The Pronk Pops Show 936, Story 1:Obama Spy Scandal: Obama Administration Officials Including National Security Adviser Rice, CIA Director Brennan and United Nations Ambassador Power Spied On American People and Trump Campaign By Massive Unmasking Using Intelligence Community For Political Purposes — An Abuse of Power and Felonies Under U.S. Law — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 936,  July 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 935,  July 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 934,  July 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 934,  July 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 933,  July 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 932,  July 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 931,  July 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 930,  July 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 929,  July 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 928,  July 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 927,  July 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 926,  July 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 925,  July 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 924,  July 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 923,  July 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 922,  July 3, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 921,  June 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 920,  June 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 919,  June 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 918,  June 26, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 917,  June 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 916,  June 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 915,  June 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 914,  June 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 913,  June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

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

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Story 1:Obama Spy Scandal: Obama Administration Officials Including National Security Adviser Rice, CIA Director Brennan and United Nations Ambassador Power Spied On American People and Trump Campaign By Massive Unmasking Using Intelligence Community For Political Purposes — An Abuse of Power and Felonies Under U.S. Law — Videos

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President Obama went to British intelligence to spy on Trump for him! – Judge Napolitano

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NSA Whistleblower William Binney: The Future of FREEDOM

Thomas Drake 60 Minutes Documentary

United States Secrets | Award Winning Frontline Documentary | Snowden Leaks | The Program | 1 of 2

United States Secrets | NSA Prism | Award Winning Frontline Documentary | Part 2 of 2

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BIGGER THAN WATERGATE! WHAT SUSAN RICE JUST DID WILL HAVE HILLARY AND OBAMA SCREAMING

Donald Trump’s Administration Has Already Been Spied On | Rand Paul on Wiretap and Obamacare

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‘State of Surveillance’ with Edward Snowden and Shane Smith (VICE on HBO: Season 4, Episode 13)

Obama Expands NSA Spying On His Way Out The Door

NSA has expanded warrantless web spying: Report

Limitless Surveillance and the Death of Privacy: Inside the FISA/Echelon Spy Grid – Annie Machon

Must watch video !!! This video received over 44,000,000 views over night. Wake up America.

Obama’s Presidency Flawlessly Dismantled By Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell – Worst President Ever

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The Negotiator (10/10) Movie CLIP – Do You Like Westerns? (1998) HD

 

Newly declassified memos detail extent of improper Obama-era NSA spying

The National Security Agency and FBI violated specific civil liberty protections during the Obama administration by improperly searching and disseminating raw intelligence on Americans or failing to promptly delete unauthorized intercepts, according to newly declassified memos that provide some of the richest detail to date on the spy agencies’ ability to obey their own rules.

The memos reviewed by The Hill were publicly released on July 11 through Freedom of Information Act litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union.

They detail specific violations that the NSA or FBI disclosed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or the Justice Department’s national security division during President Obama’s tenure between 2009 and 2016. The intelligence community isn’t due to report on compliance issues for 2017, the first year under the Trump administration, until next spring.

The NSA says that the missteps amount to a small number — less than 1 percent — when compared to the hundreds of thousands of specific phone numbers and email addresses the agencies intercepted through the so-called Section 702 warrantless spying program created by Congress in late 2008.

“Quite simply, a compliance program that never finds an incident is not a robust compliance program,” said Michael Halbig, the NSA’s chief spokesman. “The National Security Agency has in place a strong compliance program that identifies incidents, reports them to external overseers, and then develops appropriate solutions to remedy any incidents.”

But critics say the memos undercut the intelligence community’s claim that it has robust protections for Americans incidentally intercepted under the program.

“Americans should be alarmed that the NSA is vacuuming up their emails and phone calls without a warrant,” said Patrick Toomey, an ACLU staff attorney in New York who helped pursue the FOIA litigation. “The NSA claims it has rules to protect our privacy, but it turns out those rules are weak, full of loopholes, and violated again and again.”

Section 702 empowers the NSA to spy on foreign powers and to retain and use certain intercepted data that was incidentally collected on Americans under strict privacy protections. Wrongly collected information is supposed to be immediately destroyed.

The Hill reviewed the new ACLU documents as well as compliance memos released by the NSA inspector general and identified more than 90 incidents where violations specifically cited an impact on Americans. Many incidents involved multiple persons, multiple violations or extended periods of time.

For instance, the government admitted improperly searching the NSA’s foreign intercept data on multiple occasions, including one instance in which an analyst ran the same search query about an American “every work day” for a period between 2013 and 2014.

There also were several instances in which Americans’ unmasked names were improperly shared inside the intelligence community without being redacted, a violation of the so-called minimization procedures that Obama loosened in 2011 that are supposed to protect Americans’ identity from disclosure when they are intercepted without a warrant. Numerous times improperly unmasked information about Americans had to be recalled and purged after the fact, the memos stated.

“CIA and FBI received unminimized data from many Section 702-tasked facilities and at times are thus required to conduct similar purges,” one report noted.

“NSA issued a report which included the name of a United States person whose identity was not foreign intelligence,” said one typical incident report from 2015, which said the NSA eventually discovered the error and “recalled” the information.

Likewise, the FBI disclosed three instances between December 2013 and February 2014 of “improper disseminations of U.S. persons identities.”

The NSA also admitted it was slow in some cases to notify fellow intelligence agencies when it wrongly disseminated information about Americans. The law requires a notification within five days, but some took as long as 131 business days and the average was 19 days, the memos show.

U.S. intelligence officials directly familiar with the violations told The Hill that the memos confirm that the intelligence agencies have routinely policed, fixed and self-disclosed to the nation’s intelligence court thousands of minor procedural and more serious privacy infractions that have impacted both Americans and foreigners alike since the warrantless spying program was created by Congress in late 2008.

Alexander Joel, who leads the Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy and Transparency under the director of national intelligence, said the documents chronicle episodes that have been reported to Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for years in real time and are a tribute to the multiple layers of oversight inside the intelligence community.

“We take every compliance incident very seriously and continually strive to improve compliance through our oversight regime and as evidence by our reporting requirements to the FISC and Congress,” he told The Hill. “That said, we believe that, particularly when compared with the overall level of activity, the compliance incident rate is very low.”
The FBI said it believes it has adequate oversight to protect Americans’ privacy, while signaling it will be pushing Congress hard this fall to renew the Section 702 law before it expires.

“The FBI’s mission is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States,” the bureau said in a statement to The Hill. “When Congress enacted Section 702, it built in comprehensive oversight and compliance procedures that involve all three branches of government. These procedures are robust and effective in identifying compliance incidents. The documents released on July 11, 2017 clearly show the FBI’s extensive efforts to follow the law, and to identify, report, and remedy compliance matters.

“Section 702 is vital to the safety and security of the American people. It is one of the most valuable tools the Intelligence Community has, and therefore, is used with the utmost care by the men and women of the FBI so as to not jeopardize future utility. As such, we continually evaluate our internal policies and procedures to further reduce the number of these compliance matters.”

The new documents show that the NSA has, on occasion, exempted itself from its legal obligation to destroy all domestic communications that were improperly intercepted.

Under the law, the NSA is supposed to destroy any intercept if it determines the data was domestically gathered, meaning someone was intercepted on U.S. soil without a warrant when the agency thought they were still overseas. The NSA, however, has said previously it created “destruction waivers” to keep such intercepts in certain cases.

The new documents confirm the NSA has in fact issued such waivers and that it uncovered in 2012 a significant violation in which the waivers were improperly used and the infraction was slow to be reported to the court.

“In light of related filings being presented to the Court at the same time this incident was discovered and the significance of the incident, DOJ should have reported this incident under the our immediate notification process,” then-Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco wrote the FISA court in Aug. 28, 2012, about the episode, according to one memo released through FOIA.

The NSA declined to say how often destruction waivers are given. But Joel, of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has supervised such waivers and affirmed they are “consistent with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution and the statutory requirements of Section 702.”

Other violations cited in the memos:

  • Numerous “overcollection incidents” in which the NSA gathered information about foreigners or Americans it wasn’t entitled to intercept
  • “Isolated instances in which NSA may not have complied with the documentation requests” justifying intercepts or searches of intercepted data.
  • The misuse of “overly broad” queries or specific U.S. person terms to search through NSA data.
  • Failures to timely purge NSA databases of improperly collected intelligence, such as a 2014 incident in which “NSA reported a gap in its purge discovery processes.”

In annual and quarterly compliance reports that have been released in recent years, U.S. intelligence agencies have estimated the number of Section 702 violations has averaged between 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent of the total number of “taskings.” A tasking is an intelligence term that reflects a request to intercept a specific phone number or email address.

The NSA now targets more than 100,000 individuals a year under Section 702 for foreign spying, and some individual targets get multiple taskings, officials said.

“The actual number of compliance incidents remains classified but from the publicly available data it is irrefutable that the number is in the thousands since Section 702 was fully implemented by 2009,” said a senior U.S. official with direct knowledge, who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The increasing transparency on Section 702 violations is having an impact on both critics and supporters of a law that is up for renewal in Congress at the end of this year. Of concern are the instances in which Americans’ data is incidentally collected and then misused.

Retired House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra, a Republican who strongly supported the NSA warrantless spying program when it started under President George W. Bush, said he now fears it has now become too big and intrusive.

“If I were still in Congress today, I might vote with the people today to shut the program down or curtail it,” Hoekstra, who has been tapped by Trump to be ambassador to the Netherlands, said in an interview.

“One percent or less sounds great, but the truth is 1 percent of my credit card charges don’t come back wrong every month. And in my mind one percent is pretty sloppy when it can impact Americans’ privacy.”

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/343785-newly-declassified-memos-detail-extent-of-improper-obama-era-nsa

 

Newly declassified memos detail extent of improper Obama-era NSA spying

The Obama administration’s illegal spying may have been worse than Watergate.

In 1972, some employees of President Nixon’s re-election committee were caught when they broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters to plant a bug. This led to Nixon’s resignation and probably would have led to his felony prosecution had he not been pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford.

But if a single bugging of the political opposition is enough to bring down a presidency — and maybe lead to an unprecedented criminal prosecution of a former president — then what are we to make of the recently unveiled Obama administration program of massively spying on political opponents in violation of clearly established law?

Because that’s what was unveiled last week.

When the FBI wants to wiretap a domestic suspect, it goes to court for a warrant. But when listening in on foreigners, the National Security Agency hoovers up a vast amount of stuff in bulk: Conversations between foreigners, conversations between Americans and foreigners, conversations between Americans who mention foreigners, and sometimes just plain old conversations between Americans.

There are supposed to be strict safeguards on who can access the information, on how it can be used and on protecting American citizens’ privacy — because the NSA is forbidden by law from engaging in domestic spying. These safeguards were ignored wholesale under the Obama administration, and to many Republicans, it is no coincidence that intelligence leaks damaged Democrats’ political opponents in the 2016 election.

A report from journalists John Solomon and Sara Carter last week, based on recently declassified documents, exposed what went on. As Solomon and Carter write:

More than 5%, or one out of every 20, searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards President Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa. …

The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying that the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor,” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26.

The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans. …  The American Civil Liberties Union said the newly disclosed violations are some of the most serious to ever be documented and strongly call into question the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to police itself and safeguard Americans’ privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.

As former anti-terrorism prosecutor and national security expert Andrew McCarthy writes in National Review, this is a very serious abuse. And potentially a crime. If such material were leaked to the press for political advantage, that’s another crime.

McCarthy observes: “Enabling of domestic spying, contemptuous disregard of court-ordered minimization procedures (procedures the Obama administration itself proposed, then violated), and unlawful disclosure of classified intelligence to feed a media campaign against political adversaries. Quite the Obama legacy.”

 Will the Justice Department investigate and prosecute former Obama officials? It seems hard to imagine. But then, so did Nixon’s resignation, when the Watergate burglary was first discovered.

This debacle also raises serious questions about the viability of our existing “intelligence community.” In the post-World War II era, we gave massive power to the national security apparatus. In part, that power was granted in the belief that professionalism and patriotism would lead people in those agencies to refuse to let their work be used for partisan political purposes.

It now seems apparent that we overestimated the patriotism and professionalism of the people in these agencies, who allowed them to be politically weaponized by the Obama administration. That being true, if we value democracy, can we permit them to exist in their current form?

That’s a decision that President Trump and Congress will have to face. Ironically, they may be afraid to — for fear that intelligence agencies will engage in further targeted political leaks.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor and the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself, is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/05/30/obama-admin-illegal-spying-worse-than-watergate-glenn-reynolds-column/102284058/

 

 

Declassified Memos Show Obama’s NSA Spied On Americans Way More Than You Thought

Back in May the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) found that the National Security Agency (NSA), under former President Obama, routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall.   

“The October 26, 2016 Notice disclosed that an NSA Inspector General (IG) review…indicated that, with greater frequency than previously disclosed to the Court, NSA analysts had used U.S.-person identifiers to query the result of Internet “upstream” collection, even though NSA’s section 702 minimization procedures prohibited such queriesthis disclosure gave the Court substantial concern.”

FISA

The court order went on to reveal that NSA analysts had been conducting illegal queries targeting American citizens “with much greater frequency than had previously been disclosed to the Court”…an issue which the court described as a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”

“Since 2011, NSA’s minimization procedures have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collection under Section 702.  The October 26, 2016 Notice informed the Court that NSA analysts had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had previously been disclosed to the Court.”

“At the October 26, 2016 hearing, the Court ascribed the government’s failure to disclose those IG and OCO reviews at the October 4, 2016 hearing to an institutional ‘lack of candor’ on NSA’s part and emphasized that ‘this is a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.'”

FISA

For instance, the government admitted improperly searching NSA’s foreign intercept data on multiple occasions, including one instance in which an analyst ran the same search query about an American “every work day” for a period between 2013 and 2014.

There also were several instances in which Americans’ unmasked names were improperly shared inside the intelligence community without being redacted, a violation of the so-called minimization procedures that President Obama loosened in 2011 that are supposed to protect an Americans’ identity from disclosure when they are intercepted without a warrant. Numerous times improperly unmasked information about Americans had to be recalled and purged after the fact, the memos stated.

“CIA and FBI received unminimized data from many Section 702-tasked facilities and at times are thus required to conduct similar purges,” one report noted.

“NSA issued a report which included the name of a United States person whose identity was not foreign intelligence,”said one typical incident report from 2015, which said the NSA eventually discovered the error and “recalled” the information.

Likewise, the FBI disclosed three instances between December 2013 and February 2014 of “improper disseminations of U.S. persons identities.”

Samples of other violations included:

  • Numerous “overcollection incidents” where the NSA gathered information about foreigners or Americans it wasn’t entitled to intercept
  • “Isolated instances in which NSA may not have complied with the documentation requests” justifying intercepts or searches of intercepted data.
  • The misuse of “overly broad” queries or specific U.S. person terms to search through NSA data.
  • Failures to timely purge NSA databases of improperly collected intelligence, such as a 2014 incident in which “NSA reported a gap in its purge discovery processes.”

Americans should be alarmed that the NSA is vacuuming up their emails and phone calls without a warrant,” said Patrick Toomey, an ACLU staff attorney in New York who helped pursue the FOIA litigation. “The NSA claims it has rules to protect our privacy, but it turns out those rules are weak, full of loopholes, and violated again and again.”

“If I were still in Congress today, I might vote with the people today to shut the program down or curtail it,” Hoekstrak, who has been tapped by Trump to be ambassador to the Netherlands, said in an interview.

Of course, the NSA would like for you to take solace in the fact that they spy on you so much that the 1,000’s of reported violations only amount to ~1% of the estimated “taskings.”

In annual and quarterly compliance reports that have been released in recent years, U.S. intelligence agencies have estimated the number of Section 702 violations has averaged between 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent of the total number of “taskings.” A tasking is an intelligence term that reflects a request to intercept a specific phone number or email address.

“Quite simply, a compliance program that never finds an incident is not a robust compliance program,” said Michael T. Halbig, the NSA’s chief spokesman. “…The National Security Agency has in place a strong compliance program that identifies incidents, reports them to external overseers, and then develops appropriate solutions to remedy any incidents.”

Though we do wonder whether our government would be as dismissive if American citizens just decided to keep 1% of the taxes they owe each year…somehow we suspect the IRS wouldn’t be so forgiving of such a ‘small’ error-rate.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-26/declassified-memos-show-obamas-nsa-spied-americans-way-more-you-thought

 

CIA Sought FBI Probe Into Russian Targeting of Trump Campaign

Brennan says Trump campaign contacts with Russians coincided with Moscow’s election hacking

Former Director of the CIA John Brennan

Former director of the CIA John Brennan / Getty Images

BY: 
May 23, 2017 3:59 pm

Former CIA Director John Brennan told a House hearing on Tuesday the CIA first asked the FBI last summer to investigate contacts between Russian intelligence officials and Americans in the Trump campaign.

Skirting concerns involving classified information, John Brennan, President Obama’s CIA chief, provided few details on the intelligence related to Russian recruitment attempts against Trump aides, who he described as “U.S. persons.”

Asked if there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Brennan said he did not know. But he said Russian intelligence was actively seeking to suborn Americans and that a number of contacts had taken place with campaign officials.

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals, and it raised questions in my mind whether or not the Russians were able gain the cooperation of those individuals, ” Brennan told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

“I don’t know whether or not such ‘collusion’ existed. I don’t know,” he added. “But there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation to determine whether U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”

Brennan testified that he knew the names of the Americans but declined to provide the names in the public hearing. He also did not describe the nature of the intelligence on the Americans.

Brennan, a career CIA analyst, was considered among the CIA’s more liberal directors. As a student he voted for a Communist Party USA candidate for president, Gus Hall, during the height of the Cold War. He voiced worries the vote for a communist president would disqualify him from a job in the CIA when he joined in 1980.

As CIA director, Brennan initiated a number of reforms that critics say have weakened the agency, including weakening the CIA operations directorate, its spying branch, by mixing in analysts with espionage and covert action specialists.

Brennan said in July he set up a task force that included FBI agents and National Security Agency officials to look into Russian election meddling. Sometime last summer, he then formally referred intelligence reports on the Russia-Trump campaign contacts to the FBI for further investigation.

The testimony is part of the House committee’s investigation into whether Russian intelligence was able to penetrate the Trump presidential election campaign. It is also investigating how electronic intelligence related to the U.S. investigations of the matter was leaked to the press.

Brennan, in declining to specify the CIA intelligence on the Russian contacts, said documents related to the matter have been provided to the committee by the agency.

FBI Director James Comey announced to Congress in March that the FBI was conducting a counterintelligence probe into “any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

President Trump has dismissed the Russian collusion allegations as a hoax. He fired Comey earlier this month in part over concerns that the FBI was pursuing an unwarranted probe into the Russia ties.

A Justice Department special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, was appointed earlier this month to investigate the Russian effort to penetrate the Trump campaign.

Brennan was asked several times during the hearing whether he could confirm collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians and said he could not. However, the context of the contacts—Russian intelligence had hacked and disseminated Democratic Party-related documents—raised concerns that he said needed to be investigated.

Brennan said, “I felt as though the FBI investigation was certainly well-founded and needed to look into those issues.”

