January - 2016

January 30, 2016 – Strzok-Page emails show FBI officials using unsecured devices for sensitive data

(Credit: Judicial Watch)

“Judicial Watch announced today that it has received 47 pages of records from the Department of Justice, including email exchanges between fired FBI official Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page revealing that FBI officials used unsecured devices in discussing how the U.S. could improve the sharing of sensitive data with the European Union top executive governing commission.

The documents also reveal that high-ranking FBI officials were not properly read-in to top secret programs.

(…) “The newly obtained emails came in response to a May 21 order by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton to the FBI to begin processing 13,000 pages of records exchanged exclusively between Strzok and Page between February 1, 2015, and December 2017. The FBI refuses to timely process the records and will not complete review and production of all the Strzok-Page materials until at least 2020.

James Baker (Credit: public domain)

In a January 30, 2016 email exchange sent entirely over unsecure devices, top former FBI officials including General Counsel Jim Baker, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Strzok, Page, unidentified individuals from the DOJ’s National Security Division and NSA General Counsel Glenn Gerstell, discuss a draft document with the subject line: “Revised IC Safe Harbor Letter (from [redacted] using [redacted] iPad).”

Baker notes in the exchange that he is attempting to work on the document using his smartphone: “So it is not possible to read the redlines on my smartphone. If you are still at the office, can you please save the redline version as a PDF and then resend? Thanks.”

Also, in the exchange, Strzok writes to Page:

IC Safe Harbor refers to a European Commission data-sharing arrangement with the United States that allowed for the transfer of personally identifiable information from the EU to the U.S. The arrangement was invalidated by the European Court of Justice after disclosures of NSA surveillance operations by Edward Snowden. The court ordered that a new, stronger version of the arrangement be reached by January 31, 2016.

Five hundred million Yahoo! accounts reportedly were hacked in 2014. And, “a different attack in 2013 compromised more than 1 billion accounts. The two attacks are the largest known security breaches of one company’s computer network.” According to IT experts, the iPad is also notoriously insecure from hacking.

In a February 5, 2016, email Strzok indicates to Page that at least two, and possibly more, top FBI officials had not been properly “read-in” to top secret, compartmented programs. Those included McCabe and Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Bill Preistap. It is indicated Page needs some read-ins as well.


(Read more: Judicial Watch, 9/13/2018)

2016 – Samantha Power sought to unmask Americans on almost daily basis, sources say

Samantha Power (Credit: Forbes)

“Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was ‘unmasking’ at such a rapid pace in the final months of the Obama administration that she averaged more than one request for every working day in 2016 – and even sought information in the days leading up to President Trump’s inauguration, multiple sources close to the matter told Fox News.

Two sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said the requests to identify Americans whose names surfaced in foreign intelligence reporting, known as unmasking, exceeded 260 last year. One source indicated this occurred in the final days of the Obama White House.

The details emerged ahead of an expected appearance by Power next month on Capitol Hill. She is one of several Obama administration officials facing congressional scrutiny for their role in seeking the identities of Trump associates in intelligence reports – but the interest in her actions is particularly high.

In a July 27 letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said the committee had learned “that one official, whose position had no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama Administration.”

The “official” is widely reported to be Power.

John Brennan (l) and Trey Gowdy (Credit: CSpan)

During a public congressional hearing earlier this year, Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina pressed former CIA director John Brennan on unmasking, without mentioning Power by name.

Gowdy: Do you recall any U.S. ambassadors asking that names be unmasked?

Brennan: I don’t know. Maybe it’s ringing a vague bell but I’m not — I could not answer with any confidence.

Gowdy continued, asking: On either January 19 or up till noon on January 20, did you make any unmasking requests?

Brennan: I do not believe I did.

Gowdy: So you did not make any requests on the last day that you were employed?

Brennan: No, I was not in the agency on the last day I was employed.

Brennan later corrected the record, confirming he was at CIA headquarters on January 20. “I went there to collect some final personal materials as well as to pay my last respects to a memorial wall. But I was there for a brief period of time and just to take care of some final — final things that were important to me,” Brennan said.” (Read more: Fox News, 9/20/2017)

January 8, 2016 – A McCabe email is at odds with Comey’s concerns ahead of publication of the dossier

Matthew Axelrod (l), Andrew McCabe (c) and Sally Yates (Credit: public domain)

“Comey wrote in a January 7, 2017 email to FBI leadership that he told Trump that he was providing the briefing about the dossier because “media like CNN had [the dossier] and were looking for a news hook.”

