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The surveillance state and Trump Tower

by Greg Krehbiel on 20 March 2017

I think the explanation of Trump’s wiretap claim is very simple. He was sick of the media running with an unsubstantiated story about collusion between his campaign and Russia, so he changed the story.

If they can make an unsubstantiated claim, so can he.

Some conservative outlets were making the case that Obama had ordered surveillance on Trump, so that was enough to give the accusation a little credence and to keep the story going for a while.

Trump didn’t have any substantial evidence of surveillance. He was opportunistic and he manipulated the news cycle.

His strategy worked. The news changed.

But now we have these so-called investigations into Russian collusion and unlawful surveillance. Various directors of this and that are going to sit in front of the camera and … lie to us. Congressmen and Senators are going to repeat those lies, and that’s going to be the story for the next week.

I know they’re going to lie because they’ve done it repeatedly before with no consequences. E.g., documents released by Snowden show that our Director of National Intelligence lied under oath about surveillance. He’s never been punished for that.

I believe the government is spying on everybody, and they can get info on anybody they want on the flimsiest of pretexts.

Why do I think this? Because power corrupts. If you give somebody power — without a significant and reliable restraint on that power — they will abuse it. Not might. Not could. Will. That is a fact of human nature.

Congress will lie about this too because they created this mess. In the paranoia after the 9/11 attacks, they gave the intelligence services too much power.

In this kind of an environment, even if there is evidence that Obama had Trump surveilled, and even if Congress knows about that evidence, they will listen to the lies from our intelligence services, and they will repeat those lies in front of the camera in doggedly insistent terms, calling anyone who doubts them a fool and a conspiracy theorist. And most of the media will play along because it fits their preferred story line.

We know for a fact that they lie to us about espionage. (It wouldn’t be very good espionage if they didn’t, would it?) So I am predisposed to disbelieve anything they say on the subject.

2017-03-20  »  Greg Krehbiel

Talkback x 19

  1. Dave Krehbiel Dave Krehbiel
    20 March 2017 @ 10:55 am

    The late George Carlin said, “I have certain rules I live by. my first rule: I don’t believe anything the government tells me, and I don’t take very seriously the media or the press.”

    I don’t agree with all of his opinions, but I do agree with this one.| Let’s not forget the basic business model of the media, “if you give us money we will say what you want.”

  2. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    20 March 2017 @ 12:29 pm

    I’m afraid it’s very easy to think the Russians might spy on people, or the Chinese, or some backwards hellhole country somewhere, but our government would never do that.

  3. William
    20 March 2017 @ 3:44 pm

    Your post seems to be intimating that no matter what part of the government, irrespective of political affiliation (Whitehouse, Congress, Intelligence, et. al.) all lie at various points in time. If so, I can agree and history has demonstrated this.

    That said, it leaves me with a question…why do many seem to believe “their” political party/alliance is more virtuous than others. They tend to be very keen on seeing the lies/deceptions of their opposition. Yet, when the same behavior is with “their” party/alliance they tend to rationalize the type of evidence they’d use to convict their opposition.

    That’s why I find some aspects of the on-going “left” vs “right” battle to be futile. I suspect some are interested in “truth” and what’s best for Americans. Yet, it feels more like a “let’s take down the opposition” (at all costs–even if we have to lie to do it) mentality. Both sides seem to use the same tactics but pretend as if its their opposition who are “guilty” and secretly the devil’s spawn. Of course, “their” motivation (the one pointing the finger) is towards what’s right! Yep, that’s YUGE crock of male bovine manure.

  4. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    20 March 2017 @ 3:54 pm

    It’s one thing to agree with the goals sought (or claimed to be sought) by a particular side. It’s another thing to agree with all their means.

    Also, you have to evaluate where the information is coming from. If Fox News accuses a liberal of malfeasance, you can understand why other liberals might be skeptical. If CNN accuses a conservative of malfeasance, you can understand why other conservatives might be skeptical.

    But aside from that (which is reasonable), it’s silly to think that your side is free of sins.

  5. smitemouth
    20 March 2017 @ 8:10 pm

    Unsubstantiated stories is his modus operandi…witness our Kenyan president…

    He learned from Roy Cohn is old attorney (and an attorney on the McCarthy hearings) that if someone attacks you, you swing back harder. It doesn’t matter if it is true. Trump has filed tons of lawsuits and he rarely has ever won one when he countersued. He just used it as a tool to make the opponent spend money and time on lawyers. If anyone knows how to abuse the system, it is Trump.

