Unexamined Premises

Meanwhile, Back in These United States...

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

My New York Post column today takes a look at the most overlooked news story of this tumultuous week:

It was a busy week. But squeezed among Kathy Griffin’s career self-decapitation, President Trump’s Paris climate-accord pullout and the media’s anticipation of James Comey’s upcoming testimony, the really important news got crowded out: the weaponizing of the intelligence agencies against the Obama administration’s political enemies.

As part of its investigation into the alleged Russian hacking of the 2016 election, Republicans on the House intelligence committee have subpoenaed records from former CIA Director John Brennan, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and UN Ambassador Samantha Power regarding a different issue: the promiscuous “unmasking” of the names of American citizens in widely disseminated (and thus widely leaked) intelligence reports.

That these are three of the former president’s closest cronies should come as no surprise. Obama’s presidency crested along on a smile and a wave, while his minions did the wet work in the shadows. Naturally, Democrats are furious.

Of course they are. They’ve successfully conflated two memes, both fundamentally false and/or irrelevant: that somehow the Russians “hacked” the election on Nov. 8 in order to give it to Trump, and that the Trump campaign somehow “colluded” with the Russians in order to swing the tide of public opinion against Hillary Clinton before the actual vote.

But now, having created the false narrative of the Russians somehow preventing Hillary Clinton from campaigning in Wisconsin, the light is being turned where it belongs: on the intelligence agencies and their role in the subversion of our democracy.

According to the new book “Shattered” by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, the “hacking” meme — the one still being parroted by Clinton — originated shortly after the Banquo’s ghost of our time unexpectedly lost the election to Donald Trump. There was a kernel of truth: The former Soviets, led by a KGB agent, are always trying to influence the course of American events.

It’s also true that the incoming Trump administration was reaching out to the Russians, whom officials saw as a potential partner in the war against Islamic terrorism. Since 90 percent of diplomacy takes place in the dark, there was nothing wrong with this. Yet the Democrat-Media Complex has managed to spin prudence into “collusion,” even though to date there is exactly zero evidence of any crime. And it’s worked politically, claiming Mike Flynn’s scalp and then turning the heat up on other administration figures, including, most recently, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Obama was exacting his revenge.

Make special note of this date: Jan. 3, 2017. That’s when former Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed off on former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s order allowing the National Security Agency to more widely share raw signals intelligence with the other 16 acknowledged spook houses that make up the country’s intelligence community.

One of the byproducts of that decision — ostensibly to improve data analysis by widening its pool of analysts — was to remove the NSA’s filtering of innocent Americans caught up in its web of global data collection and leave it up to others (principally the CIA) as to whether to mask the names. The fact that Power — who, as UN ambassador had no legitimate intelligence function — is involved speaks volumes about how lax the new rules were.

It’s as if the circus had come to town, but instead of watching the elephants in the main ring, the audience is fixated on the acrobats, midgets and monkeys in the sideshows.

So let’s offer a counter-narrative, one that far more adequately explains what happened.

  • Members of the intelligence community, acting with the blessing of the president, were keeping tabs on the Trump campaign during the summer of 2016.
  • After Clinton’s stunning loss, Clapper and Lynch broke NSA’s compartmentalization and facilitated the likelihood of leaks from the intelligence community to the Democrat’s favored mouthpieces at The New York Times, Washington Post and NBC News.
  • What was formerly a sore-loser excuse became a club with which to assault incoming Trump administration officials like Flynn, to cast aspersions on the legitimacy of the election and with the ultimate goal of bringing down Trump himself.

You can learn all about the NSA expansion order here. This is the original sin from which all else has since flown.

If you’re interested in learning a little more about what the shadowy Central Security Service d0es (see the photo at the top of this post) in a  fictionalized context, please read my “Devlin” series of thrillers.

Follow me on Twitter @dkahanerules