Of Course Trump Was Surveilled — Isn't Everybody?
Maybe I missed something but I've been assuming for the last half-dozen years or so, probably a lot longer, that every word I spoke into a cellphone, every text and email I wrote, every letter I typed in my Internet-connected computers and, more recently, every utterance I made in front of the Amazon Alexa on my desk were being recorded somewhere. And if someone or some organization seriously wanted to find them, if they could wangle permission or even if not, they would be able to get all or most of it. My life, good and bad, is up there in the cloud somewhere, every last word and digit.
Isn't that true of all of us?
Then why wouldn't that be true of Donald Trump?
Was he somehow able to escape the sweeping purview of the NSA, CIA, FSB, MI5, MOSSAD, MSS (China), BND (Germany), DGSE (France), SISMI (Italy), VAJA (Iran), BUREAU 121 (North Korea), etc., etc, not to mention a world of non-state actors who took a programming course somewhere and, these days, the refrigerator or the dimmer switch in the guest room, the oh-so-modern Internet of Things.
Angela Merkel wasn't. Russian Ambassador Kislyak, a nuclear scientist, apparently wasn't. Nor were, as opéra bouffe, the executives of Sony Pictures whose emails were rifled by the North Koreans.
Let's be honest, we're all under surveillance all the time and must rely, from all evidence, not on the laws supposedly protecting us, but, like Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, on the "kindness of strangers" for our privacy. (Let's hope our peccadilloes are too minor to attract anyone's attention -- at least for now.)
In the end, it's not a question of were we surveilled, it's a question of who reveals the contents of that surveillance to whom, and when and why.
That is why, you will excuse me, but I look on the bipartisan conclusions of the congressional intelligence committees -- that Trump was not, in that hoary term, "wiretapped" -- with a jaundiced eye. In the narrowest sense, maybe not. In the larger sense, of course.
What concerns me -- what should concern all of us if we are interested in living a free, independent life -- is who leaked the various surveillances that did or did not take place. Those people MUST be punished. (We'll leave aside for the moment the extent these leaks were enabled by Obama through his last-minute decree that information could be shared among 17 intelligence agencies.) The leaks seem to come in two forms.
The first we could call the "Leak Direct" (or in Shakespearean terms the "Lie Direct"). A prime example is the intercepted phone call between Mike Flynn and Ambassador Kislyak that ultimately resulted in Flynn losing his position as national security adviser in record time. Flynn was a private American citizen at the time of the call and should, according to law, never have had his identity revealed. That didn't stop the leaker who, it seems, was also not afraid of the serious felony conviction that could come from his or her actions. So far that was a good bet.