  6. Craig
    20 March 2017 @ 9:38 pm

    What continues to bother me is the blatant hypocrisy. The GOP has committed more than it’s fair share, but they are generally called out on it and held to account. The Democrats however, are never called out on theirs. The media just waves it away “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

  7. William
    21 March 2017 @ 12:39 am

    QUOTE: The Democrats however, are never called out on theirs.

    Generally speaking, I’d agree the mass media has more of a liberal leaning. Yet, your statement seems to overstate the case. The following are just a few examples of when Democrats were called out:

    –Donna Brazil passing along debate questions to the Clinton Campaign.
    –The DNC’s attempt to stack the deck against Bernie Sanders
    –Hillary’s email scrutiny (FBI Director Comey’s unusual commentary and actions near the close of the election)
    –Anthony Weiner resigned from Congress when the first of what would become multiple sexting scandals were made public.
    –Chaka Fattah was found guilty on all 23 charges he faced, which included racketeering, money laundering and fraud. He was sentenced to 10 years and resigned from Congress
    –Attorney General Eric Holder was held in Contempt of Congress after refusing to release all documents which the House of Representatives had demanded concerning the Fast and Furious gun walking operation.
    –Jesse L. Jackson Jr. was found guilty to one felony count of fraud for using $750,000 of campaign money to buy personal items

  8. Robin R.
    21 March 2017 @ 5:07 am

    What amazes me about the GOP is that they are constantly whining, even when they are in power.

  9. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    21 March 2017 @ 9:16 am

    Good list, William.

  10. Robin R.
    21 March 2017 @ 11:08 am

    The driving force behind most – not all – Republicans I know is their hatred of liberals. I just can’t shake off that impression. I don’t consider myself to be a liberal, but they will come at me hard if I express the slightest agreement with liberals on any single point.

  11. William
    21 March 2017 @ 2:46 pm

    @Greg, as for the list, we know that corruption is not limited to one political party. So, indeed the Dems have had their fair share. Yet, the Republicans have no room to point fingers. Relative to criminal activity, from Nixon to Obama years, it seems that the tally is:

    • Criminal Indictments—Republicans 120, Democrats 3
    • Criminal Convictions—Republicans 89, Democrats 1
    • Prison Sentences —Republicans 34, Democrats 1

    Reagan’s presidency was marked by multiple scandals, resulting in the investigation, indictment, or conviction of over 138 administration officials, the largest number for any U.S. president. Within Nixon’s administration, 69 government officials were charged with crimes…including his Chief of Staff and multiple members of his cabinet (this was after his original Vice President was convicted for an unrelated crime). More than a dozen members of the W. Bush administration pleaded guilty to federal crimes. Dozens more resigned under dishonorable circumstances, including his Attorney General, White House Counsel, and other senior members of the administration. Historically, Harding’s Teapot Dome bribery scandal resulted in the Attorney General and Interior Secretary going to prison.

    Relative to Congress, in recent times, a scandal involving Jack Abramoff led to the convictions of 16 Republicans, including Congressional staff, administration officials, lobbyists, and a congressman. Looking specifically at Speakers of the House, over the past 100 years, Democrats held the post for ~67 years and Republicans for ~33 years, so Dems had twice as much opportunity to get into trouble. Yet, the record shows that of the Republicans’ 33 years, they had 2 Speakers resign over an ethics scandal (not to mention a majority leader). Over twice as much time, Democrats had half as many resignations…2 in 33 years for the Republicans compared to 1 in 67 years for the Dems.

    Of course, this is not the full record of political corruption. Again, there is clearly mud on both sides of the fence. That said, maybe there is a reason why Dems haven’t been “called out” as frequently as Republicans. They have been caught with their pants down enough to rightfully stay in the headlines.

  12. Greg Krehbiel GregK
    21 March 2017 @ 2:51 pm

    Where did you get those statistics? They sound very fishy to me.

