, profoundly grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise — and to give back.

‘During a career that stretched over more than five decades, his work in entertainment, in politics, and in news affected the lives of many millions.

‘And so even as we mourn his death, we celebrate his life,’ the statement reads.

Steve Doocy (left) reported: ‘Roger Ailes, one of the founders of the Fox News channel has died'

Steve Doocy (left) reported: ‘Roger Ailes, one of the founders of the Fox News channel has died’

There was no further information on the cause of Ailes’ death. He celebrated his 77th birthday on Monday.

Ailes had struggled with his health. He had hemophilia, multiple surgeries to replace his joints and a secret prostate surgery a few years ago that put him on an extended leave from the network, according to New York magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman.

Last year, Sherman reported that Ailes was still having trouble walking and rarely left his executive suite.

A friend who ran into Ailes in Palm Beach over the 2015-2016 holidays told the magazine that he was using a walker at the time.

In an excerpt from the 2013 biography Roger Ailes Off Camera, Ailes said he knew he didn’t have long left to live.

‘My doctor told me that I’m old, fat, and ugly, but none of those things is going to kill me immediately,’ he told the author, Zev Chafets, shortly before his 72nd birthday. ‘The actuaries say I have six to eight years. The best tables give me 10. Three thousand days, more or less.’

He added: ‘I’d give anything for another 10 years.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4518872/Fox-News-learned-Roger-Ailes-death-Drudge.html#ixzz4hSwIC0Lw

Michael Wolff on Roger Ailes’ Final Days and a Complicated Murdoch Relationship

Matt Furman
Roger Ailes in his Fox News office in 2014.

The Fox News exec understood the intensity of the unhappiness and anger in another America that liberal media people are only now waking up to with Donald Trump.

I made a mental note last night to call Roger in the morning and get his take on the Trump events of the last few days. There are few conversations more entertaining and insightful than Roger Ailes on Republican politics, where he’s known all the players, their strengths and particularly their weaknesses. While the bet noir to liberals, his most scathing and often hilarious critiques have often been reserved for conservatives. His 50 years among the kahunas of GOP politics — as one of the creators of modern Republican politics — made him, among his other political claims to fame, among his party’s sharpest observers. On his friend Donald Trump, no one has been keener. But at 8:30 this morning, his wife Beth texted me that he had died a few minutes ago at age 77.

It was a particular cruelty of the anti-Ailes press that it often focused on Beth, with rumors of a breakdown in their marriage and impending divorce. In fact, she was fierce in her devotion to him, and his most implacable defender. In the 10 months since he had been forced out as chairman of Fox News Channel, the network —arguably, the most significant political force in American life for a generation — that he launched, built and ran for 20 years, she carried him. This past autumn, after their hard summer of accusations and media conviction, she had flown down to Palm Beach and bought for themselves a waterfront mansion, where she hoped he would retire and where living well would at least be some revenge.

Retirement was more Beth’s idea than his. Roger and I spoke a week ago, just after the last ouster at Fox — Bill Shine, his lieutenant who had taken over his job, following by a week the ouster of Bill O’Reilly — and, invariably, the subject was Fox’s quickly eroding fortunes and the possibilities for a new conservative network. Roger, yet proscribed by the non-compete provisions of his separation agreement, nevertheless had a plan in his head, and was taking calls. “I can’t call. But I can’t stop people from calling me,” he said. As we spoke, Beth texted pictures of their view and of a newly svelte Roger lying lazily in the sun.

All things considered, it was a happy winter. Or, anyway, he was certainly weighing the benefits of being out of the office and out of the fray. Still, clearly, both he and Beth could only get so far from the bitterness they felt about his end at Fox. Worse still, the terms of his departure from Fox put draconian limits on what he could say and how he might defend himself. The payout that he believed he had earned — having created a $30 billion asset and 21st Century Fox’s most profitable business — was the price of his silence. The most voluble and pugnacious man in American media was forced to keep still.

But privately, angrily, he couldn’t wait to settle scores.

In his view, the political showdown that was always bound to happen — which, to me, he had predicted several years before — had finally happened, albeit uglier, and with more finality, than he had ever expected. “They got the memo,” he said, with some forbearance. “If you strike the king, you better kill him.”

James Murdoch

Michael Wolff: It’s James Murdoch’s Fox News Now

By “they,” he meant Rupert Murdoch’s sons. And most particularly James Murdoch, who, two years ago, was elevated to CEO of his father’s company, who Ailes regarded as an impetuous, grandiose, self-satisfied rich kid. Wryly, he admitted bringing this feud on himself. “I made the money those kids spent. So, no, I wasn’t going to suck up to them.”

Indeed, not long before his ouster, Ailes had enraged James by going around his back and helping to convince his father to squelch a plan for a new, temple-like 21st Century Fox headquarters that James wanted to build.

The relationship of Ailes to Murdoch senior, often his loyal patron but frequently just a boss stuck having to indulge his highest earner, was also always a fraught one. When I wrote my Murdoch biography in 2009, one of the few stipulations of my access to Murdoch was that I not interview Ailes, who, I gathered, Rupert felt got too much credit for the company’s success.

In July, over a two week period of press leaks after former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, Ailes was ousted without opportunity to defend himself. Even when James hired the law firm Paul, Weiss, to investigate the charges against Ailes, Ailes himself wasn’t called. In effect, in order to get his payout, he had to accept his disgrace — and it was enough money that he agreed to what he surely considered a devil’s bargain.

It is, of course, impossible to know what might be true or not. And now it can never entirely be known. Surely, his political enemies, the legions of them, were concerned much less for the truth than that he be gone. As surely, less is true than what the various lawsuits allege, because that is the nature of lawsuits. All of us who know what Roger reflexively talks like, irascibly, caustically and with retrograde vividness, give him, at least privately, the benefit of the doubt.

In the end, the larger story is about someone who, from Nixon’s “silent majority” to Reagan’s “Reagan Democrats” to Fox News, understood the intensity of the unhappiness and anger in another America that we liberal media people are only now waking up to with Donald Trump.

More personally, when you’re in the media business, what you look for is someone who is at the top of his craft, who understands the real score, who knows how to gossip and who has stories to tell. If you missed knowing Roger, you missed out.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/michael-wolff-roger-ailes-final-days-a-complicated-murdoch-relationship-1005194

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Robert Meuller Named Special Prosecutor in Trump-Russia Probe. Tucker and Jason Chaffetz Weigh In.

Trump Blasts Russia Investigation as a ‘Witch Hunt’ on Twitter

Explaining Robert Mueller’s New Role as Special Counsel

While Most Sing Mueller’s Praises, Louie Gohmert Says He’s a Big Problem!

Bill Bennett talks pros and cons of Russia special counsel

Ingraham: Left has been trying to impeach since Election Day

What does special counsel mean for the Russia probe?

As special counsel, Mueller to have significant power in Russia probe

Brit Hume: Mueller is the grownup needed for Russia probe

Remarks from Robert Mueller III

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead lyrics

Play “Ding Dong! The Witc…”
on Amazon Music
Munchkins
Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.
Wake up – sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead. She’s gone where the goblins go,
Below – below – below. Yo-ho, let’s open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong’ the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know
The Wicked Witch is dead!
Mayor
As Mayor of the Munchkin City, In the County of the Land of Oz, I welcome you most regally.
Barrister
But we’ve got to verify it legally, to see
Mayor
To see?
Barrister
If she
Mayor
If she?
Barrister
Is morally, ethic’lly
Father No.1
Spiritually, physically
Father No. 2
Positively, absolutely
Munchkins
Undeniably and reliably Dead
Coroner
As Coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined her.
And she’s not only merely dead, she’s really most sincerely dead.
Mayor
Then this is a day of Independence For all the Munchkins and their descendants
Barrister
If any.
Mayor
Yes, let the joyous news be spread The wicked Old Witch at last is dead!

A Special Enemy

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was born and bred to torment Donald Trump.

Donald Trump went to sleep Wednesday night with a new enemy outside his window: former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

LEON NEYFAKH

Leon Neyfakh is a Slate staff writer.

Mueller, a 72-year-old former prosecutor who left the FBI in 2013, has been called upon by the Justice Department to serve as a special counsel to investigate Trump and his associates. In accordance with an order issued Wednesday by the deputy attorney general, it will be up to Mueller—whose last name is pronounced Muh-lur—to decide whether anyone involved in the Trump campaign should be charged with a crime. “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability,” Mueller said in a statement Wednesday.

Even if Mueller’s investigation doesn’t result in any charges being brought, it’s almost certain Mueller and his team will end up asking Trump questions he doesn’t want to answer and demanding to see documents he doesn’t want to provide. Barring a drastic change in Trump’s disposition, the president will respond to these affronts by publishing angry tweets about Mueller and snarling about him in interviews. Maybe he’ll even compare him to a “dog,” as he did recently when talking about former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. Or perhaps he could threaten Mueller, as he did last week in a tweet directed at former FBI Director James Comey.

While Trump loathes a lot of people, his hatred of Mueller is likely to be particularly intense. That’s because Mueller is exactly the kind of guy Trump always hates. He’s also exactly the kind of law enforcement official Trump doesn’t understand.

Raised in a wealthy suburb of Philadelphia, Mueller has Roman numerals in his name and attended a New Hampshire boarding school alongside John Kerry. Later, he followed in his father’s footsteps to Princeton, where he played lacrosse, and received a master’s from New York University and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. According to NPR, former CIA Director George Tenet described Mueller in 2013 as a “high Protestant with a locked jaw [and a] blue blazer, khaki pants, penny loafers, maybe a little Vitalis and Old Spice to boot.”

Mueller was an oddity at the FBI, said Tim Weiner, author of Enemies: A History of the FBI. “There are not a lot of people named Robert Swan Mueller III in the directory of the FBI,” he told me. “Bobby is very patrician. He’s very well-bred.”

It helped that Mueller was also a Marine who fought in Vietnam, having served as the leader of a rifle platoon and been awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Journalists who’ve profiled him invariably note that Mueller’s time in the Marines shaped him profoundly and informed his demanding leadership style. When David Margolis showed up to his first day of work as Mueller’s deputy at the FBI, on the Monday after George W. Bush’s inauguration in 2001, he discovered an unsigned note on his desk that was unmistakably from Mueller: “It’s 0700. Where are you?”

Sworn in exactly one week before 9/11, Mueller found himself in charge of fixing a broken FBI that had failed to make sense of crucial clues before the attacks. Writing in Time in 2011, Barton Gellman described the state of the bureau before Mueller’s arrival: “The labor force—heavily white and male, with a blue collar culture that prized physical courage over book smarts lacked the language and technical skills to adapt.” Gellman explained that in the aftermath of 9/11, questions arose as to whether the FBI “was irreparably broken, ill equipped to collect intelligence and disinclined to share it anyway.”

Over the course of 12 years, Mueller worked to transform the agency into an organization that could both hold people responsible for past crimes and suss out malfeasance that hadn’t yet been committed—terrorist plots in particular. Mueller, Gellman wrote, “remade the bureau in his image,” as “[o]utsiders displaced agents with badges and guns as assistant directors in charge of finance, human resources, information technology and the directorate of weapons of mass destruction.” In his office, according to a Washingtonian piece by Garrett Graff, Mueller kept shelves lined with “counterterrorism books, manuals on IT and computers, and business books on such topics as ‘change management’ by corporate thinkers like Jack Welch.” Only a “tiny section,” Graff wrote, was “devoted to crime.”

Mueller, who is not an imposing street soldier who wears a cool uniform, doesn’t fit Trump’s image of a law enforcement official. As evidenced by the fact that villainous Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke appears to have landed a job in the Department of Homeland Security, Trump prefers guys who are cartoonishly “tough on crime.” He also tends to focus his political attention on rank-and-file members of police unions, presenting himself as a friend to regular cops while ignoring the senior “brass” who tell them what to do.  Trump has refused to even acknowledge the memo he was sent in February in which a raft of high-profile police chiefs—including Bill Bratton from the NYPD and David Brown, who was head of the Dallas Police Department at the time of the deadly sniper attack that killed five officers—urged him to reconsider his preferred crime-reduction strategy of putting as many people as possible in prison for as long as the law allows.

It’s possible, though unlikely, that under different circumstances Trump would be impressed by a fancy, smart guy like Mueller and would try to impress him back. But there’s one more thing about Mueller that’s going to make it impossible for Trump to show him any respect: The former FBI director is practically blood brothers with James Comey.

The bond between the two men was forged in early 2004—years before Comey succeeded Mueller as FBI director. Comey, who was then serving as the deputy attorney general under John Ashcroft, was locked in a high-stakes dispute with George W. Bush, who wanted to overrule the Justice Department’s conclusion that an NSA domestic surveillance program was illegal. As Graff tells it in his Washingtonian piece, Ashcroft was in a hospital room recovering from surgery when he was ambushed by a pair of White House aides. Here’s Graff:

Comey was driving home on Constitution Avenue with his security escort of U.S. marshals the night of Tuesday, March 10, 2004, when he got a call. … White House chief of staff Andy Card and White House counsel [Alberto] Gonzales were on their way to see Ashcroft in the hospital.

Comey told his driver to turn on the emergency lights and head to the hospital. Then he began calling other Justice officials to rally them at George Washington University Hospital.

Mueller was at dinner with his wife and daughter when he got the call from Comey at 7:20 pm. “I’ll be right there,” he said.

In 2007, Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he believed Card and Gonzales intended to use Ashcroft’s semiconscious state to get the attorney general to sign off on the surveillance program he had previously opposed. By intercepting them in Ashcroft’s hospital room, Comey and Mueller may have prevented the Bush administration officials from getting the attorney general’s signature. (Comey said in his testimony that Ashcroft made the ultimate decision to rebuff Card and Gonzales.) They also helped put the White House and the Justice Department on course for an epic confrontation. Not long after the incident at the hospital, Mueller told Bush he would resign if the surveillance program continued. Bush, realizing he faced a situation on par with Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre,” backed down. Afterward, Graff wrote, Mueller and Comey “shared a dark laugh” before going back to work.

“I think that experience, of having to stand together and say, ‘No, Mr. President, you can’t do this,’ really mind-melded them,” said Weiner. “It was a moment of brotherhood.”

At this point, no friend of Jim Comey is ever going to be a friend of Donald Trump, especially when he’s leading the same investigation that Comey led before his ouster. Odds are good, in fact, that Trump will use Mueller’s closeness with Comey to accuse him of bias and question the legitimacy of his inquiry.

If and when Trump does go after Mueller—he dipped his toe in the water Thursday morning by tweeting about how it was unfair that a special counsel had been appointed to conduct the “witch hunt” against him—their showdown will be marked by a pleasing irony. In one corner will be the patrician and brainy Mueller, who has little in common with the “real cops” the president so admires. In the other will be Trump, who will soon find out what being ”tough on crime” really means. …

THE SCOPE OF THE SPECIAL COUNSEL APPOINTMENT IS TOTALLY INADEQUATE

Rod Rosenstein just appointed former FBI Director (and, before that, US Attorney) Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to take over the investigation into Trump and his associates.

I’m agnostic about the selection of Mueller. He has the benefit of credibility among FBI Agents, so will be able to make up for some of what was lost with Jim Comey’s firing. He will be regarded by those who care about such things as non-partisan. With Jim Comey, Mueller stood up to Dick Cheney on Stellar Wind in 2004 (though I think in reality his willingness to withstand Cheney’s demands has been overstated).

But Mueller has helped cover up certain things in the past, most notably with the Amerithrax investigation.

My bigger concern is with the scope, which I believe to be totally inadequate.

Here’s how the order describes the scope:

(b) The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James 8. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:

(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and

(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and

(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).

As I read this, it covers just the investigation into ties between the Russian government and people associated with Trump’s campaign. Presumably, that includes Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Carter Page, among others.

But there are other aspects of the great swamp that is the Trump and Russia orbit that might not be included here. For example, would Manafort’s corrupt deals with Ukrainian oligarchs be included? Would Flynn’s discussions with Turkish officials, or Rudy Giuliani’s attempt to excuse Turkey’s violation of Iran sanctions? Would the garden variety money laundering on behalf of non-governmental Russian mobbed up businessmen be included, something that might affect Manafort, Jared Kushner, or Trump himself?

And remember there are at least two other aspects of the Russian hacking investigation. Back in February, Reuters reported that San Francisco’s office was investigating Guccifer 2.0 and Pittsburgh was investigating the actual hackers.  Somewhere (San Francisco would be the most logical spot), they’re presumably investigating whoever it is that has been dumping NSA’s hacking tools everywhere. I’ve learned that that geography has either changed, or there are other aspects tied to those issues in other corners of the country.

Plus, there’s the Wikileaks investigation in EDVA, the same district where the Mueller-led investigation might reside, but a distinct investigation.

Any one of those investigations might present strings that can be pulled, any one of which might lead to the unraveling of the central question: did Trump’s associates coordinate with the Russian government to become President. Unless Mueller can serve to protect those other corners of the investigation from Trump’s tampering, it would be easy to shut down any of them as they become productive.

Yet, as far as I understand the scope of this, Mueller will only oversee the central question, leaving those disparate ends susceptible to Trump’s tampering.

Update: In its statement on the appointment, ACLU raises concerns about whether this would include the investigation into Trump’s attempt to obstruct this investigation.

Update: WaPo’s Philip Rucker reminds that Mueller is law firm partners with Jamie Gorelick, who has been representing both Ivanka and Kushner in this issue.

Update: Mueller is quitting WilmberHale to take this gig. He’s also taking two WilmerHale former FBI people with him. Still, that’s a close tie to the lawyer of someone representing key subjects of this investigation.

Update: One addition to the ACLU concern about investigating the Comey firing. In the most directly relevant precedent, the Plame investigation, when Pat Fitzgerald expanded his investigation from the leak of Plame’s identity to the obstruction of the investigation, he asked for approval to do so from the Acting Attorney General overseeing the investigation — in that case, Jim Comey.

The Acting Attorney General in this case is Rod Rosenstein. So if Mueller were as diligent as Fitzgerald was, he would have to ask the guy who provided the fig leaf for Comey’s firing to approve the expansion of the investigation to cover his own fig leaf.

Update: Petey noted to me that Jeff Sessions’ narrow recusal may limit how broadly Rosenstein’s order may be drawn. It’s a really interesting observation. Here’s what I said about Sessions’ recusal (which is very similar to what I tried to address in this post).

There are two areas of concern regarding Trump’s ties that would not definitively be included in this recusal: Trump’s long-term ties to mobbed up businessmen with ties to Russia (a matter not known to be under investigation but which could raise concerns about compromise of Trump going forward), and discussions about policy that may involve quid pro quos (such as the unproven allegation, made in the Trump dossier, that Carter Page might take 19% in Rosneft in exchange for ending sanctions against Russia), that didn’t involve a pay-off in terms of the hacking. There are further allegations of Trump involvement in the hacking (a weak one against Paul Manafort and a much stronger one against Michael Cohen, both in the dossier), but that’s in no way the only concern raised about Trump’s ties with Russians.

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The Pronk Pops Show 856, March 20, 2017, Story 1: National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers and FBI Director James Comey Confirm There Is No Evidence That Russians Changed The Votes or Results of Presidential Election And No Collusion Between Russians and Trump Campaign –But FBI Is Still Investigating and Cannot Say More — Big Lie Media Lied Again — Videos — Story 2: National Security Agency (NSA) Collects And Stores All Communications Over The Internet Including Trump’s and Advisers — No Need For Warrants — Who Was The National Security Target? — Who Leaked The Content and Transcript of General Mike Flynn’s Conversations With Russian Ambassador? Time To Release The Full Transcripts of All Conversations — Videos

Posted on March 20, 2017. Filed under: 2016 Presidential Campaign, 2016 Presidential Candidates, American History, Blogroll, Breaking News, College, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Culture, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Education, Elections, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Foreign Policy, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Great Britain, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Impeachment, Independence, Law, Life, Media, National Security Agency, Obama, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Presidential Appointments, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Russia, Scandals, Security, Senate, Senator Jeff Sessions, Social Security, Spying, Success, Taxation, Taxes, Terrorism, United States Constitution, United States of America, United States Supreme Court, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , |

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Story 1: National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers and FBI Director James Comey Confirm There Is No Evidence That Russians Changed The Votes or Results of Presidential Election And No Collusion Between Russians and Trump Campaign –But FBI Is Still Investigating and Cannot Say More —  Big Lie Media Lied Again — Videos — 

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FBI Director James Comey’s Testifies at House Intelligence Committee Hearing – Opening Statement

Comey: Putin hated Hillary Clinton | Comey, Rogers testify on Russia, wiretapping

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While many Democrats frequently say Russia “hacked” the presidential election, National Security Administration Director Adm. Michael Rogers and FBI Director James Comey both confirmed today that Russian activities had no impact on tallying votes in states.

“On January 6, 2017, the intelligence community assessment assessing Russian activities and intentions in recent US elections stated that the types of systems Russians actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said.

Going to Adm. Rogers, Nunes said, “Do you have any evidence that Russian actors changed vote tallies in the state of Michigan?” referring to a battleground state Hillary Clinton lost.

“No, I do not,” Rogers responded, before emphasizing the NSA is a foreign intelligence agency, and does not focus domestically.

“How about the state of Pennsylvania?” Nunes asked.

“No, sir,” Rogers responded.

“The state of Wisconsin?”

“No, sir,” Rogers said.

He gave similar answers when asked about vote tallying in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.

Turning to Comey, Nunes said, “Do you have any evidence that the FBI that any votes were changed in the states I mentioned to Adm. Rogers?”