Brennan said on August 4 that he spoke to Alexander Bortnikov, director of Russia’s Federal Security Service, the main intelligence agency, as part of an intelligence-sharing arrangement related to Syria.

The former CIA chief then complained about Russian mistreatment of U.S. diplomats in Moscow before shifting to the topic of Russian election meddling.

“I next raised the published media reports of Russian attempts to interfere in our upcoming presidential election,” he said. “I told Mr. Bortnikov that if Russia had such a campaign underway, it would be certain to backfire. I said that all Americans regardless of political affiliation or whom they might support in the election cherish their ability to elect their own leaders without outside interference or disruption. I said American voters would be outraged by any Russian attempt to interfere in election.”

The FBI counterspy probe had begun about two months earlier. Brennan was not asked during the hearing whether he raised Russian attempts to try and recruit Trump campaign officials during the conversation with Bortnikov.

Bortnikov, in the conversation, denied Moscow was engaged in an influence operation against the election, Brennan said.

Brennan also disclosed under questioning that the FBI sought to pursue information contained in a private intelligence dossier done by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.

The CIA did not rely on the dossier for its intelligence reporting on Russian activities related to the campaign. “It wasn’t part of the corpus of intelligence” on Russian influence activities and was not made part of the final report, Brennan said.

The FBI, however, tried to confirm elements of the report, Brennan noted.

The dossier, produced by a private company linked to the Democratic Party, asserted that Russia has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Trump for five years. The document has been widely discredited as containing false information, however.

Rep. Chris Stewart (R., Utah) said he has reviewed raw CIA intelligence related to the intelligence community assessment of Russian election meddling and said he does not agree with its conclusion that Moscow sought to boost Trump’s chances of winning.

“I don’t agree with the conclusion [of the intelligence community assessment] particularly that it’s such a high level of confidence,” Stewart said.

“I just think there should have been allowances made for some of the ambiguity in that, and especially for those who didn’t share in the conclusion that there is a high degree of confidence.”

Allegations of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign remain unconfirmed but have set off a bitter political battle.

Democrats in Congress have charged the Russians secretly worked with Trump campaign associates to skew the election against the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Since the election that brought Trump to power, many Democrats have alleged the win was the result of a conspiracy between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign to defeat Clinton.

Republicans have questioned whether there is any solid evidence linking Moscow to the Trump campaign.

Congressional Republicans also are investigating whether highly classified intelligence gathered against foreign officials in the United States was misused to gather political intelligence against Trump and his transition team.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), the House intelligence committee chairman, has charged that documents he has reviewed indicate that Americans were improperly spied on during an Obama administration foreign intelligence monitoring operation between November and January—the period when the Trump transition team was functioning.

Nunes, who was sidelined from the Russian investigation by an ethics probe related to the intelligence disclosures, also has said there are indications intelligence agencies may have improperly “unmasked” the identities of Americans that are normally blacked out in foreign intelligence reports to protect privacy rights.

The New York Times reported in March that during this period, the Obama administration was frantically seeking to uncover and preserve intelligence on Russia-Trump campaign ties, fearing the new president would destroy it once in power.

Three Trump aides have been the focus of the Democrats’ allegations. They include former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and unofficial campaign adviser Carter Page.

“Every day the American public is bombarded with news about the Russian interference in our elections,” said the committee’s acting chairman, Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Texas).

“Many of [these] reports are false and/or misleading,” he said. “Today is an opportunity to focus on the truth and the truth can be only found through a full and fair investigation of all the facts.”

Committee Vice Chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) called the Russian influence operation during the 2016 campaign “an unprecedented attack on our democratic institutions.”

Schiff during earlier hearings had asked several questions of intelligence and law enforcement witnesses based on the discredited dossier.

http://freebeacon.com/politics/cia-sought-fbi-probe-russian-targeting-trump-campaign/

Trump’s Tweets Don’t Excuse Media Ignoring Obama Surveillance Story

The media need to separate anger over Trump’s unfounded wiretap tweets from legitimate questions about Obama administration surveillance.

By Mollie Hemingway

In an interview released earlier this week, John Dickerson of CBS News asked President Donald Trump 10 times about his claims of surveillance by the Obama administration. Dickerson began by asking if Obama had given Trump any helpful advice. Trump said Obama had been nice but that words were less important to him than deeds, and referenced “surveillance.”

Trump said the surveillance was inappropriate and Dickerson asked him what that meant. They went back and forth a bit, with Dickerson asking if Trump stood by his claims regarding Obama being “sick and bad” — a reference to his March tweets claiming Trump Tower had been wiretapped.

Let’s revisit those tweets from March 4. They said:

  • Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
  • Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!
  • I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
  • How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!

Now, by the time Trump tweeted this in early March, it had been reported for months that Trump Tower had been wiretapped in October, but the reporting was mostly done by conspiracy theorist Louise Mensch, so it was not taken very seriously. She had also reported that an initial request for a FISA warrant against Trump and associates had been turned down.

The media responded to these tweets from the president by, reasonably, asking him for proof of President Obama literally wiretapping Trump Tower. No evidence of wiretaps being laid down in Trump Tower has been provided by the president or anyone else. Congressional committees investigating both Russian meddling and illegal leaks by U.S. officials have said they have no evidence of literal wiretaps, much less ones placed personally by President Obama. And intelligence agency chiefs have said they have no evidence of literal wiretaps of Trump Tower.

Because President Trump made incendiary and unsubstantiated claims about wiretapping that he’s been unable to prove, the media have interpreted this, for some reason, as an excuse to pretend that there is nothing at all whatsoever to claims that the Obama administration spied on members of the Trump campaign and the incoming administration. That question — of surveillance of Trump and associates by intelligence agencies — is a separate question from whether President Obama snuck into Trump Tower one night on hands and knees to personally lay down some taps on Trump’s phone lines.

When I’ve raised this point with journalists, most if not all of them have been unable to separate these issues. Some have accused me of wanting to talk about Obama administration surveillance against Trump in order to defend Trump’s erroneous tweets. One claimed I was “twisting theories to try to make a Trump falsehood true.” Wrong. I’ve repeatedly acknowledged that Trump has provided no evidence for his surveillance tweets. With full credit to the literal-serious divide on the president’s rhetoric, he should be more precise with his language if he wanted to talk about general surveillance instead of the comparatively specific claims he made in his tweets.

In any case, I’m beginning to wonder if journalists’ refusal to discuss, much less really dig into, the information collection and dissemination on Trump associates is itself a desire to not give any credence to Trump’s more outlandish claims in his tweets. It reminds me a bit of an ex-boyfriend who accused me of cheating on him. I wasn’t, but he was not faithful.

Journalists need to know that they can and should separate Trump’s irresponsible tweets from the general questions about Obama officials and others in intelligence agencies surveilling a political campaign and presidential transition.

A ‘Shockingly High Percentage’

Last week, ABC News and the Washington Post put out a poll that “alarmed” CNN’s Jake Tapper. He focused on it for an end-of-show lecture on fake news. “A shockingly high percentage of Americans believe President Obama intentionally spied on Donald Trump and members of his campaign,” Tapper reported.

He mentioned Trump’s tweets and showed clips of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and FBI Director James Comey saying there was no evidence of wiretaps. He could have mentioned the many other knowledgeable people denying the presence of a Trump Tower wiretap. He went on:

So that would have seemingly been that, except that the president and his team kept pushing ways to try to make this evidence-free claim somewhere sort of possibly in the neighborhood of almost not entirely false. Now they failed, but they muddied the waters quite a bit. And now here are the shocking numbers from today.

32 percent of the public thinks President Obama intentionally spied on Donald Trump and members of his campaign and 52 percent of Republicans believe this charge. A charge that there is literally no evidence to support. It is the definition of fake news.

There are several problems with this complaint. The poll question was fairly broad, if awkwardly worded. The wording is slightly different than characterized above. It was: “Do you think the Obama administration intentionally spied on Trump and members of his campaign during the 2016 election campaign, or not?” What is “intentional” spying referring to, exactly? And would respondents have an agreement about what that means? Who is considered a part of the Obama administration, exactly? Is the timing of the question meant to exclude the leaks that occurred after Trump won the election? After the Electoral College voted? Until inauguration?

Still, the only shocking thing about the number is that it isn’t higher. What Tapper doesn’t mention is that CNN itself reported the previous week that the FBI began spying on a Trump campaign advisor last summer. Here’s how their story began:

The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump’s campaign as part of the justification to win approval to secretly monitor a Trump associate, according to US officials briefed on the investigation.

That story, which probably arose out of a desire to cushion the blow from questions Sen. Chuck Grassley began asking about the FBI’s use of a shady and discredited dossier, explained that the FBI was spying on a member of the Trump campaign named Carter Page. I repeat, the FBI had secured a FISA warrant to spy on a member of the Trump campaign, according to CNN. I know that the media have serious credibility problems, but you can’t get mad at people for believing what you report.

The FBI is in the executive branch’s Justice Department, although its intelligence activities are overseen by the director of national intelligence. Obama’s DNI was James Clapper, who has repeatedly denied the frequent speculation of his involvement with leaks against Trump.

Another complicating factor is what we know about unmasking of Trump associates. In an era where nearly all the stories regarding intelligence officials leaking information on Trump come from anonymous sources, we have Rep. Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, saying on the record that he’d seen documents that show:

1) Information was collected on the Trump team by Obama administration agencies.
2) This information, which was politically valuable, had little to no reason to be shared in intelligence reports to Obama officials, but was disseminated widely.
3) Obama officials may have flouted legally required attempts to minimize and mask personal identifying information.
4) The unmasking had nothing to do with Russia.

It was later reported that Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security advisor, was one of the Obama officials who had requested the unmasking. While some anonymous sources, some of whom have been included in news reports despite not having seen the documents in question, claim there are non-nefarious reasons for such unmasking and dissemination of politically sensitive information on political opponents, it doesn’t change the claim that unmasking and dissemination of politically valuable information with no intelligence value was committed by the Obama administration.

Would it be reasonable to answer a question on the Obama administration spying on Trump and associates in the affirmative with the knowledge of this claim of unmasking and dissemination of politically sensitive information with little to no intelligence value?

Our media have been little other than anonymous leak receptacles for months. Whether it was leaks about Trump campaign associates supposedly having nefarious ties to Russia, the criminal leak of Mike Flynn’s name, the criminal leak of information about a FISA warrant being secured against Carter Page, the orchestrated release of information about the presentation of a shoddy dossier to President-elect Trump and President Obama, or any of the dozens of leaks used to orchestrate a Russia scare narrative, it doesn’t take a tremendous amount of smarts to figure out that when transcripts or snippets of information are shipped to reporters, the information must first be collected via surveillance and other means. Many of these leaks were sourced to senior intelligence officials during the last days of the Obama administration, after which many of these leaks were sourced to former senior intelligence officials.

There’s also the issue that the same ABC News/Washington Post poll mentioned above showed that 72 percent of Clinton voters think not only that Russia tried to influence the election, but that the Trump campaign intentionally tried to assist such an effort. A few months ago, the last time I saw the question asked, a majority of voters believed that Russians had actually hacked the vote tallies in the election. Needless to say, there is as much evidence to support these claims as there is to support Trump’s wiretap tweets, which is to say none at all.

Is it more alarming that 52 percent of Republicans believe the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign or that 72 percent of Clinton voters think that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia in their hacking and release of Democratic emails? Is it embarrassing to mention the Clinton voter figure on account of how much media outlets have perpetuated this unfounded story?

In his segment, Tapper intoned:

We learned in the campaign that Donald Trump can be cavalier about facts and truth. We learned in his first 100 days that that’s not going to change. Indeed, that some in the government and some of his friends and conservative media will even work to tried and make his falsehoods seem true.

Again, while all of that may be true, it’s also true that we have a media establishment that works to downplay, denigrate, and dismiss legitimate stories if they fear that those stories in any way help a president they oppose.

That reflexive refusal to fairly cover — or just cover, period — stories that might help the president is not how readers or viewers are served. Journalists should go where the stories lead, even if they threaten to harm their best Obama intelligence sources and leakers from the last few months or help a president they worked very hard to defeat. If they need to mention their frustration with his tweets 18 times before they cover FISA warrants, unmasking, or other intelligence actions, that’s fine. But they can’t let that frustration keep them from covering a big story in the public interest.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/05/30/obama-admin-illegal-spying-worse-than-watergate-glenn-reynolds-column/102284058/

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The Pronk Pops Show 900, May 25, 2017, Story 1: President Trump To 23 Members of NATO “Pay Your Fair Share” — How Much Does NATO Headquarters Building Cost? American Tax Payers Would Like To Know — About $1,230,000,000 — Videos — Story 2: NSA Violate The Fourth Amendment Rights of American Citizens — Obama’s NSA conducted illegal searches — Nothing New — Congress Will Do Nothing As Usual — No Safeguards and No Privacy — Videos — Story 3: Montana Congressional Candidate Gianforte Will Win Despite Roughing up Aggressive Reporter — Setup of A Political Assassination by Big LIe Media — Videos

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Article 5

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/North_Atlantic_Treaty#Article_5https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/North_Atlantic_Treaty#Article_5

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New NATO Headquarters Cost $1.23 Billion

(Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)

BY: Daniel Halper
May 25, 2017 11:15 am

President Trump departed from prepared remarks Thursday to comment on the ostentatious new NATO headquarters in Brussels at a dedication ceremony with world leaders.

“I never asked once what the new NATO headquarters cost,” Trump said, bringing attention to the glass structure. “I refuse to do that, but it is beautiful.”

In fact, the building cost an astounding $1.23 billion, according to a budget released by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Architecture, design, and quality management cost the alliance $129 million alone. Audio visual installations ran $29 million, while construction ran $514 million, the document states.

  • 1,500 personnel from national delegations

  • 1,700 international military and civilian staff

  • 600 staff from NATO agencies

  • frequent visitors, currently some 500 per day

The alliance bragged that the structure is also a “green building for the future.”

“The environment and sustainability have played a major role in the design process. The new building’s energy consumption has been optimized through the use of geothermal and solar energy and advanced lighting systems. Thermal insulation, thermal inertia and solar protection have been incorporated in the design to reduce heating. Rainwater will be used for non-potable water use and the buildings short wings will have green roofs,” the document states.

In his remarks Thursday, Trump took NATO member states to task for not paying their fair share.

“Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they’re supposed to be paying for their defense,” Trump told leaders of the alliance countries.

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States — and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years and not paying in those past years. Over the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined. If all NATO members had spent just 2 percent of their GDP on defense last year, we would have had another $119 billion for our collective defense and for the financing of additional NATO reserves,” he added.

Trump said NATO would be “stronger” in fighting terrorism if member states paid their obligations.

http://freebeacon.com/politics/new-nato-headquarters-cost-1-23-billion/

NATO

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 50°52′34″N 4°25′19″E

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Organisation du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord
NATO OTAN landscape logo.svg

Logo
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (orthographic projection).svg

Member states of NATO
Abbreviation NATO, OTAN
Motto
Flag Flag of NATO.svg
Formation 4 April 1949; 68 years ago
Type Military alliance
Headquarters Brussels, Belgium
Membership
Official language
English
French[2]
Jens Stoltenberg
Petr Pavel
Curtis Scaparrotti
Denis Mercier
Expenses (2015) $866,971 million[3]
Website nato.int

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO/ˈnt/; French: Organisation du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord; OTAN), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmentalmilitary alliance between several North American and European states based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. Three NATO members (the United States, France and the United Kingdom) are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and are officially nuclear-weapon states. NATO’s headquarters are located in Haren, Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons.

NATO is an Alliance that consists of 28 independent member countries across North America and Europe, the newest of which, Albania and Croatia, joined in April 2009. An additional 22 countries participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programmes. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the global total.[4] Members’ defence spending is supposed to amount to at least 2% of GDP.[5]

NATO was little more than a political association until the Korean War galvanized the organization’s member states, and an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two US supreme commanders. The course of the Cold War led to a rivalry with nations of the Warsaw Pact, which formed in 1955. Doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the United States ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defence against a prospective Soviet invasion—doubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of France from NATO’s military structure in 1966 for 30 years. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the organization became involved in the breakup of Yugoslavia, and conducted its first military interventions in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995 and later Yugoslavia in 1999. Politically, the organization sought better relations with former Warsaw Pact countries, several of which joined the alliance in 1999 and 2004.

Article 5 of the North Atlantic treaty, requiring member states to come to the aid of any member state subject to an armed attack, was invoked for the first and only time after the September 11 attacks,[6] after which troops were deployed to Afghanistan under the NATO-led ISAF. The organization has operated a range of additional roles since then, including sending trainers to Iraq, assisting in counter-piracy operations[7] and in 2011 enforcing a no-fly zoneover Libya in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. The less potent Article 4, which merely invokes consultation among NATO members, has been invoked five times: by Turkey in 2003 over the Iraq War; twice in 2012 by Turkey over the Syrian Civil War, after the downing of an unarmed Turkish F-4 reconnaissance jet, and after a mortar was fired at Turkey from Syria;[8] in 2014 by Poland, following the Russian intervention in Crimea;[9] and again by Turkey in 2015 after threats by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to its territorial integrity.[10]

History

Beginnings

Eleven men in suits stand around a large desk at which another man is signing a document.

The North Atlantic Treaty was signed by President Harry Truman in Washington, D.C., on 4 April 1949 and was ratified by the United States that August.

The Treaty of Brussels, signed on 17 March 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the United Kingdom, is considered the precursor to the NATO agreement. The treaty and the Soviet Berlin Blockade led to the creation of the Western European Union‘s Defence Organization in September 1948.[11] However, participation of the United States was thought necessary both to counter the military power of the USSR and to prevent the revival of nationalist militarism. In addition the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d’état by the Communists had overthrown a democratic government and British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin reiterated that the best way to prevent another Czechoslovakia was to evolve a joint Western military strategy. He got a receptive hearing, especially considering American anxiety over Italy (and the Italian Communist Party).[12] In 1948 European leaders met with U.S. defense, military and diplomatic officials at the Pentagon, under U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall‘s orders, exploring a framework for a new and unprecedented association.[13] Talks for a new military alliance resulted in the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed by U.S. President Harry Truman in Washington, D.C. on 4 April 1949. It included the five Treaty of Brussels states plus the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.[14] The first NATO Secretary General, Lord Ismay, stated in 1949 that the organization’s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”.[15] Popular support for the Treaty was not unanimous, and some Icelanders participated in a pro-neutrality, anti-membership riot in March 1949. The creation of NATO can be seen as the primary institutional consequence of a school of thought called Atlanticism which stressed the importance of trans-Atlantic cooperation.[16]

The members agreed that an armed attack against any one of them in Europe or North America would be considered an attack against them all. Consequently, they agreed that, if an armed attack occurred, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence, would assist the member being attacked, taking such action as it deemed necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area. The treaty does not require members to respond with military action against an aggressor. Although obliged to respond, they maintain the freedom to choose the method by which they do so. This differs from Article IV of the Treaty of Brussels, which clearly states that the response will be military in nature. It is nonetheless assumed that NATO members will aid the attacked member militarily. The treaty was later clarified to include both the member’s territory and their “vessels, forces or aircraft” above the Tropic of Cancer, including some overseas departments of France.[17]

The creation of NATO brought about some standardization of allied military terminology, procedures, and technology, which in many cases meant European countries adopting US practices. The roughly 1300 Standardization Agreements (STANAG) codified many of the common practices that NATO has achieved. Hence, the 7.62×51mm NATO rifle cartridge was introduced in the 1950s as a standard firearm cartridge among many NATO countries.[18]Fabrique Nationale de Herstal‘s FAL, which used the 7.62mm NATO cartridge, was adopted by 75 countries, including many outside of NATO.[19] Also, aircraft marshalling signals were standardized, so that any NATO aircraft could land at any NATO base. Other standards such as the NATO phonetic alphabet have made their way beyond NATO into civilian use.[20]

Cold War

The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 was crucial for NATO as it raised the apparent threat of all Communist countries working together, and forced the alliance to develop concrete military plans.[21]Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) was formed to direct forces in Europe, and began work under Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower in January 1951.[22] In September 1950, the NATO Military Committee called for an ambitious buildup of conventional forces to meet the Soviets, subsequently reaffirming this position at the February 1952 meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Lisbon. The Lisbon conference, seeking to provide the forces necessary for NATO’s Long-Term Defence Plan, called for an expansion to ninety-six divisions. However this requirement was dropped the following year to roughly thirty-five divisions with heavier use to be made of nuclear weapons. At this time, NATO could call on about fifteen ready divisions in Central Europe, and another ten in Italy and Scandinavia.[23][24] Also at Lisbon, the post of Secretary General of NATO as the organization’s chief civilian was created, and Lord Ismay was eventually appointed to the post.[25]

Two soldiers crouch under a tree while a tank sits on a road in front of them.

