McCarthy: FISAgate – The Question Is Not Whether Trump Associates Were Monitored

In light of how controversial the matter has become, it’s unfortunate to find so much uninformed commentary, especially in cable-TV land, about foreign intelligence collection and its so-called minimization protocols — particularly, the guidelines about revealing, or “unmasking,” the identities of Americans whose communications are “incidentally” intercepted. The question arises because of reporting — most recently, the coverage of disclosures last week by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes — that the communications of figures associated with the Trump campaign were intercepted “incidentally” by U.S. intelligence agencies because they had some interaction with people connected in some way to foreign powers, principally Russia. The Trump associates subjected to such intelligence-agency monitoring certainly include former national-security adviser Michael Flynn, who was intercepted when speaking with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. In addition, the intercepted individuals probably include at least three others: Paul Manafort, who ran the Trump campaign until being ousted in July (when reports surfaced of payments to him by the former government of Ukraine — a Putin puppet regime); and two others, Roger Stone and Carter Page, who had informal connections to the campaign (but longstanding ties of varying degree to Trump and Manafort). Nunes’s disclosures further suggest that the communications of others associated with Trump’s campaign (perhaps even Trump himself) were also intercepted. During the press conference, a reporter asked, Nunes, “Was the president [i.e., Trump] included in that incidental collection — his communication?” Nunes responded, “Yes.” Based on the little that has been reported, the interception and handling of these communications seems more disturbing because, according to Nunes, they have nothing to do with any known government intelligence investigations of Russia. Unless there is some legitimate connection to foreign activities, the specter of political spying hovers. The reported intelligence collection efforts raise four separate questions that are too often conflated in the commentary:

To read those four questions, and the rest of this outstanding legal op/ed by attorney Andrew C. McCarthy, click on the text above.  Mr. McCarthy is a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and has prosecuted Islamic terrorists..  There is ZERO doubt that some type of surveillance WAS done on Trump campaign and/or administration officials.  That much we know.  Trump, himself, may have been monitored as well.  So, it’s not a matter of IF.  That has been resolved.

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