In casting its wide surveillance dragnet on team Trump, the Obama administration gambled that if it spied on enough “people long enough … something was bound to turn up,” an analyst said.
“Desperate Obama cronies had figured out that they could bypass many of the limitations on the conventional investigations of their political opponents by ‘laundering’ them through national security,” Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, wrote for FrontPage Mag on Sept. 20.
“If any of Trump’s people were talking to non-Americans, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) could be used to spy on them. And then the redacted names of the Americans could be unmasked by Susan Rice, Samantha Power and other Obama allies. It was technically a legal Watergate.”
The Obama “espionage operation” kept a close eye on Donald Trump’s political progress.
“The first FISA request targeting Trump happened the month after he received the GOP nomination,” Greenfield wrote. “The second one came through in October: the traditional month of political surprises meant to upend an election.”
The surveillance “ramped up after Trump’s win when the results could no longer be used to engineer a Hillary victory, but would instead have to be used to cripple and bring down President Trump. Headed out the door, Rice was still unmasking the names of Trump’s people while Obama was making it easier to pass around raw eavesdropped data to other agencies.”
Related: Report reveals Samantha Power as a near-daily ‘unmasker’ in final weeks of Obama era, Sept. 21, 2017
Obama “had switched from spying on a political opponent to win an election, to spying on his successor to undo the results of the election,” Greenfield wrote. “Abuse of power by a sitting government had become subversion of the government by an outgoing administration. Domestic spying on opponents had become a coup.”
Greenfield continued: “Obama Inc. compartmentalized its espionage operation in individual acts of surveillance and unmasking, and general policies implemented to aid both, that may have been individually legal, in the purely technical sense, in order to commit the major crime of eavesdropping on the political opposition.
“When the individual acts of surveillance are described as legal, that’s irrelevant. It’s the collective pattern of surveillance of the political opposition that exposes the criminal motive for them.
“If Obama spied on two of Trump’s campaign leaders, that’s not a coincidence. It’s a pattern. A criminal motive can be spotted by a consistent pattern of actions disguised by different pretexts. A dirty cop may lose two pieces of evidence from the same defendant while giving two different excuses. A shady accountant may explain two otherwise identical losses in two different ways. Both excuses are technically plausible. But it’s the pattern that makes the crime.”
Related: Susan Rice admits unmasking Trump aides Flynn, Bannon, Kushner, Sept. 20, 2017
Paul Manafort was spied on “under the Russia pretext. Steve Bannon may have been spied on over the UAE. That’s two different countries, two different people and two different pretexts. But one single target. President Trump.
“When we learn the whole truth (if we ever do), we will likely discover that Obama Inc. assembled a motley collection of different technically legal pretexts to spy on Trump’s team.
Each individual pretext might be technically defensible. But together they add up to the crime of the century.
“Obama’s gamble was that the illegal surveillance would justify itself. If you spy on a bunch of people long enough, especially people in politics and business, some sort of illegality, actual or technical, is bound to turn up. That’s the same gamble anyone engaged in illegal surveillance makes.”