“No,” Comey responded

 

http://www.theamericanmirror.com/fbi-nsa-no-evidence-russia-manipulated-us-vote-tallying/

 

The Democrats’ Trump-Russia Conspiracy Campaign Collapses

Is sanity finally returning? After weeks of ranting and raving about Russian “interference” and Putin-Trump conspiracies, so-called ‘intelligence’ agencies and high-ranking Democrats are quietly walking back their rhetoric and managing their base’s expectations – simply put: there’s no ‘there’, there.

‘Moon of Alabama’ reminds us that a while ago Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone warned: Why the Russia Story Is a Minefield for Democrats and the Media:

If we engage in Times-style gilding of every lily the leakers throw our way, and in doing so build up a fever of expectations for a bombshell reveal, but there turns out to be no conspiracy – Trump will be pre-inoculated against all criticism for the foreseeable future.

And now, as The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald writes, key Democratic officials are now warning their base not to expect

From MSNBC politics shows to town hall meetings across the country, the overarching issue for the Democratic Party’s base since Trump’s victory has been Russia, often suffocating attention for other issues. This fixation has persisted even though it has no chance to sink the Trump presidency unless it is proven that high levels of the Trump campaign actively colluded with the Kremlin to manipulate the outcome of the U.S. election — a claim for which absolutely no evidence has thus far been presented.

The principal problem for Democrats is that so many media figures and online charlatans are personally benefiting from feeding the base increasingly unhinged, fact-free conspiracies — just as right-wing media polemicists did after both Bill Clinton and Obama were elected — that there are now millions of partisan soldiers absolutely convinced of a Trump/Russia conspiracy for which, at least as of now, there is no evidence. And they are all waiting for the day, which they regard as inevitable and imminent, when this theory will be proven and Trump will be removed.

Key Democratic officials are clearly worried about the expectations that have been purposely stoked and are now trying to tamp them down. Many of them have tried to signal that the beliefs the base has been led to adopt have no basis in reason or evidence.

The latest official to throw cold water on the MSNBC-led circus is President Obama’s former acting CIA chief Michael Morell. What makes him particularly notable in this context is that Morell was one of Clinton’s most vocal CIA surrogates. In August, he not only endorsed Clinton in the pages of the New York Times but also became the first high official to explicitly accuse Trump of disloyalty, claiming, “In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

But on Wednesday night, Morell appeared at an intelligence community forum to “cast doubt” on “allegations that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.” “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire at all,” he said, adding, “There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.”

Obama’s former CIA chief also cast serious doubt on the credibility of the infamous, explosive “dossier” originally published by BuzzFeed, saying that its author, Christopher Steele, paid intermediaries to talk to the sources for it. The dossier, he said, “doesn’t take you anywhere, I don’t think.”

Morell’s comments echo the categorical remarks by Obama’s top national security official, James Clapper, who told Meet the Press last week that during the time he was Obama’s DNI, he saw no evidence to support claims of a Trump/Russia conspiracy. “We had no evidence of such collusion,” Clapper stated unequivocally. Unlike Morell, who left his official CIA position in 2013 but remains very integrated into the intelligence community, Clapper was Obama’s DNI until just seven weeks ago, leaving on January 20.

Perhaps most revealing of all are the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee — charged with investigating these matters — who recently told BuzzFeed how petrified they are of what the Democratic base will do if they do not find evidence of collusion, as they now suspect will likely be the case. “There’s a tangible frustration over what one official called ‘wildly inflated’ expectations surrounding the panel’s fledgling investigation,” BuzzFeed’s Ali Watkins wrote.

Moreover, “several committee sources grudgingly say, it feels as though the investigation will be seen as a sham if the Senate doesn’t find a silver bullet connecting Trump and Russian intelligence operatives.” One member told Watkins: “I don’t think the conclusions are going to meet people’s expectations.”

What makes all of this most significant is that officials like Clapper and Morell are trained disinformation agents; Clapper in particular has proven he will lie to advance his interests. Yet even with all the incentive to do so, they are refusing to claim there is evidence of such collusion; in fact, they are expressly urging people to stop thinking it exists. As even the law recognizes, statements that otherwise lack credibility become more believable when they are ones made “against interest.”

Media figures have similarly begun trying to tamp down expectations. Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, which published the Steele dossier, published an article yesterday warning that the Democratic base’s expectation of a smoking gun “is so strong that Twitter and cable news are full of the theories of what my colleague Charlie Warzel calls the Blue Detectives — the left’s new version of Glenn Beck, digital blackboards full of lines and arrows.” Smith added: “It is also a simple fact that while news of Russian actions on Trump’s behalf is clear, hard details of coordination between his aides and Putin’s haven’t emerged.” And Smith’s core warning is this:

Trump’s critics last year were horrified at the rise of “fake news” and the specter of a politics shaped by alternative facts, predominantly on the right. They need to be careful now not to succumb to the same delusional temptations as their political adversaries, and not to sink into a filter bubble which, after all, draws its strength not from conservative or progressive politics but from human nature.

And those of us covering the story and the stew of real information, fantasy, and — now — forgery around it need to continue to report and think clearly about what we know and what we don’t, and to resist the sugar high that comes with telling people exactly what they want to hear.

For so long, Democrats demonized and smeared anyone trying to inject basic reason, rationality, and skepticism into this Trump/Russia discourse by labeling them all Kremlin agents and Putin lovers. Just this week, the Center for American Progress released a report using the language of treason to announce the existence of a “Fifth Column” in the U.S. that serves Russia (similar to Andrew Sullivan’s notorious 2001 decree that anyone opposing the war on terror composed an anti-American “Fifth Column”), while John McCain listened to Rand Paul express doubts about the wisdom of NATO further expanding to include Montenegro and then promptly announced: “Paul is working for Vladimir Putin.”

But with serious doubts — and fears — now emerging about what the Democratic base has been led to believe by self-interested carnival barkers and partisan hacks, there is a sudden, concerted effort to rein in the excesses of this story. With so many people now doing this, it will be increasingly difficult to smear them all as traitors and Russian loyalists, but it may be far too little, too late, given the pitched hysteria that has been deliberately cultivated around these issues for months. Many Democrats have reached the classic stage of deranged conspiracists where evidence that disproves the theory is viewed as further proof of its existence, and those pointing to it are instantly deemed suspect.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-17/democrats-trump-russia-conspiracy-campaign-collapses

FROM MSNBC POLITICS shows to town hall meetings across the country, the overarching issue for the Democratic Party’s base since Trump’s victory has been Russia, often suffocating attention for other issues. This fixation has persisted even though it has no chance to sink the Trump presidency unless it is proven that high levels of the Trump campaign actively colluded with the Kremlin to manipulate the outcome of the U.S. election — a claim for which absolutely no evidence has thus far been presented.

The principal problem for Democrats is that so many media figures and online charlatans are personally benefiting from feeding the base increasingly unhinged, fact-free conspiracies — just as right-wing media polemicists did after both Bill Clinton and Obama were elected — that there are now millions of partisan soldiers absolutely convinced of a Trump/Russia conspiracy for which, at least as of now, there is no evidence. And they are all waiting for the day, which they regard as inevitable and imminent, when this theory will be proven and Trump will be removed.

Key Democratic officials are clearly worried about the expectations that have been purposely stoked and are now trying to tamp them down. Many of them have tried to signal that the beliefs the base has been led to adopt have no basis in reason or evidence.

The latest official to throw cold water on the MSNBC-led circus is President Obama’s former acting CIA chief Michael Morell. What makes him particularly notable in this context is that Morell was one of Clinton’s most vocal CIA surrogates. In August, he not only endorsed Clinton in the pages of the New York Times but also became the first high official to explicitly accuse Trump of disloyalty, claiming, “In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

But on Wednesday night, Morell appeared at an intelligence community forum to “cast doubt” on “allegations that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.” “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire at all,” he said, adding, “There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.”

Obama’s former CIA chief also cast serious doubt on the credibility of the infamous, explosive “dossier” originally published by BuzzFeed, saying that its author, Christopher Steele, paid intermediaries to talk to the sources for it. The dossier, he said, “doesn’t take you anywhere, I don’t think.”

Morell’s comments echo the categorical remarks by Obama’s top national security official, James Clapper, who told Meet the Press last week that during the time he was Obama’s DNI, he saw no evidence to support claims of a Trump/Russia conspiracy. “We had no evidence of such collusion,” Clapper stated unequivocally. Unlike Morell, who left his official CIA position in 2013 but remains very integrated into the intelligence community, Clapper was Obama’s DNI until just seven weeks ago, leaving on January 20.

Perhaps most revealing of all are the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee — charged with investigating these matters — who recently told BuzzFeed how petrified they are of what the Democratic base will do if they do not find evidence of collusion, as they now suspect will likely be the case. “There’s a tangible frustration over what one official called ‘wildly inflated’ expectations surrounding the panel’s fledgling investigation,” BuzzFeed’s Ali Watkins wrote.

Moreover, “several committee sources grudgingly say, it feels as though the investigation will be seen as a sham if the Senate doesn’t find a silver bullet connecting Trump and Russian intelligence operatives.” One member told Watkins: “I don’t think the conclusions are going to meet people’s expectations.”

What makes all of this most significant is that officials like Clapper and Morell are trained disinformation agents; Clapper in particular has proven he will lie to advance his interests. Yet even with all the incentive to do so, they are refusing to claim there is evidence of such collusion; in fact, they are expressly urging people to stop thinking it exists. As even the law recognizes, statements that otherwise lack credibility become more believable when they are ones made “against interest.”

Media figures have similarly begun trying to tamp down expectations. Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, which published the Steele dossier, published an article yesterday warning that the Democratic base’s expectation of a smoking gun “is so strong that Twitter and cable news are full of the theories of what my colleague Charlie Warzel calls the Blue Detectives — the left’s new version of Glenn Beck, digital blackboards full of lines and arrows.” Smith added: “It is also a simple fact that while news of Russian actions on Trump’s behalf is clear, hard details of coordination between his aides and Putin’s haven’t emerged.” And Smith’s core warning is this:

Trump’s critics last year were horrified at the rise of “fake news” and the specter of a politics shaped by alternative facts, predominantly on the right. They need to be careful now not to succumb to the same delusional temptations as their political adversaries, and not to sink into a filter bubble which, after all, draws its strength not from conservative or progressive politics but from human nature.

And those of us covering the story and the stew of real information, fantasy, and — now — forgery around it need to continue to report and think clearly about what we know and what we don’t, and to resist the sugar high that comes with telling people exactly what they want to hear.

For so long, Democrats demonized and smeared anyone trying to inject basic reason, rationality, and skepticism into this Trump/Russia discourse by labeling them all Kremlin agents and Putin lovers. Just this week, the Center for American Progress released a report using the language of treason to announce the existence of a “Fifth Column” in the U.S. that serves Russia (similar to Andrew Sullivan’s notorious 2001 decree that anyone opposing the war on terror composed an anti-American “Fifth Column”), while John McCain listened to Rand Paul express doubts about the wisdom of NATO further expanding to include Montenegro and then promptly announced: “Paul is working for Vladimir Putin.”

But with serious doubts — and fears — now emerging about what the Democratic base has been led to believe by self-interested carnival barkers and partisan hacks, there is a sudden, concerted effort to rein in the excesses of this story. With so many people now doing this, it will be increasingly difficult to smear them all as traitors and Russian loyalists, but it may be far too little, too late, given the pitched hysteria that has been deliberately cultivated around these issues for months. Many Democrats have reached the classic stage of deranged conspiracists where evidence that disproves the theory is viewed as further proof of its existence, and those pointing to it are instantly deemed suspect.

https://theintercept.com/2017/03/16/key-democratic-officials-now-warning-base-not-to-expect-evidence-of-trumprussia-collusion/

ONE OF THE most bizarre aspects of the all-consuming Russia frenzy is the Democrats’ fixation on changes to the RNC platform concerning U.S. arming of Ukraine. The controversy began in July when the Washington Post reported that “the Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week to make sure the new Republican platform won’t call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces.”

Ever since then, Democrats have used this language change as evidence that Trump and his key advisers have sinister connections to Russians and corruptly do their bidding at the expense of American interests. Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke for many in his party when he lambasted the RNC change in a July letter to the New York Times, castigating it as “dangerous thinking” that shows Trump is controlled, or at least manipulated, by the Kremlin. Democrats resurrected this line of attack this weekend when Trump advisers acknowledged that campaign officials were behind the platform change.

This attempt to equate Trump’s opposition to arming Ukraine with some sort of treasonous allegiance to Putin masks a rather critical fact: namely, that the refusal to arm Ukraine with lethal weapons was one of Barack Obama’s most steadfastly held policies. The original Post article that reported the RNC platform change noted this explicitly:

Of course, Trump is not the only politician to oppose sending lethal weapons to Ukraine. President Obama decided not to authorize it, despite recommendations to do so from his top Europe officials in the State Department and the military.

Early media reports about this controversy from outlets such as NPR also noted the irony at the heart of this debate: namely, that arming Ukraine was the long-time desire of hawks in the GOP such as John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio, but the Obama White House categorically resisted those pressures:

Republicans in Congress have approved providing arms to the Ukrainian government but the White House has resisted, saying that it would only encourage more bloodshed.

It’s a rare Obama administration policy that the Trump campaign seems to agree with.

Indeed, the GOP ultimately joined with the hawkish wing of the Democratic Party to demand that Obama provide Ukraine with lethal weapons to fight Russia, but Obama steadfastly refused. As the New York Times reported in March, 2015, “President Obama is coming under increasing pressure from both parties and more officials inside his own government to send arms to the country. But he remains unconvinced that they would help.” When Obama kept refusing, leaders of the two parties threatened to enact legislation forcing Obama to arm Ukraine.

The general Russia approach that Democrats now routinely depict as treasonous – avoiding confrontation with and even accommodating Russian interests, not just in Ukraine but also in Syria – was one of the defining traits of Obama’s foreign policy. This fact shouldn’t be overstated: Obama engaged in provocative acts such as moves to further expand NATO, non-lethal aid to Ukraine, and deploying “missile defense” weaponry in Romania. But he rejected most calls to confront Russia. That is one of the primary reasons the “foreign policy elite” – which, recall, Obama came into office denouncing and vowing to repudiate – was so dissatisfied with his presidency.

A new, long article by Politico foreign affairs correspondent Susan Glasser – on the war being waged against Trump by Washington’s “foreign policy elite” – makes this point very potently. Say what you will about Politico, but one thing they are very adept at doing is giving voice to cowardly Washington insiders by accommodating their cowardice and thus routinely granting them anonymity to express themselves. As journalistically dubious as it is to shield the world’s most powerful people with anonymity, this practice sometimes ends up revealing what careerist denizens of Washington power really think but are too scared to say. Glasser’s article, which largely consists of conveying the views of anonymous high-level Obama officials, contains this remarkable passage:

In other words, Democrats are now waging war on, and are depicting as treasonous, one of Barack Obama’s central and most steadfastly held foreign policy positions, one that he clung to despite attacks from leading members of both parties as well as the DC National Security Community. That’s not Noam Chomsky drawing that comparison; it’s an Obama appointee.

The destructive bipartisan Foreign Policy Community was furious with Obama for not confronting Russia more, and is now furious with Trump for the same reason (though they certainly loath and fear Trump for other reasons, including the threat they believe he poses to U.S. imperial management through a combination of ineptitude, instability, toxic PR, naked rather than prettified savagery, and ideology; Glasser writes: “‘Everything I’ve worked for for two decades is being destroyed,’ a senior Republican told me”).

 

ALL OF THIS demonstrates how fundamental a shift has taken place as a result of the Democrats’ election-related fixation on The Grave Russian Threat. To see how severe the shift is, just look at this new polling data from CNN this morning that shows Republicans and Democrats doing a complete reversal on Russia in the span of eight months:

The Democrats’ obsession with Russia has not just led them to want investigations into allegations of hacking and (thus far evidence-free) suspicions of Trump campaign collusion – investigations which everyone should want. It’s done far more than that: it’s turned them into increasingly maniacal and militaristic hawks – dangerous ones – when it comes to confronting the only nation with a larger nuclear stockpile than the U.S., an arsenal accompanied by a sense of fear, if not outright encirclement, from NATO expansion.

Put another way, establishment Democrats – with a largely political impetus but now as a matter of conviction – have completely abandoned Obama’s accommodationist approach to Russia and have fully embraced the belligerent, hawkish mentality of John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Bill Kristol, the CIA and Evan McMullin. It should thus come as no surprise that a bill proposed by supreme warmonger Lindsey Graham to bar Trump from removing sanctions against Russia has more Democratic co-sponsors than Republican ones.

This is why it’s so notable that Democrats, in the name of “resistance,” have aligned with neocons, CIA operatives and former Bush officials: not because coalitions should be avoided with the ideologically impure, but because it reveals much about the political and policy mindset they’ve adopted in the name of stopping Trump. They’re not “resisting” Trump from the left or with populist appeals – by, for instance, devoting themselves to protection of Wall Street and environmental regulations under attack, or supporting the revocation of jobs-killing free trade agreements, or demanding that Yemini civilians not be massacred.

Instead, they’re attacking him on the grounds of insufficient nationalism, militarism, and aggression: equating a desire to avoid confrontation with Moscow as a form of treason (just like they did when they were the leading Cold Warriors). This is why they’re finding such common cause with the nation’s most bloodthirsty militarists – not because it’s an alliance of convenience but rather one of shared convictions (indeed, long before Trump, neocons were planning a re-alignment with Democrats under a Clinton presidency). And the most ironic – and over-looked – aspect of this whole volatile spectacle is how much Democrats have to repudiate and demonize one of Obama’s core foreign policy legacies while pretending that they’re not doing that.

https://theintercept.com/2017/03/06/democrats-now-demonize-the-same-russia-policies-that-obama-long-championed/

Trump claims Democrats ‘made up’ reports about Russia’s election interference

President Trump on Monday dismissed widespread reports of Russia’s meddling in the presidential election as “FAKE NEWS.” In a series of tweets, Trump alleged Democrats “made up and pushed the Russian story,” seemingly referring to the FBI- and CIA-backed reports that Russia interfered in the election to dash Hillary Clinton’s chances, thus helping Trump.

Trump claimed Democrats fabricated the story “as an excuse for running a terrible campaign”:

The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!

Trump then noted former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s remark earlier this month that a paper compiled by the DNI, NSA, FBI, and CIA included “no evidence” of Trump associates’ collusion with Russia. Clapper said neither he nor the agencies had uncovered any “evidence of such collusion.”

James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!

Top House Intelligence Committee Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) later said he was “surprised” by Clapper’s comment because he did not think that claim could be made “categorically.” “I would characterize it this way: At the outset of the investigation, there was circumstantial evidence of collusion,” Schiff said. “There was direct evidence, I think, of deception.”

Later Monday, FBI Director James Comey and NSA chief Mike Rogers will testify before Congress about possible connections between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Becca Stanek

http://theweek.com/speedreads/687068/trump-claims-democrats-made-reports-about-russias-election-interference

Story 2: National Security Agency (NSA) Collects And Stores All Communications Over The Internet Including Trump and Advisers — No Need For Warrants — Who Was The National Security Target? — Who Leaked The Content and Transcript of General Mike Flynn’s Conservations With Russian Ambassador? — Time To Release The Full Transcripts of All Conservations — Videos

Image result for Hillary clinton national security not procecutedImage result for branco cartoons comey and rogers NSA FBIImage result for cartoons comey and rogers on russians and trumpImage result for NSA CARTOONS SPYING ON tRUMPImage result for NSA CARTOONS SPYING ON tRUMP

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[youtube-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjAoVEhlrPc]

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Comey won’t commit to investigating Obama officials over Flynn leaks

Autoplay: On | Off

FBI Director James Comey declined to say Monday whether his team has launched an investigation into the leaks that led to former White House national security advisor Mike Flynn’s ouster.

Comey was pressed by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to say whether he could confirm such an investigation is taking place, but Comey said he could not because it might confirm that classified information was leaked.

“I can’t, but I hope people watching know how seriously we take leaks of classified information,” he said during Monday’s hearing on Russia’s influence on the election. “But I don’t want to confirm it by saying that we’re investigating it.”

hile Democrats pushed Comey to discuss possible links between Trump’s campaign and the Russians, Republicans emphasized the impropriety of the leaks and worried that it would create opposition to the federal government’s surveillance authority.

Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, pushed for information about who might have known about Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador. Flynn refused to say if he briefed Obama on the phone calls, although he confirmed that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates — whom Trump fired for refusing to enforce his immigration executive order — would have had access to the information.

“What I don’t ever want to do is compound what bad people have done and confirm something that’s in the newspaper,” Comey said. “Because sometimes the newspaper gets it right, [but] there’s a whole lot of wrong information allegedly about classified activities that’s in the newspaper — we don’t call them and correct them, either. That’s another big challenge. But we just don’t go anywhere near it because we don’t want to help and compound the offense that was committed.”

Gowdy argued that he was wrong to stand on such ceremony under the circumstances, particularly given that a major NSA surveillance program is scheduled to expire this year unless Congress reauthorizes the program. Comey emphasized that the program, known as Section 702, has nothing to do with the Flynn scandal, but Gowdy argued that the storyline is still a threat to that program.