The German Bundeswehr provided the largest element of the allied land forces guarding the frontier in Central Europe.

In September 1952, the first major NATO maritime exercises began; Exercise Mainbrace brought together 200 ships and over 50,000 personnel to practice the defence of Denmark and Norway.[26] Other major exercises that followed included Exercise Grand Slam and Exercise Longstep, naval and amphibious exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, Italic Weld, a combined air-naval-ground exercise in northern Italy, Grand Repulse, involving the British Army on the Rhine (BAOR), the Netherlands Corps and Allied Air Forces Central Europe (AAFCE), Monte Carlo, a simulated atomic air-ground exercise involving the Central Army Group, and Weldfast, a combined amphibious landing exercise in the Mediterranean Sea involving American, British, Greek, Italian and Turkish naval forces.[27]

Greece and Turkey also joined the alliance in 1952, forcing a series of controversial negotiations, in which the United States and Britain were the primary disputants, over how to bring the two countries into the military command structure.[22] While this overt military preparation was going on, covert stay-behind arrangements initially made by the Western European Union to continue resistance after a successful Soviet invasion, including Operation Gladio, were transferred to NATO control. Ultimately unofficial bonds began to grow between NATO’s armed forces, such as the NATO Tiger Association and competitions such as the Canadian Army Trophy for tank gunnery.[28][29]

In 1954, the Soviet Union suggested that it should join NATO to preserve peace in Europe.[30] The NATO countries, fearing that the Soviet Union’s motive was to weaken the alliance, ultimately rejected this proposal.

On 17 December 1954, the North Atlantic Council approved MC 48, a key document in the evolution of NATO nuclear thought. MC 48 emphasized that NATO would have to use atomic weapons from the outset of a war with the Soviet Union whether or not the Soviets chose to use them first. This gave SACEUR the same prerogatives for automatic use of nuclear weapons as existed for the commander-in-chief of the US Strategic Air Command.

The incorporation of West Germany into the organization on 9 May 1955 was described as “a decisive turning point in the history of our continent” by Halvard Lange, Foreign Affairs Minister of Norway at the time.[31] A major reason for Germany’s entry into the alliance was that without German manpower, it would have been impossible to field enough conventional forces to resist a Soviet invasion.[32] One of its immediate results was the creation of the Warsaw Pact, which was signed on 14 May 1955 by the Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and East Germany, as a formal response to this event, thereby delineating the two opposing sides of the Cold War.

Three major exercises were held concurrently in the northern autumn of 1957. Operation Counter Punch, Operation Strikeback, and Operation Deep Water were the most ambitious military undertaking for the alliance to date, involving more than 250,000 men, 300 ships, and 1,500 aircraft operating from Norway to Turkey.[33]

French withdrawal

A map of France with red and blue markings indicating air force bases as of 1966.

Map of the NATO air bases in France before Charles de Gaulle‘s 1966 withdrawal from NATO military integrated command

NATO’s unity was breached early in its history with a crisis occurring during Charles de Gaulle‘s presidency of France.[34] De Gaulle protested against the USA’s strong role in the organization and what he perceived as a special relationship between it and the United Kingdom. In a memorandum sent to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan on 17 September 1958, he argued for the creation of a tripartite directorate that would put France on an equal footing with the US and the UK.[35]

Considering the response to be unsatisfactory, de Gaulle began constructing an independent defence force for his country. He wanted to give France, in the event of an East German incursion into West Germany, the option of coming to a separate peace with the Eastern bloc instead of being drawn into a larger NATO–Warsaw Pact war.[36] In February 1959, France withdrew its Mediterranean Fleet from NATO command,[37] and later banned the stationing of foreign nuclear weapons on French soil. This caused the United States to transfer two hundred military aircraft out of France and return control of the air force bases that it had operated in France since 1950 to the French by 1967.

Though France showed solidarity with the rest of NATO during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, de Gaulle continued his pursuit of an independent defence by removing France’s Atlantic and Channel fleets from NATO command.[38] In 1966, all French armed forces were removed from NATO’s integrated military command, and all non-French NATO troops were asked to leave France. US Secretary of State Dean Rusk was later quoted as asking de Gaulle whether his order included “the bodies of American soldiers in France’s cemeteries?”[39] This withdrawal forced the relocation of SHAPE from Rocquencourt, near Paris, to Casteau, north of Mons, Belgium, by 16 October 1967.[40] France remained a member of the alliance, and committed to the defence of Europe from possible Warsaw Pact attack with its own forces stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany throughout the Cold War. A series of secret accords between US and French officials, the Lemnitzer–Ailleret Agreements, detailed how French forces would dovetail back into NATO’s command structure should East-West hostilities break out.[41]

France announced their return to full participation at the 2009 Strasbourg–Kehl summit.[42]

Détente and escalation

Two older men in suits sit next to each other, while a third stands behind leaning in to listen to the right man talk.

Détente led to many high level meetings between leaders from both NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

During most of the Cold War, NATO’s watch against the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact did not actually lead to direct military action. On 1 July 1968, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty opened for signature: NATO argued that its nuclear sharing arrangements did not breach the treaty as US forces controlled the weapons until a decision was made to go to war, at which point the treaty would no longer be controlling. Few states knew of the NATO nuclear sharing arrangements at that time, and they were not challenged. In May 1978, NATO countries officially defined two complementary aims of the Alliance, to maintain security and pursue détente. This was supposed to mean matching defences at the level rendered necessary by the Warsaw Pact’s offensive capabilities without spurring a further arms race.[43]

A map of Europe showing several countries on the left in blue, while ones on the right are in red. Other unaffiliated countries are in white.

During the Cold War, most of Europe was divided between two alliances. Members of NATO are shown in blue, with members of the Warsaw Pact in red, unaffiliated countries are in grey. Yugoslavia, although communist, had left the Soviet sphere in 1948, while Albania was only a Warsaw Pact member until 1968.

On 12 December 1979, in light of a build-up of Warsaw Pact nuclear capabilities in Europe, ministers approved the deployment of US GLCMcruise missiles and Pershing IItheatre nuclear weapons in Europe. The new warheads were also meant to strengthen the western negotiating position regarding nuclear disarmament. This policy was called the Dual Track policy.[44] Similarly, in 1983–84, responding to the stationing of Warsaw PactSS-20 medium-range missiles in Europe, NATO deployed modern Pershing II missiles tasked to hit military targets such as tank formations in the event of war.[45] This action led to peace movement protests throughout Western Europe, and support for the deployment wavered as many doubted whether the push for deployment could be sustained.

The membership of the organization at this time remained largely static. In 1974, as a consequence of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Greece withdrew its forces from NATO’s military command structure but, with Turkish cooperation, were readmitted in 1980. The Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina did not result in NATO involvement because article 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty specifies that collective self-defence is only applicable to attacks on member state territories north of the Tropic of Cancer.[46] On 30 May 1982, NATO gained a new member when, following a referendum, the newly democratic Spain joined the alliance. At the peak of the Cold War, 16 member nations maintained an approximate strength of 5,252,800 active military, including as many as 435,000 forward deployed US forces, under a command structure that reached a peak of 78 headquarters, organized into four echelons.[47]

After the Cold War

The Revolutions of 1989 and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 removed the de facto main adversary of NATO and caused a strategic re-evaluation of NATO’s purpose, nature, tasks, and their focus on the continent of Europe. This shift started with the 1990 signing in Paris of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe between NATO and the Soviet Union, which mandated specific military reductions across the continent that continued after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.[48] At that time, European countries accounted for 34 percent of NATO’s military spending; by 2012, this had fallen to 21 percent.[49] NATO also began a gradual expansion to include newly autonomous Central and Eastern Europeannations, and extended its activities into political and humanitarian situations that had not formerly been NATO concerns.

Two men in suits sit signing documents at a large table in front of their country's flags. Two others stand outside watching them.

Reforms made under Mikhail Gorbachev led to the end of the Warsaw Pact.

The first post-Cold War expansion of NATO came with German reunification on 3 October 1990, when the former East Germany became part of the Federal Republic of Germany and the alliance. This had been agreed in the Two Plus Four Treaty earlier in the year. To secure Soviet approval of a united Germany remaining in NATO, it was agreed that foreign troops and nuclear weapons would not be stationed in the east, and there are diverging views on whether negotiators gave commitments regarding further NATO expansion east.[50]Jack Matlock, American ambassador to the Soviet Union during its final years, said that the West gave a “clear commitment” not to expand, and declassified documents indicate that Soviet negotiators were given the impression that NATO membership was off the table for countries such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, or Poland.[51]Hans-Dietrich Genscher, the West German foreign minister at that time, said in a conversation with Eduard Shevardnadze that “[f]or us, however, one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east.”[51] In 1996, Gorbachev wrote in his Memoirs, that “during the negotiations on the unification of Germany they gave assurances that NATO would not extend its zone of operation to the east,”[52] and repeated this view in an interview in 2008.[53] According to Robert Zoellick, a State Department official involved in the Two Plus Four negotiating process, this appears to be a misperception, and no formal commitment regarding enlargement was made.[54]

As part of post-Cold War restructuring, NATO’s military structure was cut back and reorganized, with new forces such as the Headquarters Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps established. The changes brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union on the military balance in Europe were recognized in the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which was signed in 1999. The policies of French President Nicolas Sarkozy resulted in a major reform of France’s military position, culminating with the return to full membership on 4 April 2009, which also included France rejoining the NATO Military Command Structure, while maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent.[41][55]

Enlargement and reform

A pale yellow building with square columns with three flags hanging in front and soldiers and dignitaries saluting them.

The NATO flag being raised in a ceremony marking Croatia‘s joining of the alliance in 2009.

Between 1994 and 1997, wider forums for regional cooperation between NATO and its neighbors were set up, like the Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogueinitiative and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In 1998, the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council was established. On 8 July 1997, three former communist countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, were invited to join NATO, which each did in 1999. Membership went on expanding with the accession of seven more Central and Eastern European countries to NATO: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. They were first invited to start talks of membership during the 2002 Prague summit, and joined NATO on 29 March 2004, shortly before the 2004 Istanbul summit. In Istanbul, NATO launched the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative with four Persian Gulf nations.[56] At that time the decision was criticised in the US by many military, political and academic leaders as a “a policy error of historic proportions.”[57] According to George F. Kennan, an American diplomat and an advocate of the containment policy, this decision “may be expected to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”[58]

New NATO structures were also formed while old ones were abolished. In 1997, NATO reached agreement on a significant downsizing of its command structure from 65 headquarters to just 20.[59]The NATO Response Force (NRF) was launched at the 2002 Prague summit on 21 November, the first summit in a former Comecon country. On 19 June 2003, a further restructuring of the NATO military commands began as the Headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic were abolished and a new command, Allied Command Transformation (ACT), was established in Norfolk, Virginia, United States, and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) became the Headquarters of Allied Command Operations (ACO). ACT is responsible for driving transformation (future capabilities) in NATO, whilst ACO is responsible for current operations.[60] In March 2004, NATO’s Baltic Air Policing began, which supported the sovereignty of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia by providing jet fighters to react to any unwanted aerial intrusions. Eight multinational jet fighters are based in Lithuania, the number of which was increased from four in 2014.[61]

Two older Caucasian men in black suits and red ties sit facing each other in a room with green, white, and gold trimmed walls.

Meetings between the government of Viktor Yushchenko and NATO leaders led to the Intensified Dialogue programme.

The 2006 Riga summit was held in Riga, Latvia, and highlighted the issue of energy security. It was the first NATO summit to be held in a country that had been part of the Soviet Union. At the April 2008 summit in Bucharest, Romania, NATO agreed to the accession of Croatia and Albania and both countries joined NATO in April 2009. Ukraine and Georgia were also told that they could eventually become members.[62] The issue of Georgian and Ukrainian membership in NATO prompted harsh criticism from Russia, as did NATO plans for a missile defence system. Studies for this system began in 2002, with negotiations centered on anti-ballistic missiles being stationed in Poland and the Czech Republic. Though NATO leaders gave assurances that the system was not targeting Russia, both presidents Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev criticized it as a threat.[63]

In 2009, US President Barack Obama proposed using the ship-based Aegis Combat System, though this plan still includes stations being built in Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Romania, and Poland.[64] NATO will also maintain the “status quo” in its nuclear deterrent in Europe by upgrading the targeting capabilities of the “tactical” B61 nuclear bombs stationed there and deploying them on the stealthier Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.[65][66] Following the 2014 Crimean crisis, NATO committed to forming a new “spearhead” force of 5,000 troops at bases in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria.[67][68] On June 15, 2016, NATO officially recognized cyberwarfare as an operational domain of war, just like land, sea and aerial warfare. This means that any cyber attack on NATO members can trigger Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.[69]

At the 2014 Wales summit, the leaders of NATO’s member states reaffirmed their pledge to spend the equivalent of at least 2% of their gross domestic products on defense.[70] In 2015, five of its 28 members met that goal.[71][72][73]

Military operations

Early operations

No military operations were conducted by NATO during the Cold War. Following the end of the Cold War, the first operations, Anchor Guard in 1990 and Ace Guard in 1991, were prompted by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Airborne early warning aircraft were sent to provide coverage of southeastern Turkey, and later a quick-reaction force was deployed to the area.[74]

Bosnia and Herzegovina intervention

A fighter jet with AV marked on its tail takes off from a mountain runway.

NATO planes engaged in aerial bombardments during Operation Deliberate Force after the Srebrenica massacre.

The Bosnian War began in 1992, as a result of the breakup of Yugoslavia. The deteriorating situation led to United Nations Security Council Resolution 816 on 9 October 1992, ordering a no-fly zone over central Bosnia and Herzegovina, which NATO began enforcing on 12 April 1993 with Operation Deny Flight. From June 1993 until October 1996, Operation Sharp Guard added maritime enforcement of the arms embargo and economic sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 28 February 1994, NATO took its first wartime action by shooting down four Bosnian Serb aircraft violating the no-fly zone.[75]

On 10 and 11 April 1994, during the Bosnian War, the United Nations Protection Force called in air strikes to protect the Goražde safe area, resulting in the bombing of a Bosnian Serb military command outpost near Goražde by two US F-16 jets acting under NATO direction.[76] This resulted in the taking of 150 U.N. personnel hostage on 14 April.[77][78] On 16 April a British Sea Harrier was shot down over Goražde by Serb forces.[79] A two-week NATO bombing campaign, Operation Deliberate Force, began in August 1995 against the Army of the Republika Srpska, after the Srebrenica massacre.[80]

NATO air strikes that year helped bring the Yugoslav wars to an end, resulting in the Dayton Agreement in November 1995.[80] As part of this agreement, NATO deployed a UN-mandated peacekeeping force, under Operation Joint Endeavor, named IFOR. Almost 60,000 NATO troops were joined by forces from non-NATO nations in this peacekeeping mission. This transitioned into the smaller SFOR, which started with 32,000 troops initially and ran from December 1996 until December 2004, when operations were then passed onto European Union Force Althea.[81] Following the lead of its member nations, NATO began to award a service medal, the NATO Medal, for these operations.[82]

Kosovo intervention

Three trucks of soldiers idle on a country road in front of trees and red roofed houses. The rear truck has KFOR painted on is back.

German KFOR soldiers patrol southern Kosovo in 1999

In an effort to stop Slobodan Milošević‘s Serbian-led crackdown on KLA separatists and Albanian civilians in Kosovo, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1199 on 23 September 1998 to demand a ceasefire. Negotiations under US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke broke down on 23 March 1999, and he handed the matter to NATO,[83] which started a 78-day bombing campaign on 24 March 1999.[84] Operation Allied Force targeted the military capabilities of what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During the crisis, NATO also deployed one of its international reaction forces, the ACE Mobile Force (Land), to Albania as the Albania Force (AFOR), to deliver humanitarian aid to refugees from Kosovo.[85]

Though the campaign was criticized for high civilian casualties, including bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Milošević finally accepted the terms of an international peace plan on 3 June 1999, ending the Kosovo War. On 11 June, Milošević further accepted UN resolution 1244, under the mandate of which NATO then helped establish the KFOR peacekeeping force. Nearly one million refugees had fled Kosovo, and part of KFOR’s mandate was to protect the humanitarian missions, in addition to deterring violence.[85][86] In August–September 2001, the alliance also mounted Operation Essential Harvest, a mission disarming ethnic Albanian militias in the Republic of Macedonia.[87] As of 1 December 2013, 4,882 KFOR soldiers, representing 31 countries, continue to operate in the area.[88]

The US, the UK, and most other NATO countries opposed efforts to require the U.N. Security Council to approve NATO military strikes, such as the action against Serbia in 1999, while France and some others claimed that the alliance needed UN approval.[89] The US/UK side claimed that this would undermine the authority of the alliance, and they noted that Russia and China would have exercised their Security Council vetoes to block the strike on Yugoslavia, and could do the same in future conflicts where NATO intervention was required, thus nullifying the entire potency and purpose of the organization. Recognizing the post-Cold War military environment, NATO adopted the Alliance Strategic Concept during its Washington summit in April 1999 that emphasized conflict prevention and crisis management.[90]

War in Afghanistan

A monumental green copper statue of a woman with a torch stands on an island in front of a mainland where a massive plume of gray smoke billows amongst skyscrapers.

The September 11 attacks in the United States caused NATO to invoke its collective defence article for the first time.

The September 11 attacks in the United States caused NATO to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Charter for the first time in the organization’s history. The Article says that an attack on any member shall be considered to be an attack on all. The invocation was confirmed on 4 October 2001 when NATO determined that the attacks were indeed eligible under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty.[91] The eight official actions taken by NATO in response to the attacks included Operation Eagle Assist and Operation Active Endeavour, a naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea which is designed to prevent the movement of terrorists or weapons of mass destruction, as well as enhancing the security of shipping in general which began on 4 October 2001.[92]

The alliance showed unity: On 16 April 2003, NATO agreed to take command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which includes troops from 42 countries. The decision came at the request of Germany and the Netherlands, the two nations leading ISAF at the time of the agreement, and all nineteen NATO ambassadors approved it unanimously. The handover of control to NATO took place on 11 August, and marked the first time in NATO’s history that it took charge of a mission outside the north Atlantic area.[93]

A general hands a NATO flag from a soldier on the left to one on the right.

