The Trump administration is twisting itself into knots attempting to prove or justify the President’s tweets about Barack Obama and his former administration officials’ “wiretapping” Trump Tower between November and Inauguration Day, while some of those high ranking Obama officials are once again using their twitter accounts to fire back at Trump.
“When will Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd and @NBCNews start talking about the Obama SURVEILLANCE SCANDAL and stop with the Fake Trump/Russia story?” Trump fired off from Twitter early Saturday morning. Former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, fired back, as he is prone to do with little self awareness, “There is no Obama SURVEILLANCE SCANDAL even when you capitalize the words.”
As the facts about who surveilled whom during the transition get sorted out, it is useful to remember why Trump’s team and his supporters have reason to be suspicious, thanks to a long documented history of Obama using shady surveillance tactics on both political opponents and international allies. Rhodes himself knows this history but that doesn’t seem to matter as he once again attempts to make people believe he fell out of the sky and onto Twitter on January 21st, 2017.
To help jog Rhodes’ memory, below are all the documented instances of the Obama administration using and in some cases abusing surveillance.
1. Fox News reporter James Rosen
In 2013 the news broke that Eric Holder’s Justice Department had spied on James Rosen. Obama’s DOJ collected Rosen’s telephone records as well as tracked his movements to and from the State Department from where he reported. Rosen was named as a possible co-conspirator in a Justice Department affidavit. Rosen claims that his parents phone line was also swept up in the collection of his records and DOJ records seem to confirm that. Despite the targeting of Rosen, there were no brave calls to boycott the White House Correspondents Dinner.
2. Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA
CIA officers penetrated a network used to share information by Senate Intel committee members, including Sen. Diane Feinstein, the committee’s Democrat chair. The bombshell New York Times report went on to disclose:
The C.I.A. officials penetrated the computer network when they came to suspect that the committee’s staff had gained unauthorized access to an internal C.I.A. review of the detention program that the spy agency never intended to give to Congress. A C.I.A. lawyer then referred the agency’s suspicions to the Justice Department to determine whether the committee staff broke the law when it obtained that document. The inspector general report said that there was no “factual basis” for this referral, which the Justice Department has declined to investigate, because the lawyer had been provided inaccurate information. The report said that the three information technology officers “demonstrated a lack of candor about their activities” during interviews with the inspector general.
The Obama White House defended CIA director John Brennan’s actions and response. Imagine that.
3. Associated Press Phone Records
Much like James Rosen and his shady al Qaeda looking parents, Obama’s Justice Department secretly obtained months of phone records belonging to AP journalists while investigating a failed terror attack. And much like the Rosen spying, this was personally approved by Attorney General Holder.
Mass surveillance and expansion of such under the Patriot Act is one of the most historically prevalent things about the Obama administration. There’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to that alone. So why do the media and former administration officials act shocked and surprised when someone points the finger in their direction and asks if targeting an incoming President is possible?
There is a long, decorated history of questionable—even unconstitutional—surveillance from the Obama administration none of which proves Trump’s twitter ravings to be true. But it certainly is enough to raise suspicions among Trump’s supporters and even some of this critics that he could be perfectly correct.