“You are 100 percent correct and I am 100 percent correct that that is a distinction that doesn’t make a difference to most of the people watching television,” Gowdy said. “What we are reauthorizing this fall has nothing to do with what we are discussing, other than it is another government program where the people consent to allow government to pursue certain things with the explicit promise it will be protected. So, you’re right, they’re different, but in the eyes of people watching, it is the U.S. government officials leaking the name of a U.S. citizen … trust me, you and I both want to see it reauthorized. It is in jeopardy if we don’t get this resolved.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/comey-wont-commit-to-investigating-obama-officials-over-flynn-leaks/article/2617870

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“FISA” redirects here. For other uses, see FISA (disambiguation).
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978
Great Seal of the United States
Long title An Act to authorize electronic surveillance to obtain foreign intelligence information.
Acronyms(colloquial) FISA
Enacted by the 95th United States Congress
Effective October 25, 1978
Citations
Public law 95-511
Statutes at Large 92 Stat.1783
Codification
Titles amended 50 U.S.C.: War and National Defense
U.S.C. sections created 50 U.S.C.ch. 36 § 1801 et seq.
Legislative history
Major amendments

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (“FISAPub.L. 95–511, 92 Stat.1783, 50 U.S.C.ch. 36) is a United States federal law which prescribes procedures for the physical and electronic surveillance and collection of “foreign intelligence information” between “foreign powers” and “agents of foreign powers” suspected of espionage or terrorism).[1] The Act created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to oversee requests for surveillance warrants by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. It has been repeatedly amended since the September 11 attacks.

Contents

 [show] 

History

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was introduced on May 18, 1977, by Senator Ted Kennedy and was signed into law by President Carter in 1978. The bill was cosponsored by nine Senators: Birch Bayh, James O. Eastland, Jake Garn, Walter Huddleston, Daniel Inouye, Charles Mathias, John L. McClellan, Gaylord Nelson, and Strom Thurmond.

The FISA resulted from extensive investigations by Senate Committees into the legality of domestic intelligence activities. These investigations were led separately by Sam Ervin and Frank Church in 1978 as a response to President Richard Nixon’s usage of federal resources to spy on political and activist groups.[2] The act was created to provide judicial and congressional oversight of the government’s covert surveillance activities of foreign entities and individuals in the United States, while maintaining the secrecy needed to protect national security.

Warrantless domestic wiretapping program

The Act came into public prominence in December 2005 following publication by the New York Times of an article[3] that described a program of warrantless domestic wiretapping ordered by the Bush administration and carried out by the National Security Agency since 2002; a subsequent Bloomberg article[4] suggested that this may have already begun by June 2000.

Provisions

The subchapters of FISA provide for:

Electronic surveillance

Generally, the statute permits electronic surveillance in two different scenarios.

Without a court order

The President may authorize, through the Attorney General, electronic surveillance without a court order for the period of one year, provided that it is only to acquire foreign intelligence information,[5] that it is solely directed at communications or property controlled exclusively by foreign powers,[6] that there is no substantial likelihood that it will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party, and that it be conducted only in accordance with defined minimization procedures.[7]

The code defines “foreign intelligence information” to mean information necessary to protect the United States against actual or potential grave attack, sabotage or international terrorism.[5]

“Foreign powers” means a foreign government, any faction of a foreign nation not substantially composed of U.S. persons, and any entity directed or controlled by a foreign government.[8]The definition also includes groups engaged in international terrorism and foreign political organizations.[9] The sections of FISA authorizing electronic surveillance and physical searches without a court order specifically exclude their application to groups engaged in international terrorism.[10]

A “U.S. person” includes citizens, lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens, and corporations incorporated in the United States.

“Minimization procedures” is defined to mean procedures that minimize the acquisition of information concerning United States persons, allow the retention of information that is evidence of a crime, and require a court order be obtained in order to retain communication involving a United States person for longer than 72 hours.

The Attorney General is required to make a certification of these conditions under seal to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,[11] and report on their compliance to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.[12]

Since 50 U.S.C.§ 1802(a)(1)(A) of this Act specifically limits warrantless surveillance to foreign powers as defined by 50 U.S.C. §1801(a) (1),(2), (3) and omits the definitions contained in 50 U.S.C. §1801(a) (4),(5),(6) the act does not authorize the use of warrantless surveillance on: groups engaged in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefore; foreign-based political organizations, not substantially composed of United States persons; or entities that are directed and controlled by a foreign government or governments.[13] Under the FISA act, anyone who engages in electronic surveillance except as authorized by statute is subject to both criminal penalties[14] and civil liabilities.[15]

Under 50 U.S.C. § 1811, the President may also authorize warrantless surveillance at the beginning of a war. Specifically, he may authorize such surveillance “for a period not to exceed fifteen calendar days following a declaration of war by the Congress”.[16]

With a court order

Alternatively, the government may seek a court order permitting the surveillance using the FISA court.[17] Approval of a FISA application requires the court find probable cause that the target of the surveillance be a “foreign power” or an “agent of a foreign power”, and that the places at which surveillance is requested is used or will be used by that foreign power or its agent.[2][18] In addition, the court must find that the proposed surveillance meet certain “minimization requirements” for information pertaining to U.S. persons.[19] Depending on the type of surveillance, approved orders or extensions of orders may be active for 90 days, 120 days, or a year.[20]

FISA court

The Act created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) and enabled it to oversee requests for surveillance warrants by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies (primarily the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency) against suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the U.S. The court is located within the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington, D.C. The court is staffed by eleven judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to serve seven-year terms.

Proceedings before the FISA court are ex parte and non-adversarial. The court hears evidence presented solely by the Department of Justice. There is no provision for a release of information regarding such hearings, or for the record of information actually collected.

Denials of FISA applications by the FISC may be appealed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. The Court of Review is a three judge panel. Since its creation, the court has come into session twice: in 2002 and 2008.

FISC meets in secret, and approves or denies requests for search warrants. Only the number of warrants applied for, issued and denied, is reported. In 1980 (the first full year after its inception), it approved 322 warrants.[21]This number has steadily grown to 2,224 warrants in 2006.[22] In the period 1979–2006, a total of 22,990 applications for warrants were made to the Court of which 22,985 were approved (sometimes with modifications; or with the splitting up, or combining together, of warrants for legal purposes), and only 5 were definitively rejected.[23]

Physical searches

In addition to electronic surveillance, FISA permits the “physical search” of the “premises, information, material, or property used exclusively by” a foreign power. The requirements and procedures are nearly identical to those for electronic surveillance.

Remedies for violations

Both the subchapters covering physical searches and electronic surveillance provide for criminal and civil liability for violations of FISA.

Criminal sanctions follows violations of electronic surveillance by intentionally engaging in electronic surveillance under the color of law or through disclosing information known to have been obtained through unauthorized surveillance. The penalties for either act are fines up to US$10,000, up to five years in jail, or both.[14]

In addition, the statute creates a cause of action for private individuals whose communications were unlawfully monitored. The statute permits actual damages of not less than $1,000 or $100 per day. In addition, that statute authorizes punitive damages and an award of attorney’s fees.[15] Similar liability is found under the subchapter pertaining to physical searches. In both cases, the statute creates an affirmative defense for law enforcement personnel acting within their official duties and pursuant to a valid court order. Presumably, such a defense is not available to those operating exclusively under presidential authorization.

Lone wolf amendment

In 2004, FISA was amended to include a “lone wolf” provision. 50 U.S.C.§ 1801(b)(1)(C). A “lone wolf” is a non-U.S. person who engages in or prepares for international terrorism. The provision amended the definition of “foreign power” to permit the FISA courts to issue surveillance and physical search orders without having to find a connection between the “lone wolf” and a foreign government or terrorist group. However, “if the court authorizes such a surveillance or physical search using this new definition of ‘agent of a foreign power’, the FISC judge has to find, in pertinent part, that, based upon the information provided by the applicant for the order, the target had engaged in or was engaging in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor”.[24]

Constitutionality

Before FISA

In 1967, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the requirements of the Fourth Amendment applied equally to electronic surveillance and to physical searches. Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967). The Court did not address whether such requirements apply to issues of national security. Shortly after, in 1972, the Court took up the issue again in United States v. United States District Court, Plamondon, where the court held that court approval was required in order for the domestic surveillance to satisfy the Fourth Amendment. 407 U.S. 297 (1972). Justice Powell wrote that the decision did not address this issue that “may be involved with respect to activities of foreign powers or their agents”.

In the time immediately preceding FISA, a number of courts squarely addressed the issue of “warrantless wiretaps”. In both United States v. Brown, 484 F.2d 418 (5th Cir. 1973), and United States v. Butenko, 494 F.2d 593 (3rd Cir. 1974), the courts upheld warrantless wiretaps. In Brown, a U.S. citizen’s conversation was captured by a wiretap authorized by the Attorney General for foreign intelligence purposes. In Butenko, the court held a wiretap valid if the primary purpose was for gathering foreign intelligence information.

A plurality opinion in Zweibon v. Mitchell, 516 F.2d 594 (D.C. Cir. 1975), held that a warrant was required for the domestic surveillance of a domestic organization. In this case, the court found that the domestic organization was not a “foreign power or their agent”, and “absent exigent circumstances, all warrantless electronic surveillance is unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional.”

Post-FISA

There have been very few cases involving the constitutionality of FISA. Two lower court decisions found FISA constitutional. In United States v. Duggan, the defendants were members of the Irish Republican Army. 743 F.2d 59 (2nd Cir., 1984). They were convicted for various violations regarding the shipment of explosives and firearms. The court held that there were compelling considerations of national security in the distinction between the treatment of U.S. citizens and non-resident aliens.

In the United States v. Nicholson, the defendant moved to suppress all evidence gathered under a FISA order. 955 F.Supp. 588 (Va. 1997). The court affirmed the denial of the motion. There the court flatly rejected claims that FISA violated Due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, Equal protection, Separation of powers, nor the Right to counsel provided by the Sixth Amendment.

However, in a third case, the special review court for FISA, the equivalent of a Circuit Court of Appeals, opined differently should FISA limit the President’s inherent authority for warrantless searches in the foreign intelligence area. In In re Sealed Case, 310 F.3d 717, 742 (Foreign Intel. Surv. Ct. of Rev. 2002) the special court stated “[A]ll the other courts to have decided the issue [have] held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information . … We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President’s constitutional power.”

Criticism

K. A. Taipale of the World Policy Institute, James Jay Carafano of the Heritage Foundation,[25] and Philip Bobbitt of Columbia Law School,[26] among others,[27] have argued that FISA may need to be amended to include, among other things, procedures for programmatic approvals, as it may no longer be adequate to address certain foreign intelligence needs and technology developments, including: the transition from circuit-based communications to packet-based communications; the globalization of telecommunication infrastructure; and the development of automated monitoring techniques, including data mining and traffic analysis.[28]

John R. Schmidt, associate attorney general (1994–1997) in the Justice Department under President Bill Clinton, expressed a need for programmatic approval of technology-enabled surveillance programs.[29] He recalled early arguments made by then-Attorney General Edward Levi to the Church Committee that foreign intelligence surveillance legislation should include provisions for programmatically authorizing surveillance programs because of the particular needs of foreign intelligence where “virtually continuous surveillance, which by its nature does not have specifically predetermined targets” may be required. In these situations, “the efficiency of a warrant requirement would be minimal.”

In a 2006 opinion, Judge Richard Posner wrote that FISA “retains value as a framework for monitoring the communications of known terrorists, but it is hopeless as a framework for detecting terrorists. [FISA] requires that surveillance be conducted pursuant to warrants based on probable cause to believe that the target of surveillance is a terrorist, when the desperate need is to find out who is a terrorist.”[30]

Subsequent amendments

The Act was amended in 2001 by the USA PATRIOT Act, primarily to include terrorism on behalf of groups that are not specifically backed by a foreign government.

An overhaul of the bill, the Protect America Act of 2007 was signed into law on August 5, 2007.[31] It expired on February 17, 2008.

The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 passed by the United States Congress on July 9, 2008.[32]

Amendments

Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006

On March 16, 2006, Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced the Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006 (S.2455),[33][34] under which the President would be given certain additional limited statutory authority to conduct electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists in the United States subject to enhanced Congressional oversight. Also on March 16, 2006, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced the National Security Surveillance Act of 2006 (S. 2453),[35][36] which would amend FISA to grant retroactive amnesty[37] for warrantless surveillance conducted under presidential authority and provide FISA court (FISC) jurisdiction to review, authorize, and oversight “electronic surveillance programs”. On May 24, 2006, Senator Specter and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Improvement and Enhancement Act of 2006 (S. 3001) asserting FISA as the exclusive means to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance.

All three competing bills were the subject of Judiciary Committee hearings throughout the summer.[38] On September 13, 2006, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve all three mutually exclusive bills, thus, leaving it to the full Senate to resolve.[39]

On July 18, 2006, U.S. Representative Heather Wilson (R-NM) introduced the Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act (H.R. 5825). Wilson’s bill would give the President the authority to authorize electronic surveillance of international phone calls and e-mail linked specifically to identified terrorist groups immediately following or in anticipation of an armed or terrorist attack on the United States. Surveillance beyond the initial authorized period would require a FISA warrant or a presidential certification to Congress. On September 28, 2006, the House of Representatives passed Wilson’s bill and it was referred to the Senate.[40]

Protect America Act of 2007

Main article: Protect America Act

On July 28, 2007, President Bush called on Congress to pass legislation to reform the FISA in order to ease restrictions on surveillance of terrorist suspects where one party (or both parties) to the communication are located overseas. He asked that Congress pass the legislation before its August 2007 recess. On August 3, 2007, the Senate passed a Republican-sponsored version of FISA (S. 1927) in a vote of 60 to 28. The House followed by passing the bill, 227–183. The Protect America Act of 2007 (Pub.L. 110–55, S. 1927) was then signed into law by George W. Bush on 2007-08-05.[41]

Under the Protect America Act of 2007, communications that begin or end in a foreign country may be wiretapped by the U.S. government without supervision by the FISA Court. The Act removes from the definition of “electronic surveillance” in FISA any surveillance directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States. As such, surveillance of these communications no longer requires a government application to, and order issuing from, the FISA Court.

The Act provides procedures for the government to “certify” the legality of an acquisition program, for the government to issue directives to providers to provide data or assistance under a particular program, and for the government and recipient of a directive to seek from the FISA Court, respectively, an order to compel provider compliance or relief from an unlawful directive. Providers receive costs and full immunity from civil suits for compliance with any directives issued pursuant to the Act.

A summary of key provisions follows. The Act empowers the Attorney General or Director of National Intelligence (“DNI”) to authorize, for up to one year, the acquisition of communications concerning “persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States” if the Attorney General and DNI determine that each of five criteria has been met:

  • There are reasonable procedures in place for determining that the acquisition concerns persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States;
  • The acquisition does not constitute electronic surveillance (meaning it does not involve solely domestic communications);
  • The acquisition involves obtaining the communications data from or with the assistance of a communications service provider who has access to communications;
  • A significant purpose of the acquisition is to obtain foreign intelligence information; and
  • Minimization procedures outlined in the FISA will be used.

This determination by the Attorney General and DNI must be certified in writing, under oath, and supported by appropriate affidavit(s). If immediate action by the government is required and time does not permit the preparation of a certification, the Attorney General or DNI can direct the acquisition orally, with a certification to follow within 72 hours. The certification is then filed with the FISA Court.

Once the certification is filed with the FISA Court, the Attorney General or DNI can direct a provider to undertake or assist in the undertaking of the acquisition.

If a provider fails to comply with a directive issued by the Attorney General or DNI, the Attorney General may seek an order from the FISA Court compelling compliance with the directive. Failure to obey an order of the FISA Court may be punished as a contempt of court.

Likewise, a person receiving a directive may challenge the legality of that directive by filing a petition with the FISA Court. An initial review must be conducted within 48 hours of the filing to determine whether the petition is frivolous, and a final determination concerning any non-frivolous petitions must be made – in writing – within 72 hours of receipt of the petition.

Determinations of the FISA Court may be appealed to the Foreign Intelligence Court of Appeals, and a petition for a writ of certiorari of a decision from the FICA can be made to the U.S. Supreme Court.

All petitions must be filed under seal.

The Act allows providers to be compensated, at the prevailing rate, for providing assistance as directed by the Attorney General or DNI.

The Act provides explicit immunity from civil suit in any federal or state court for providing any information, facilities, or assistance in accordance with a directive under the Act.

Within 120 days, the Attorney General must submit to the FISA Court for its approval the procedures by which the government will determine that acquisitions authorized by the Act conform with the Act and do not involve purely domestic communications. The FISA Court then will determine whether the procedures comply with the Act. The FISA Court thereafter will enter an order either approving the procedures or directing the government to submit new procedures within 30 days or cease any acquisitions under the government procedures. The government may appeal a ruling of the FISA Court to the FICA and ultimately the Supreme Court.

On a semiannual basis, the Attorney General shall inform the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees of the House and Senate of incidents of noncompliance with a directive issued by the Attorney General or the DNI, incidents of noncompliance with FISA Court-approved procedures by the Intelligence Community, and the number of certifications and directives issued during the reporting period.

The amendments to FISA made by the Act expire 180 days after enactment, except that any order in effect on the date of enactment remains in effect until the date of expiration of such order and such orders can be reauthorized by the FISA Court.[42] The Act expired on February 17, 2008.

Subsequent developments

Legal experts experienced in national security issues are divided on how broadly the new law could be interpreted or applied. Some believe that due to subtle changes in the definitions of terms such as “electronic surveillance”, it could empower the government to conduct warrantless physical searches and even seizures of communications and computer devices and their data which belong to U.S. citizens while they are in the United States, if the government contended that those searches and potential seizures were related to its surveillance of parties outside the United States. Intelligence officials, while declining to comment directly on such possibilities, respond that such interpretations are overly broad readings of the act, and unlikely to actually occur.

In a September 10, 2007 address at a symposium on modernizing FISA held at Georgetown University Law Center‘s National Security Center, Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, argued against the current six-month sunset provision in the Protect America Act of 2007, saying that the broadened surveillance powers the act provides for should be made permanent. Wainstein proposed that internal audits by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Division of the Justice Department, with reporting to select groups of Congressmen, would ensure that the expanded capability would not be abused.[43]

Also on September 10, DNI Mike McConnell testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that the Protect America Act had helped foil a major terror plot in Germany. U.S. intelligence-community officials questioned the accuracy of McConnell’s testimony and urged his office to correct it, which he did in a statement issued September 12, 2007. Critics cited the incident as an example of the Bush administration’s exaggerated claims and contradictory statements about surveillance activities. Counterterrorism officials familiar with the background of McConnell’s testimony said they did not believe he made inaccurate statements intentionally as part of any strategy by the administration to persuade Congress to make the new eavesdropping law permanent. Those officials said they believed McConnell gave the wrong answer because he was overwhelmed with information and merely mixed up his facts.[44]

Speaking at National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland on September 19, 2007, President George W. Bush urged Congress to make the provisions of the Protect America Act permanent. Bush also called for retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies who had cooperated with government surveillance efforts, saying, “It’s particularly important for Congress to provide meaningful liability protection to those companies now facing multibillion-dollar lawsuits only because they are believed to have assisted in efforts to defend our nation, following the 9/11 attacks”.[45]

On October 4, 2007, the bipartisan Liberty and Security Committee of the Constitution Project, co-chaired by David Keene and David D. Cole, issued its “Statement on the Protect America Act”.[46] The Statement urged Congress not to reauthorize the PAA, saying the language of the bill “runs contrary to the tripartite balance of power the Framers envisioned for our constitutional democracy, and poses a serious threat to the very notion of government of the people, by the people and for the people”. Some in the legal community have questioned the constitutionality of any legislation that would retroactively immunize telecommunications firms alleged to have cooperated with the government from civil liability for having potentially violated their customers’ privacy rights.[47]

In an article appearing in the January/February 2008 issue of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers journal of Security and Privacy, noted technology experts from academia and the computing industry found significant flaws in the technical implementation of the Protect America Act which they said created serious security risks, including the danger that such a surveillance system could be exploited by unauthorized users, criminally misused by trusted insiders, or abused by the government.[48]

On October 7, 2007, the Washington Post reported that House Democrats planned to introduce alternative legislation which would provide for one-year “umbrella” warrants, and would require the Justice Department inspector general to audit the use of those warrants and issue quarterly reports to a special FISA court and to Congress. The proposed bill would not include immunity for telecommunications firms facing lawsuits in connection with the administration’s NSA warrantless surveillance program. House Democrats said that as long as the administration withholds requested documents explaining the basis for the program that they cannot consider immunity for firms alleged to have facilitated it.[49] On October 10, 2007 comments on the White House South Lawn, President Bush said he would not sign any bill that did not provide retroactive immunity for telecommunications corporations.[50]

On October 18, 2007, the House Democratic leadership put off a vote on the proposed legislation by the full chamber to avoid consideration of a Republican measure that made specific references to Osama bin Laden. At the same time, the Senate Intelligence Committee reportedly reached a compromise with the White House on a different proposal that would give telephone carriers legal immunity for any role they played in the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program approved by President Bush after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.[51]

On November 15, 2007, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10–9 along party lines to send an alternative measure to the full Senate other than the one the intelligence committee had crafted with the White House. The proposal would leave to the full Senate whether or not to provide retroactive immunity to telecommunications firms that cooperated with the NSA. Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy said that granting such immunity would give the Bush administration a “blank check” to do what it wants without regard to the law. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the committee, said that court cases may be the only way Congress can learn exactly how far outside the law the administration has gone in eavesdropping in the United States. When the full Senate takes up the bill, Specter is expected to offer a compromise that would shield the companies from financial ruin but allow lawsuits to go forward by having the federal government stand in for the companies at trial.[52][needs update]

On the same day, the House of Representatives voted 227–189 to approve a Democratic bill that would expand court oversight of government surveillance inside the United States while denying immunity to telecom companies. House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers left the door open to an immunity deal in the future, but said that the White House must first give Congress access to classified documents specifying what the companies did that requires legal immunity.[53]

In February 2008, the Senate passed the version of the new FISA that would allow telecom companies immunity. On March 13, 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives held a secret session to discuss related information. On March 14, the House voted 213–197 to approve a bill that would not grant telecom immunity – far short of the 2/3 majority required to override a Presidential veto.[54] The Senate and House bills are compared and contrasted in a June 12, 2008 report from the Congressional Research Service.[55]

On March 13, 2008, the House of Representatives held a secret, closed door meeting to debate changes to the FISA bill.[56]

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008[edit]

The 2008 amendment of FISA gave telecoms immunity, increased the time allotted for warrantless surveillance, and adds provisions for emergency eavesdropping. On June 20, 2008, the House of Representatives passed the amendment with a vote of 293 to 129.[57][58] It passed in the Senate 69 to 28 on July 9, 2008[59] after a failed attempt to strike Title II from the bill by Senator Dodd.[60] On July 10, 2008, President Bush signed it into law.