ISAF General David M. Rodriguez at an Italian change of command in Herat.

ISAF was initially charged with securing Kabul and surrounding areas from the Taliban, al Qaeda and factional warlords, so as to allow for the establishment of the Afghan Transitional Administration headed by Hamid Karzai. In October 2003, the UN Security Council authorized the expansion of the ISAF mission throughout Afghanistan,[94] and ISAF subsequently expanded the mission in four main stages over the whole of the country.[95]

On 31 July 2006, the ISAF additionally took over military operations in the south of Afghanistan from a US-led anti-terrorism coalition.[96] Due to the intensity of the fighting in the south, in 2011 France allowed a squadron of Mirage 2000 fighter/attack aircraft to be moved into the area, to Kandahar, in order to reinforce the alliance’s efforts.[97] During its 2012 Chicago Summit, NATO endorsed a plan to end the Afghanistan war and to remove the NATO-led ISAF Forces by the end of December 2014.[98] ISAF was disestablished in December 2014 and replaced by the follow-on training Resolute Support Mission.

Iraq training mission

In August 2004, during the Iraq War, NATO formed the NATO Training Mission – Iraq, a training mission to assist the Iraqi security forces in conjunction with the US ledMNF-I.[99] The NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) was established at the request of the Iraqi Interim Government under the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546. The aim of NTM-I was to assist in the development of Iraqi security forces training structures and institutions so that Iraq can build an effective and sustainable capability that addresses the needs of the nation. NTM-I was not a combat mission but is a distinct mission, under the political control of NATO’s North Atlantic Council. Its operational emphasis was on training and mentoring. The activities of the mission were coordinated with Iraqi authorities and the US-led Deputy Commanding General Advising and Training, who was also dual-hatted as the Commander of NTM-I. The mission officially concluded on 17 December 2011.[100]

Gulf of Aden anti-piracy

A tall plume of black smoke rises from the blue ocean waters next to a large gray battleship and a small black inflatable boat.

USS Farragut destroying a Somali pirate skiff in March 2010

Beginning on 17 August 2009, NATO deployed warships in an operation to protect maritime traffic in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean from Somali pirates, and help strengthen the navies and coast guards of regional states. The operation was approved by the North Atlantic Council and involves warships primarily from the United States though vessels from many other nations are also included. Operation Ocean Shield focuses on protecting the ships of Operation Allied Provider which are distributing aid as part of the World Food Programme mission in Somalia. Russia, China and South Korea have sent warships to participate in the activities as well.[101][102] The operation seeks to dissuade and interrupt pirate attacks, protect vessels, and abetting to increase the general level of security in the region.[103]

Libya intervention

During the Libyan Civil War, violence between protestors and the Libyan government under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi escalated, and on 17 March 2011 led to the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which called for a ceasefire, and authorized military action to protect civilians. A coalition that included several NATO members began enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya shortly afterwards. On 20 March 2011, NATO states agreed on enforcing an arms embargo against Libya with Operation Unified Protector using ships from NATO Standing Maritime Group 1 and Standing Mine Countermeasures Group 1,[104] and additional ships and submarines from NATO members.[105] They would “monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries“.[104]

Pieces of a destroyed tank, notably the gun turret, lie on a sandy landscape.

Libyan Army Palmaria howitzers destroyed by the French Air Force near Benghazi in March 2011

On 24 March, NATO agreed to take control of the no-fly zone from the initial coalition, while command of targeting ground units remained with the coalition’s forces.[106][107] NATO began officially enforcing the UN resolution on 27 March 2011 with assistance from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.[108] By June, reports of divisions within the alliance surfaced as only eight of the 28 member nations were participating in combat operations,[109] resulting in a confrontation between US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and countries such as Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Germany to contribute more, the latter believing the organization has overstepped its mandate in the conflict.[110][111][112] In his final policy speech in Brussels on 10 June, Gates further criticized allied countries in suggesting their actions could cause the demise of NATO.[113] The German foreign ministry pointed to “a considerable [German] contribution to NATO and NATO-led operations” and to the fact that this engagement was highly valued by President Obama.[114]

While the mission was extended into September, Norway that day announced it would begin scaling down contributions and complete withdrawal by 1 August.[115] Earlier that week it was reported Danish air fighters were running out of bombs.[116][117] The following week, the head of the Royal Navy said the country’s operations in the conflict were not sustainable.[118] By the end of the mission in October 2011, after the death of Colonel Gaddafi, NATO planes had flown about 9,500 strike sorties against pro-Gaddafi targets.[119][120] A report from the organization Human Rights Watch in May 2012 identified at least 72 civilians killed in the campaign.[121] Following a coup d’état attempt in October 2013, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan requested technical advice and trainers from NATO to assist with ongoing security issues.[122]

Participating countries

Map of NATO affiliations in Europe Map of NATO partnerships globally
A map of Europe with countries in blue, cyan, orange, and yellow based on their NATO affiliation. A world map with countries in blue, cyan, orange, yellow, purple, and green, based on their NATO affiliation.

Members

Twelve men in black suits stand talking in small groups under a backdrop with the words Lisbonne and Lisboa.

NATO organizes regular summits for leaders of their members states and partnerships.

NATO has twenty-eight members, mainly in Europe and North America. Some of these countries also have territory on multiple continents, which can be covered only as far south as the Tropic of Cancer in the Atlantic Ocean, which defines NATO’s “area of responsibility” under Article 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty. During the original treaty negotiations, the United States insisted that colonies such as the Belgian Congo be excluded from the treaty.[123][124]French Algeria was however covered until their independence on 3 July 1962.[125] Twelve of these twenty-eight are original members who joined in 1949, while the other sixteen joined in one of seven enlargement rounds. Few members spend more than two percent of their gross domestic product on defence,[126] with the United States accounting for three quarters of NATO defense spending.[127]

From the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, France pursued a military strategy of independence from NATO under a policy dubbed “Gaullo-Mitterrandism”.[citation needed]Nicolas Sarkozy negotiated the return of France to the integrated military command and the Defence Planning Committee in 2009, the latter being disbanded the following year. France remains the only NATO member outside the Nuclear Planning Group and unlike the United States and the United Kingdom, will not commit its nuclear-armed submarines to the alliance.[41][55]

Enlargement

A map of Europe with countries labeled in shades of blue, green, and yellow based on when they joined NATO.

NATO has added 12 new members since the German reunification and the end of the Cold War.

New membership in the alliance has been largely from Central and Eastern Europe, including former members of the Warsaw Pact. Accession to the alliance is governed with individual Membership Action Plans, and requires approval by each current member. NATO currently has three candidate countries that are in the process of joining the alliance: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and the Republic of Macedonia. On 2 December 2015, NATO Foreign Ministers decided to invite Montenegro to start accession talks to become the 29th member of the Alliance.[128] On 28 April 2017 the Montenegro’s parliament ratified the accession treaty, and as of that date 27 of 28 NATO members had approved Montenegro’s accession, with Spain’s parliament expected to act in May 2017.[129] In NATO official statements, the Republic of Macedonia is always referred to as the “former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, with a footnote stating that “Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name”. Though Macedonia completed its requirements for membership at the same time as Croatia and Albania, NATO’s most recent members, its accession was blocked by Greece pending a resolution of the Macedonia naming dispute.[130] In order to support each other in the process, new and potential members in the region formed the Adriatic Charter in 2003.[131]Georgia was also named as an aspiring member, and was promised “future membership” during the 2008 summit in Bucharest,[132] though in 2014, US President Barack Obama said the country was not “currently on a path” to membership.[133]

Russia continues to oppose further expansion, seeing it as inconsistent with understandings between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and European and American negotiators that allowed for a peaceful German reunification.[51] NATO’s expansion efforts are often seen by Moscow leaders as a continuation of a Cold War attempt to surround and isolate Russia,[134] though they have also been criticised in the West.[135]Ukraine‘s relationship with NATO and Europe has been politically divisive, and contributed to “Euromaidan” protests that saw the ousting of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. In March 2014, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk reiterated the government’s stance that Ukraine is not seeking NATO membership.[136] Ukraine’s president subsequently signed a bill dropping his nation’s nonaligned status in order to pursue NATO membership, but signaled that it would hold a referendum before seeking to join.[137] Ukraine is one of eight countries in Eastern Europe with an Individual Partnership Action Plan. IPAPs began in 2002, and are open to countries that have the political will and ability to deepen their relationship with NATO.[138]

Partnerships

Hundreds of soldiers in military uniforms stand behind a line on a tarmac with 14 flags held by individuals at the front.

Partnership for Peace conducts multinational military exercises like Cooperative Archer, which took place in Tblisi in July 2007 with 500 servicemen from four NATO members, eight PfP members, and Jordan, a Mediterranean Dialogue participant.[139]

The Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme was established in 1994 and is based on individual bilateral relations between each partner country and NATO: each country may choose the extent of its participation.[140] Members include all current and former members of the Commonwealth of Independent States.[141] The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) was first established on 29 May 1997, and is a forum for regular coordination, consultation and dialogue between all fifty participants.[142] The PfP programme is considered the operational wing of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership.[140] Other third countries also have been contacted for participation in some activities of the PfP framework such as Afghanistan.[143]

The European Union (EU) signed a comprehensive package of arrangements with NATO under the Berlin Plus agreement on 16 December 2002. With this agreement, the EU was given the possibility to use NATO assets in case it wanted to act independently in an international crisis, on the condition that NATO itself did not want to act—the so-called “right of first refusal“.[144] For example, Article 42(7) of the 1982 Treaty of Lisbon specifies that “If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power”. The treaty applies globally to specified territories whereas NATO is restricted under its Article 6 to operations north of the Tropic of Cancer. It provides a “double framework” for the EU countries that are also linked with the PfP programme.

Additionally, NATO cooperates and discusses its activities with numerous other non-NATO members. The Mediterranean Dialogue was established in 1994 to coordinate in a similar way with Israel and countries in North Africa. The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative was announced in 2004 as a dialog forum for the Middle East along the same lines as the Mediterranean Dialogue. The four participants are also linked through the Gulf Cooperation Council.[145]

Political dialogue with Japan began in 1990, and since then, the Alliance has gradually increased its contact with countries that do not form part of any of these cooperation initiatives.[146] In 1998, NATO established a set of general guidelines that do not allow for a formal institutionalisation of relations, but reflect the Allies’ desire to increase cooperation. Following extensive debate, the term “Contact Countries” was agreed by the Allies in 2000. By 2012, the Alliance had broadened this group, which meets to discuss issues such as counter-piracy and technology exchange, under the names “partners across the globe” or “global partners”.[147][148]Australia and New Zealand, both contact countries, are also members of the AUSCANNZUKUS strategic alliance, and similar regional or bilateral agreements between contact countries and NATO members also aid cooperation. Colombia is the NATO’s latest partner and Colombia has access to the full range of cooperative activities NATO offers to partners; Colombia became the first and only Latin American country to cooperate with NATO.[149]

Structures

Two gray haired older men talk with a soldier wearing camouflage and a green beret who is facing away.

Secretary General of NATOJens Stoltenberg (right) and his predecessor, Anders Fogh Rasmussen (left), talk with members of the Norwegian army’s Telemark Battalion in Oslo.

The main headquarters of NATO is located on Boulevard Léopold III/Leopold III-laan, B-1110 Brussels, which is in Haren, part of the City of Brussels municipality.[150] A new €750 million headquarters building began construction in 2010, was completed in summer 2016,[151] and was dedicated on 25 May 2017.[152] Problems in the original building stemmed from its hurried construction in 1967, when NATO was forced to move its headquarters from Porte Dauphine in Paris, France following the French withdrawal.[153][40]

The staff at the Headquarters is composed of national delegations of member countries and includes civilian and military liaison offices and officers or diplomatic missions and diplomats of partner countries, as well as the International Staff and International Military Staff filled from serving members of the armed forces of member states.[154] Non-governmental citizens’ groups have also grown up in support of NATO, broadly under the banner of the Atlantic Council/Atlantic Treaty Association movement.

NATO Council

Like any alliance, NATO is ultimately governed by its 28 member states. However, the North Atlantic Treaty and other agreements outline how decisions are to be made within NATO. Each of the 28 members sends a delegation or mission to NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.[155] The senior permanent member of each delegation is known as the Permanent Representative and is generally a senior civil servant or an experienced ambassador (and holding that diplomatic rank). Several countries have diplomatic missions to NATO through embassies in Belgium.

Together, the Permanent Members form the North Atlantic Council (NAC), a body which meets together at least once a week and has effective governance authority and powers of decision in NATO. From time to time the Council also meets at higher level meetings involving foreign ministers, defence ministers or heads of state or government (HOSG) and it is at these meetings that major decisions regarding NATO’s policies are generally taken. However, it is worth noting that the Council has the same authority and powers of decision-making, and its decisions have the same status and validity, at whatever level it meets. France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States are together referred to as the Quint, which is an informal discussion group within NATO. NATO summits also form a further venue for decisions on complex issues, such as enlargement.[156]

The meetings of the North Atlantic Council are chaired by the Secretary General of NATO and, when decisions have to be made, action is agreed upon on the basis of unanimity and common accord. There is no voting or decision by majority. Each nation represented at the Council table or on any of its subordinate committees retains complete sovereignty and responsibility for its own decisions.

List of Secretaries General[157]
# Name Country Duration
1 Lord Ismay  United Kingdom 4 April 1952 – 16 May 1957
2 Paul-Henri Spaak  Belgium 16 May 1957 – 21 April 1961
3 Dirk Stikker  Netherlands 21 April 1961 – 1 August 1964
4 Manlio Brosio  Italy 1 August 1964 – 1 October 1971
5 Joseph Luns  Netherlands 1 October 1971 – 25 June 1984
6 Lord Carrington  United Kingdom 25 June 1984 – 1 July 1988
7 Manfred Wörner  Germany 1 July 1988 – 13 August 1994
Sergio Balanzino  Italy 13 August 1994 – 17 October 1994
8 Willy Claes  Belgium 17 October 1994 – 20 October 1995
Sergio Balanzino  Italy 20 October 1995 – 5 December 1995
9 Javier Solana  Spain 5 December 1995 – 6 October 1999
10 Lord Robertson  United Kingdom 14 October 1999 – 17 December 2003
Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo  Italy 17 December 2003 – 1 January 2004
11 Jaap de Hoop Scheffer  Netherlands 1 January 2004 – 1 August 2009
12 Anders Fogh Rasmussen  Denmark 1 August 2009 – 30 September 2014
13 Jens Stoltenberg  Norway 1 October 2014 – present
List of Deputy Secretaries General[158]
# Name Country Duration
1 Jonkheer van Vredenburch  Netherlands 1952–1956
2 Baron Adolph Bentinck  Netherlands 1956–1958
3 Alberico Casardi  Italy 1958–1962
4 Guido Colonna di Paliano  Italy 1962–1964
5 James A. Roberts  Canada 1964–1968
6 Osman Olcay  Turkey 1969–1971
7 Paolo Pansa Cedronio  Italy 1971–1978
8 Rinaldo Petrignani  Italy 1978–1981
9 Eric da Rin  Italy 1981–1985
10 Marcello Guidi  Italy 1985–1989
11 Amedeo de Franchis  Italy 1989–1994
12 Sergio Balanzino  Italy 1994–2001
13 Alessandro Minuto Rizzo  Italy 2001–2007
14 Claudio Bisogniero  Italy 2007–2012
15 Alexander Vershbow  United States 2012–2016
16 Rose Gottemoeller  United States 2016–present
Acting Secretary General

NATO Parliamentary Assembly

A large baroque yellow and gold room with a stage on the left and long tables filled with men and women in suits on the right.

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly, an intergovernmental organization of NATO and associate countries’ elected representatives, meets in London prior to the start of the 2014 Newport summit.

The body that sets broad strategic goals for NATO is the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO-PA) which meets at the Annual Session, and one other during the year, and is the organ that directly interacts with the parliamentary structures of the national governments of the member states which appoint Permanent Members, or ambassadors to NATO. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly is made up of legislators from the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance as well as thirteen associate members. Karl A. Lamers, German Deputy Chairman of the Defence Committee of the Bundestag and a member of the Christian Democratic Union, became president of the assembly in 2010.[159] It is however officially a different structure from NATO, and has as aim to join together deputies of NATO countries in order to discuss security policies on the NATO Council.

The Assembly is the political integration body of NATO that generates political policy agenda setting for the NATO Council via reports of its five committees:

  • Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security
  • Defence and Security Committee
  • Economics and Security Committee
  • Political Committee
  • Science and Technology Committee

These reports provide impetus and direction as agreed upon by the national governments of the member states through their own national political processes and influencers to the NATO administrative and executive organizational entities.

Military structures

An older man with a gray beard, red beret, and olive green military suit.

Petr Pavel (right), of the Czech Republic, has been Chairman of the NATO Military Committee since 2015

NATO’s military operations are directed by the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, and split into two Strategic Commands commanded by a senior US officer and (currently) a senior French officer[160] assisted by a staff drawn from across NATO. The Strategic Commanders are responsible to the Military Committee for the overall direction and conduct of all Alliance military matters within their areas of command.[60]

Each country’s delegation includes a Military Representative, a senior officer from each country’s armed forces, supported by the International Military Staff. Together the Military Representatives form the Military Committee, a body responsible for recommending to NATO’s political authorities those measures considered necessary for the common defence of the NATO area. Its principal role is to provide direction and advice on military policy and strategy. It provides guidance on military matters to the NATO Strategic Commanders, whose representatives attend its meetings, and is responsible for the overall conduct of the military affairs of the Alliance under the authority of the Council.[161] The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee is Petr Pavel of the Czech Republic, since 2015.

Like the Council, from time to time the Military Committee also meets at a higher level, namely at the level of Chiefs of Defence, the most senior military officer in each nation’s armed forces. Until 2008 the Military Committee excluded France, due to that country’s 1966 decision to remove itself from the NATO Military Command Structure, which it rejoined in 1995. Until France rejoined NATO, it was not represented on the Defence Planning Committee, and this led to conflicts between it and NATO members.[162] Such was the case in the lead up to Operation Iraqi Freedom.[163] The operational work of the Committee is supported by the International Military Staff.

Three soldiers in camouflage stand in salute while a fourth raises a blue and white flag on a red and white striped flagpole.

NATO flag raising at opening of Exercise Steadfast Jazz at Drawsko Pomorskie in Poland in November 2013.