  13. William
    21 March 2017 @ 3:47 pm

    A few…
    List of federal political scandals in the United States – Wikipedia
    Watergate scandal – Wikipedia
    Spiro Agnew – Wikipedia
    Iran–Contra affair – Wikipedia
    Reagan administration scandals – Wikipedia
    List of federal political scandals in the United States – Wikipedia
    Teapot Dome scandal – Wikipedia
    Warren G. Harding – Wikipedia
    Catalina Vasquez Villalpando – Wikipedia
    Earl Butz – Wikipedia
    William J. Jefferson – Wikipedia
    Duke Cunningham – Wikipedia
    List of Speakers of the United States House of Representatives – Wikipedia
    Tom DeLay – Wikipedia
    Dennis Hastert – Wikipedia
    Jack Abramoff – Wikipedia
    Tom DeLay campaign finance trial – Wikipedia
    Cunningham scandal – Wikipedia
    Mark Foley scandal – Wikipedia
    Jerry Lewis – Lowery lobbying firm controversy – Wikipedia
    John Ruzicka,Technical Writer at University of California, Office of the President

  14. Dave Krehbiel Dave Krehbiel
    21 March 2017 @ 4:58 pm

    If I were a betting man, I would bet that wiretapping of Trump Tower by someone in or affiliated with the Obama administration actually did occur. We will probably know more a year from now that we know today.

  15. William
    21 March 2017 @ 5:34 pm

    @Dave, curious…if a senior Democratic official made an unsubstantiated allegation that wasn’t backed by any government entity or intelligence agency that Trump and his administration are now actively wiretapping Obama (due to concerns about a shadow government developing per a few media outlets)…would you bet that it is actually occurring? Why or why not?

  16. Dave Krehbiel Dave Krehbiel
    21 March 2017 @ 8:15 pm

    @William: I was right when I predicted that Donald Trump would win the election, and maybe the evidence will show I am right here also. We shall see.

  17. William
    21 March 2017 @ 9:35 pm

    @Dave, what “evidence”? To date all we have is an unsubstantiated allegation. But, to your point…time will tell.

    Until then…care to answer the question I posed?

  18. Dave Krehbiel Dave Krehbiel
    22 March 2017 @ 10:30 am

    @William: I think you’re trying to get me to look at things from your perspective. No thanks.

    Regarding wiretapping of Trump Tower, I’m looking at it from a technology and cultural perspective, not a political one. I have worked for and with a number of companies who produce and sell electronic surveillance systems to governments. I’ve heard some very interesting things about unclassified methods for wiretapping and surveillance. Electronic surveillance is trivially easy to do, and extremely difficult and expensive to guard against.

    I have worked for an encryption company which attempted to defend against surveillance. While working there, I’ve had some Brief but interesting conversations with people at NSA and other agencies.

    My advice is: assume that everything you post on A website, every email you send, and every telephone call you make is monitored in some form or fashion by the US government.

    Whether or not surveillance occurred is one thing. Whether or not it will be reported in the media is something else.

    Regarding your specific question, I would consider any comment from a democratic political leader as irrelevant and maybe uninformed. But I would hope that any fears of a “shadow government” are followed up thoroughly, professionally, and diligently.

  19. William
    22 March 2017 @ 2:33 pm

    @Dave, thanks! Appreciate your response.

    That said, you stated, “…maybe the evidence will show I am right here also”. I was merely asking you to clarify the “evidence”. No way I’d attempt to influence your perspective because candidly I don’t think that’s possible.

    I’d agree ANYTHING is possible and there are many more things under surveillance than Americans realize. Interesting enough, according to the media, there seems to have been some surveillance going on at Trump Tower…but not what Trump alleged. Yet, it once again involves something relative to Russians. Hmmm.

    Trump made a very specific allegation…with no “evidence” to date to substantiate it. I find that very interesting because if this were as he claimed, I suspect he would have produced the “evidence” by now to score major points and stroke his YUGE ego. That would be a MUCH bigger and enduring story than the current Russian alliance. He would actually be considered a hero for revealing the truth (instead of a being considered a habitual liar). I may be wrong, but I suspect he used this allegation as a diversion tactic. It’s worked to a degree but still hasn’t silenced the Russian inquiries. Seems the FBI is still conducting an investigation, per Comey’s testimony. I think this is a great thing. Hopefully, they can get to the bottom of this and kill the story once and for all. Hopefully Trump and administration will be cleared and he can finally say…”nah, nah, nah poo-poo…I told you” to all his detractors and we can all move on.

    Lastly, thanks for the reply to my question. I find it interesting that you’d find “any” comment from a Democratic leader as irrelevant and possibly uninformed. Would you feel the same about “any” comment from a Republican leader? If not, what would give a Republican leader more credibility…particularly as it pertains to unsubstantiated claims?