2015 USA Freedom Act

On June 2, 2015, many provisions of the 1978 with the passage of the USA Freedom Act.[61] The 2015 law overhauled the powerful United States National Security Agency and required the US government to undergo standard court procedures in order to gather data regarding suspicious activities.[61] However, the law did not completely repeal the controversial Patriot Act and allowed some provisions to expire in later time.[61]

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Intelligence_Surveillance_Act

National Security Agency

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“NSA” redirects here. For other uses, see NSA (disambiguation) and National Security Agency (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with NASA or National Security Council.
Yes
Seal of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Seal of the National Security Agency
Flag of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Flag of the National Security Agency
National Security Agency headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland.jpg
NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland
Agency overview
Formed November 4, 1952; 64 years ago[1]
Preceding agency
  • Armed Forces Security Agency
Headquarters Fort Meade, Maryland, U.S.
39°6′32″N 76°46′17″WCoordinates: 39°6′32″N 76°46′17″W
Motto “Defending Our Nation. Securing The Future.”
Employees Classified (30,000–40,000 estimate)[2][3][4][5]
Annual budget Classified (estimated $10.8 billion, 2013)[6][7]
Agency executives
Parent agency United States Department of Defense
Website www.nsa.gov

The National Security Agency (NSA) is an intelligence organization of the United States federal government responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). NSA is concurrently charged with protection of U.S. government communications and information systems against penetration and network warfare.[8][9] Although many of NSA’s programs rely on “passive” electronic collection, the agency is authorized to accomplish its mission through active clandestine means,[10] among which are physically bugging electronic systems[11] and allegedly engaging in sabotage through subversive software.[12][13] Moreover, NSA maintains physical presence in a large number of countries across the globe, where its Special Collection Service (SCS) inserts eavesdropping devices in difficult-to-reach places. SCS collection tactics allegedly encompass “close surveillance, burglary, wiretapping, breaking and entering”.[14][15]

Unlike the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), both of which specialize primarily in foreign human espionage, NSA does not unilaterally conduct human-source intelligence gathering, despite often being portrayed so in popular culture. Instead, NSA is entrusted with assistance to and coordination of SIGINT elements at other government organizations, which are prevented by law from engaging in such activities without the approval of the NSA via the Defense Secretary.[16] As part of these streamlining responsibilities, the agency has a co-located organization called the Central Security Service (CSS), which was created to facilitate cooperation between NSA and other U.S. military cryptanalysis components. Additionally, the NSA Director simultaneously serves as the Commander of the United States Cyber Command and as Chief of the Central Security Service.

Originating as a unit to decipher coded communications in World War II, it was officially formed as the NSA by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. Since then, it has become one of the largest U.S. intelligence organizations in terms of personnel and budget,[6][17] operating as part of the Department of Defense and simultaneously reporting to the Director of National Intelligence.

NSA surveillance has been a matter of political controversy on several occasions, such as its spying on anti-Vietnam-war leaders or economic espionage. In 2013, the extent of some of the NSA’s secret surveillance programs was revealed to the public by Edward Snowden. According to the leaked documents, the NSA intercepts the communications of over a billion people worldwide, many of whom are United States citizens, and tracks the movement of hundreds of millions of people using cellphones. Internationally, research has pointed to the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries through “boomerang routing”.[18]

History

Army predecessor

The origins of the National Security Agency can be traced back to April 28, 1917, three weeks after the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in World War I. A code and cipher decryption unit was established as the Cable and Telegraph Section which was also known as the Cipher Bureau. It was headquartered in Washington, D.C. and was part of the war effort under the executive branch without direct Congressional authorization. During the course of the war it was relocated in the army’s organizational chart several times. On July 5, 1917, Herbert O. Yardley was assigned to head the unit. At that point, the unit consisted of Yardley and two civilian clerks. It absorbed the navy’s cryptoanalysis functions in July 1918. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, and MI-8 moved to New York City on May 20, 1919, where it continued intelligence activities as the Code Compilation Company under the direction of Yardley.[19][20]

Black Chamber

Western Union allowed MI-8 to monitor telegraphic communications passing through the company’s wires until 1929.[21]

MI-8 also operated the so-called “Black Chamber“.[22] The Black Chamber was located on East 37th Street in Manhattan. Its purpose was to crack the communications codes of foreign governments. Jointly supported by the State Department and the War Department, the chamber persuaded Western Union, the largest U.S. telegram company, to allow government officials to monitor private communications passing through the company’s wires.[23]

Other “Black Chambers” were also found in Europe. They were established by the French and British governments to read the letters of targeted individuals, employing a variety of techniques to surreptitiously open, copy, and reseal correspondence before forwarding it to unsuspecting recipients.[24]

Despite the American Black Chamber’s initial successes, it was shut down in 1929 by U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, who defended his decision by stating: “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”.[21]

World War II and its aftermath

During World War II, the Signal Security Agency (SSA) was created to intercept and decipher the communications of the Axis powers.[25] When the war ended, the SSA was reorganized as the Army Security Agency (ASA), and it was placed under the leadership of the Director of Military Intelligence.[25]

On May 20, 1949, all cryptologic activities were centralized under a national organization called the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA).[25] This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[26] The AFSA was tasked to direct Department of Defense communications and electronic intelligence activities, except those of U.S. military intelligence units.[26] However, the AFSA was unable to centralize communications intelligence and failed to coordinate with civilian agencies that shared its interests such as the Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).[26] In December 1951, President Harry S. Truman ordered a panel to investigate how AFSA had failed to achieve its goals. The results of the investigation led to improvements and its redesignation as the National Security Agency.[27]

The agency was formally established by Truman in a memorandum of October 24, 1952, that revised National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9.[28] Since President Truman’s memo was a classified document,[28] the existence of the NSA was not known to the public at that time. Due to its ultra-secrecy the U.S. intelligence community referred to the NSA as “No Such Agency”.[29]

Vietnam War

In the 1960s, the NSA played a key role in expanding America’s commitment to the Vietnam War by providing evidence of a North Vietnamese attack on the American destroyer USS Maddox during the Gulf of Tonkin incident.[30]

A secret operation, code-named “MINARET“, was set up by the NSA to monitor the phone communications of Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, as well as major civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and prominent U.S. journalists and athletes who criticized the Vietnam War.[31] However, the project turned out to be controversial, and an internal review by the NSA concluded that its Minaret program was “disreputable if not outright illegal”.[31]

The NSA mounted a major effort to secure tactical communications among U.S. forces during the war with mixed success. The NESTOR family of compatible secure voice systems it developed was widely deployed during the Vietnam War, with about 30,000 NESTOR sets produced. However a variety of technical and operational problems limited their use, allowing the North Vietnamese to exploit intercepted U.S. communications.[32]:Vol I, p.79

Church Committee hearings

Further information: Watergate scandal and Church Committee

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, a congressional hearing in 1975 led by Sen. Frank Church[33] revealed that the NSA, in collaboration with Britain’s SIGINT intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had routinely intercepted the international communications of prominent anti-Vietnam war leaders such as Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock.[34] Following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of FBI, CIA and NSA facilities.[35] Senator Frank Church uncovered previously unknown activity,[35] such as a CIA plot (ordered by the administration of President John F. Kennedy) to assassinate Fidel Castro.[36] The investigation also uncovered NSA’s wiretaps on targeted American citizens.[37]

After the Church Committee hearings, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 was passed into law. This was designed to limit the practice of mass surveillance in the United States.[35]

From 1980s to 1990s

In 1986, the NSA intercepted the communications of the Libyan government during the immediate aftermath of the Berlin discotheque bombing. The White House asserted that the NSA interception had provided “irrefutable” evidence that Libya was behind the bombing, which U.S. President Ronald Reagan cited as a justification for the 1986 United States bombing of Libya.[38][39]

In 1999, a multi-year investigation by the European Parliament highlighted the NSA’s role in economic espionage in a report entitled ‘Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information’.[40] That year, the NSA founded the NSA Hall of Honor, a memorial at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland.[41] The memorial is a, “tribute to the pioneers and heroes who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to American cryptology”.[41] NSA employees must be retired for more than fifteen years to qualify for the memorial.[41]

NSA’s infrastructure deteriorated in the 1990s as defense budget cuts resulted in maintenance deferrals. On January 24, 2000, NSA headquarters suffered a total network outage for three days caused by an overloaded network. Incoming traffic was successfully stored on agency servers, but it could not be directed and processed. The agency carried out emergency repairs at a cost of $3 million to get the system running again. (Some incoming traffic was also directed instead to Britain’s GCHQ for the time being.) Director Michael Hayden called the outage a “wake-up call” for the need to invest in the agency’s infrastructure.[42]

War on Terror

After Osama bin Laden moved to Afghanistan in the 1980s, the NSA recorded all of his phone calls via satellite, logging over 2,000 minutes of conversation[43]

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the NSA created new IT systems to deal with the flood of information from new technologies like the Internet and cellphones. ThinThread contained advanced data mining capabilities. It also had a “privacy mechanism”; surveillance was stored encrypted; decryption required a warrant. The research done under this program may have contributed to the technology used in later systems. ThinThread was cancelled when Michael Hayden chose Trailblazer, which did not include ThinThread’s privacy system.[44]

Trailblazer Project ramped up in 2002. SAIC, Boeing, CSC, IBM, and Litton worked on it. Some NSA whistleblowers complained internally about major problems surrounding Trailblazer. This led to investigations by Congress and the NSA and DoD Inspectors General. The project was cancelled in early 2004. Several whistleblowers were later arrested and charged with violating federal espionage laws.

Turbulence started in 2005. It was developed in small, inexpensive “test” pieces, rather than one grand plan like Trailblazer. It also included offensive cyber-warfare capabilities, like injecting malware into remote computers. Congress criticized Turbulence in 2007 for having similar bureaucratic problems as Trailblazer.[45] It was to be a realization of information processing at higher speeds in cyberspace.[46]

Global surveillance disclosures

The massive extent of the NSA’s spying, both foreign and domestic, was revealed to the public in a series of detailed disclosures of internal NSA documents beginning in June 2013. Most of the disclosures were leaked by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

Scope of surveillance

It was revealed that the NSA intercepts telephone and Internet communications of over a billion people worldwide, seeking information on terrorism as well as foreign politics, economics[47] and “commercial secrets”.[48] In a declassified document it was revealed that 17,835 phone lines were on an improperly permitted “alert list” from 2006 to 2009 in breach of compliance, which tagged these phone lines for daily monitoring.[49][50][51] Eleven percent of these monitored phone lines met the agency’s legal standard for “reasonably articulable suspicion” (RAS).[49][52]

A dedicated unit of the NSA locates targets for the CIA for extrajudicial assassination in the Middle East.[53] The NSA has also spied extensively on the European Union, the United Nations and numerous governments including allies and trading partners in Europe, South America and Asia.[54][55]

The NSA tracks the locations of hundreds of millions of cellphones per day, allowing it to map people’s movements and relationships in detail.[56] It reportedly has access to all communications made via Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, Skype, Apple and Paltalk,[57] and collects hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts each year.[58] It has also managed to weaken much of the encryption used on the Internet (by collaborating with, coercing or otherwise infiltrating numerous technology companies), so that the majority of Internet privacy is now vulnerable to the NSA and other attackers.[59][60]

Domestically, the NSA collects and stores metadata records of phone calls,[61] including over 120 million US Verizon subscribers,[62] as well as Internet communications,[57] relying on a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act whereby the entirety of US communications may be considered “relevant” to a terrorism investigation if it is expected that even a tiny minority may relate to terrorism.[63] The NSA supplies foreign intercepts to the DEA, IRS and other law enforcement agencies, who use these to initiate criminal investigations. Federal agents are then instructed to “recreate” the investigative trail via parallel construction.[64]

The NSA also spies on influential Muslims to obtain information that could be used to discredit them, such as their use of pornography. The targets, both domestic and abroad, are not suspected of any crime but hold religious or political views deemed “radical” by the NSA.[65]

Although NSA’s surveillance activities are controversial, government agencies and private enterprises have common needs, and sometimes cooperate at subtle and complex technical levels. Big data is becoming more advantageous, justifying the cost of required computer hardware, and social media lead the trend. The interests of NSA and Silicon Valley began to converge as advances in computer storage technology drastically reduced the costs of storing enormous amounts of data and at the same time the value of the data for use in consumer marketing began to rise. On the other hand, social media sites are growing as voluntary data mining operations on a scale that rivals or exceeds anything the government could attempt on its own.[66]

According to a report in The Washington Post in July 2014, relying on information provided by Snowden, 90% of those placed under surveillance in the U.S. are ordinary Americans, and are not the intended targets. The newspaper said it had examined documents including emails, text messages, and online accounts that support the claim.[67]

Legal accountability

Despite President Obama’s claims that these programs have congressional oversight, members of Congress were unaware of the existence of these NSA programs or the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, and have consistently been denied access to basic information about them.[68] Obama has also claimed that there are legal checks in place to prevent inappropriate access of data and that there have been no examples of abuse;[69] however, the secret FISC court charged with regulating the NSA’s activities is, according to its chief judge, incapable of investigating or verifying how often the NSA breaks even its own secret rules.[70] It has since been reported that the NSA violated its own rules on data access thousands of times a year, many of these violations involving large-scale data interceptions;[71] and that NSA officers have even used data intercepts to spy on love interests.[72] The NSA has “generally disregarded the special rules for disseminating United States person information” by illegally sharing its intercepts with other law enforcement agencies.[73] A March 2009 opinion of the FISC court, released by court order, states that protocols restricting data queries had been “so frequently and systemically violated that it can be fairly said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively.”[74][75] In 2011 the same court noted that the “volume and nature” of the NSA’s bulk foreign Internet intercepts was “fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe”.[73] Email contact lists (including those of US citizens) are collected at numerous foreign locations to work around the illegality of doing so on US soil.[58]

Legal opinions on the NSA’s bulk collection program have differed. In mid-December 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that the “almost-Orwellian” program likely violates the Constitution, and wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”[76]

Later that month, U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled that the NSA’s collection of telephone records is legal and valuable in the fight against terrorism. In his opinion, he wrote, “a bulk telephony metadata collection program [is] a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data” and noted that a similar collection of data prior to 9/11 might have prevented the attack.[77]

An October 2014 United Nations report condemned mass surveillance by the United States and other countries as violating multiple international treaties and conventions that guarantee core privacy rights.[78]

Official responses

On March 20, 2013 the Director of National Intelligence, Lieutenant General James Clapper, testified before Congress that the NSA does not wittingly collect any kind of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans, but he retracted this in June after details of the PRISM program were published, and stated instead that meta-data of phone and Internet traffic are collected, but no actual message contents.[79] This was corroborated by the NSA Director, General Keith Alexander, before it was revealed that the XKeyscore program collects the contents of millions of emails from US citizens without warrant, as well as “nearly everything a user does on the Internet”. Alexander later admitted that “content” is collected, but stated that it is simply stored and never analyzed or searched unless there is “a nexus to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups”.[69]

Regarding the necessity of these NSA programs, Alexander stated on June 27 that the NSA’s bulk phone and Internet intercepts had been instrumental in preventing 54 terrorist “events”, including 13 in the US, and in all but one of these cases had provided the initial tip to “unravel the threat stream”.[80] On July 31 NSA Deputy Director John Inglis conceded to the Senate that these intercepts had not been vital in stopping any terrorist attacks, but were “close” to vital in identifying and convicting four San Diego men for sending US$8,930 to Al-Shabaab, a militia that conducts terrorism in Somalia.[81][82][83]

The U.S. government has aggressively sought to dismiss and challenge Fourth Amendment cases raised against it, and has granted retroactive immunity to ISPs and telecoms participating in domestic surveillance.[84][85] The U.S. military has acknowledged blocking access to parts of The Guardian website for thousands of defense personnel across the country,[86][87] and blocking the entire Guardian website for personnel stationed throughout Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South Asia.[88]

Organizational structure

Michael S. Rogers, the director of the NSA.

The NSA is led by the Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA), who also serves as Chief of the Central Security Service (CHCSS) and Commander of the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and is the highest-ranking military official of these organizations. He is assisted by a Deputy Director, who is the highest-ranking civilian within the NSA/CSS.

NSA also has an Inspector General, head of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), a General Counsel, head of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) and a Director of Compliance, who is head of the Office of the Director of Compliance (ODOC).[89]

Unlike other intelligence organizations such as CIA or DIA, NSA has always been particularly reticent concerning its internal organizational structure.

As of the mid-1990s, the National Security Agency was organized into five Directorates:

  • The Operations Directorate, which was responsible for SIGINT collection and processing.
  • The Technology and Systems Directorate, which develops new technologies for SIGINT collection and processing.
  • The Information Systems Security Directorate, which was responsible for NSA’s communications and information security missions.
  • The Plans, Policy and Programs Directorate, which provided staff support and general direction for the Agency.
  • The Support Services Directorate, which provided logistical and administrative support activities.[90]

Each of these directorates consisted of several groups or elements, designated by a letter. There were for example the A Group, which was responsible for all SIGINT operations against the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and G Group, which was responsible for SIGINT related to all non-communist countries. These groups were divided in units designated by an additional number, like unit A5 for breaking Soviet codes, and G6, being the office for the Middle East, North Africa, Cuba, Central and South America.[91][92]

Structure

As of 2013, NSA has about a dozen directorates, which are designated by a letter, although not all of them are publicly known. The directorates are divided in divisions and units starting with the letter of the parent directorate, followed by a number for the division, the sub-unit or a sub-sub-unit.

The main elements of the organizational structure of the NSA are:[93]

  • F – Directorate only known from unit F6, the Special Collection Service (SCS), which is a joint program created by CIA and NSA in 1978 to facilitate clandestine activities such as bugging computers throughout the world, using the expertise of both agencies.[94]
  • G – Directorate only known from unit G112, the office that manages the Senior Span platform, attached to the U2 spy planes.[95]
  • I – Information Assurance Directorate (IAD), which ensures availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and non-repudiation of national security and telecommunications and information systems (national security systems).
  • J – Directorate only known from unit J2, the Cryptologic Intelligence Unit
  • L – Installation and Logistics
  • M – Human Resources
  • Q – Security and Counterintelligence
  • R – Research Directorate, which conducts research on signals intelligence and on information assurance for the U.S. Government.[96]
  • S – Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), which is responsible for the collection, analysis, production and dissemination of signals intelligence. This directorate is led by a director and a deputy director. The SID consists of the following divisions:
    • S1 – Customer Relations
    • S2 – Analysis and Production Centers, with the following so-called Product Lines:
      • S2A: South Asia, S2B: China and Korea, S2C: International Security, S2E: Middle East/Asia, S2F: International Crime, S2G: Counter-proliferation, S2H: Russia, S2I: Counter-terrorism, S2J: Weapons and Space, S2T: Current Threats
    • S3 – Data Acquisition, with these divisions for the main collection programs:
      • S31 – Cryptanalysis and Exploitation Services (CES)
      • S32 – Tailored Access Operations (TAO), which hacks into foreign computers to conduct cyber-espionage and reportedly is “the largest and arguably the most important component of the NSA’s huge Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) Directorate, consisting of over 1,000 military and civilian computer hackers, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers, and electrical engineers.”[97]
      • S33 – Global Access Operations (GAO), which is responsible for intercepts from satellites and other international SIGINT platforms.[98] A tool which details and maps the information collected by this unit is code-named Boundless Informant.
      • S34 – Collections Strategies and Requirements Center
      • S35 – Special Source Operations (SSO), which is responsible for domestic and compartmented collection programs, like for example the PRISM program.[98] Special Source Operations is also mentioned in connection to the FAIRVIEW collection program.[99]
  • T – Technical Directorate (TD)
  • Directorate for Education and Training
  • Directorate for Corporate Leadership
  • Foreign Affairs Directorate, which acts as liaison with foreign intelligence services, counter-intelligence centers and the UKUSA-partners.
  • Acquisitions and Procurement Directorate
  • Information Sharing Services (ISS), led by a chief and a deputy chief.[100]

In the year 2000, a leadership team was formed, consisting of the Director, the Deputy Director and the Directors of the Signals Intelligence (SID), the Information Assurance (IAD) and the Technical Directorate (TD). The chiefs of other main NSA divisions became associate directors of the senior leadership team.[101]

After president George W. Bush initiated the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP) in 2001, the NSA created a 24-hour Metadata Analysis Center (MAC), followed in 2004 by the Advanced Analysis Division (AAD), with the mission of analyzing content, Internet metadata and telephone metadata. Both units were part of the Signals Intelligence Directorate.[102]

A 2016 proposal would combine the Signals Intelligence Directorate with the Information Assurance Directorate into a Directorate of Operations.[103]

Watch centers

The NSA maintains at least two watch centers:

  • National Security Operations Center (NSOC), which is the NSA’s current operations center and focal point for time-sensitive SIGINT reporting for the United States SIGINT System (USSS). This center was established in 1968 as the National SIGINT Watch Center (NSWC) and renamed into National SIGINT Operations Center (NSOC) in 1973. This “nerve center of the NSA” got its current name in 1996.[104]
  • NSA/CSS Threat Operations Center (NTOC), which is the primary NSA/CSS partner for Department of Homeland Security response to cyber incidents. The NTOC establishes real-time network awareness and threat characterization capabilities to forecast, alert, and attribute malicious activity and enable the coordination of Computer Network Operations. The NTOC was established in 2004 as a joint Information Assurance and Signals Intelligence project.[105]

Employees

The number of NSA employees is officially classified[4] but there are several sources providing estimates. In 1961, NSA had 59,000 military and civilian employees, which grew to 93,067 in 1969, of which 19,300 worked at the headquarters at Fort Meade. In the early 1980s NSA had roughly 50,000 military and civilian personnel. By 1989 this number had grown again to 75,000, of which 25,000 worked at the NSA headquarters. Between 1990 and 1995 the NSA’s budget and workforce were cut by one third, which led to a substantial loss of experience.[106]

In 2012, the NSA said more than 30,000 employees worked at Fort Meade and other facilities.[2] In 2012, John C. Inglis, the deputy director, said that the total number of NSA employees is “somewhere between 37,000 and one billion” as a joke,[4] and stated that the agency is “probably the biggest employer of introverts.”[4] In 2013 Der Spiegel stated that the NSA had 40,000 employees.[5] More widely, it has been described as the world’s largest single employer of mathematicians.[107] Some NSA employees form part of the workforce of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that provides the NSA with satellite signals intelligence.