The structure of NATO evolved throughout the Cold War and its aftermath. An integrated military structure for NATO was first established in 1950 as it became clear that NATO would need to enhance its defences for the longer term against a potential Soviet attack. In April 1951, Allied Command Europe and its headquarters (SHAPE) were established; later, four subordinate headquarters were added in Northern and Central Europe, the Southern Region, and the Mediterranean.[164]

From the 1950s to 2003, the Strategic Commanders were the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT). The current arrangement is to separate responsibility between Allied Command Transformation (ACT), responsible for transformation and training of NATO forces, and Allied Command Operations (ACO), responsible for NATO operations worldwide.[165] Starting in late 2003 NATO has restructured how it commands and deploys its troops by creating several NATO Rapid Deployable Corps, including Eurocorps, I. German/Dutch Corps, Multinational Corps Northeast, and NATO Rapid Deployable Italian Corps among others, as well as naval High Readiness Forces (HRFs), which all report to Allied Command Operations.[166]

In early 2015, in the wake of the War in Donbass, meetings of NATO ministers decided that Multinational Corps Northeast would be augmented so as to develop greater capabilities, to, if thought necessary, prepare to defend the Baltic States, and that a new Multinational Division Southeast would be established in Romania. Six NATO Force Integration Units would also be established to coordinate preparations for defence of new Eastern members of NATO.[167]

Multinational Division Southeast was activated on December 1, 2015.[168]

During August 2016 it was announced that 650 soldiers of the British Army would be deployed on an enduring basis in Eastern Europe, mainly in Estonia with some also being deployed to Poland.[169] This British deployment forms part of a four-battle group (four-battalion) deployment by various allies, NATO Enhanced Forward Presence, one each spread from Poland (the Poland-deployed battle group mostly led by the U.S.) to Estonia.

Criticism and controversy

Goals

While the original goal of NATO was clear – to defend Western Europe from Soviet influence – its post-Soviet goals have long been debated. Members of all participating countries have often noted that the United States spends more on the organization than all other members combined. According to the Huffington Post in 2017: “… it can’t be argued that NATO has served American interests since 1991. For the last 15 years, the U.S. has been engaged in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and other Muslim countries. … NATO is a military alliance and one of its members, the United States, has been involved in wars for 15 years.” However, not all US-led invasions have received automatic support. After Article 5 was invoked for the first and only time due to the September 11 attacks, the NATO members showed support for an invasion of Afghanistan but not for one of Iraq. While some countries independently aided the US in Iraq (such as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands), others like France and Germany refused. Furthermore, countries had no obligation in terms of numbers and involvement regarding Afghanistan. As such, any country in the alliance was free to contribute whatever served their interests best. The Post article refers to the group as “a group of sovereign nations that will respond to American requests as they see fit”, as well as having “devolved into bilateral relations between the U.S. and each NATO member”.[170]

Opponents have described the organization as a “quasi-imperial, militaristic force” and fear that it’s likely to create problems rather than solve them. Pew Research Center‘s 2016 survey among its member states showed that while most countries viewed NATO positively, most NATO members preferred keeping their military spending the same. The response to whether their country should militarily aid another NATO country if it were to get into a serious military conflict with Russia was also mixed. Only in the US and Canada did more than 50% of the people answer that they should.[171]

See also

References

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

North Atlantic Treaty

Washington D.C. – 4 April 1949The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments.

They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area.

They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security. They therefore agree to this North Atlantic Treaty :

Article 1

The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

Article 2

The Parties will contribute toward the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by strengthening their free institutions, by bringing about a better understanding of the principles upon which these institutions are founded, and by promoting conditions of stability and well-being. They will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them.

Article 3

In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.

Article 4

The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.

Article 5

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

Article 6

[1]For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack:

  • on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France [2], on the territory of or on the Islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer;
  • on the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in or over these territories or any other area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer.

Article 7

This Treaty does not affect, and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations under the Charter of the Parties which are members of the United Nations, or the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Article 8

Each Party declares that none of the international engagements now in force between it and any other of the Parties or any third State is in conflict with the provisions of this Treaty, and undertakes not to enter into any international engagement in conflict with this Treaty.

Article 9

The Parties hereby establish a Council, on which each of them shall be represented, to consider matters concerning the implementation of this Treaty. The Council shall be so organised as to be able to meet promptly at any time. The Council shall set up such subsidiary bodies as may be necessary; in particular it shall establish immediately a defence committee which shall recommend measures for the implementation of Articles 3 and 5.

Article 10

The Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty. Any State so invited may become a Party to the Treaty by depositing its instrument of accession with the Government of the United States of America. The Government of the United States of America will inform each of the Parties of the deposit of each such instrument of accession.

Article 11

This Treaty shall be ratified and its provisions carried out by the Parties in accordance with their respective constitutional processes. The instruments of ratification shall be deposited as soon as possible with the Government of the United States of America, which will notify all the other signatories of each deposit. The Treaty shall enter into force between the States which have ratified it as soon as the ratifications of the majority of the signatories, including the ratifications of Belgium, Canada, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, have been deposited and shall come into effect with respect to other States on the date of the deposit of their ratifications. [3]

Article 12

After the Treaty has been in force for ten years, or at any time thereafter, the Parties shall, if any of them so requests, consult together for the purpose of reviewing the Treaty, having regard for the factors then affecting peace and security in the North Atlantic area, including the development of universal as well as regional arrangements under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Article 13

After the Treaty has been in force for twenty years, any Party may cease to be a Party one year after its notice of denunciation has been given to the Government of the United States of America, which will inform the Governments of the other Parties of the deposit of each notice of denunciation.

Article 14

This Treaty, of which the English and French texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the Government of the United States of America. Duly certified copies will be transmitted by that Government to the Governments of other signatories.

Footnotes

  1. Jump up The definition of the territories to which Article 5 applies was revised by Article 2 of the Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty on the accession of Greece and Turkey signed on 22 October 1951.
  2. Jump up On 16 January 1963, the North Atlantic Council noted that insofar as the former Algerian Departments of France were concerned, the relevant clauses of this Treaty had become inapplicable as from 3 July 1962.
  3. Jump up Treaty came into force on 24 August 1949, after the deposition of the ratifications of all signatory states.

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/North_Atlantic_Treaty#Article_5

Story 2: NSA Violate The Fourth Amendment Rights of American Citizens — Spying Without Warrants — Nothing New — Congress Will Do Nothing As Usual — Videos 

Image result for NSA buildingsImage result for NSA Spying on Americans without warrants

Image result for NSA buildings

OBAMA SECRETLY CONDUCTED ILLEGAL SEARCHES ON AMERICANS FOR YEARS

Published on May 24, 2017

The National Security Agency, under Obama, routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts, and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Trump was elected president last fall (according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community).

More than 5 percent, or one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database, violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011.

The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.

The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26, 2017.

The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans.

Circa has reported that there was a three-fold increase in NSA data searches about Americans and a rise in the unmasking of U.S. person’s identities in intelligence reports after Obama loosened the privacy rules in 2011.

Officials like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice have argued their activities were legal under the so-called minimization rule changes Obama made, and that the intelligence agencies were strictly monitored to avoid abuses.

The intelligence court and the NSA’s own internal watchdog found that not to be true.
“Since 2011, NSA’s minimization procedures have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collections under Section 702,” the unsealed court ruling declared. “The Oct. 26, 2016 notice informed the court that NSA analysts had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed to the Court.”

The American Civil Liberties Union said the newly disclosed violations are some of the most serious to ever be documented and strongly call into question the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to police itself and safeguard American’s privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.
“I think what this emphasizes is the shocking lack of oversight of these programs,” said Neema Singh Guliani, the ACLU’s legislative counsel in Washington.

“You have these problems going on for years that only come to the attention of the court late in the game and then it takes additional years to change its practices.

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The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.

More than 5 percent, or one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa.

The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.

WATCH |  Circa’s Sara Carter looks at a classified document from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26, 2017.

The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans.

The FISA court opinion

Circa has reported that there was a three-fold increase in NSA data searches about Americans and a rise in the unmasking of U.S. person’s identities in intelligence reports after Obama loosened the privacy rules in 2011.

Officials like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice have argued their activities were legal under the so-called minimization rule changes Obama made, and that the intelligence agencies were strictly monitored to avoid abuses.

The intelligence court and the NSA’s own internal watchdog found that not to be true.

“Since 2011, NSA’s minimization procedures have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collections under Section 702,” the unsealed court ruling declared. “The Oct. 26, 2016 notice informed the court that NSA analysts had been conducting such queries inviolation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed to the Court.”

Speaking Wednesday on Fox News, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said there was an apparent effort under the Obama Administration to increase the number of unmaskings of Americans.

“If we determine this to be true, this is an enormous abuse of power,” Paul said. “This will dwarf all other stories.”

“There are hundreds and hundreds of people,” Paul added.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the newly disclosed violations are some of the most serious to ever be documented and strongly call into question the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to police itself and safeguard American’s privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.

“I think what this emphasizes is the shocking lack of oversight of these programs,” said Neema Singh Guliani, the ACLU’s legislative counsel in Washington.

“You have these problems going on for years that only come to the attention of the court late in the game and then it takes additional years to change its practices.

“I think it does call into question all those defenses that we kept hearing, that we always have a robust oversight structure and we have culture of adherence to privacy standards,” she added. “And the headline now is they actually haven’t been in compliacne for years and the FISA court itself says in its opinion is that the NSA suffers from a culture of a lack of candor.”

The NSA acknowledged it self-disclosed the mass violations to the court last fall and that in April it took the extraordinary step of suspending the type of searches that were violating the rules, even deleting prior collected data on Americans to avoid any further violations.

“NSA will no longer collect certain internet communications that merely mention a foreign intelligence target,” the agency said in the statement that was dated April 28 and placed on its Web site without capturing much media or congressional attention.

In question is the collection of what is known as upstream “about data”about an American that is collected even though they were not directly in contact with a foreigner that the NSA was legally allowed to intercept.

The NSA said it doesn’t have the ability to stop collecting ‘about’ information on Americans, “without losing some other important data. ” It, however, said it would stop the practice to “reduce the chance that it would acquire communication of U.S. persons or others who are not in direct contact with a foreign intelligence target.”

The NSA said it also plans to “delete the vast majority of its upstream internet data to further protect the privacy of U.S. person communications.”

Agency officials called the violations “inadvertent compliance lapses.” But the court and IG documents suggest the NSA had not developed a technological way to comply with the rules they had submitted to the court in 2011.

Officials “explained that NSA query compliance is largely maintained through a series of manual checks” and had not “included the proper limiters” to prevent unlawful searches, the NSA internal watchdog reported in a top secret report in January that was just declassified. A new system is being developed now, officials said.

The NSA conducts thousand of searches a year on data involving Americans and the actual numbers of violations were redacted from the documents Circa reviewed.

But a chart in the report showed there three types of violations, the most frequent being 5.2 percent of the time when NSA Section 702 upstream data on U.S. persons was searched.

The inspector general also found  noncompliance between 0.7 percent and 1.4 percent of the time involving NSA activities in which there was a court order to target an American for spying  but the rules were still not followed. Those activities are known as Section 704 and Section 705 spying.

Review | The NSA inspector general’s highly redacted chart showing privacy violations.

The IG report spared few words for the NSA’s efforts before the disclosure to ensure it was complying with practices, some that date to rules issued in 2008 in the final days of the Bush administration and others that Obama put into effect in 2011.

“We found that the Agency controls for monitoring query compliance have not been completely developed,” the inspector general reported, citing problems ranging from missing requirements for documentation to the failure to complete controls that would ensure “query compliance.”

 

Obama’s NSA rebuked for snooping on Americans; journo says it proves wide pattern

The secret court that oversees government snooping took the Obama administration to task late last year, suggesting it created “a very serious Fourth Amendment issue” by violating rules the government itself had implemented regarding the surveillance of Americans.

According to top-secret documents made public by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – often referred to as the FISA court – the government admitted that, just days before the 2016 election, NSA analysts were violating surveillance rules on a regular basis. This pattern of overreach, coupled with the timing of the government’s disclosure, resulted in an unusually harsh rebuke of the administration’s practices and principles.

A former CBS journalist suing the federal government for allegedly spying on her said the documents prove the illegal snooping was pervasive and widely abused.

POTENTIAL ‘SMOKING GUN’ SHOWING OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SPIED ON TRUMP TEAM, SOURCE SAYS

“Sources of mine have indicated that political players have increasingly devised premises to gather intel on political targets by wrapping them up in ‘incidental’ collection of foreigners, as if by accident,” Sharyl Attkisson, who is pursuing a federal lawsuit the Department of Justice has tried to dismiss, told the Fox News Investigative Unit.

According to the FISA Court opinion, it was on September 26, 2016 that the government submitted an undisclosed number of “certifications” for the court to review. The review process was supposed to be completed within 30 days, or by October 26, 2016.

Just two days before that review was to be completed – and less than two weeks before the 2016 election – the government informed the court that NSA analysts had been violating rules, established in 2011, designed to protect the internet communications of Americans.

The NSA has suggested these were “inadvertent compliance lapses,” and points out that the agency “self-reported” these problems, meaning they were the ones to bring this issue to the attention of the court.

There was just one problem.

The violations that the government disclosed on October 24, 2016, were based on a report from the NSA’s Inspector General that had been released 10 months earlier, in January 2016. This means that when the government submitted its certifications for review in September, they were likely aware of that IG report – but failed to mention the malpractice going on at the NSA.

The Court at the time blamed an institutional “lack of candor” for the government’s failure to disclose that information weeks earlier, and gave the government until April 28, 2017, to come up with a solution. After failing to come to an agreement, the NSA announced that it was stopping the type of surveillance in question.

The so-called “lapses” among NSA staffers had to do with Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the “upstream” surveillance of what the intelligence community refers to as “about” communications.

REPORT: OBAMA LIED AND OBAMA SPIED

According to the NSA, Section 702 “allows the intelligence community to conduct surveillance on only specific foreign targets located outside the United States to collect foreign intelligence, including intelligence needed in the fight against international terrorism and cyber threats.”

Upstream surveillance, according to the ACLU, was first disclosed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, and “involves the NSA’s bulk interception and searching of Americans’ international internet communications — including emails, chats, and web-browsing traffic.”

Until the NSA stopped it, the “upstream” snooping program notified them directly if someone inside the U.S. composed an email that contained the email address of a foreign intelligence agent who was being monitored. According to an NSA declaration reportedly made during the Bush administration, these communications did not have to be to or from the foreign agent, they simply had to mention the email address.

According to the FISA Court documents just made public, the notifications sent to the NSA often led to the unmasking of American citizens caught up in monitoring. And as the court pointed out, many of the requests being made to unmask the Americans taking part in these communications were in direct violation of safeguards established by the Obama administration.

According to the FISA Court documents, so-called “minimization procedures” adopted in 2011 to curb unlawful surveillance “have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collections under Section 702.”

And, according to the government’s October 26, 2016 admission, “NSA analysts had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed.”

The suspended surveillance program has been a target of fierce criticism from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, as well as journalists and even Snowden.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, told Fox & Friends on Wednesday that the “terrible” program was basically “a back doorway to sort of get at Americans’ privacy without using a warrant.”

When the NSA announced it was stopping certain Section 702 activities, Senate Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said he had raised concerns for years “that this amounted to an end run around the Fourth Amendment.”

Snowden tweeted that the NSA’s actions represented “the most substantive of the post-2013 NSA reforms, if the principle is applied to all other programs.”

Attkisson, who sued to determine who had access to a government IP address that she says was discovered on her CBS work computer during a forensics exam, said she’s concerned the truth will never come out.

“I’m told by sources that it should only take a day or a week, at most, for the intel community to provide [lawmakers with] the details of which Americans, journalists and public officials were ‘incidentally’ surveilled, which ones were unmasked, who requested the unmaskings, when, and for what supposed purpose,” Attkisson said. “Yet months have gone by. I’m afraid that as time passes, any evidence becomes less likely to persist.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/05/25/obama-s-nsa-rebuked-for-snooping-on-americans-journo-says-it-proves-wide-pattern.html

Release of 2015 Section 702 Minimization Procedures

August 11, 2016

Today the ODNI, in consultation with the Department of Justice, is releasing in redacted form the current Section 702 Minimization Procedures, as updated in 2015, in keeping with the Principles of Intelligence Transparency for the Intelligence Community.  These procedures are intended to protect the privacy and civil liberties of U.S. persons, as required by the Fourth Amendment and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in connection with the foreign intelligence activities undertaken by the CIA, FBI, NSA and the National Counterterrorism Center.

Background

Section 702 was enacted as part of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 , and it authorizes the Attorney General and the DNI to provide to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court annual certifications authorizing the Intelligence Community to target non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States to acquire certain categories of foreign intelligence information. The FAA is a carefully constructed framework that provides the government with the tools necessary to collect vital foreign intelligence information and includes a robust scheme for protecting the privacy and civil liberties of U.S. persons.  This framework is implemented in part through a detailed set of procedures designed to minimize the acquisition, retention, use and dissemination of U.S. person information acquired under Section 702.

Additional Section 702 certification information, including the 2014 minimization procedures and the FISC’s August 2014 Opinion, was released on IC on the Record Sept. 29, 2015.

The 2015 Minimization Procedures

The 2015 Section 702 Minimization Procedures were approved by the Attorney General and submitted to the FISC as part of the government’s July 15, 2015, submission of reauthorization certifications pursuant to Section 702.  After thorough consideration, the FISC approved these minimization procedures in its Nov. 6, 2015, Memorandum Opinion and Order (released, in redacted form, in April 2016 on IC on the Record), finding that the minimization procedures comport with the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the FAA.

The 2015 Section 702 minimization procedures incorporated certain modifications to the 2014 Section 702 minimization procedures, including changes made to implement recommendations the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board made in its 2014 report reviewing the Section 702 program.  Modifications made in the 2015 minimization procedures include:

  • Improvements to provisions in NSA’s and CIA’s minimization procedures that ensure the preservation of information related to criminal and civil litigation;
  • Enhancements to NSA’s, CIA’s and FBI’s protections for attorney-client communications;
  • Clarification of NSA’s, CIA’s and FBI’s 2015 documentation or other requirements with respect to the querying of Section 702 information.

These procedures identified below are released:

https://icontherecord.tumblr.com/post/148797010498/release-of-2015-section-702-minimization

Nets Blackout Massive Constitutional Violations by Obama’s NSA

All of the negative news about President Donald Trump provided a convenient smokescreen to obscure a story highly damaging to former President Barack Obama on Wednesday. As first reported by Circa News, “The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall.” As would be expected, the Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) completely omitted from their evening broadcasts.

“More than one in 20 internet searches conducted by the National Security Agency, involving Americans, during the Obama administration violated constitutional privacy protections,” announced Fox News’ Bret Baier near the top of Special Report. “And that practice went on for years. Not only that. But the Obama administration was harshly rebuked by the FISA court for doing it.”

The report was handed off to Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen, who wasted no time in getting to the heart of the matter. “On the day President Obama visited Los Angeles last October to yuk it up with Jimmy Kimmel, lawyers for the National Security Agency were quietly informing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that NSA had systematically violated the rights of countless Americans,” he quipped.

“Declassified documents, first obtained by the news site Circa, show the FISA court sharply rebuked the administration,” Rosen noted as he began to read a passage from the FISA court’s opinion. “’With greater frequency than previously disclosed to the Court, NSA analysts had used U.S. person identifiers to query the results of internet ‘upstream’ collection, even though NSA’s Section 702 minimization procedures prohibited such queries.’”