“I said it was inflammatory stuff that they would get killed for reporting straight up from the source reports,” Comey continued.

On January 8, 2017 then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe wrote to senior FBI leadership that “CNN is close to going forward with the sensitive story … The trigger for them [CNN] is they know the material was discussed in the brief and presented in an attachment.”

McCabe, who was Lisa Page’s boss, also emailed then-deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and then-principal deputy Attorney General Matthew Axelrod, saying, “Just an FYI, and as expected, it seems CNN is close to running a story about the sensitive reporting.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 9/14/2018)

2016 – 2017: Bruce Ohr’s texts and emails reveal Steele’s deep ties to DOJ, FBI

“A trove of emails and handwritten notes from Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr exposes the continuous contact and communication between the DOJ attorney and anti-Trump dossier author Christopher Steele, according to notes and documents obtained by SaraACarter.com. The emails and notes were written between 2016 and 2017.

The notes and emails also reveal that Ohr was in communication with Glenn Simpson, the founder of the embattled research firm Fusion GPS, which was paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and DNC to hire Steele.

In one of Ohr’s handwritten notes listed as “Law enforcement Sensitive” from May 10, 2017, he writes “Call with Chris,” referencing Steele. He notes that Steele is “very concerned about Comey’s firing, afraid they will be exposed.” This call occurred months after FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee and revealed for the first time that the FBI had an open counterintelligence investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign and alleged collusion with Russia.”

(…) “The documents from March 2017, reveal how concerned Steele is with Grassley’s committee and the letter from the senator’s office seeking answers from Steele on the dossier.

In June 2017, Steele tells Ohr,  “We are frustrated with how long this re-engagement with the Bureau and Mueller is taking.  Anything you can do to accelerate the process would be much appreciated.  There are some new, perishable, operational opportunities which we do not want to miss out on.”

In October 2017, Steele notes that he is concerned about the stories in the media about the bureau delivering information to Congress “about my work and relationship with them.  Very concerned about this.  People’s lives may be endangered.”

And in November 2017, Steele, who is trying to engage with Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel, writes to Ohr saying, “we were wondering if there was any response to the questions I raised last week.”

Ohr responds by saying, “I have passed on the questions (apparently to the special counsel) but haven’t gotten an answer yet.”

Steele then says,  “I am presuming you’ve heard nothing back from your SC (special counsel) colleagues on the issues you kindly put to them from me.  We have heard nothing from them either.  To say this is disappointing would be an understatement!  Certain people have been willing to risk everything to engage with them in an effort to help them reach the truth.  Also, we remain in the dark as to what work has been briefed to Congress about us, our assets and previous work.” (Read more: Sarah Carter, 8/16/2018)

2016 – 2017: President Obama’s team sought NSA intel on thousands of Americans during the 2016 election

(Credit: Esquire)

The Obama administration distributed thousands of intelligence reports with the  unredacted names of U.S. residents during the 2016 election.

During his final year in office, President Obama’s team significantly expanded efforts to search National Security Agency intercepts for information about Americans, distributing thousands of intelligence reports across government with the unredacted names of U.S. residents during the midst of a divisive 2016 presidential election.

The data, made available this week by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, provides the clearest evidence to date of how information accidentally collected by the NSA overseas about Americans was subsequently searched and disseminated after President Obama loosened privacy protections to make such sharing easier in 2011 in the name of national security. A court affirmed his order.

The revelations are particularly sensitive since the NSA is legally forbidden from directly spying on Americans and its authority to conduct warrantless searches on foreigners is up for renewal in Congress later this year. And it comes as lawmakers investigate President Trump’s own claims that his privacy was violated by his predecessor during the 2016 election.

(…) “The searches ultimately resulted in 3,134 NSA intelligence reports with unredacted U.S. names being distributed across government in 2016, and another 3,354 reports in 2015. About half the time, U.S. identities were unredacted in the original reports while the other half were unmasked after the fact by special request of Obama administration officials.

Among those whose names were unmasked in 2016 or early 2017 were campaign or transition associates of President Trump as well as members of Congress and their staffers, according to sources with direct knowledge.

The data kept by ODNI is missing some information from one of the largest consumers of NSA intelligence, the FBI, and officials acknowledge the numbers are likely much higher when the FBI’s activity is added.” (Read more: Circa, 5/3/2017)