As of 2013 about 1,000 system administrators work for the NSA.[108]

Security issues

The NSA received criticism early on in 1960 after two agents had defected to the Soviet Union. Investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee and a special subcommittee of the United States House Committee on Armed Services revealed severe cases of ignorance in personnel security regulations, prompting the former personnel director and the director of security to step down and leading to the adoption of stricter security practices.[109] Nonetheless, security breaches reoccurred only a year later when in an issue of Izvestia of July 23, 1963, a former NSA employee published several cryptologic secrets.

The very same day, an NSA clerk-messenger committed suicide as ongoing investigations disclosed that he had sold secret information to the Soviets on a regular basis. The reluctance of Congressional houses to look into these affairs had prompted a journalist to write, “If a similar series of tragic blunders occurred in any ordinary agency of Government an aroused public would insist that those responsible be officially censured, demoted, or fired.” David Kahn criticized the NSA’s tactics of concealing its doings as smug and the Congress’ blind faith in the agency’s right-doing as shortsighted, and pointed out the necessity of surveillance by the Congress to prevent abuse of power.[109]

Edward Snowden‘s leaking of the existence of PRISM in 2013 caused the NSA to institute a “two-man rule“, where two system administrators are required to be present when one accesses certain sensitive information.[108]Snowden claims he suggested such a rule in 2009.[110]

Polygraphing

Defense Security Service (DSS) polygraph brochure given to NSA applicants

The NSA conducts polygraph tests of employees. For new employees, the tests are meant to discover enemy spies who are applying to the NSA and to uncover any information that could make an applicant pliant to coercion.[111] As part of the latter, historically EPQs or “embarrassing personal questions” about sexual behavior had been included in the NSA polygraph.[111]The NSA also conducts five-year periodic reinvestigation polygraphs of employees, focusing on counterintelligence programs. In addition the NSA conducts periodic polygraph investigations in order to find spies and leakers; those who refuse to take them may receive “termination of employment”, according to a 1982 memorandum from the director of the NSA.[112]

File:NSApolygraphvideo.webm

NSA-produced video on the polygraph process

There are also “special access examination” polygraphs for employees who wish to work in highly sensitive areas, and those polygraphs cover counterintelligence questions and some questions about behavior.[112] NSA’s brochure states that the average test length is between two and four hours.[113] A 1983 report of the Office of Technology Assessment stated that “It appears that the NSA [National Security Agency] (and possibly CIA) use the polygraph not to determine deception or truthfulness per se, but as a technique of interrogation to encourage admissions.”[114] Sometimes applicants in the polygraph process confess to committing felonies such as murder, rape, and selling of illegal drugs. Between 1974 and 1979, of the 20,511 job applicants who took polygraph tests, 695 (3.4%) confessed to previous felony crimes; almost all of those crimes had been undetected.[111]

In 2010 the NSA produced a video explaining its polygraph process.[115] The video, ten minutes long, is titled “The Truth About the Polygraph” and was posted to the Web site of the Defense Security Service. Jeff Stein of The Washington Post said that the video portrays “various applicants, or actors playing them — it’s not clear — describing everything bad they had heard about the test, the implication being that none of it is true.”[116] AntiPolygraph.org argues that the NSA-produced video omits some information about the polygraph process; it produced a video responding to the NSA video.[115] George Maschke, the founder of the Web site, accused the NSA polygraph video of being “Orwellian“.[116]

After Edward Snowden revealed his identity in 2013, the NSA began requiring polygraphing of employees once per quarter.[117]

Arbitrary firing

The number of exemptions from legal requirements has been criticized. When in 1964 the Congress was hearing a bill giving the director of the NSA the power to fire at will any employee,The Washington Post wrote: “This is the very definition of arbitrariness. It means that an employee could be discharged and disgraced on the basis of anonymous allegations without the slightest opportunity to defend himself.” Yet, the bill was accepted by an overwhelming majority.[109]

Insignia and memorials

Seal of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

The heraldic insignia of NSA consists of an eagle inside a circle, grasping a key in its talons.[118] The eagle represents the agency’s national mission.[118] Its breast features a shield with bands of red and white, taken from the Great Seal of the United States and representing Congress.[118] The key is taken from the emblem of Saint Peter and represents security.[118]

When the NSA was created, the agency had no emblem and used that of the Department of Defense.[119] The agency adopted its first of two emblems in 1963.[119] The current NSA insignia has been in use since 1965, when then-Director, LTG Marshall S. Carter (USA) ordered the creation of a device to represent the agency.[120]

The NSA’s flag consists of the agency’s seal on a light blue background.

National Cryptologic Memorial

Crews associated with NSA missions have been involved in a number of dangerous and deadly situations.[121] The USS Liberty incident in 1967 and USS Pueblo incident in 1968 are examples of the losses endured during the Cold War.[121]

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service Cryptologic Memorial honors and remembers the fallen personnel, both military and civilian, of these intelligence missions.[122] It is made of black granite, and has 171 names carved into it, as of 2013 .[122] It is located at NSA headquarters. A tradition of declassifying the stories of the fallen was begun in 2001.[122]

NSANet (NSA’s intranet)

Behind the Green Door – Secure communications room with separate computer terminals for access to SIPRNET, GWAN, NSANET, and JWICS

NSANet stands for National Security Agency Network and is the official NSA intranet.[123] It is a classified network,[124] for information up to the level of TS/SCI[125] to support the use and sharing of intelligence data between NSA and the signals intelligence agencies of the four other nations of the Five Eyes partnership. The management of NSANet has been delegated to the Central Security Service Texas (CSSTEXAS).[126]

NSANet is a highly secured computer network consisting of fiber-optic and satellite communication channels which are almost completely separated from the public Internet. The network allows NSA personnel and civilian and military intelligence analysts anywhere in the world to have access to the agency’s systems and databases. This access is tightly controlled and monitored. For example, every keystroke is logged, activities are audited at random and downloading and printing of documents from NSANet are recorded.[127]

In 1998, NSANet, along with NIPRNET and SIPRNET, had “significant problems with poor search capabilities, unorganized data and old information”.[128] In 2004, the network was reported to have used over twenty commercial off-the-shelf operating systems.[129] Some universities that do highly sensitive research are allowed to connect to it.[130]

The thousands of Top Secret internal NSA documents that were taken by Edward Snowden in 2013 were stored in “a file-sharing location on the NSA’s intranet site” so they could easily be read online by NSA personnel. Everyone with a TS/SCI-clearance had access to these documents and as a system administrator, Snowden was responsible for moving accidentally misplaced highly sensitive documents to more secure storage locations.[131]

National Computer Security Center

The DoD Computer Security Center was founded in 1981 and renamed the National Computer Security Center (NCSC) in 1985. NCSC was responsible for computer security throughout the federal government.[132] NCSC was part of NSA,[133] and during the late 1980s and the 1990s, NSA and NCSC published Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria in a six-foot high Rainbow Series of books that detailed trusted computing and network platform specifications.[134] The Rainbow books were replaced by the Common Criteria, however, in the early 2000s.[134]

Facilities

Headquarters

National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, 2013

Headquarters for the National Security Agency is located at 39°6′32″N 76°46′17″W in Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, although it is separate from other compounds and agencies that are based within this same military installation. Ft. Meade is about 20 mi (32 km) southwest of Baltimore,[135] and 25 mi (40 km) northeast of Washington, DC.[136] The NSA has its own exit off Maryland Route 295 South labeled “NSA Employees Only”.[137][138] The exit may only be used by people with the proper clearances, and security vehicles parked along the road guard the entrance.[139]

NSA is the largest employer in the U.S. state of Maryland, and two-thirds of its personnel work at Ft. Meade.[140] Built on 350 acres (140 ha; 0.55 sq mi)[141] of Ft. Meade’s 5,000 acres (2,000 ha; 7.8 sq mi),[142] the site has 1,300 buildings and an estimated 18,000 parking spaces.[136][143]

NSA headquarters building in Fort Meade (left), NSOC (right)

The main NSA headquarters and operations building is what James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets, describes as “a modern boxy structure” that appears similar to “any stylish office building.”[144] The building is covered with one-way dark glass, which is lined with copper shielding in order to prevent espionage by trapping in signals and sounds.[144] It contains 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2), or more than 68 acres (28 ha), of floor space; Bamford said that the U.S. Capitol “could easily fit inside it four times over.”[144]

The facility has over 100 watchposts,[145] one of them being the visitor control center, a two-story area that serves as the entrance.[144] At the entrance, a white pentagonal structure,[146] visitor badges are issued to visitors and security clearances of employees are checked.[147] The visitor center includes a painting of the NSA seal.[146]

The OPS2A building, the tallest building in the NSA complex and the location of much of the agency’s operations directorate, is accessible from the visitor center. Bamford described it as a “dark glass Rubik’s Cube“.[148] The facility’s “red corridor” houses non-security operations such as concessions and the drug store. The name refers to the “red badge” which is worn by someone without a security clearance. The NSA headquarters includes a cafeteria, a credit union, ticket counters for airlines and entertainment, a barbershop, and a bank.[146] NSA headquarters has its own post office, fire department, and police force.[149][150][151]

The employees at the NSA headquarters reside in various places in the Baltimore-Washington area, including Annapolis, Baltimore, and Columbia in Maryland and the District of Columbia, including the Georgetown community.[152]

Power consumption

Due to massive amounts of data processing, NSA is the largest electricity consumer in Maryland.[140]

Following a major power outage in 2000, in 2003 and in follow-ups through 2007, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA was at risk of electrical overload because of insufficient internal electrical infrastructure at Fort Meade to support the amount of equipment being installed. This problem was apparently recognized in the 1990s but not made a priority, and “now the agency’s ability to keep its operations going is threatened.”[153]

Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE, now Constellation Energy) provided NSA with 65 to 75 megawatts at Ft. Meade in 2007, and expected that an increase of 10 to 15 megawatts would be needed later that year.[154] In 2011, NSA at Ft. Meade was Maryland’s largest consumer of power.[140] In 2007, as BGE’s largest customer, NSA bought as much electricity as Annapolis, the capital city of Maryland.[153]

One estimate put the potential for power consumption by the new Utah Data Center at US$40 million per year.[155]

History of headquarters

Headquarters at Fort Meade circa 1950s

When the agency was established, its headquarters and cryptographic center were in the Naval Security Station in Washington, D.C. The COMINT functions were located in Arlington Hall in Northern Virginia, which served as the headquarters of the U.S. Army‘s cryptographic operations.[156] Because the Soviet Union had detonated a nuclear bomb and because the facilities were crowded, the federal government wanted to move several agencies, including the AFSA/NSA. A planning committee considered Fort Knox, but Fort Meade, Maryland, was ultimately chosen as NSA headquarters because it was far enough away from Washington, D.C. in case of a nuclear strike and was close enough so its employees would not have to move their families.[157]

Construction of additional buildings began after the agency occupied buildings at Ft. Meade in the late 1950s, which they soon outgrew.[157] In 1963 the new headquarters building, nine stories tall, opened. NSA workers referred to the building as the “Headquarters Building” and since the NSA management occupied the top floor, workers used “Ninth Floor” to refer to their leaders.[158] COMSEC remained in Washington, D.C., until its new building was completed in 1968.[157] In September 1986, the Operations 2A and 2B buildings, both copper-shielded to prevent eavesdropping, opened with a dedication by President Ronald Reagan.[159] The four NSA buildings became known as the “Big Four.”[159] The NSA director moved to 2B when it opened.[159]

Fort Meade shooting

On March 30, 2015, shortly before 9 am, a stolen sports utility vehicle approached an NSA police vehicle blocking the road near the gate of Fort Meade, after it was told to leave the area. NSA officers fired on the SUV, killing the 27-year-old driver, Ricky Hall (a transgender person also known as Mya), and seriously injuring his 20-year-old male passenger. An NSA officer’s arm was injured when Hall subsequently crashed into his vehicle.[160][161]

The two, dressed in women’s clothing after a night of partying at a motel with the man they’d stolen the SUV from that morning, “attempted to drive a vehicle into the National Security Agency portion of the installation without authorization”, according to an NSA statement.[162] FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson said the incident is not believed to be related to terrorism.[163] In June 2015 the FBI closed its investigation into the incident and federal prosecutors have declined to bring charges against anyone involved.[164]

An anonymous police official told The Washington Post, “This was not a deliberate attempt to breach the security of NSA. This was not a planned attack.” The two are believed to have made a wrong turn off the highway, while fleeing from the motel after stealing the vehicle. A small amount of cocaine was found in the SUV. A local CBS reporter initially said a gun was found,[165] but her later revision does not.[166] Dozens of journalists were corralled into a parking lot blocks away from the scene, and were barred from photographing the area.[167]

Computing

In 1995, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA is the owner of the single largest group of supercomputers.[168]

NSA held a groundbreaking ceremony at Ft. Meade in May 2013 for its High Performance Computing Center 2, expected to open in 2016.[169] Called Site M, the center has a 150 megawatt power substation, 14 administrative buildings and 10 parking garages.[149] It cost $3.2 billion and covers 227 acres (92 ha; 0.355 sq mi).[149] The center is 1,800,000 square feet (17 ha; 0.065 sq mi)[149] and initially uses 60 megawatts of electricity.[170]

Increments II and III are expected to be completed by 2030, and would quadruple the space, covering 5,800,000 square feet (54 ha; 0.21 sq mi) with 60 buildings and 40 parking garages.[149] Defense contractors are also establishing or expanding cybersecurity facilities near the NSA and around the Washington metropolitan area.[149]

Other U.S. facilities

Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado

Utah Data Center

As of 2012, NSA collected intelligence from four geostationary satellites.[155] Satellite receivers were at Roaring Creek Station in Catawissa, Pennsylvania and Salt Creek Station in Arbuckle, California.[155] It operated ten to twenty taps on U.S. telecom switches. NSA had installations in several U.S. states and from them observed intercepts from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, and Asia.[155]

NSA had facilities at Friendship Annex (FANX) in Linthicum, Maryland, which is a 20 to 25-minute drive from Ft. Meade;[171] the Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora outside Denver, Colorado; NSA Texas in the Texas Cryptology Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas; NSA Georgia at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia; NSA Hawaii in Honolulu; the Multiprogram Research Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and elsewhere.[152][155]

On January 6, 2011 a groundbreaking ceremony was held to begin construction on NSA’s first Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative (CNCI) Data Center, known as the “Utah Data Center” for short. The $1.5B data center is being built at Camp Williams, Utah, located 25 miles (40 km) south of Salt Lake City, and will help support the agency’s National Cyber-security Initiative.[172] It is expected to be operational by September 2013.[155]

In 2009, to protect its assets and to access more electricity, NSA sought to decentralize and expand its existing facilities in Ft. Meade and Menwith Hill,[173] the latter expansion expected to be completed by 2015.[174]

The Yakima Herald-Republic cited Bamford, saying that many of NSA’s bases for its Echelon program were a legacy system, using outdated, 1990s technology.[175] In 2004, NSA closed its operations at Bad Aibling Station (Field Station 81) in Bad Aibling, Germany.[176] In 2012, NSA began to move some of its operations at Yakima Research Station, Yakima Training Center, in Washington state to Colorado, planning to leave Yakima closed.[177] As of 2013, NSA also intended to close operations at Sugar Grove, West Virginia.[175]

International stations

RAF Menwith Hill has the largest NSA presence in the United Kingdom.[174]

Following the signing in 1946–1956[178] of the UKUSA Agreement between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who then cooperated on signals intelligence and ECHELON,[179] NSA stations were built at GCHQ Bude in Morwenstow, United Kingdom; Geraldton, Pine Gap and Shoal Bay, Australia; Leitrim and Ottawa, Canada; Misawa, Japan; and Waihopai and Tangimoana,[180] New Zealand.[181]

NSA operates RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, which was, according to BBC News in 2007, the largest electronic monitoring station in the world.[182] Planned in 1954, and opened in 1960, the base covered 562 acres (227 ha; 0.878 sq mi) in 1999.[183]

The agency’s European Cryptologic Center (ECC), with 240 employees in 2011, is headquartered at a US military compound in Griesheim, near Frankfurt in Germany. A 2011 NSA report indicates that the ECC is responsible for the “largest analysis and productivity in Europe” and focusses on various priorities, including Africa, Europe, the Middle East and counterterrorism operations.[184]

In 2013, a new Consolidated Intelligence Center, also to be used by NSA, is being built at the headquarters of the United States Army Europe in Wiesbaden, Germany.[185] NSA’s partnership with Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German foreign intelligence service, was confirmed by BND president Gerhard Schindler.[185]

Thailand

Thailand is a “3rd party partner” of the NSA along with nine other nations.[186] These are non-English-speaking countries that have made security agreements for the exchange of SIGINT raw material and end product reports.

Thailand is the site of at least two US SIGINT collection stations. One is at the US Embassy in Bangkok, a joint NSA-CIA Special Collection Service (SCS) unit. It presumably eavesdrops on foreign embassies, governmental communications, and other targets of opportunity.[187]

The second installation is a FORNSAT (foreign satellite interception) station in the Thai city of Khon Kaen. It is codenamed INDRA, but has also been referred to as LEMONWOOD.[187] The station is approximately 40 ha (100 acres) in size and consists of a large 3,700–4,600 m2 (40,000–50,000 ft2) operations building on the west side of the ops compound and four radome-enclosed parabolic antennas. Possibly two of the radome-enclosed antennas are used for SATCOM intercept and two antennas used for relaying the intercepted material back to NSA. There is also a PUSHER-type circularly-disposed antenna array (CDAA) array just north of the ops compound.[188][189]

NSA activated Khon Kaen in October 1979. Its mission was to eavesdrop on the radio traffic of Chinese army and air force units in southern China, especially in and around the city of Kunming in Yunnan Province. Back in the late 1970s the base consisted only of a small CDAA antenna array that was remote-controlled via satellite from the NSA listening post at Kunia, Hawaii, and a small force of civilian contractors from Bendix Field Engineering Corp. whose job it was to keep the antenna array and satellite relay facilities up and running 24/7.[188]

According to the papers of the late General William Odom, the INDRA facility was upgraded in 1986 with a new British-made PUSHER CDAA antenna as part of an overall upgrade of NSA and Thai SIGINT facilities whose objective was to spy on the neighboring communist nations of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.[188]

The base apparently fell into disrepair in the 1990s as China and Vietnam became more friendly towards the US, and by 2002 archived satellite imagery showed that the PUSHER CDAA antenna had been torn down, perhaps indicating that the base had been closed. At some point in the period since 9/11, the Khon Kaen base was reactivated and expanded to include a sizeable SATCOM intercept mission. It is likely that the NSA presence at Khon Kaen is relatively small, and that most of the work is done by civilian contractors.[188]

Mission

NSA’s eavesdropping mission includes radio broadcasting, both from various organizations and individuals, the Internet, telephone calls, and other intercepted forms of communication. Its secure communications mission includes military, diplomatic, and all other sensitive, confidential or secret government communications.[190]

According to the Washington Post, “[e]very day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases.”[191]

Because of its listening task, NSA/CSS has been heavily involved in cryptanalytic research, continuing the work of predecessor agencies which had broken many World War II codes and ciphers (see, for instance, Purple, Venona project, and JN-25).

In 2004, NSA Central Security Service and the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to expand NSA Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education Program.[192]

As part of the National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54), signed on January 8, 2008 by President Bush, the NSA became the lead agency to monitor and protect all of the federal government’s computer networks from cyber-terrorism.[9]

Operations

Operations by the National Security Agency can be divided in three types:

  • Collection overseas, which falls under the responsibility of the Global Access Operations (GAO) division.
  • Domestic collection, which falls under the responsibility of the Special Source Operations (SSO) division.
  • Hacking operations, which falls under the responsibility of the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.

Collection overseas

Echelon

Main article: ECHELON

Echelon was created in the incubator of the Cold War.[193] Today it is a legacy system, and several NSA stations are closing.[175]

NSA/CSS, in combination with the equivalent agencies in the United Kingdom (Government Communications Headquarters), Canada (Communications Security Establishment), Australia (Defence Signals Directorate), and New Zealand (Government Communications Security Bureau), otherwise known as the UKUSA group,[194] was reported to be in command of the operation of the so-called ECHELON system. Its capabilities were suspected to include the ability to monitor a large proportion of the world’s transmitted civilian telephone, fax and data traffic.[195]

During the early 1970s, the first of what became more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed at Menwith Hill.[196] Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell reported in 1988 on the ECHELON surveillance program, an extension of the UKUSA Agreement on global signals intelligence SIGINT, and detailed how the eavesdropping operations worked.[197] In November 3, 1999 the BBC reported that they had confirmation from the Australian Government of the existence of a powerful “global spying network” code-named Echelon, that could “eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet” with Britain and the United States as the chief protagonists. They confirmed that Menwith Hill was “linked directly to the headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade in Maryland”.[198]

NSA’s United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18) strictly prohibited the interception or collection of information about “… U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations….” without explicit written legal permission from the United States Attorney General when the subject is located abroad, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when within U.S. borders. Alleged Echelon-related activities, including its use for motives other than national security, including political and industrial espionage, received criticism from countries outside the UKUSA alliance.[199][200]

Protesters against NSA data mining in Berlin wearing Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden masks.