The Fox News reporter was intrigued by the documents because: “These disclosers are timely though, as Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act—one of the primary means by which U.S. citizens are caught up in incidental surveillance—is up for reauthorization, Bret, by the Congress at year’s end.”

John Soloman, one of the Circa reporters who broke the story, talked with Rosen and told him that “tonight, for the first time, we can say confidently that there’s been a finding that some of that espionage, that spying on Americans, actually violated the law.”

The condemning evidence seemed to have no end, as Rosen reported that:

The documents show it was back in 2011 that the FISA court first determined NSA’s procedures to be, quote, “statutorily and constitutionally deficient with respect to their protection of U.S. person information.” Five years later, two weeks before Election Day, the judges learned that NSA had never adequately enacted the changes it had promised to make. The NSA inspector general and its office of compliance for operations “have been conducting other reviews covering different time periods,” the judges noted, “with preliminary results suggesting that the problem is widespread during all periods of review.”

Rosen had also mentioned how “the judges blasted NSA’s ‘institutional ‘lack of candor’’ and added ‘This is a very serious fourth amendment issue.’”

The lack of coverage by the Big Three, and the liberal media in general shows their bias against Trump and their favoritism to Obama. They rather focus on alleged accusations that so far have bared little fruit, instead of the legal opinion of federal judges exposing the highly illegal actions of a segment of President Obama’s administration.

http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/nicholas-fondacaro/2017/05/25/nets-blackout-massive-constitutional-violations-obamas-nsa

All of the negative news about President Donald Trump provided a convenient smokescreen to obscure a story highly damaging to former President Barack Obama on Wednesday. As first reported by Circa News, “The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall.” As would be expected, the Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) completely omitted from their evening broadcasts.

“More than one in 20 internet searches conducted by the National Security Agency, involving Americans, during the Obama administration violated constitutional privacy protections,” announced Fox News’ Bret Baier near the top of Special Report. “And that practice went on for years. Not only that. But the Obama administration was harshly rebuked by the FISA court for doing it.”

The report was handed off to Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen, who wasted no time in getting to the heart of the matter. “On the day President Obama visited Los Angeles last October to yuk it up with Jimmy Kimmel, lawyers for the National Security Agency were quietly informing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that NSA had systematically violated the rights of countless Americans,” he quipped.

“Declassified documents, first obtained by the news site Circa, show the FISA court sharply rebuked the administration,” Rosen noted as he began to read a passage from the FISA court’s opinion. “’With greater frequency than previously disclosed to the Court, NSA analysts had used U.S. person identifiers to query the results of internet ‘upstream’ collection, even though NSA’s Section 702 minimization procedures prohibited such queries.’”

The Fox News reporter was intrigued by the documents because: “These disclosers are timely though, as Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act—one of the primary means by which U.S. citizens are caught up in incidental surveillance—is up for reauthorization, Bret, by the Congress at year’s end.”

John Soloman, one of the Circa reporters who broke the story, talked with Rosen and told him that “tonight, for the first time, we can say confidently that there’s been a finding that some of that espionage, that spying on Americans, actually violated the law.”

The condemning evidence seemed to have no end, as Rosen reported that:

The documents show it was back in 2011 that the FISA court first determined NSA’s procedures to be, quote, “statutorily and constitutionally deficient with respect to their protection of U.S. person information.” Five years later, two weeks before Election Day, the judges learned that NSA had never adequately enacted the changes it had promised to make. The NSA inspector general and its office of compliance for operations “have been conducting other reviews covering different time periods,” the judges noted, “with preliminary results suggesting that the problem is widespread during all periods of review.”

Rosen had also mentioned how “the judges blasted NSA’s ‘institutional ‘lack of candor’’ and added ‘This is a very serious fourth amendment issue.’”

The lack of coverage by the Big Three, and the liberal media in general shows their bias against Trump and their favoritism to Obama. They rather focus on alleged accusations that so far have bared little fruit, instead of the legal opinion of federal judges exposing the highly illegal actions of a segment of President Obama’s administration.

http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/nicholas-fondacaro/2017/05/25/nets-blackout-massive-constitutional-violations-obamas-nsa

REPORT: Obama lied and Obama spied

A new report out this morning details just how much Obama spied on Americans during his administration and it’s a lot. Even the liberal ACLU organization says these new disclosures are some of the most serious to ever be documented:

CIRCA – The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.

More than 5 percent, or one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa.

The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.

The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26, 2017.

The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans.

Circa has reported that there was a three-fold increase in NSA data searches about Americans and a rise in the unmasking of U.S. person’s identities in intelligence reports after Obama loosened the privacy rules in 2011.

Officials like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice have argued their activities were legal under the so-called minimization rule changes Obama made, and that the intelligence agencies were strictly monitored to avoid abuses.

The intelligence court and the NSA’s own internal watchdog found that not to be true.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the newly disclosed violations are some of the most serious to ever be documented and strongly call into question the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to police itself and safeguard American’s privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.

Mark Levin wants to know where is the special prosecutor:

Obama spied on journalists and the American people, yet we’re supposed to just ignore that he spied on Trump all because of Trump’s tweet? The media pretends like it’s not a big deal at all and even seems to take Susan Rice at her word that her unmasking of details of the Trump campaign’s communications were appropriate.

Yeah I think we need a special prosecutor to get to the bottom of all of this and pronto.

http://therightscoop.com/report-obama-lied-and-obama-spied/

Story 3: Montana Congressional Candidate Gianforte Will Win Despite Roughing up Aggressive Reporter — Setup of A Political Assassination by Big Lie Media — Videos

Greg Gianforte wins Montana special election

Published on May 25, 2017

The Republican candidate won a seat in the House of Representatives.

Bill Bennet on Gianfortes special election win in Montana

‘Great Win in Montana’, President Trump Praises Greg Gianforte from G7 Summit [VIDEO]

Greg Gianforte Apologizes To reporter Ben jacobs Gianforte Wins Montana Congressional Election

Montana GOP candidate Gianforte charged with assault

Guardian Reporter Ben Jacobs vs GOP Candidate Greg Gianforte, Montana, EYE WITNESS CHANGES STORY

Greg Gianforte body slams Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs in Montana Video

This is NOT the Actual VIDEO but is a representation of what could have happened.

Published on May 25, 2017

Greg Gianforte body slams Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs in Montana Republican candidate charged with assault after ‘body-slamming’ Guardian reporter
The is Audio of Greg Gianforte attacking Ben Jacobs corroborated by Fox News journalists in the room, who described candidate ‘slamming him to the ground’
Support the Guardian’s fearless journalism by making a contribution or becoming a member

The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat has been charged with misdemeanor assault after he is alleged to have slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election, breaking his glasses and shouting, “Get the hell out of here.”

Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire endorsed by Donald Trump, about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly “body-slammed” the reporter.

GOP candidate Greg Gianforte has financial ties to US-sanctioned Russian companies
Read more
“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said by phone from the back of an ambulance. “I think he wailed on me once or twice … He got on me and I think he hit me … This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”

Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, field producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey witnessed the incident at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Montana, according to an account published by foxnews.com. After Jacobs asked Gianforte his question, Acuna wrote: “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.

“Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’ … To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies.”

Jacobs subsequently reported the incident to the police. The Gallatin county sheriff’s office said on Wednesday night it had completed its investigation and that Gianforte had been issued with a charge of misdemeanour assault.

“Following multiple interviews and an investigation by the Gallatin county sheriff’s office it was determined there was probable cause to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault,” sheriff Brian Gootkin said in a statement. “The nature of the injuries did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault. Greg Gianforte received a citation on Wednesday night and is scheduled to appear in Gallatin county justice court between now and June 7, 2017.”

A statement by campaign spokesman Shane Scanlon blamed Jacobs for the altercation, saying that he “entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions”.

“Jacobs was asked to leave,” the statement reads. “After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground.

“It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

Scanlon’s account is contradicted by audio of the abortive interview recorded by Jacobs, as well as the Fox News account. The audio does not capture Jacobs being asked to leave or lower his recorder, but does contain an apparent reference to the Guardian’s previous attempts to report on Gianforte. “I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte said. “The last guy who came here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here. The last guy did the same thing. Are you with the Guardian?”

“Yes! You just broke my glasses,” Jacobs replied.

Ben Jacobs with his broken glasses being carted off in the ambulance.
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Ben Jacobs with his broken glasses being carted off in the ambulance. Photograph: Ben Jacobs for the Guardian
“The last guy did the same damn thing,” Gianforte said.

“You just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs said.

“Get the hell out of here,” Gianforte yelled.

At a press conference on Wednesday evening, sheriff Brian Gootkin said that there had been four witnesses to the altercation, in addition to Gianforte and Jacobs. Gianforte briefly spoke with sheriff’s deputies following the altercation but has not been interviewed. Gootkin said that he was not aware of any video of the incident. He also requested that reporters and members of the public stop calling Gallatin’s 911 dispatch.

According to campaign finance filings, Gootkin donated $250 to Gianforte’s campaign in March. Gootkin’s later statement acknowledged the contribution but said it had “nothing to do with our investigation which is now complete”.

This is NOT the Actual VIDEO but is a representation of what could have happened.

Montana GOP candidate Gianforte charged with assault

Reaction to Montana GOP candidate allegedly body-slamming reporter

GOP candidate in Montana charged with assault on reporter

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 860, March 24, 2017, Story 1: Two Party Interference In Health Care Insurance Industry With Federal Regulation and Taxation Is A Big Government Failure — Time for New Independent Constitutional Limited Government Party — Bring Back Free Market Competition For Health Care and Insurance — Leave The American People and Business Alone! — Videos — Story 2: Obama Administration Criminal Activity in Misusing Intelligence Agencies and Mishandling National Security Documents — Who Authorized The Targeting of President-Elect Trump and Trump’s Transition Team for National Security Surveillance and The Unmasking of Their Names? — Watergate Redux — National Security Agency Surveillance of American People Using Stellar Wind — Videos

Posted on March 24, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Breaking News, College, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Elections, Employment, Federal Government, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Spending, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Insurance, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Medicare, Mike Pence, News, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Radio, Rand Paul, Rand Paul, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Rule of Law, Scandals, Security, Senate, Social Security, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Ted Cruz, Ted Cruz, Terror, Terrorism, United States of America, Welfare Spending | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Two Party  Interference In Health Care Insurance Industry With Federal Regulation and Taxation Is A Big Government Failure — Time for New Independent Constitutional  Limited Government Party — Bring Back Free Market Competition For Health Care  Insurance — Lower Premiums and Deductibles and More Choice of Plans With National Competition — Leave The American People and Business Alone! — Videos — 
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Gohmert: ObamaCare Replacement Bill Was ‘Based on a Lie’

WATCH LIVE Speaker Paul Ryan speaks after House pulls ‘Obamacare’ repeal bill before Friday’s planning

President Trump Speaks After Pulling Healthcare Bill plan 3/24/17 3/24/2017 video

Mark Levin interviews Sen. Mike Lee about the upcoming vote on Obamacare replacement (March 22 2017)

RAND PAUL REACTS TO THE GOP HEALTHCARE BILL GETTING PULLED

Mike Lee Says GOP Healthcare Bill will Fail. Rebuts Paul Ryan, Bigtime

Trump tastes failure as U.S. House healthcare bill collapses

By David Lawder and Steve Holland
ReutersMarch 25, 2017
Trump tastes failure as U.S. House healthcare bill collapses

By David Lawder and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump suffered a stunning political setback on Friday in a Congress controlled by his own party when Republican leaders pulled legislation to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system, a major 2016 election campaign promise of the president and his allies.

House of Representatives leaders yanked the bill after a rebellion by Republican moderates and the party’s most conservative lawmakers left them short of votes, ensuring that Trump’s first major legislative initiative since taking office on Jan. 20 ended in failure. Democrats were unified against it.

House Republicans had planned a vote on the measure after Trump late on Thursday cut off negotiations with Republicans who had balked at the plan and issued an ultimatum to vote on Friday, win or lose. But desperate lobbying by the White House and Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan was unable to round up the 216 votes needed for passage.

“We learned a lot about loyalty. We learned a lot about the vote-getting process,” Trump told reporters at the White House, although he sought to shift the blame to the Democrats even though his party controls the White House, the House and the Senate.

With Friday’s legislative collapse, Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement, the 2010 Affordable Care Act – known as Obamacare – remains in place despite seven years of Republican promises to dismantle it.

The healthcare failure called into question not only Trump’s ability to get other key parts of his agenda, including tax cuts and a boost in infrastructure spending, through Congress, but the Republican Party’s capacity to govern effectively.

Neither Trump nor Ryan indicated any plans to try to tackle healthcare legislation again anytime soon. Trump said he would turn his attention to getting “big tax cuts” through Congress, another tricky proposition.

Republican supporters said the legislation would achieve their goal of rolling back the government’s “nanny state” role in healthcare. The White House made undoing Obamacare its top priority when Trump took office two months ago.

But the White House and House leaders were unable to come up with a plan that satisfied the clashing interests of moderates and conservatives, despite Trump’s vaunted image as a deal maker.

Amid a chaotic scramble for votes, Ryan, who championed the bill, met with Trump at the White House. Ryan said he recommended that it be withdrawn from the House floor because he did not have the votes to pass it, and Trump agreed.

“We were just probably anywhere from 10 to 15 votes short,” Trump said. “With no Democrat support we couldn’t quite get there.”

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the bill failed “because of two traits that have plagued the Trump presidency since he took office: incompetence and broken promises.”

Democrats said the bill would take away medical insurance from millions of Americans and leave the more-than-$3 trillion U.S. healthcare system in disarray.

And some moderate Republicans opposed the bill because of worries that millions of America would be hurt.

“There were things in this bill that I didn’t particularly like,” Trump added, without specifying what those were, but expressed confidence in Ryan’s leadership.

“Perhaps the best thing that could happen is exactly what happened today, because we’ll end up with a truly great healthcare bill in the future after this mess known as Obamacare explodes,” said Trump, who had posted multiple tweets throughout March proclaiming that “Obamacare is imploding” and repeatedly saying that Republicans were coming together to pass the bill.

Friday’s events cast doubt on whether Ryan can get major legislation approved by fractious Republican lawmakers.

“I will not sugarcoat this. This is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard,” Ryan said at a news conference, adding that his fellow Republicans are experiencing what he called “growing pains” transitioning from an opposition party to a governing party.

“Obamacare’s the law of the land,” Ryan added. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

Members of the Freedom Caucus, the House’s most conservative members, were instrumental in the bill’s failure, opposing it among other reasons because they considered parts too similar to Obamacare.

Trump said he was disappointed and “a little surprised” with the Freedom Caucus opposition.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said under the Republican legislation 14 million people would lose medical coverage by next year and more than 24 million would be uninsured in 2026.

News that the bill had been pulled before a final vote was greeted initially with a small sigh of relief by U.S. equity investors, who earlier in the week had been fretful that an outright defeat would damage Trump’s other priorities, such as tax cuts and infrastructure spending.

Benchmark U.S. stock market indexes ended the session mixed after rallying back from session lows following the news. The S&P 500 Index ended fractionally lower, the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped about 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose about 0.2 percent.

Shares of hospital operators finished sharply higher, with the S&P healthcare facilities index up 2.7 percent, while the S&P 500 healthcare sector edged down 0.03 percent. The dollar strengthened modestly on the news, and U.S. Treasury bond yields edged up from session lows.

Trump said he would be “totally open” to working with Democrats on healthcare “when they all become civilized.” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said working to lower prescription drug prices was one area of possible cooperation with Republicans.

Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher said before the bill was pulled that voting it down would be “neutering Trump” while empowering his opponents.

“You don’t cut the balls off a bull and then expect that he can go out and get the job done,” Rohrabacher told Reuters. “This will emasculate Trump and we can’t do that. … If we bring this down now, Trump will have lost all of his leverage to pass whatever bill it is, whether it’s the tax bill or whatever reforms that he wants.”

Representative Joe Barton of Texas, when asked why his fellow Republicans were so united over the past seven years to dump Obamacare only to fall apart when they actually do something about it, said, “Sometimes you’re playing fantasy football and sometimes you’re in the real game.”

Obamacare boosted the number of Americans with health insurance through mandates on individuals and employers, and income-based subsidies. About 20 million Americans gained insurance coverage through the law.

The House plan would have rescinded a range of taxes created by Obamacare, ended a penalty on people who refuse to obtain health insurance, and ended Obamacare’s income-based subsidies to help people buy insurance while creating less-generous age-based tax credits

It also would have ended Obamacare’s expansion of the Medicaid state-federal insurance program for the poor, cut future federal Medicaid funding and let states impose work requirements on some Medicaid recipients.

House leaders agreed to a series of last-minute changes to try to win over disgruntled conservatives, including ending the Obamacare requirement that insurers cover certain “essential benefits” such as maternity care, mental health services and prescription drug coverage.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-tastes-failure-u-house-healthcare-bill-collapses-150843163–business.html

Failure on health bill also hurts prospects for tax overhaul

FILE – In this Feb. 22, 2017, file photo photo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin listens at right… Read more

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans’ failure to repeal Barack Obama’s health care law deals a serious blow to another big part of President Donald Trump’s agenda: tax reform.

Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., say they will soon turn their attention to the first major re-write of the tax code in more than 30 years. But they will have to do it without the momentum of victory on health care.

Just as important, the loss on health care will deprive Republicans of $1 trillion in tax cuts.

The GOP health plan would have repealed nearly $1 trillion in taxes enacted under Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The bill coupled the tax cuts with spending cuts for Medicaid, so it wouldn’t add to the budget deficit.

Without the spending cuts, it will be much harder for Republicans to cut taxes without adding to the federal government’s red ink.

“Yes this does make tax reform more difficult,” said Ryan. “But it does not in any way make it impossible.”

“That just means the Obamacare taxes stay with Obamacare. We’re going to go fix the rest of the tax code,” he added.

House Republicans couldn’t round up enough votes Friday to repeal and replace a law they despise, raising questions about their ability to tackle other tough issues.

“Doing big things is hard,” Ryan conceded as he vowed to press on.

Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, acknowledged that Friday’s turn of events made him doubtful about the Republicans’ ability to tackle major legislation.

“This was my first big vote and our first big initiative in the line of things to come like tax reform,” said the freshman. “I think this would have given us tremendous momentum and I think this hurts that momentum.”

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., said, “You always build on your last accomplishment.”

Nevertheless, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday the administration plans to turn quickly to tax reform with the goal of getting an overhaul approved by Congress by August.

“Health care is a very complicated issue,” Mnuchin said. “In a way, tax reform is a lot simpler.”

Don’t tell that to House Republicans who have been struggling with the issue for years.

The general goal for Republicans is to lower income tax rates for individuals and corporations, and make up the lost revenue by reducing exemptions, deductions and credits.

Overhauling the tax code is hard because every tax break has a constituency. And the biggest tax breaks are among the most popular.

For example, nearly 34 million families claimed the mortgage interest deduction in 2016, reducing their tax bills by $65 billion.

Also, more than 43 million families deducted their state and local income, sales and personal property taxes from their federal taxable income last year. The deduction reduced their federal tax bills by nearly $70 billion.

Mnuchin said he had been overseeing work on the administration’s tax bill for the past two months. He said it would be introduced soon.

Mnuchin said the White House plan would cut individual and corporate tax rates, though he didn’t offer specifics.