Other SIGINT operations overseas

The NSA is also involved in planning to blackmail people with “SEXINT“, intelligence gained about a potential target’s sexual activity and preferences. Those targeted had not committed any apparent crime nor were charged with one.[201]

In order to support its facial recognition program, the NSA is intercepting “millions of images per day”.[202]

The Real Time Regional Gateway is a data collection program introduced in 2005 in Iraq by NSA during the Iraq War that consisted of gathering all electronic communication, storing it, then searching and otherwise analyzing it. It was effective in providing information about Iraqi insurgents who had eluded less comprehensive techniques.[203] This “collect it all” strategy introduced by NSA director, Keith B. Alexander, is believed by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian to be the model for the comprehensive worldwide mass archiving of communications which NSA is engaged in as of 2013.[204]

BoundlessInformant

Edward Snowden revealed in June 2013 that between February 8 and March 8, 2013, the NSA collected about 124.8 billion telephone data items and 97.1 billion computer data items throughout the world, as was displayed in charts from an internal NSA tool codenamed Boundless Informant. It was reported that some of these data reflected eavesdropping on citizens in countries like Germany, Spain and France.[205]

BoundlessInformant employs big data databases, cloud computing technology, and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to analyze data collected worldwide by the NSA.[206]

Bypassing encryption

In 2013, reporters uncovered a secret memo that claims the NSA created and pushed for the adoption of the Dual_EC_DRBG encryption standard that contained built-in vulnerabilities in 2006 to the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the International Organization for Standardization (aka ISO).[207][208] This memo appears to give credence to previous speculation by cryptographers at Microsoft Research.[209]Edward Snowden claims that the NSA often bypasses encryption altogether by lifting information before it is encrypted or after it is decrypted.[208]

XKeyscore rules (as specified in a file xkeyscorerules100.txt, sourced by German TV stations NDR and WDR, who claim to have excerpts from its source code) reveal that the NSA tracks users of privacy-enhancing software tools, including Tor; an anonymous email service provided by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and readers of the Linux Journal.[210][211]

Domestic activity

NSA’s mission, as set forth in Executive Order 12333 in 1981, is to collect information that constitutes “foreign intelligence or counterintelligence” while not “acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons”. NSA has declared that it relies on the FBI to collect information on foreign intelligence activities within the borders of the United States, while confining its own activities within the United States to the embassies and missions of foreign nations.[212] The appearance of a ‘Domestic Surveillance Directorate’ of the NSA was soon exposed as a hoax in 2013.[213][214]

NSA’s domestic surveillance activities are limited by the requirements imposed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for example held in October 2011, citing multiple Supreme Court precedents, that the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to the contents of all communications, whatever the means, because “a person’s private communications are akin to personal papers.”[215] However, these protections do not apply to non-U.S. persons located outside of U.S. borders, so the NSA’s foreign surveillance efforts are subject to far fewer limitations under U.S. law.[216] The specific requirements for domestic surveillance operations are contained in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which does not extend protection to non-U.S. citizens located outside of U.S. territory.[216]

George W. Bush administration

George W. Bush, president during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, approved the Patriot Act shortly after the attacks to take anti-terrorist security measures. Title 1, 2, and 9 specifically authorized measures that would be taken by the NSA. These titles granted enhanced domestic security against terrorism, surveillance procedures, and improved intelligence, respectively. On March 10, 2004, there was a debate between President Bush and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Acting Attorney General James Comey. The Attorney Generals were unsure if the NSA’s programs could be considered constitutional. They threatened to resign over the matter, but ultimately the NSA’s programs continued.[217] On March 11, 2004, President Bush signed a new authorization for mass surveillance of Internet records, in addition to the surveillance of phone records.This allowed the president to be able to override laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which protected civilians from mass surveillance. In addition to this, President Bush also signed that the measures of mass surveillance were also retroactively in place.[218]

Warrantless wiretaps

On December 16, 2005, The New York Times reported that, under White House pressure and with an executive order from President George W. Bush, the National Security Agency, in an attempt to thwart terrorism, had been tapping phone calls made to persons outside the country, without obtaining warrants from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court created for that purpose under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[219]

One such surveillance program, authorized by the U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18 of President George Bush, was the Highlander Project undertaken for the National Security Agency by the U.S. Army 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. NSA relayed telephone (including cell phone) conversations obtained from ground, airborne, and satellite monitoring stations to various U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Officers, including the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion. Conversations of citizens of the U.S. were intercepted, along with those of other nations.[220]

Proponents of the surveillance program claim that the President has executive authority to order such action, arguing that laws such as FISA are overridden by the President’s Constitutional powers. In addition, some argued that FISA was implicitly overridden by a subsequent statute, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, although the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld deprecates this view. In the August 2006 case ACLU v. NSA, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor concluded that NSA’s warrantless surveillance program was both illegal and unconstitutional. On July 6, 2007 the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the decision on the grounds that the ACLU lacked standing to bring the suit.[221]

On January 17, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit, CCR v. Bush, against the George W. Bush Presidency. The lawsuit challenged the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) surveillance of people within the U.S., including the interception of CCR emails without securing a warrant first.[222][223]

In September 2008, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class action lawsuit against the NSA and several high-ranking officials of the Bush administration,[224] charging an “illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance,”[225] based on documentation provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein.[226]

As a result of the USA Freedom Act passed by Congress in June 2015, the NSA had to shut down its bulk phone surveillance program on November 29 of the same year. The USA Freedom Act forbids the NSA to collect metadata and content of phone calls unless it has a warrant for terrorism investigation. In that case the agency has to ask the telecom companies for the record, which will only be kept for six months.

AT&T Internet monitoring

In May 2006, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing Narus hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between American citizens.[227]

Data mining

NSA was reported in 2008 to use its computing capability to analyze “transactional” data that it regularly acquires from other government agencies, which gather it under their own jurisdictional authorities. As part of this effort, NSA now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic email data, web addresses from Internet searches, bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel records, and telephone data, according to current and former intelligence officials interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The sender, recipient, and subject line of emails can be included, but the content of the messages or of phone calls are not.[228]

A 2013 advisory group for the Obama administration, seeking to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward J. Snowden.[229] mentioned in ‘Recommendation 30’ on page 37, “…that the National Security Council staff should manage an interagency process to review on a regular basis the activities of the US Government regarding attacks that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application.” Retired cyber security expert Richard A. Clarke was a group member and stated on April 11 that NSA had no advance knowledge of Heartbleed.[230]

Illegally obtained evidence

In August 2013 it was revealed that a 2005 IRS training document showed that NSA intelligence intercepts and wiretaps, both foreign and domestic, were being supplied to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and were illegally used to launch criminal investigations of US citizens. Law enforcement agents were directed to conceal how the investigations began and recreate an apparently legal investigative trail by re-obtaining the same evidence by other means.[231][232]

Barack Obama administration

In the months leading to April 2009, the NSA intercepted the communications of American citizens, including a Congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the interception was unintentional. The Justice Department then took action to correct the issues and bring the program into compliance with existing laws.[233] United States Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the program according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.[234]

Polls conducted in June 2013 found divided results among Americans regarding NSA’s secret data collection.[235] Rasmussen Reports found that 59% of Americans disapprove,[236] Gallup found that 53% disapprove,[237] and Pew found that 56% are in favor of NSA data collection.[238]

Section 215 metadata collection

On April 25, 2013, the NSA obtained a court order requiring Verizon‘s Business Network Services to provide metadata on all calls in its system to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” for a three-month period, as reported by The Guardian on June 6, 2013. This information includes “the numbers of both parties on a call … location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls” but not “[t]he contents of the conversation itself”. The order relies on the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act.[239][240]

In August 2013, following the Snowden leaks, new details about the NSA’s data mining activity were revealed. Reportedly, the majority of emails into or out of the United States are captured at “selected communications links” and automatically analyzed for keywords or other “selectors”. Emails that do not match are deleted.[241]

The utility of such a massive metadata collection in preventing terrorist attacks is disputed. Many studies reveal the dragnet like system to be ineffective. One such report, released by the New America Foundation concluded that after an analysis of 225 terrorism cases, the NSA “had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”[242]

Defenders of the program say that while metadata alone can’t provide all the information necessary to prevent an attack, it assures the ability to “connect the dots”[243] between suspect foreign numbers and domestic numbers with a speed only the NSA’s software is capable of. One benefit of this is quickly being able to determine the difference between suspicious activity and real threats.[citation needed] As an example, NSA director General Keith Alexander mentioned at the annual Cybersecurity Summit in 2013, that metadata analysis of domestic phone call records after the Boston Marathon bombing helped determine that[clarification needed] another attack in New York was baseless.[243]

In addition to doubts about its effectiveness, many people argue that the collection of metadata is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. As of 2015, the collection process remains legal and grounded in the ruling from Smith v. Maryland (1979). A prominent opponent of the data collection and its legality is U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who issued a report in 2013[244] in which he stated: “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval…Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment”.

The PRISM program

PRISM: a clandestine surveillance program under which the NSA collects user data from companies like Microsoft and Facebook.

Under the PRISM program, which started in 2007,[245][246] NSA gathers Internet communications from foreign targets from nine major U.S. Internet-based communication service providers: Microsoft,[247] Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, VoIP chats such as Skype, and file transfers.

June 2015 – WikiLeaks: Industrial espionage[edit]

In June 2015, Wikileaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on French companies.[248]

July 2015 – WikiLeaks: Espionage against German federal ministries[edit]

In July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on federal German ministries since 1990s.[249][250] Even Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s cellphones and phone of her predecessors had been intercepted.[251]

Claims of prevented terrorist attacks[edit]

Former NSA director General Keith Alexander claimed that in September 2009 the NSA prevented Najibullah Zazi and his friends from carrying out a terrorist attack.[252] However, this claim has been debunked and no evidence has been presented demonstrating that the NSA has ever been instrumental in preventing a terrorist attack.[253][254][255][256]

Hacking operations

Besides the more traditional ways of eavesdropping in order to collect signals intelligence, NSA is also engaged in hacking computers, smartphones and their networks. These operations are conducted by the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.

NSA’s China hacking group

According to the Foreign Policy magazine, “… the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, has successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years, generating some of the best and most reliable intelligence information about what is going on inside the People’s Republic of China.”[257][258]

Syrian internet blackout

In an interview with Wired magazine, Edward Snowden said the Tailored Access Operations division accidentally caused Syria‘s internet blackout in 2012.[259]

Suspected responsibility for hacking operations by the Equation Group

The espionage group named the Equation Group, described by discoverers Kaspersky Labs as one of the most advanced (if not the most advanced) in the world as of 2015,[260]:31 and connected to over 500 malware infections in at least 42 countries over many years, is suspected of being a part of NSA.[261][262] The group’s known espionage methods have been documented to include interdiction (interception of legitimate CDs sent by a scientific conference organizer by mail),[260]:15 and the “unprecedented” ability to infect and be transmitted through the hard drive firmware of several of the major hard drive manufacturers, and create and use hidden disk areas and virtual disk systems for its purposes, a feat demanding access to the manufacturer’s source code of each to achieve.[260]:16–18 The methods used to deploy the tools demonstrated “surgical precision”, going so far as to exclude specific countries by IP and allow targeting of specific usernames on discussion forums.[260]:23–26 The techniques and knowledge used by the Equation Group are considered in summary to be “out of the reach of most advanced threat groups in the world except [this group].[260]:31

Software backdoors

Linux kernel

Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux kernel, joked during a LinuxCon keynote on September 18, 2013 that the NSA, who are the founder of SELinux, wanted a backdoor in the kernel.[263] However, later, Linus’ father, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), revealed that the NSA actually did this.[264]

When my oldest son [Linus Torvalds] was asked the same question: “Has he been approached by the NSA about backdoors?” he said “No”, but at the same time he nodded. Then he was sort of in the legal free. He had given the right answer, [but] everybody understood that the NSA had approached him.

— Nils Torvalds, LIBE Committee Inquiry on Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens – 11th Hearing, 11 November 2013[265]
Microsoft Windows
Main article: _NSAKEY

_NSAKEY was a variable name discovered in Microsoft‘s Windows NT 4 Service Pack 5 (which had been released unstripped of its symbolic debugging data) in August 1999 by Andrew D. Fernandes of Cryptonym Corporation. That variable contained a 1024-bit public key.

IBM Notes

IBM Notes was the first widely adopted software product to use public key cryptography for client–server and server–server authentication and for encryption of data. Until US laws regulating encryption were changed in 2000, IBM and Lotus were prohibited from exporting versions of Notes that supported symmetric encryption keys that were longer than 40 bits. In 1997, Lotus negotiated an agreement with the NSA that allowed export of a version that supported stronger keys with 64 bits, but 24 of the bits were encrypted with a special key and included in the message to provide a “workload reduction factor” for the NSA. This strengthened the protection for users of Notes outside the US against private-sector industrial espionage, but not against spying by the US government.[266][267]

Boomerang routing

While it is assumed that foreign transmissions terminating in the U.S. (such as a non-U.S. citizen accessing a U.S. website) subject non-U.S. citizens to NSA surveillance, recent research into boomerang routing has raised new concerns about the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries.[18] Boomerang routing occurs when an Internet transmission that originates and terminates in a single country transits another. Research at the University of Toronto has suggested that approximately 25% of Canadian domestic traffic may be subject to NSA surveillance activities as a result of the boomerang routing of Canadian Internet service providers.[18]

Hardware implanting

Intercepted packages are opened carefully by NSA employees
A “load station” implanting a beacon

A document included in NSA files released with Glenn Greenwald‘s book No Place to Hide details how the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) and other NSA units gain access to hardware. They intercept routers, servers and other network hardware being shipped to organizations targeted for surveillance and install covert implant firmware onto them before they are delivered. This was described by an NSA manager as “some of the most productive operations in TAO because they preposition access points into hard target networks around the world.”[268]

Computers seized by the NSA due to interdiction are often modified with a physical device known as Cottonmouth.[269] Cottonmouth is a device that can be inserted in the USB port of a computer in order to establish remote access to the targeted machine. According to NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group implant catalog, after implanting Cottonmouth, the NSA can establish Bridging (networking) “that allows the NSA to load exploit software onto modified computers as well as allowing the NSA to relay commands and data between hardware and software implants.”[270]

Role in scientific research and development

NSA has been involved in debates about public policy, both indirectly as a behind-the-scenes adviser to other departments, and directly during and after Vice Admiral Bobby Ray Inman‘s directorship. NSA was a major player in the debates of the 1990s regarding the export of cryptography in the United States. Restrictions on export were reduced but not eliminated in 1996.

Its secure government communications work has involved the NSA in numerous technology areas, including the design of specialized communications hardware and software, production of dedicated semiconductors (at the Ft. Meade chip fabrication plant), and advanced cryptography research. For 50 years, NSA designed and built most of its computer equipment in-house, but from the 1990s until about 2003 (when the U.S. Congress curtailed the practice), the agency contracted with the private sector in the fields of research and equipment.[271]

Data Encryption Standard

FROSTBURG was the NSA’s first supercomputer, used from 1991 to 1997

NSA was embroiled in some minor controversy concerning its involvement in the creation of the Data Encryption Standard (DES), a standard and public block cipher algorithm used by the U.S. government and banking community. During the development of DES by IBM in the 1970s, NSA recommended changes to some details of the design. There was suspicion that these changes had weakened the algorithm sufficiently to enable the agency to eavesdrop if required, including speculation that a critical component—the so-called S-boxes—had been altered to insert a “backdoor” and that the reduction in key length might have made it feasible for NSA to discover DES keys using massive computing power. It has since been observed that the S-boxes in DES are particularly resilient against differential cryptanalysis, a technique which was not publicly discovered until the late 1980s, but which was known to the IBM DES team.

The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reviewed NSA’s involvement, and concluded that while the agency had provided some assistance, it had not tampered with the design.[272][273] In late 2009 NSA declassified information stating that “NSA worked closely with IBM to strengthen the algorithm against all except brute force attacks and to strengthen substitution tables, called S-boxes. Conversely, NSA tried to convince IBM to reduce the length of the key from 64 to 48 bits. Ultimately they compromised on a 56-bit key.”[274][275]

Advanced Encryption Standard

The involvement of NSA in the selection of a successor to Data Encryption Standard (DES), the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), was limited to hardware performance testing (see AES competition).[276] NSA has subsequently certified AES for protection of classified information (for at most two levels, e.g. SECRET information in an unclassified environment[clarification needed]) when used in NSA-approved systems.[277]

NSA encryption systems

STU-III secure telephones on display at the National Cryptologic Museum

The NSA is responsible for the encryption-related components in these legacy systems:

  • FNBDT Future Narrow Band Digital Terminal[278]
  • KL-7 ADONIS off-line rotor encryption machine (post-WWII – 1980s)[279][280]
  • KW-26 ROMULUS electronic in-line teletypewriter encryptor (1960s–1980s)[281]
  • KW-37 JASON fleet broadcast encryptor (1960s–1990s)[280]
  • KY-57 VINSON tactical radio voice encryptor[281]
  • KG-84 Dedicated Data Encryption/Decryption[281]
  • STU-III secure telephone unit,[281] phased out by the STE[282]

The NSA oversees encryption in following systems which are in use today:

The NSA has specified Suite A and Suite B cryptographic algorithm suites to be used in U.S. government systems; the Suite B algorithms are a subset of those previously specified by NIST and are expected to serve for most information protection purposes, while the Suite A algorithms are secret and are intended for especially high levels of protection.[277]

SHA

The widely used SHA-1 and SHA-2 hash functions were designed by NSA. SHA-1 is a slight modification of the weaker SHA-0 algorithm, also designed by NSA in 1993. This small modification was suggested by NSA two years later, with no justification other than the fact that it provides additional security. An attack for SHA-0 that does not apply to the revised algorithm was indeed found between 1998 and 2005 by academic cryptographers. Because of weaknesses and key length restrictions in SHA-1, NIST deprecates its use for digital signatures, and approves only the newer SHA-2 algorithms for such applications from 2013 on.[287]

A new hash standard, SHA-3, has recently been selected through the competition concluded October 2, 2012 with the selection of Keccak as the algorithm. The process to select SHA-3 was similar to the one held in choosing the AES, but some doubts have been cast over it,[288][289] since fundamental modifications have been made to Keccak in order to turn it into a standard.[290] These changes potentially undermine the cryptanalysis performed during the competition and reduce the security levels of the algorithm.[288]

Dual_EC_DRBG random number generator

Main article: Dual_EC_DRBG

NSA promoted the inclusion of a random number generator called Dual_EC_DRBG in the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology‘s 2007 guidelines. This led to speculation of a backdoor which would allow NSA access to data encrypted by systems using that pseudo random number generator.[291]

This is now deemed to be plausible based on the fact that the output of the next iterations of the PRNG can provably be determined if the relation between two internal elliptic curve points is known.[292][293] Both NIST and RSA are now officially recommending against the use of this PRNG.[294][295]

Clipper chip

Main article: Clipper chip

Because of concerns that widespread use of strong cryptography would hamper government use of wiretaps, NSA proposed the concept of key escrow in 1993 and introduced the Clipper chip that would offer stronger protection than DES but would allow access to encrypted data by authorized law enforcement officials.[296] The proposal was strongly opposed and key escrow requirements ultimately went nowhere.[297] However, NSA’s Fortezza hardware-based encryption cards, created for the Clipper project, are still used within government, and NSA ultimately declassified and published the design of the Skipjack cipher used on the cards.[298][299]

Perfect Citizen

Main article: Perfect Citizen

Perfect Citizen is a program to perform vulnerability assessment by the NSA on U.S. critical infrastructure.[300][301] It was originally reported to be a program to develop a system of sensors to detect cyber attacks on critical infrastructure computer networks in both the private and public sector through a network monitoring system named Einstein.[302][303] It is funded by the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and thus far Raytheon has received a contract for up to $100 million for the initial stage.

Academic research

NSA has invested many millions of dollars in academic research under grant code prefix MDA904, resulting in over 3,000 papers (as of 2007-10-11). NSA/CSS has, at times, attempted to restrict the publication of academic research into cryptography; for example, the Khufu and Khafre block ciphers were voluntarily withheld in response to an NSA request to do so. In response to a FOIA lawsuit, in 2013 the NSA released the 643-page research paper titled, “Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research,[304] ” written and compiled by NSA employees to assist other NSA workers in searching for information of interest to the agency on the public Internet.[305]

Patents

NSA has the ability to file for a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under gag order. Unlike normal patents, these are not revealed to the public and do not expire. However, if the Patent Office receives an application for an identical patent from a third party, they will reveal NSA’s patent and officially grant it to NSA for the full term on that date.[306]

One of NSA’s published patents describes a method of geographically locating an individual computer site in an Internet-like network, based on the latency of multiple network connections.[307] Although no public patent exists, NSA is reported to have used a similar locating technology called trilateralization that allows real-time tracking of an individual’s location, including altitude from ground level, using data obtained from cellphone towers.[308]

Legality

File:Ron Wyden and James Clapper - 12 March 2013.webm

Excerpt of James Clapper‘s false testimony to Congress on NSA surveillance programs

In the United States, at least since 2001,[309] there has been legal controversy over what signal intelligence can be used for and how much freedom the National Security Agency has to use signal intelligence.[310] The government has made, in 2015, slight changes in how it uses and collects certain types of data,[311] specifically phone records. President Barack Obama has asked lawyers and his national security team to look at the tactics that are being used by the NSA. President Obama made a speech on January 17, 2014 where he defended the national security measures, including the NSA, and their intentions for keeping the country safe through surveillance. He said that it is difficult to determine where the line should be drawn between what is too much surveillance and how much is needed for national security because technology is ever changing and evolving. Therefore, the laws cannot keep up with the rapid advancements.

President Obama did make some changes to national security regulations and how much data can be collected and surveyed.[citation needed] The first thing he added, was more presidential directive and oversight so that privacy and basic rights are not violated. The president would look over requests on behalf of American citizens to make sure that their personal privacy is not violated by the data that is being requested. Secondly, surveillance tactics and procedures are becoming more public, including over 40 rulings of the FISC that have been declassified.[citation needed] Thirdly, further protections are being placed on activities that are justified under Section 702, such as the ability to retain, search and use data collected in investigations, which allows the NSA to monitor and intercept interaction of targets overseas. Finally, national security letters, which are secret requests for information that the FBI uses in their investigations, are becoming less secretive. The secrecy of the information requested will not be indefinite and will terminate after a set time if future secrecy is not required.[citation needed] Concerning the bulk surveillance of American’s phone records, President Obama also ordered a transition from bulk surveillance under Section 215 to a new policy that will eliminate unnecessary bulk collection of metadata.

As of May 7, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act was wrong and that the NSA program that has been collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk is illegal.[312] It stated that Section 215 cannot be clearly interpreted to allow government to collect national phone data and, as a result, expired on June 1, 2015. This ruling “is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the N.S.A. phone records program.” [313] The new bill getting passed later in May taking its place is known as the U.S.A. Freedom Act, which will enable the NSA to continue hunting for terrorists by analyzing telephone links between callers but “keep the bulk phone records in the hands of phone companies.”[313] This would give phone companies the freedom to dispose the records in an 18-month period. The White House argued that this new ruling validated President Obama’s support of the government being extracted from bulk data collection and giving power to the telecommunications companies.

Previously, the NSA paid billions of dollars to telecommunications companies in order to collect data from them.[314] While companies such as Google and Yahoo! claim that they do not provide “direct access” from their servers to the NSA unless under a court order,[315] the NSA had access to emails, phone calls and cellular data users.[316] With this new ruling, telecommunications companies would not provide the NSA with bulk information. The companies would allow the disposal of data in every 18 months,[313] which is arguably putting the telecommunications companies at a higher advantage.

This ruling made the collecting of phone records illegal, but it did not rule on Section 215’s constitutionality. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already put forth a new bill to re-authorize the Patriot Act.[317] Defenders of this surveillance program are claiming that judges who sit on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had ruled 37 times that this kind of collection of data is, in fact, lawful.[317] The FISC is the court specifically mandated to grant surveillance orders in the name of foreign intelligence. The new ruling made by the Second District Court of Appeals now retroactively dismisses the findings of the FISC on this program.

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Security_Agency

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The Pronk Pops Show 841, February 17, Story 1: President Trump’s First Press Conference Part 2: President Trump Speaks Directly To The American People — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Educates The Big Lie Media (Democratic Newspapers and Television Networks) with Fake News Spinning Propaganda — Trump to news media: The public doesn’t believe you anymore! — Trump On Offense vs. Big Lie Media On Defense — President Trump Wins With Working Americans — Buy American and Hire American — Videos

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 Story 1: President Trump’s First Press Conference Part 1: President Trump Speaks Directly To The American People — Videos — 

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President Donald Trump Full Press Conference Addresses Ties to Russia, Leaks, and “Fake News” 2/16

President Trump scolds media at news conference

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Sorry media — this press conference played very different with Trump’s supporters

 Far from dead, he was positively exuberant. His performance at a marathon press conference was a must-see-tv spectacle as he mixed serious policy talk with stand-up comedy and took repeated pleasure in whacking his favorite pinata, the “dishonest media.”

“Russia is a ruse,” he insisted, before finally saying under questioning he was not aware of anyone on his campaign having contact with Russian officials.

Trump’s detractors immediately panned the show as madness, but they missed the method behind it and proved they still don’t understand his appeal. Facing his first crisis in the Oval Office, he was unbowed in demonstrating his bare-knuckled intention to fight back.

He did it his way. Certainly no other president, and few politicians at any level in any time, would dare put on a show like that.

In front of cameras, and using the assembled press corps as props, he conducted a televised revival meeting to remind his supporters that he is still the man they elected. Ticking off a lengthy list of executive orders and other actions he has taken, he displayed serious fealty to his campaign promises.

Trump goes on marathon rant against the media

Sure, sentences didn’t always end on the same topic they started with, and his claim to have won the election by the largest electoral college margin since Ronald Reagan wasn’t close to true.

Fair points, but so what? Fact-checkers didn’t elect him, nor did voters who were happy with the status quo.

Trump, first, last and always, matches the mood of the discontented. Like them, he is a bull looking for a china shop. That’s his ace in the hole and he played it almost to perfection.

The immediate impact of his performance is likely to calm some of the jitters among Republicans in congress and supporters elsewhere, especially after the beating he took in the last few days.

On Monday night, Trump suddenly removed Gen. Michael Flynn, his national security adviser, over circumstances that still are not entirely clear. And on Wednesday, his nominee for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, withdrew after Republicans said he didn’t have the votes to be confirmed.

Combined with courts blocking his immigration and refugee order, unflattering leaks of confidential material from intelligence agencies and numerous demands for investigations into any Russian connections, Trump’s fast start suddenly hit a wall.

Just three weeks into his term, Democrats, in and out of the media, smelled blood. Many already were going for the kill.

They won’t get it, at least now. Trump bought himself time yesterday.

Yet those determined to bring him down won’t give up, and the insidious leaks of secret material suggest some opponents are members of the permanent government who are willing to use their position and the media to undermine him.

Indeed, the most serious leaks seem to vindicate a warning that Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer made in early January after Trump criticized leaders of the spook agencies.

“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told an interviewer. “So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”

That incredible statement reflects what a dangerous game rogue agents are playing. The world is on fire yet the president is the target of partisan revenge in his own government. It’s a scandal and it’s outrageous, but it’s a fact that Trump must confront.

Finding the leakers and prosecuting them, which he promises to do, is part of the solution.

rAnother part comes Saturday, when Trump takes his solo act to Florida for a massive public rally. It’s smart for him to get out of Washington and soak in the enthusiasm of the populist movement he leads.

He should do it regularly, and also hold smaller, town-hall style forums where ordinary citizens can ask him questions in more intimate settings. Any way he can speak directly to the American people and hear from them democratizes his presidency and reduces the power of big biased media and the Washington establishment.

Yet the only sure and lasting way to keep ahead of the lynch mob is by producing results. Success will be Trump’s savior.

And nothing says success like jobs, jobs, jobs. Getting the economy to reach lift-off speed is essential so it can deliver the good-paying jobs and prosperity that he promised and the nation needs.

While Republican honchos in congress say they’re getting ready to move on tax cuts and replacing ObamaCare, nothing will happen without presidential leadership. That means Trump’s fate is in his own hands and he must keep himself and his White House team focused on delivering an economic revival.

If he does that, the lynch mob will be left holding an empty rope.

http://nypost.com/2017/02/16/sorry-media-this-press-conference-played-very-different-with-trumps-supporters/

At Boeing, Trump returns to an economic message after a week of controversy

February 17 at 2:35 PM

Trump promises focus on jobs, lower taxes in speech at Boeing factory

President Trump promised to work to keep manufacturing companies in the U.S., and to lower taxes for businesses, speaking at the unveiling of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on Feb. 17 in North Charleston, S.C. (The Washington Post)

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — When President Trump took the stage here Friday to mark the launch of Boeing’s newest aircraft, it was a scene reminiscent of his airplane hangar rallies during the presidential campaign.

Except, instead of his “Trump” branded Boeing 757 parked in the background, Boeing’s newest product, the Dreamliner 787-10, glittered in the sun behind him, and off to the side stood Trump’s new ride, Air Force One.

Trump’s somewhat unusual appearance at the launch event for the company’s highly anticipated version 10 of the Dreamliner wasn’t to roll out new economic policy or even push a specific economic agenda item. Instead, it seemed that Trump was there to boost the company with a presidential endorsement for its American-made fleet, and he in turn would be the face of a major milestone for one of the country’s largest job creators.

“We’re here today to celebrate American engineering and American manufacturing,” Trump said. “We’re also here today to celebrate jobs. Jobs!”

“Jobs is one of the primary reasons I’m standing here as president, and I will never ever disappoint you. Believe me,” he added.

Trump’s visit to the Boeing plant also comes at a time when the Trump administration is struggling to establish a greater sense of order and focus after weeks of distractions and negative headlines.

The White House has aimed to structure his daily schedule with at least one jobs-focused meeting each day. But much of that has been overshadowed by several all-consuming stories, the most damaging of which was the ouster of Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, on Monday.

Questions about the Trump administration and campaign’s ties to Russia have only intensified after multiple media reports revealed that Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, despite Flynn’s statements to the contrary.

Friday’s event on the manufacturing floor of Boeing’s South Carolina plant offered Trump a much-needed opportunity to reset his administration and refocus an economic-based message.

“You look at what’s happening with jobs. You look at what’s happening with plants moving back to this country. All of a sudden they’re coming back,” Trump said. “As your president, I’m going to do everything that I can to unleash the power of the American spirit and put our great people back to work.

“This is our mantra, buy American and hire American.”

A few months ago, it seemed that Trump’s relationship with Boeing was on the rocks before it even really began.

As president-elect, Trump launched into a Twitter fight with the company and its chief executive, Dennis Muilenburg, over the cost of a new fleet of presidential airplanes that would be used as Air Force One. Quickly, Boeing relented, promising to bring down the plane’s costs after meetings with Trump.

Less than a month into his presidency, Trump is back to Boeing on a decidedly more positive note.

“That plane, as beautiful as it looks, is 30 years old,” Trump said, pointing to the Boeing 747 that serves as Air Force One. “What can look so beautiful at 30?”

The turnabout is emblematic of Trump’s preferred mode of dealing with America’s largest and most powerful businesses. It reflects the degree to which Trump has already changed the terms of engagement with the business community, quickly creating an incentive structure where businesses are rewarded with praise from the highest office in the land when they roll out jobs or cost savings for taxpayers — and credit him for influencing their decision-making.

Over the past several weeks, chief executives including Intel’s Brian Krzanich traveled to the White House to announce new American jobs, thanks to fresh “confidence” in the economy spurred by the new administration.

“They’re keeping and bringing thousands of jobs back to our country because the business climate, they know, has already changed,” Trump said, highlighting jobs announcements from automakers Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler. “We will see more and more of that across the country as we continue to work on reducing regulations, cutting taxes — including for the middle class, including for everyone, and including for businesses.”

In this setting, Trump seems at his most comfortable.

Here, Trump reveled in his electoral victory and the adulation of a supportive crowd in a state that he won in both the Republican primary and the general election.

“This was going to be a place that was tough to win, and we won in a landslide,” Trump declared.

As the restive crowd of Boeing employees waited for hours for Trump to arrive, some cheered when his name was mentioned in the preshow. “Make America Great Again” hats and T-shirts dotted the sea of people on the plant’s manufacturing floor where more than 5,000 employees were gathered.

He toured the new Dreamliner with Boeing executives and could be seen sitting in the plane’s cockpit after his speech.

On Saturday, Trump plans something of a repeat performance in what the White House is dubbing the first “campaign” event of his presidency, at an airplane hangar rally in Melbourne, Fla.

Among some Boeing employees, the reception to Trump was reserved, but optimistic.

Leif Anderson, who started working at the factory six years ago after leaving the Air Force, sat Thursday night at the bar at Domino Lounge, a pool hall three miles from the Boeing plant, smoking cigarillos and sipping a shot of Crown Royal apple whiskey alongside a glass of Bud Lite.

Anderson said he voted for Trump more out of loyalty to the Republican Party, but is “not jumping to conclusions” about the president as a leader.

“I’m really curious to see what he does,” said Anderson, who leads a group of workers at the Boeing plant installing the planes’ interiors. He hopes that Trump’s economic policies succeed, which he said would help his own career along with the country as a whole.

“If he does good, then I’m going to do good,” Anderson said.

Elliott Slater, a Boeing mechanic, took the day off Friday and did not attend Trump’s speech, saying he wanted to avoid the traffic.

“I didn’t vote for him, either.” said Slater, a veteran of the Navy. “He’s not my president. He’s got to earn my respect.”

Slater, who supported the union’s unsuccessful vote to organize the plant in Wednesday’s election, said that Trump would support companies over workers. “He’s definitely pro businesses, being a business man himself. … That’s fine, but you know, how does the business treat its workers?”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/02/17/at-boeing-trump-returns-to-an-economic-message-after-a-week-of-controversy/?utm_term=.208a463653aa

Trump signs bill undoing Obama coal mining rule

Trump signs bill undoing Obama coal mining rule
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President Trump on Thursday signed legislation ending a key Obama administration coal mining rule.

The bill quashes the Office of Surface Mining’s Stream Protection Rule, a regulation to protect waterways from coal mining waste that officials finalized in December.

The legislation is the second Trump has signed into law ending an Obama-era environmental regulation. On Tuesday, he signed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution undoing a financial disclosure requirement for energy companies.

Both the mining and financial disclosure bills are the tip of a GOP push to undo a slate of regulations instituted in the closing days of the Obama administration. The House has passed several CRA resolutions, and the Senate has so far sent three of them to President Trump for his signature.

Regulators finalized the stream protection rule in December, but they spent most of Obama’s tenure writing it.The rule is among the most controversial environment regulations the former administration put together. The coal mining industry said it would be costly to implement and lead to job losses across the sector, which is already suffering from a market-driven downturn in demand for its product.

At the signing, Trump called the regulation “another terrible job killing rule” and said ending it would save “many thousands American jobs, especially in the mines, which, I have been promising you — the mines are a big deal.”

“This is a major threat to your jobs and we’re going to get rid of this threat,” he added. “We’re going to fight for you.”

Republicans on Congress, especially from Appalachia, supported that argument and sought to block the rule several times before finally passing the CRA resolution this month.

“In my home state of Kentucky and others across the nation, the stream buffer rule will cause major damage to communities and threaten coal jobs,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said before the bill passed. “We should heed their call now and begin bringing relief to coal country.”

Environmentalists supported the administration rule, saying it would protect waterways from pollution and preserve public health. They have criticized the GOP for repealing environmental rules in the name of supporting coal mining jobs, but doing little else to help displaced workers in mining areas.

“If you want to help miners, then come address their health and safety and their pension program,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said during floor debate on the measure.

“You can protect the coal industry here with special interests and the amount of lobbying they do, or you can step up in a process and have a regulation that works for the United States of America so the outdoor industry and sportsman and fishermen can continue to thrive.”

The Senate this week sent Trump a CRA resolution blocking a gun sales regulation. Members could soon take up a measure undoing a methane rule for natural gas drilling operations on public land.

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/319938-trump-signs-bill-undoing-obama-coal-mining-rule

Dan Coats Announced as Trump’s Pick for Director of National Intelligence

President-Elect Trump Goes on Tweetstorm for Better Russia Relations 1:38

President-elect Donald Trump intends to nominate former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats to serve as national intelligence director, his transition team announced Saturday.

Coats, would need to be confirmed by Senate for the role, served eight years in the House of Representatives and two years in the Senate. During the George W. Bush administration, he served as U.S. ambassador to Germany.

“I’m very confident that Senator Dan Coats is the right choice to serve as Director of National Intelligence,” President-elect Trump said in a statement. “Dan has clearly demonstrated the deep subject matter expertise and sound judgment required to lead our intelligence community.”

As director of national intelligence, Coats would serve as the head of the United States’ intelligence community and be the president’s principal adviser on the issue.

Image: Trump to name Dan Coats as Director of national intelligence
Indiana Senator Dan Coats speaks briefly with the press following his meeting with US President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York, New York, USA, 30 November 2016 AALBIN LOHR-JONES / POOL / EPA

Coats will succeed James Clapper, who recently testified in front of Congress that Russia had stepped up its cyber espionage operation in an attempt to undermine the election. A redacted report about the hack and its goals was released on Friday.

First elected to the Senate in 1990 in a special election that filled the seat vacated by Dan Quayle — who departed the Senate to serve as George H. W. Bush’s vice president — Coats won reelection in 1992 before retiring from the Senate in 1998. He then was nominated to serve as U.S. ambassador to Germany in 2001, arriving there mere days before the Sept. 11 terrorism attack.

After departing as ambassador four years later, Coats worked as a prominent lobbyist in Washington D.C. and then decided to run for his former Senate seat in 2010 — an election he won.

Coats again announced his retirement from government in November 2015.

Most recently while in the Senate, Coats served as the chairman of the Joint Economic Committee and as a member of the Senate Committee on Finance and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“If confirmed as Director of National Intelligence, he will provide unwavering leadership that the entire intelligence community can respect, and will spearhead my administration’s ceaseless vigilance against those who seek to do us harm,” Trump added in his statement.

“I’m pleased to hear the President-elect has nominated my colleague and friend Dan Coats to be the next head of our Intelligence Community,” said Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “Dan’s experience as a valued member of the Senate Intelligence Committee will help to guide him as the next Director of National Intelligence.”

In the past year as a senator, Coats has introduced six bills. Only two simple resolutions passed: The first recognized the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and the other commemorated the bicentennial of the state of Indiana.

Coats will lead an intelligence community that already has a rocky relationship with the president-elect, as Trump has continued to float doubts about the community’s findings in the Russia hacking investigation.

While testifying before the Armed Services Committee, Clapper stopped short of calling Russia’s interference in the election an act of war, saying that was something for lawmakers to discern.

However, the committee’s chairman, John McCain (R-AZ), maintained that the attack was alarming.

“Every American should be alarmed by Russia’s attacks on our nation. There is no national security interest more vital to the United States of America than the ability to hold free and fair elections without foreign interference,” McCain said in his opening statement during the hearing. “That is why Congress must set partisanship aside, follow the facts, and work together to devise comprehensive solutions to deter, defend against, and, when necessary, respond to foreign cyberattacks.”

On Twitter, Donald Trump seemed more concerned with the intelligence community’s findings that pertained to the legitimacy of his election rather than Russia’s involvement.

Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. Only “stupid” people, or fools, would think that it is bad! We…..

The president-elect has maintained a belief that the United States should “move on” from the attack, adding on Saturday that the country will have a good relationship and will work together with Russia under his administration.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/dan-coats-announced-trump-s-pick-director-national-intelligence-n704231

CNN’s Jeff Zucker on Covering Donald Trump — Past, Present, and Future

By Gabriel Sherman

At his press conference last week, President-elect Trump refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, denouncing the network as a purveyor of “fake news.” Trump’s ire was in response to CNN’s explosive report that U.S. intelligence chiefs had briefed Trump on claims that the Kremlin had collected compromising information on him. In the wake of CNN’s report, BuzzFeed published the unedited, and unverified, opposition-research dossier referenced in the intel briefing, which included lurid allegations about Trump’s behavior and his campaign’s ties to Russia.

On Tuesday morning, I sat down with CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker for a wide-ranging discussion about that controversial scoop, Trump’s threat to press freedom, and why he’s not worried about losing access to the White House.

After Trump attacked CNN for reporting on the intelligence chiefs’ briefing on the Russian dossier, you issued a strongly worded statement defending your story. What made CNN decide to publish reporting on the existence of the dossier?
I actually think this was a pretty easy call in terms of its news value. The fact is, the top four intelligence chiefs of the United States decided to include in their briefing to the president and president-elect a two-page summary of allegations involving the president-elect. That is newsworthy by any definition.

Even if the allegations themselves weren’t verified?
We didn’t pass judgment on the allegations. We reported we had not been able to corroborate them. But the news was that the two most powerful people in the world had been briefed on the existence of these allegations.

I was at the press conference at Trump Tower, where Trump’s incoming press secretary Sean Spicer and Trump himself denounced CNN and BuzzFeed as fake news. What do you think of BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the complete dossier?
They made a decision for themselves, and they have to live with it. I’m not going to pass judgment on their decision. We did not think it was appropriate for us given that we had not been able to corroborate the allegations.

It’s just unfortunate that the most powerful person in the world is trying to delegitimizejournalism.

When you have the president-elect saying, “Don’t trust CNN, it’s fake news,” is that harmful?
It’s just unfortunate that the most powerful person in the world is trying to delegitimize journalism and an organization that plays such a vital role in our democracy. I think he’s entitled to his opinion, but it’s — to use one of his favorite words — sad.

Over the weekend, it was reported that Trump is considering moving reporters out of the West Wing. How worried are you about Trump’s attacks on the press?
As Tim Russert said, the role of the media is the accountability of government. I think the press plays a much more important role in this administration. Their willingness and inclination to cherry-pick facts, conflate and inflate things, will make covering this administration very challenging. That means our role is more important than ever. We think that CNN has a job to do, which is to hold their feet to the fire. They may not like it, but they should respect it.

Acosta didn’t get to ask a question at last week’s press conference. The first question went to Fox News, and Breitbart got to ask a question. Are you concerned about getting access to Trump?
I think the era of access journalism as we’ve known it is over. It doesn’t worry me that Donald Trump hasn’t done an interview with CNN in eight months. I think our credibility is higher than ever, and our viewership is higher than ever, and our reporting is as strong as ever. One of the things I think this administration hasn’t figured out yet is that there’s only one television network that is seen in Beijing, Moscow, Seoul, Tokyo, Pyongyang, Baghdad, Tehran, and Damascus — and that’s CNN. The perception of Donald Trump in capitals around the world is shaped, in many ways, by CNN. Continuing to have an adversarial relationship with that network is a mistake.