House Republicans have released a blueprint that outlines their goals for a tax overhaul. It would lower the top individual income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 33 percent, and reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three.

The House plan retains the mortgage interest deduction but repeals the deduction for state and local taxes.

On the corporate side, the plan would repeal the 35 percent corporate income tax and replace it with a 20 percent tax on profits from selling imports and domestically produced goods and services consumed in the U.S.

Exports would be exempt from the new tax, called a border adjustment tax.

The new tax has drawn opposition from Republicans in the Senate. Mnuchin would not reveal whether the administration will include the border adjustment tax in the White House proposal. He was speaking at a public interview event with the news site Axios.

Republicans often complained that they couldn’t do a tax overhaul when Obama was president. Now, Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House, and they see a great opportunity.

They plan to use a complicated Senate rule that would prevent Democrats from blocking the bill. But there’s a catch: Under the rule, the package cannot add to long-term budget deficits.

That means every tax cut has to be offset by a similar tax increase or a spending cut. That’s why the loss on health care was so damaging to the effort to overhaul taxes.

Ryan made this case to fellow House Republicans in his failed effort to gain support for the health plan.

“That was part of the calculation of why we had to take care of health care first,” said Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y.

___

Associated Press writers Kevin Freking and Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.

___

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/d6b3f963391a4b9486bc847a7f286a55/failure-health-bill-hurts-prospects-tax-overhaul

Mike Lee: Senate parliamentarian told me it’s possible to push harder on repealing Obamacare regulations

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said on Wednesday that the Senate parliamentarian has told him that it may be possible for Republicans to push harder on repealing Obamacare’s regulations than the current House bill, which contradicts the assertion by House leadership that the legislation goes after Obamacare as aggressively as possible under Senate rules.

“What I understood her to be saying is that there’s no reason why an Obamacare repeal bill necessarily could not have provisions repealing the health insurance regulations,” Lee said in an interview with the Washington Examiner, relating a conversation with parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough about reconciliation he had on Tuesday.

Lee also said that the parliamentarian told him it wasn’t until very recently, after the unveiling of the House bill, that any Republican even asked her about the possibility of repealing regulations with a simple majority.

With a House vote currently expected on Thursday, Republican leadership is scrambling for votes, trying to stave off a backlash from conservatives that could sink the bill. One of the issues conservatives have raised is that the House bill leaves most of the regulations in place, thus not combatting one of the main complaints about Obamacare – its skyrocketing premiums and limited choice.

Because Republicans don’t have 60 Senate seats to kill a filibuster, they have to pass a healthcare bill through a procedure known as reconciliation, which allows the majority party to pass legislation with a simple majority, assuming it meets a certain set of requirements, including that all provisions be primarily budgetary in nature.

Conservatives such as Lee have argued that Republicans should fight harder to argue that the regulations, which have a clear budgetary impact, can be passed through reconciliation. But House leadership and supporters of the bill have countered that the legislation already goes as far as possible. House Speaker Paul Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong, when asked about this by the Washington Examiner last week, said “We’ve worked closely with the Senate to carefully craft the bill to repeal and replace the law to the full extent allowed under the rules.”

But having met with the parliamentarian, who plays a key role in advising the presiding officer of the Senate over what’s in bounds during reconciliation, Lee is more convinced than ever that this is not true.

“One of the things we’ve been told over and over again is the bill was no more aggressive than it has been… in part because of Senate rules,” Lee said. “And the Senate rules are something those defending the bill have repeatedly pointed to in defense of why they wrote it the way they wrote it. The parliamentarian said, there’s not necessarily any reason that would categorically preclude you from doing more, both on the repeal front and the replacement front, all sorts of things are possible.”

He continued, “What matters is how it’s done, how it’s written up. There are ways it’s written up that perhaps make it not subject to passage through reconciliation, but there are other ways you could write it that might make it work.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/article/2618154

On his radio show Wednesday evening, Conservative Review Editor-in-Chief Mark Levin interviewed Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, about a recent conversation the lawmaker had with the Senate parliamentarian. The discussion: whether or not Obamacare’s regulations could be repealed via reconciliation, which only needs a simply majority to pass.

As previously reported by the Washington Examiner, Lee says that he was told by the parliamentarian (who interprets the rules of the Senate) that, despite claims from House leadership, the current “repeal and replace” legislation could do much more to undo Obamacare’s harmful mandates — if so desired.

 

“I honestly believe that the Republican establishment does not want to repeal the entirety of Obamacare,” Levin said. “I think you have Republican governors … who like the expanded Medicaid, so they’ve already sold out. There’s a lot of that going on.”

As it stands now, the current RINOcare version would repeal several taxes and mandates, but it leaves in place the major regulations that are the primary drivers of America’s skyrocketing health insurance premiums. One of the major reasons that these have been left in place, GOP leaders have said, is that the Byrd Rule in the Senate would prohibit them from repealing them in a budget bill.

But this doesn’t appear to be the case, Sen. Mike Lee says, who says he found out in his meeting with the parliamentarian that nobody from leadership so much as asked how much of Obamacare could be gutted in the budget process.

“She pointed out that it’s not necessarily true what we’ve been told [by leadership],” Lee said.

“I think this is very distressing,” Sen. Lee concluded. “Because a whole lot of congressmen have been told a whole lot of times that this is the best we can do under the Senate’s reconciliation rules. And it’s not true.”

https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2017/03/sen-mike-lee-puts-the-establishments-rinocare-lies-on-full-display#sthash.CjPMfFOw.dpuf

Story 2: Obama Administration Criminal Activity in Misusing Intelligence Agencies and Mishandling National Security Documents — Who Authorized The Targeting of President-Elect Trump and Trump’s Transition Team for National Security Surveillance and The Unmasking of Their Names? — Watergate Redux — National Security Agency Surveillance of American People Using Stellar Wind —  Videos

House Intelligence Chair News Conference – House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA)

NSA Whistleblower: Trump Was Right On Wiretap Bill Binney – Tucker Carlson Tonight Fox News 3/24/17

NSA Whistleblower William Binney: The Future of FREEDOM

Nunes: Surveillance reports I’ve seen are ‘concerning’

Joe: Devin Nunes Blew Up Hopes Of Independent Russia Investigation | Morning Joe | MSNBC

Newt Gingrich on Nunes’ surveillance revelations

‘This Is All Political’ David Nunes Responds to Tapper- JAKE TAPPER 3/22/17

Breaking/ House intelligence committee chairman say’s Trump was wiretapped. 

Rep. Adam Schiff slams Rep. Devin Nunes’ comments on Trump intel

Nunes says information from Trump surveillance ‘concerned me’

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The Pronk Pops Show 852, March 6, 2017, Story 1:Story 1: “What Did The President Know and When Did He Know It?” Specifically: What Did Obama, Jarrett, Rhodes Know About Wiretapping In Trump Tower During The Election Campaign?– Two Party Turnkey Tyranny of Secret Surveillance Spying Security State Violating The American People’s Fourth Amendment Rights By Spying on American Citizens — Repeal The Patriot Act — Videos

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Story 1: ” What Did The President Know and When Did He Know It?”  Specifically:  What Did Obama, Jarrett, Rhodes Know About Wiretapping In Trump Tower During The Election Campaign?– Two Party Turnkey Tyranny of Secret Surveillance Spying Security State Violating The American People’s Fourth Amendment Rights By Spying on American Citizens — Repeal The Patriot Act  — Videos


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SEAN HANNITY – 3/6/17 FULL SHOW | FOX NEWS | MARCH 6, 2017

“Obama’s statement is PATHETIC”, FUMES Mark Levin over TRUMP victimized by WIRETAPPING

Mark Levin PROVES Trump Wiretapping Claims: ‘The Evidence Is Overwhelming’ #ObamaGate

What did the President know and when did he know it?

Full interview: Proof Obama Wiretapped Trump Tower. Mark Levin on Fox & Friends

Silent Coup: Obama, FISA, NSA, Deep State vs. President Donald Trump

Former DNI, James Clapper, Says there Was No FISA Court Order for Wiretap

Full Clapper: ‘No Evidence’ of Collusion Between Trump and Russia | Meet the Press

Michael Hayden Speculates About Donald Trump Wiretapping Claims

Watch Tucker Carlson Breakdown Obama Wiretapping!

Trump ‘not a happy camper’ over wiretap claim

Newt Gingrich connects Barack Obama to the Trump Towers Wiretapping

Sean Spicer Responds To President Trump’s Claims Of Obama’s Wiretapping

Hugh Hewitt Calls On Special Prosecutor To Investigate Obama Over Wiretapping Trump Claims

Judge Jeanine Pirro- Obama Admin. wiretapping Trump Tower 3/4/2017 FOX NEWS

James Rosen describes being investigated by Obama admin

Trump Accuses Obama of Wiretapping – Is there any evidence of Collusion?

Intelligence Officer Claims Obama Was Involved In The Wiretapping

Bombshell! Trump Tweets, Obama Wire Tapped Trump Tower! “He Is Bad And Sick”! Dwarf’s Watergate!

Did President Obama Spy On Donald Trump? | True News

What Would It Mean If Former President Obama Wiretapped Trump Tower? | TODAY

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No, Presidents Can’t Order Wiretaps | AM Joy | MSNBC

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A GOOD AMERICAN – Tráiler

NSA WHISTLEBLOWER BILL BINNEY: WE HAVE HILLARY’S EMAILS

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Flashback=> NY Times Front Page Headline: “Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides”

More Fake News…
The front page of The New York Times way back on January 20, 2017…
“Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides”

But Two months later they are trashing their own reports!
Now the NY Times is reporting there is no evidence of a wiretap.
No wonder nobody trusts them!

Breitbart reported:
The New York Times has inadvertently attacked the credibility of its own reporting on the Obama Administration’s investigation of Russia and now-President Donald Trump.
Times reporters Michael Schmidt and Michael Shear write that Trump believes the “deep state” intelligence community, staffed with holdovers from the Obama Administration, wiretapped several of his campaign associates because of a spurious article from Breitbart News:

On Sunday, the president demanded a congressional inquiry into whether Mr. Obama had abused the power of federal law enforcement agencies before the 2016 presidential election. In a statement from his spokesman, Mr. Trump called “reports” about the wiretapping “very troubling” and said that Congress should examine them as part of its investigations into Russia’s meddling in the election.

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2017/03/flashback-ny-times-front-page-headline-wiretapped-data-used-inquiry-trump-aides/

IF THE FEDS DID WIRETAP TRUMP TOWER, IT’S NOT OBAMA WHO SHOULD WORRY

Republican president-elect Donald Trump

Trump Tower in New York City, NY.JABIN BOTSFORD/GETTY IMAGES

Early Saturday morning, President Trump fired off a series of tweets accusing, without evidence, former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in the month before the election. Trump compared the alleged snooping to “Nixon/Watergate,” and intimated legal action.

Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!

What makes the broader allegation so extraordinary isn’t that it is new. Quite the contrary. Various reports that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court granted Justice Department investigators a warrant to probe the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia surfaced in November. What makes Trump’s Twitter tirade so striking is what prompted it, and what it might imply if it’s true.

Anatomy of an Allegation

Baffling as it may be, it appears Trump’s accusation stems from a recent article published on Breitbart, the conservative news outlet formerly run by White House senior adviser Stephen Bannon.

“This is a somewhat stunning, in so far as the president of the United States doesn’t need to get his information about classified activity from Breitbart,” says Cato Institute fellow Julian Sanchez.

That story, “Mark Levin to Congress: Investigate Obama’s ‘Silent Coup’ Vs. Trump,” rehashes comments the titular conservative radio host made Thursday equating the previously reported FISA warrant with a “police state,” and accuses Obama of a politically motivated, covert attempt to undermine Trump and his associates.

It’s unclear just what prompted Levin’s rant, or why Trump glommed onto it. Although no one has confirmed a FISA investigation, or wiretaps in Trump Tower, several news outlets have reported the former’s existence. The most detailed account thus far, from the BBC in January, provided a timeline: The Justice Department sought a FISA warrant in June to intercept communications from two Russian banks suspected of facilitating donations to the Trump campaign. The judge reportedly rejected the warrant, as well as a narrower version sought in July. A new judge granted the order in mid-October, according to the BBC.

However strongly Trump feels that he’s right, he’d better hope he’s wrong.

None of this necessarily makes Trump’s allegations true. Even if a FISA warrant exists, it does not mean Trump Tower is tapped or that Trump specifically is the target. Further complicating things, the existence of a wiretap would not necessarily confirm the existence of a FISA warrant. Almost half of the building’s 58 floors are dedicated to commercial and office space, and any one of them—not to mention the building’s residents—could be the target of an investigation unrelated to international espionage or election tampering.

“If he has evidence that he was wiretapped without a proper FISA order being sought, that would be a huge scandal, and he should produce whatever evidence he’s got,” says Sanchez. “It’s a pretty serious claim, and it’s striking he would make it without anything solid to back it up.”

Republican Senator Ben Sasse called on the president to clarify his claims, stating that “we are in the midst of a civilization-warping crisis of public trust.” Obama spokesperson Kevin Lewis strongly denied extra-judicial surveillance of any US citizens to Politico in response to the claims..

Look past the president’s conspiracy theories, though, and one fact stands out: However strongly Trump feels that he’s right, he’d better hope he’s wrong.

Tower of FISA

If nothing else, Trump’s tweets show he doesn’t understand how the FISA system works. If he did, he may have limited himself to tweeting about Arnold Schwartzenegger quitting The Apprentice this morning.

“While the order would have been requested by some part of the executive branch, Obama can’t order anything. Nor can Trump,” says former NSA lawyer April Doss, who stresses that her comments are based only on public information. “The order has to come from the court, and the court operates independently.”

FISA court judges serve seven-year appointments, so the court’s composition doesn’t ebb and flow with the political tides. What’s more, specific laws adopted in the wake of Watergate prevent the very activity Trump accuses Obama of.

“You can’t tap the phones of a political candidate for political purposes,” says Doss.

What you could tap them for? Acting as a foreign power, or as an agent of a foreign power. In other words, spying against US interests with both knowledge and intent.

Clearing that bar is difficult, by design. FISA warrants don’t allow for broad wiretaps of, say, every call going in and out of a specific office in a 58-story Manhattan skyscraper. Federal authorities must demonstrate not just probable cause, but that a given phone line serves primarily to undermine US interests. It’s difficult, for instance, to obtain a warrant to wiretap a shared office, for fear of picking up innocent third-party conversations.

“I have high confidence that a FISA court judge would not have authorized any warrant unless it met all the requirements under the statute,” says Doss.

Trump’s wiretap claims, then, carry presumably inadvertent implications. First, based on previous reporting and the nature of FISA courts, any wiretaps within Trump Tower would be legal. And they would stem from overwhelming evidence that the Trump campaign, or someone within it, has unsavory ties to Russia or another foreign power. Otherwise, it’s unlikely those wiretaps would exist at all.

If federal authorities did have cause to listen in on Trump Tower, though, and they provided enough evidence for a FISA court to approve the snooping, Obama is not the one who ought to worry.

With additional reporting by Andy Greenberg.

This story has been updated to include responses from Obama spokesperson Kevin Lewis and GOP Senator Ben Sasse, and to reflect that FISA court judges serve seven-year terms, not lifetime tenure.

https://www.wired.com/2017/03/feds-wiretap-trump-tower-not-obama-worry/

Trump asks Congress to probe alleged illicit campaign investigations

AFPMarch 5, 2017
US President Donald Trump pictured during a meeting with parents and teachers at Saint Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Florida, on March 3, 2017
US President Donald Trump pictured during a meeting with parents and teachers at Saint Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Florida, on March 3, 2017 (AFP Photo/Nicholas KAMM)
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Washington (AFP) – President Donald Trump is asking Congress to probe “potentially politically motivated investigations” during the 2016 campaign, the White House said Sunday.

The announcement came one day after Trump took to Twitter to accuse his predecessor Barack Obama of tapping his phones ahead of the November election, without providing evidence of the explosive charge.

An Obama spokesman has denied Trump’s accusation as “simply false.”

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In his statement, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer referred to unspecified reports of “potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election” as “very troubling.”

“President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016,” Spicer said.

He added that there would be no more comment on the matter from Trump or the White House.

Trump leveled his charges against Obama early Saturday, at the end of a week in which his administration was battered by controversy over communications between Russian officials and some of his senior aides including Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!” Trump wrote.

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” he wrote in another tweet, referring to the political scandal that toppled president Richard Nixon in 1974.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-asks-congress-probe-alleged-illicit-campaign-investigations-143333695.html

Donald’s eruption in the Oval Office: Video emerges of Trump’s ‘furious argument’ with top adviser Steven Bannon as Ivanka and Jared look on, hours before President made phone tapping claims

  • Donald Trump gave a ‘verbal lashing to his senior staff members’ on Friday 
  • He was angry over the attorney general’s recusal amid Russia links on Thursday
  • Video has since emerged of Bannon in an animated discussion in the Oval Office
  • Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer were also in the fiery meeting 
  • Trump was upset Sessions was overshadowing his praised speech to Congress 
  • Bannon and Priebus were told they weren’t flying with Trump to Mar-a-Lago
  • Just days after the row, Bannon was pictured on Sunday boarding Air Force One via a separate entrance to the president as they returned to Washington D.C.
  • Hours after Trump erupted at his staff, he claimed Obama had his phone tapped

Footage has emerged of a heated row in the Oval Office on Friday that saw Donald Trump erupt into a ‘ballistic’ tirade against Steve Bannon and other senior advisors.

The president reportedly unleashed his anger on Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus for failing to fight off the firestorm surrounding attorney general Jeff Sessions’ recusal amid links to Russia.

A furious Trump told Bannon and Priebus they weren’t flying on Air Force One with him to Florida before reportedly storming out and heading down to Mar-a-Lago.

Now, video has emerged of what appears to be the exchange during the fiery meeting inside the Oval Office, CNN reports.

Scroll down for video

Footage has emerged of Steve Bannon in the Oval Office on Friday when Donald Trump erupted into a ‘ballistic’ tirade against his senior advisors

While it is not clear what the discussion was about, Bannon was filmed in an animated conversation and at one point was spotted waving his arms around.

Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Sean Spicer were spotted in the background of the footage.

Trump had accused his staff of fumbling the situations with Sessions after the attorney general recused himself from all FBI investigations regarding Russia on Thursday.

The president is said to have then taken it out on his senior staff the following day.

Sources said to CNN the Oval Office lecture had a ‘lot of expletives’ and that ‘nobody has seen him that upset’.

Just days after the furious row, Bannon was pictured on Sunday boarding Air Force One via a separate entrance to the president as they returned to Washington D.C.

It is not unusual for them to board at opposite ends of the aircraft.

Just days after the furious row, Bannon was pictured on Sunday boarding Air Force One via a separate entrance to the president as they returned to Washington D.C.

Just days after the furious row, Bannon was pictured on Sunday boarding Air Force One via a separate entrance to the president as they returned to Washington D.C.