Wouldn’t Trump say that’s what Twitter is for? He can shape his own perception.
If he’s relying on Twitter to shape his own perception in the capitals of the world then I think he’s making a big mistake.

How does CNN plan to cover Trump’s tweets?
I think we should look at his tweets on a case-by-case basis, just like we’d look at the comments of any president, and make an editorial decision on which ones to report, discuss, and cover. So I don’t think we should knee-jerk-cover every tweet just as we didn’t knee-jerk-cover every comment Barack Obama made. We should use our editorial judgment.

I noticed that Trump is sitting down with Fox & Friends. And in recent days, he’s given interviews to The Wall Street Journal and the Times of London, both Murdoch papers. What do you think of Trump’s alliance with Murdoch?
I think you’re trying to goad me here. But you’ve made the right observation. Look, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that friendly outlets have been the ones that have ended up with the interviews with Donald Trump. Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, the Times of London — the fact that they’re all Rupert’s publications — I don’t think it’s any coincidence those are the outlets that ended up with the interviews.

It was reported that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were at Mar-a-Lago on New Year’s Eve. They said it was because they were trying to get an interview with Trump. Was it appropriate for journalists to attend the president-elect’s private party?
I think in that case, optically, it would have been a lot better to have just made a phone call and ask for the interview.

Trump’s feud with CNN is ironic, in a way, because you have perhaps more history with him than any media executive. Some people say you made Trump’s presidential run possible with The Apprentice. Did you?
It’s true I put him on television with The Apprentice in 2004. I’ve never run away from that. But in no way do I think that’s why he’s the president. You have to give the guy credit. He ran a campaign that worked.

So you don’t ever regret that the Trump phenomenon arguably started with you?
No. Listen, I don’t regret putting The Apprentice on television.

Another irony of the current antagonism is that CNN has sometimes been perceived as being too close to Trump. You got a lot of flak for covering his speeches in full during the primaries and for hiring his former campaign chairman Corey Lewandowski. What do you think of the criticism?
We didn’t bend over backward for Trump; we did what we felt was in the best interest of our viewers and readers to understand the story. The reason we hired a number of voices to reflect the Trump point of view was to help the audience understand who he was, where he was coming from, and what he was thinking. Given the results of the election, it turns out we were exactly right to do so. We had a much better sense on our air what the Trump point of view was than most others.

Were you in touch with Trump regularly throughout the campaign?
Obviously we’ve known each other for a long time. Just because I’ve known somebody for more than 15 years doesn’t mean they get a pass.

So how often did you talk to him?
Probably once a month?

Do you still talk to him?
I haven’t talked to him in more than a month.

Some criticized the Ivanka Trump special that aired on CNN as an effort to curry favor with the White House. Was it?
I don’t think we’re the only news organization that did a profile of Ivanka Trump. That’s silly. Let’s remember the stories we’ve broken in the last week: the original story on the intelligence briefing; the fact that Monica Crowley was a plagiarist; the fact that Congressman Price may have broken the law on his stocks; the fact that Trump’s pick for Labor was having second thoughts … All those stories were broken by CNN. Tell me another news organization that’s broken more news on Donald Trump in the last week? Please.

Your corporate owner Time Warner is currently going through an $85 billion merger with telecom giant AT&T. Trump has suggested he may try to block the deal because it would concentrate too much media power in one company. Have you spoken with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes about that?
No. It’s one of the things I respect about Time Warner and Turner: their understanding of CNN’s independence. There’s been absolutely no conversations or anything of the sort between us and Time Warner.

Some have suggested that CNN might have to be spun off in order to have the deal approved by Trump’s Justice Department. Are you worried about that?
No.

You had the biggest night in cable-news history on Election Night, 13 million viewers. What’s your plan to maintain ratings in 2017?
Our viewership continues to be significantly higher than it was a year ago and frankly much higher than we expected it to be. There’s been no evidence of any falloff at all. I think people are coming to us because they know we’ll report both sides of the story. We expected we’d be down 25 percent from last year because you had all the election nights, debates, and conventions, but if the first three weeks of this year are any indication, I’m not so sure it will be down that much.

In December, the Drudge Report reported you were wooing Megyn Kelly. Did you try to hire her?
I had one conversation with Megyn about coming to CNN in prime time. It never got serious, it never got real.

What do you think of her move to NBC?
I wish her nothing but success. I think NBC News is a great fit for her and she’ll be a big star there.

During the Bush years, MSNBC saw its ratings skyrocket by being the voice of opposition. Since Election Day, MSNBC has held on to much of its election-year audience, suggesting the network might enjoy similar success during the Trump years. What’s your assessment of MSNBC?
I think all of the cable-news networks are healthy and vibrant and at a good place in the history of cable news. In terms of audience, there’s a clear No. 1, a clear No. 2, and a clear No. 3. In terms of reporting and breaking news, there’s only one true cable-news network.

So, what would be the best scoop now? If CNN got Trump’s tax returns would you report them?
If we could verify they were real and legitimate, just like any other news organization, we would report on them. Sure.

* This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

** Disclosure: I am an MSNBC contributor.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/01/cnns-zucker-on-covering-trump-past-present-and-future.html

The Reason Why There Are More Leaks Traced To Former President Obama and Violating American Citizens Right To Privacy Under The Fourth Amendment To U.S. Constitution

WASHINGTON — In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch signed the new rules, permitting the N.S.A. to disseminate “raw signals intelligence information,” on Jan. 3, after the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., signed them on Dec. 15, according to a 23-page, largely declassified copy of the procedures.

Previously, the N.S.A. filtered information before sharing intercepted communications with another agency, like the C.I.A. or the intelligence branches of the F.B.I. and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The N.S.A.’s analysts passed on only information they deemed pertinent, screening out the identities of innocent people and irrelevant personal information.

Now, other intelligence agencies will be able to search directly through raw repositories of communications intercepted by the N.S.A. and then apply such rules for “minimizing” privacy intrusions.

“This is not expanding the substantive ability of law enforcement to get access to signals intelligence,” said Robert S. Litt, the general counsel to Mr. Clapper. “It is simply widening the aperture for a larger number of analysts, who will be bound by the existing rules.”

But Patrick Toomey, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, called the move an erosion of rules intended to protect the privacy of Americans when their messages are caught by the N.S.A.’s powerful global collection methods. He noted that domestic internet data was often routed or stored abroad, where it may get vacuumed up without court oversight.

“Rather than dramatically expanding government access to so much personal data, we need much stronger rules to protect the privacy of Americans,” Mr. Toomey said. “Seventeen different government agencies shouldn’t be rooting through Americans’ emails with family members, friends and colleagues, all without ever obtaining a warrant.”

The N.S.A. has been required to apply similar privacy protections to foreigners’ information since early 2014, an unprecedented step that President Obama took after the disclosures of N.S.A. documents by the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden. The other intelligence agencies will now have to follow those rules, too.

Under the new system, agencies will ask the N.S.A. for access to specific surveillance feeds, making the case that they contain information relevant and useful to their missions. The N.S.A. will grant requests it deems reasonable after considering factors like whether large amounts of Americans’ private information might be included and, if so, how damaging or embarrassing it would be if that information were “improperly used or disclosed.”

The move is part of a broader trend of tearing down bureaucratic barriers to sharing intelligence between agencies that dates back to the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In 2002, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court secretly began permitting the N.S.A., the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. to share raw intercepts gathered domestically under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

After Congress enacted the FISA Amendments Act — which legalized warrantless surveillance on domestic soil so long as the target is a foreigner abroad, even when the target is communicating with an American — the court permitted raw sharing of emails acquired under that program, too.

In July 2008, the same month Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act, President George W. Bush modified Executive Order 12333, which sets rules for surveillance that domestic wiretapping statutes do not address, including techniques that vacuum up vast amounts of content without targeting anybody.

After the revision, Executive Order 12333 said the N.S.A. could share the raw fruits of such surveillance after the director of national intelligence and the attorney general, coordinating with the defense secretary, agreed on procedures. It took another eight years to develop those rules.

The Times first reported the existence of those deliberations in 2014 and later filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for documents about them. It ended that case last February, and Mr. Litt discussed the efforts in an interview at that time, but declined to divulge certain important details because the rules were not yet final or public.

Among the most important questions left unanswered in February was when analysts would be permitted to use Americans’ names, email addresses or other identifying information to search a 12333 database and pull up any messages to, from or about them that had been collected without a warrant.

There is a parallel debate about the FISA Amendments Act’s warrantless surveillance program. National security analysts sometimes search that act’s repository for Americans’ information, as do F.B.I. agents working on ordinary criminal cases. Critics call this the “backdoor search loophole,” and some lawmakers want to require a warrant for such searches.

By contrast, the 12333 sharing procedures allow analysts, including those at the F.B.I., to search the raw data using an American’s identifying information only for the purpose of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence investigations, not for ordinary criminal cases. And they may do so only if one of several other conditions are met, such as a finding that the American is an agent of a foreign power.

However, under the rules, if analysts stumble across evidence that an American has committed any crime, they will send it to the Justice Department.

The limits on using Americans’ information gathered under Order 12333 do not apply to metadata: logs showing who contacted whom, but not what they said. Analysts at the intelligence agencies may study social links between people, in search of hidden associates of known suspects, “without regard to the location or nationality of the communicants.”

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is on the verge of permitting the National Security Agency to share more of the private communications it intercepts with other American intelligence agencies without first applying any privacy protections to them, according to officials familiar with the deliberations.

The change would relax longstanding restrictions on access to the contents of the phone calls and email the security agency vacuums up around the world, including bulk collection of satellite transmissions, communications between foreigners as they cross network switches in the United States, and messages acquired overseas or provided by allies.

The idea is to let more experts across American intelligence gain direct access to unprocessed information, increasing the chances that they will recognize any possible nuggets of value. That also means more officials will be looking at private messages — not only foreigners’ phone calls and emails that have not yet had irrelevant personal information screened out, but also communications to, from, or about Americans that the N.S.A.’s foreign intelligence programs swept in incidentally.

Civil liberties advocates criticized the change, arguing that it will weaken privacy protections. They said the government should disclose how much American content the N.S.A. collects incidentally — which agency officials have said is hard to measure — and let the public debate what the rules should be for handling that information.

“Before we allow them to spread that information further in the government, we need to have a serious conversation about how to protect Americans’ information,” said Alexander Abdo, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer.

Robert S. Litt, the general counsel in the office of the Director of National Intelligence, said that the administration had developed and was fine-tuning what is now a 21-page draft set of procedures to permit the sharing.

The goal for the final rules, Brian P. Hale, a spokesman for the office, said in a statement, is “to ensure that they protect privacy, civil liberties and constitutional rights while enabling the sharing of information that is important to protect national security.”

Until now, National Security Agency analysts have filtered the surveillance information for the rest of the government. They search and evaluate the information and pass only the portions of phone calls or email that they decide is pertinent on to colleagues at the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies. And before doing so, the N.S.A. takes steps to mask the names and any irrelevant information about innocent Americans.

The new system would permit analysts at other intelligence agencies to obtain direct access to raw information from the N.S.A.’s surveillance to evaluate for themselves. If they pull out phone calls or email to use for their own agency’s work, they would apply the privacy protections masking innocent Americans’ information — a process known as “minimization” — at that stage, Mr. Litt said.

Executive branch officials have been developing the new framework and system for years. President George W. Bush set the change in motion through a little-noticed line in a 2008 executive order, and the Obama administration has been quietly developing a framework for how to carry it out since taking office in 2009.

The executive branch can change its own rules without going to Congress or a judge for permission because the data comes from surveillance methods that lawmakers did not include in the main law that governs national security wiretapping, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

FISA covers a narrow band of surveillance: the collection of domestic or international communications from a wire on American soil, leaving most of what the N.S.A. does uncovered. In the absence of statutory regulation, the agency’s other surveillance programs are governed by rules the White House sets under a Reagan-era directive called Executive Order 12333.

Mr. Litt declined to make available a copy of the current draft of the proposed procedures.

“Once these procedures are final and approved, they will be made public to the extent consistent with national security,” Mr. Hale said. “It would be premature to draw conclusions about what the procedures will provide or authorize until they are finalized.”

Among the things they would not address is what the draft rules say about searching the raw data using names or keywords intended to bring up Americans’ phone calls or email that the security agency gathered “incidentally” under the 12333 surveillance programs — including whether F.B.I. agents may do so when working on ordinary criminal investigations.

Under current rules for data gathered under a parallel program — the no-warrant surveillance program governed by the FISA Amendments Act — N.S.A. and C.I.A. officials may search for Americans’ information only if their purpose is to find foreign intelligence, but F.B.I. agents may conduct such a search for intelligence or law enforcement purposes. Some lawmakers have proposed requiring the government to obtain a warrant before conducting such a search.

In 2013, The Washington Post reported, based on documents leaked by the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden, that the N.S.A. and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters, had tapped into links connecting Google’s and Yahoo’s data centers overseas and that the American spy agency had collected millions of records a day from them. The companies have since taken steps to encrypt those links.

That collection occurred under 12333 rules, which had long prohibited the N.S.A. from sharing raw information gathered from the surveillance it governed with other members of the intelligence community before minimization. The same rule had also long applied to sharing information gathered with FISA wiretaps.

But after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration began an effort to tear down barriers that impeded different parts of the government from working closely and sharing information, especially about terrorism.

In 2002, for example, it won permission, then secret, from the intelligence court permitting the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the N.S.A. to share raw FISA wiretap information. The government did not disclose that change, which was first reported in a 2014 New York Times article based on documents disclosed by Mr. Snowden.

In August 2008, Mr. Bush change d 12333 to permit the N.S.A. to share unevaluated surveillance information with other intelligence agencies once procedures were developed.

Intelligence officials began working in 2009 on how the technical system and rules would work, Mr. Litt said, eventually consulting the Defense and Justice Departments. This month, the administration briefed the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent five-member watchdog panel, seeking input. Before they go into effect, they must be approved by James R. Clapper, the intelligence director; Loretta E. Lynch, the attorney general; and Ashton B. Carter, the defense secretary.

“We would like it to be completed sooner rather than later,” Mr. Litt said. “Our expectation is months rather than weeks or years.”

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The Pronk Pops Show 840, February 16, 2017, Story 1: President Trump’s First Press Conference Part 1: President Trump Speaks Directly To The American People — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Educates The Big Lie Media (Democratic Newspapers and Television Networks) with Fake News Spinning Propaganda — Videos

Posted on February 16, 2017. Filed under: American History, Benghazi, Blogroll, Bombs, Breaking News, British Pound, Budgetary Policy, Business, City, College, Communications, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Cruise Missiles, Currencies, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Drugs, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, Environment, Euro, Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Gangs, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Health, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, Housing, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Drugs, Illegal Immigration, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Impeachment, Independence, Insurance, Investments, Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal, IRS, Israel, Labor Economics, Language, Law, Legal Drugs, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Medicare, Medicine, Monetary Policy, Networking, News, Obama, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Presidential Appointments, Prime Minister, Private Sector Unions, Progressives, Public Sector Unions, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Resources, Scandals, Security, Senator Jeff Sessions, Social Science, Social Security, Spying, Success, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Transportation, U.S. Dollar, Unemployment, Unions, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weather, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 840: February 16, 2017

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 Story 1: President Trump’s First Press Conference Part 1: President Trump Speaks Directly To The American People — Videos — 

Image result for cartoons president trump press conference

Image result for cartoons president trump press conference

Image result for cartoons president trump press conference

Image result for cartoons 2017 branco president trump press conference

Image result for cartoons president trump press conference

Image result for cartoons 2017 branco president trump press conference

Image result for cartoons 2017 branco president trump press conference

President Donald Trump Full Press Conference Addresses Ties to Russia, Leaks, and “Fake News” 2/16

President Trump scolds media at news conference

Trump to news media: The public doesn’t believe you anymore

President dismisses negative reporting in a media massacre

Rush Limbaugh Podcast 2/16/17 | Trump blasts ‘out of control’ media, defends agenda, administration

Laura Ingraham Show 2/16/17 | Media freaks out as some come to the conclusion that Flynn

Trump Says General Flynn Did Nothing Wrong

Tucker Carlson Tonight & Hannity Special – 2/16/2017 Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Netanyahu Interview

Scott Pelley: Trump’s “bluster, bravado, exaggeration” on display at news conference

John Dickerson on Beltway’s reaction to Trump’s press conference

Is The Intelligence Community At War With Trump?

Roger Stone Panicked Left Launching Civil War

Story 2: President Trump Educates The Big Lie Media (Democratic Newspapers and Television Networks) with Fake News Spinning Propaganda — Videos

Trump boasts approval rating, attacks media

President Trump scolds media at news conference

President Trump criticizes administration coverage

Sorry media — this press conference played very different with Trump’s supporters

 Far from dead, he was positively exuberant. His performance at a marathon press conference was a must-see-tv spectacle as he mixed serious policy talk with stand-up comedy and took repeated pleasure in whacking his favorite pinata, the “dishonest media.”

“Russia is a ruse,” he insisted, before finally saying under questioning he was not aware of anyone on his campaign having contact with Russian officials.

Trump’s detractors immediately panned the show as madness, but they missed the method behind it and proved they still don’t understand his appeal. Facing his first crisis in the Oval Office, he was unbowed in demonstrating his bare-knuckled intention to fight back.

He did it his way. Certainly no other president, and few politicians at any level in any time, would dare put on a show like that.

In front of cameras, and using the assembled press corps as props, he conducted a televised revival meeting to remind his supporters that he is still the man they elected. Ticking off a lengthy list of executive orders and other actions he has taken, he displayed serious fealty to his campaign promises.

Trump goes on marathon rant against the media

Sure, sentences didn’t always end on the same topic they started with, and his claim to have won the election by the largest electoral college margin since Ronald Reagan wasn’t close to true.

Fair points, but so what? Fact-checkers didn’t elect him, nor did voters who were happy with the status quo.

Trump, first, last and always, matches the mood of the discontented. Like them, he is a bull looking for a china shop. That’s his ace in the hole and he played it almost to perfection.

The immediate impact of his performance is likely to calm some of the jitters among Republicans in congress and supporters elsewhere, especially after the beating he took in the last few days.

On Monday night, Trump suddenly removed Gen. Michael Flynn, his national security adviser, over circumstances that still are not entirely clear. And on Wednesday, his nominee for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, withdrew after Republicans said he didn’t have the votes to be confirmed.

Combined with courts blocking his immigration and refugee order, unflattering leaks of confidential material from intelligence agencies and numerous demands for investigations into any Russian connections, Trump’s fast start suddenly hit a wall.

Just three weeks into his term, Democrats, in and out of the media, smelled blood. Many already were going for the kill.

They won’t get it, at least now. Trump bought himself time yesterday.

Yet those determined to bring him down won’t give up, and the insidious leaks of secret material suggest some opponents are members of the permanent government who are willing to use their position and the media to undermine him.

Indeed, the most serious leaks seem to vindicate a warning that Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer made in early January after Trump criticized leaders of the spook agencies.

“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told an interviewer. “So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”

That incredible statement reflects what a dangerous game rogue agents are playing. The world is on fire yet the president is the target of partisan revenge in his own government. It’s a scandal and it’s outrageous, but it’s a fact that Trump must confront.

Finding the leakers and prosecuting them, which he promises to do, is part of the solution.

rAnother part comes Saturday, when Trump takes his solo act to Florida for a massive public rally. It’s smart for him to get out of Washington and soak in the enthusiasm of the populist movement he leads.

He should do it regularly, and also hold smaller, town-hall style forums where ordinary citizens can ask him questions in more intimate settings. Any way he can speak directly to the American people and hear from them democratizes his presidency and reduces the power of big biased media and the Washington establishment.

Yet the only sure and lasting way to keep ahead of the lynch mob is by producing results. Success will be Trump’s savior.

And nothing says success like jobs, jobs, jobs. Getting the economy to reach lift-off speed is essential so it can deliver the good-paying jobs and prosperity that he promised and the nation needs.

While Republican honchos in congress say they’re getting ready to move on tax cuts and replacing ObamaCare, nothing will happen without presidential leadership. That means Trump’s fate is in his own hands and he must keep himself and his White House team focused on delivering an economic revival.

If he does that, the lynch mob will be left holding an empty rope.

http://nypost.com/2017/02/16/sorry-media-this-press-conference-played-very-different-with-trumps-supporters/

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The Pronk Pops Show 839, February 15, 2017, Story 1: Time To Stop Leaking by Government Employees By Setting A Example That Nobody Is Above The Law — Appoint A Special Prosecutor For The Many National Security and Public Corruption Crimes of Hillary Clinton and Staff — Trump Supporters Waiting For President Trump To Keep His Promise — Videos — Story 2: Eli Lake on The Political Assassination of NSA Mike Flynn and FBI Questioned Former National Security Advisory Mike Flynn — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Likes Whatever Israel and Palestine Want Regarding a Two State Solution

Posted on February 15, 2017. Filed under: American History, Benghazi, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Budgetary Policy, Coal, Coal, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Disasters, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Empires, Energy, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Fourth Amendment, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Spending, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, Homicide, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Impeachment, Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic State, Israel, Labor Economics, Language, Law, Life, Lying, Media, Monetary Policy, National Security Agency, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, News, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Obama, Oil, Oil, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Presidential Appointments, Prime Minister, Progressives, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Resources, Rule of Law, Scandals, Security, Senate, Senator Jeff Sessions, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 839: February 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 838: February 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 837: February 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 836: February 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 835: February 9, 2017

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