A furious Trump told Bannon and Priebus they weren't flying on Air Force One with him to Florida before reportedly storming out and heading down to Mar-a-Lago

A furious Trump told Bannon and Priebus they weren’t flying on Air Force One with him to Florida before reportedly storming out and heading down to Mar-a-Lago

Steve Bannon was filmed in an animated conversation in the Oval office on Friday and Jared Kushner (right) was also present

Steve Bannon was filmed in an animated conversation in the Oval office on Friday and Jared Kushner (right) was also present

Ivanka Trump (left with her back to the door) was also in the room when Trump unleashed his furious tirade against senior staff

Trump learned of Sessions’ decision following a visit with military in Virginia where he had told reporters he had ‘total’ trust in the attorney general and didn’t think he should remove himself.

Sessions announced that he would recuse himself from all investigations involving the presidential campaign in order to save his job, after it was revealed he had met a Russian ambassador twice during the campaign.

When Trump returned to the White House amid the media frenzy of Sessions’ declaration, he was angry that the news was overshadowing the progress he felt he had made in his speech to Congress, CNN reported.

Further sources told Politico that Trump had further expressed his frustrations with his administration in phonecalls over the weekend.

Bannon was pictured boarding Air Force One at a separate entrance to Trump on Sunday - just days after the president told him he wasn't allowed to fly with him to Florida after the row

Bannon was pictured boarding Air Force One at a separate entrance to Trump on Sunday – just days after the president told him he wasn’t allowed to fly with him to Florida after the row

In Trump's explosive lecture to his senior staff he told his chief of staff Reince Priebus (pictured) he wouldn't be accompanying him on Air Force One to Florida before he stormed out of the Oval Office

Chief strategist Stephen Bannon was also told he wouldn't be flying with the president to Florida

In his explosive lecture to his senior staff Trump told his chief of staff Reince Priebus (left) and chief strategist Stephen Bannon (right) they wouldn’t be accompanying him on Air Force One to Florida before he stormed out of the Oval Office

Trump accused Obama of tapping his phones at Trump Tower in a flurry of tweets early on Saturday morning, just hours after he erupted at his senior staff 

Trump accused Obama of tapping his phones at Trump Tower in a flurry of tweets early on Saturday morning, just hours after he erupted at his senior staff

 He accused the former president of spying on him before the election, tweeting he had 'just found out' about being wiretapped

Obama’s administration was quick to deny the claims and an official echoed others saying Obama could not have ordered a wire-tap, adding that it would have been taken to a judge by investigators, but investigators never did that

‘He’s tired of everyone thinking his presidency is screwed up,’ said one person who spoke to him.

In less than 24 hours after his blow out with staff, Trump released a series of tweets that accused Obama of authorizing a wiretapping on Trump Tower right before the election and called it ‘McCarthyism’.

Trump was seemingly outraged after learning of the alleged wiretapping, adding to his earlier anger directed towards his senior staff members over more Russia tie allegations.

In the wake of Trump’s fury, Bannon and Priebus were no longer riding in the aircraft to travel to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, as originally planned.

A source told ABC News that both men volunteered not to make the trip to Florida and instead stay in Washington and Trump agreed that they should.

Bannon later flew out to Florida on Saturday but it was not clear if that was his intended travel plans.

After the reported blow out, Trump left for his estate in Florida with his grandchildren on Friday. Bannon left for Florida on Saturday after initially volunteering to stay in Washington

After the reported blow out, Trump left for his estate in Florida with his grandchildren on Friday. Bannon left for Florida on Saturday after initially volunteering to stay in Washington

According to an official regarding the phone tapping claims, a wiretap cannot be directed at a US facility, without finding probable cause that the phone lines or internet addresses were being used by agents of a foreign power.

Another former senior US official, who worked under the Obama administration, told CNN there was no such investigation of Trump, nor were his phones tapped.

‘This did not happen. It is false. Wrong,’ the former official said.

The official echoed that of others saying Obama could not have ordered this and adding that it would have been taken to a judge by investigators, but investigators never did that.

The president did not provide any additional evidence to back up his claims.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4284566/Video-emerges-Trump-s-Oval-Office-row-Bannon.html#ixzz4aa9r9Dyp

DeepStateGate: Trump Ends the Wiretapping Innuendo Game by Dealing Himself In

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The White House statement on “DeepStateGate” — President Donald Trump’s allegations that former President Barack Obama ordered surveillance on him during his 2016 presidential campaign — has the feel of cards and chips thumping down on the table:

White House calls for probe into whether Obama abused executive powers in 2016 http://nbcnews.to/2mb1EBp 

The White House is placing a substantial bet on what Congress will uncover. Don’t expect those cards to be dealt swiftly because such investigations take time. The Obama administration was highly adept at stalling investigations until the Democratic media could pronounce them “old news” and ignore the outcome.

The Trump administration can distinguish itself by cooperating energetically with this one and helping it move forward quickly. Rest assured that no matter how long it takes, the media will never consider it “old news” as long as there remains any chance for anyone connected with the Trump 2016 campaign to get in trouble over contacts with the Russians.

It’s possible one reason Trump issued his explosive tweets on surveillance was to make everyone put up or shut up. That might already be working, as some of the more aggressive dealers in unsubstantiated innuendo are suddenly admitting they don’t have any actual evidence. There can’t be any hard evidence if Trump is super-duper wrong about Obama administration surveillance:

Chris Coons walkback: “I have no hard evidence of collusion” between Trump world and Russians http://legalinsurrection.com/2017/03/chris-coons-walkback-i-have-no-hard-evidence-of-collusion-between-trump-world-and-russians/ 

Photo published for Chris Coons walkback:

Chris Coons walkback: “I have no hard evidence of collusion” between Trump world and Russians

Walks back his prior suggestion of possibly incriminating transcripts.

legalinsurrection.com

Until now, Democrats and their media have been pleased to create the impression that all kinds of wiretapping operations were conducted against the Trump campaign, uncovering many scandalous, possibly illegal connections. Only by reading those articles carefully does one discover the sources are highly speculative and the evidence is thin at best.

The much-discussed New York Times piece from January 19 is a perfect example of this. It begins by matter-of-factly confirming the existence of the wiretaps everyone in Obamaworld is now swearing are a figment of Donald Trump’s imagination. Mountains of innuendo about connections between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence have been spun out of what these abruptly non-existent intercepts contained, according to the anonymous leakers who currently drive almost 100 percent of mainstream media coverage.

But if you read that New York Times article carefully, it admits the communications intercepts may not exist, and if they do, no one can confirm what they actually say (emphasis added):

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said.

The continuing counterintelligence investigation means that Mr. Trump will take the oath of office on Friday with his associates under investigation and after the intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government had worked to help elect him. As president, Mr. Trump will oversee those agencies and have the authority to redirect or stop at least some of these efforts.

It is not clear whether the intercepted communications had anything to do with Mr. Trump’s campaign, or Mr. Trump himself. It is also unclear whether the inquiry has anything to do with an investigation into the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computers and other attempts to disrupt the elections in November. The American government has concluded that the Russian government was responsible for a broad computer hacking campaign, including the operation against the D.N.C.

Whatever President Trump’s intentions were in using Twitter to touch off this firestorm, one of the immediate effects has been letting the gas out of all those speculative Trump stories. The Democratic media is now furiously working to prove all of its own previous coverage of the Trump-Russia allegations was little more than idle speculation, every bit as lacking in hard evidence as Trump’s accusation that Obama was tapping his phones.

After months of unfounded allegations and badly sourced speculation intended to cripple his administration, maybe Trump wanted to prove that only one side of the partisan divide is permitted to make “wild allegations.” Obama’s plants in the Deep State can leak whatever they please, law and truth be damned. They can get an avalanche of hostile coverage moving with a few phone calls or emails. The media feels no contrition when the story turns out to be exaggerated or completely false, eagerly turning to the same Obama holdovers as sources for the next big phony scoop.

No one on Trump’s team, including the president himself, is allowed to reciprocate in kind. We are meant to feel bottomless outrage that Trump would level unsubstantiated allegations against Obama, but apparently, Obama’s minions can launch a constant barrage of unsubstantiated allegations against Trump.

Intentionally or accidentally, Trump just forced the press to admit how weak the bulk of those allegations were. The wiretapping timeline that has drawn so much attention since Saturday night was largely based on mainstream media reporting. The media is effectively saying, “Hey, wait, we were just blowing smoke. We didn’t think anyone would take those reports seriously and build a case that Obama was wiretapping Trump. We just wanted to make Trump look bad by pumping up vague rumors that he and his campaign might have been under observation!”

Amazingly, the same media that just went through 48 hours of convulsions over a bogus “perjury” charge against Attorney General Jeff Sessions is happy to cite an actual, admitted perjurer, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, as an unimpeachable source on the exact issue he lied about to Congress. They also expect the American people to trust former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes, who openly bragged of his ability to mislead credulous reporters and construct phony narratives to sell the Iran nuclear deal.

The Obama administration’s enthusiasm for surveillance and using government power against its political enemies is a matter of shameful record. The no-holds-barred “Resistance” mindset among Democrats is painfully obvious. If they are running a “silent coup” against Trump, it’s the loudest silent coup in history. You can scarcely sleep at night over the racket this silent coup makes.

Sorry, DNC Media, no sale. In the absence of hard evidence one way or the other, Team Obama is not going to win a credibility shootout with Team Trump.

One of the best and most even-handed observers of the wiretapping drama is Andy McCarthy, who writes for the decidedly non-Trumpian National Review. McCarthy’s Sunday post on the matter is well worth reading in full. His key point is that some highly unusual FISA requests for surveillance on the Trump campaign were made and were denied by the court, as very few such requests are. The Obama administration was persistent and eventually obtained the authorization it wanted, but there is reason to suspect it was not entirely candid with the FISA court on its final, successful request.

McCarthy points out that if Obama believed half of what the Democrats tout as sacred truth about the Russians working with Trump’s campaign, he would have been negligent not to authorize the kind of surveillance Trump is angry about, and there is “a less than zero chance” surveillance could have been imposed “without consultation between the Justice Department and the White House.”

Robert Barnes at LawNewz also explores the idea of the FISA court approving a warrant that was submitted without Trump’s name but “which Obama then misused to spy on Trump and many connected to Trump.” He suggests the most serious legal jeopardy that might be facing the people involved in such an effort would be perjury for lying to the FISA court and the dissemination of collected intelligence that should have been kept tightly classified. Instead, he cites reports that Obama acted to reduce the restrictions on sharing this information and to preserve material that should have been destroyed.

What McCarthy and Barnes are describing is plausible and consistent with the behavior of the Obama administration over many years. That doesn’t mean it’s automatically true, but it should be investigated, every bit as thoroughly as Russian activity in the 2016 election cycle. Trump’s weekend tweets may have finally put an end to speculative reporting, strategic leaking, and innuendo. Perhaps the only way to end that game was for Trump to deal himself in.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/03/05/trump-ends-innuendo-game-dealing/

President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald J. Trump on Inauguration Day. Mr. Trump has praised Mr. Obama repeatedly since taking office. But on Saturday, he called his predecessor a “bad (or sick) guy.”CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump on Saturday accused former President Barack Obama of tapping his phones at Trump Tower the month before the election, taking to Twitter to call his predecessor a “bad (or sick) guy.”

Without offering any evidence or providing the source of his information, Mr. Trump fired off a series of Twitter messages claiming that Mr. Obama “had my ‘wires tapped.’ ” He likened the supposed tapping to “Nixon/Watergate” and “McCarthyism.”

A spokesman for Mr. Obama said any suggestion that the former president had ordered such surveillance was “simply false.”

Mr. Trump’s aides declined to clarify whether the president’s explosive allegations were based on briefings from intelligence or law enforcement officials — which could mean that Mr. Trump was revealing previously unknown details about an investigation — or on something else, like a news report.

His decision to lend the power of his office to such a charged claim against his predecessor — without offering any initial proof — was remarkable, even for a leader who has repeatedly shown himself willing to make assertions that are false or based on dubious sources.

It would have been difficult for federal agents, working within the law, to obtain a wiretap order to target Mr. Trump’s phone conversations. It would have meant that the Justice Department had gathered sufficient evidence to persuade a federal judge that there was probable cause to believe he had committed a serious crime or was an agent of a foreign power, depending on whether it was a criminal investigation or a foreign intelligence one.

Former officials pointed to longstanding laws and procedures intended to ensure that presidents cannot wiretap a rival for political purposes.

“A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for Mr. Obama. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.”

But a senior White House official said that Donald F. McGahn II, the president’s chief counsel, was working on Saturday to secure access to what Mr. McGahn believed was an order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing some form of surveillance related to Mr. Trump and his associates.

The official offered no evidence to support the notion that such an order exists. If one does, it would be highly unusual for a White House to order the Justice Department to turn over such an investigative document, given the traditional independence of law enforcement matters.

It has been widely reported that there is a federal investigation, which began during the 2016 presidential campaign, into links between Trump associates and the Russians. That issue has dogged Mr. Trump for months.

In one message, which Mr. Trump sent from his Palm Beach, Fla., estate at 6:35 a.m., the president said he had “just found out” that his phones had been tapped before the election. Mr. Trump’s reference to “wires tapped” raised the possibility that he was referring to some other type of electronic surveillance and was using the idea of phone tapping loosely.

Two people close to Mr. Trump said they believed he was referring to a Breitbart News article, which aides said had been passed around among his advisers. Mark Levin, a conservative radio host, had also embraced the theory recently in a push against what right-leaning commentators have been calling the “deep state.”

The Breitbart article, published on Friday, claimed that there was a series of “known steps taken by President Barack Obama’s administration in its last months to undermine Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and, later, his new administration.”

If Mr. Trump was motivated to take to Twitter after reading the Breitbart article or listening to Mr. Levin, he was using a presidential megaphone to spread dark theories of a broad conspiracy aimed at undermining his presidential ambitions, and later his presidency.

Even with the Breitbart article circulating, several of Mr. Trump’s advisers were stunned by the president’s morning Twitter outburst. Those advisers said they were uncertain about what specifically Mr. Trump was referring to; one surmised that he may also have been referring to a months-old news report about a secret surveillance warrant for communications at his New York offices.

One senior law enforcement official from the Obama administration, who has direct knowledge of the F.B.I. investigation into Russia and of government wiretapping, said that it was “100 percent untrue” that the government had wiretapped Mr. Trump. The official, who asked for anonymity to discuss matters related to investigations and intelligence, said the White House owed the American people an explanation for the president’s allegations.

Ben Rhodes, a former top national security aide to Mr. Obama, said in a Twitter message directed at Mr. Trump on Saturday that “no president can order a wiretap” and added, “Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.”

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are moving forward with their own investigations into Russia’s efforts to influence the election, and they have said they will examine links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russians.

Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, said on Friday that he believed there were “transcripts” that would help document those contacts, though he said he had not yet seen them.

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Mr. Trump claimed the Obama administration ordered the phoned at his building in New York tapped. CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times

“There are transcripts that provide very helpful, very critical insights into whether or not Russian intelligence or senior Russian political leaders — including Vladimir Putin — were cooperating, were colluding, with the Trump campaign at the highest levels to influence the outcome of our election,” Mr. Coons told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. “I believe they exist.”

In a written statement on Saturday, a spokesman for Mr. Coons said that the senator “did not imply that he is aware of transcripts indicating collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.” The spokesman, Sean Coit, said Mr. Coons “simply stated that a full review of all relevant transcripts and intelligence intercepts is necessary to determine if collusion took place.”

The New York Times reported in January that among the associates whose links to Russia are being scrutinized are Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s onetime campaign chairman; Carter Page, a businessman and foreign policy adviser to the campaign; and Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative who said he was in touch with WikiLeaks at one point before it released a trove of emails from John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, last August. Mr. Stone later said he had communicated with WikiLeaks through an intermediary.

Mr. Trump appeared on Saturday to suggest that warrants had been issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. He claimed that the Obama administration had once been “turned down by court” in its supposed efforts to listen in on conversations by Mr. Trump and his associates.

In the fall, the F.B.I. examined computer data showing an odd stream of activity between a Trump Organization server and Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s biggest banks, whose owners have longstanding ties to Mr. Putin. While some F.B.I. officials initially believed that the computer activity indicated an encrypted channel between Moscow and New York, the bureau ultimately moved away from that view. The activity remains unexplained.

There is no confirmed evidence that the F.B.I. obtained a court warrant to wiretap the Trump Organization or was capturing communications directly from the Trump Organization.

During the transition, the F.B.I. — which uses FISA warrants to eavesdrop on the communications of foreign leaders inside the United States — overheard conversations between the Russian ambassador to the United States and Michael T. Flynn, whom Mr. Trump had named national security adviser.

Mr. Trump has pointedly and repeatedly questioned in conversations how it was that Mr. Flynn’s conversations were recorded, and wondered who could have issued a warrant.

After The Washington Post reported that Mr. Flynn and the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, had discussed sanctions that the Obama administration had just imposed on Russia, Mr. Flynn was pushed out of his post by the White House because he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of the calls.

The Breitbart article cited mainstream news reports and concluded — going beyond the public record — that the Obama administration had “obtained authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the N.S.A. rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government.”

Mr. Levin, a day earlier, railed about what he called a “much bigger scandal,” claiming — again with no evidence — that Mr. Obama and his aides had used “the instrumentalities of the federal government, intelligence activity, to surveil members of the Trump campaign and put that information out in the public.”

Several senior members of Mr. Trump’s White House staff, including his spokesman, Sean Spicer, did not respond to an email requesting on-the-record responses to more than a half-dozen questions about Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, denounced the “willingness of the nation’s chief executive to make the most outlandish and destructive claims without providing a scintilla of evidence to support them.”

Even some Republican lawmakers questioned Mr. Trump’s accusations. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska issued a statement demanding that the president reveal everything he knows about any wiretaps or warrants.

“The president today made some very serious allegations, and the informed citizens that a republic requires deserve more information,” Mr. Sasse said, adding that “we are in the midst of a civilization-warping crisis of public trust.”

Taping calls seems to hold a spot in Mr. Trump’s consciousness. He spent many years taping his own phone calls as a businessman. During the campaign, Mr. Trump’s staff members told reporters they feared that their offices were being bugged.

But Mr. Trump’s latest allegations represented a sharp change in his tone toward Mr. Obama.

The current president has frequently spoken about how much he admires Mr. Obama for the gracious way he handled the transition. But since taking office, Mr. Trump has frequently clashed with the intelligence agencies over the Russia inquiries, including efforts to examine the attempts by that country to influence the presidential election and the contacts between Mr. Trump’s aides and the Russian government.

In recent days, the president has appeared increasingly angry about leaks of information that he believes are coming from law enforcement and intelligence officials who are holdovers or recently departed from Mr. Obama’s administration.

People close to Mr. Trump have described him as determined to stop those people from sabotaging his administration. One adviser said on Friday that the president had been discussing a possible plan to try to prevent leaks from occurring. The adviser declined to elaborate on what the plan might entail.

Two senior administration officials said Mr. Trump had tried for two days to find a way to be on an offensive footing against the news articles resulting from leaks; one person close to Mr. Trump said his explosive claim was a result of that.

Mr. Trump’s mood was said to be volatile even before he departed for his weekend in Florida, with an episode in which he vented at his staff. The president’s ire was trained in particular on Mr. McGahn, his White House counsel, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Mr. Trump was said to be frustrated about the decision by Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, to recuse himself from participating in any investigations of connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mr. Trump has said there were no such connections. Mr. Trump, who did not learn that Mr. Sessions was recusing himself until after the decision was made, told aides that it gave an opening to his critics on the Russia issue.