Barack Obama used classified intelligence leaks for political gain
- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2017
They wanted him dead.
For years, a clandestine U.S. intelligence team had tracked a man they knew was high in the leadership of al Qaeda — an operative some believed had a hand in plotting the gruesome 2009 suicide attack in Afghanistan that killed seven CIA officers.
Their pursuit was personal, and by early 2014, according to a source directly involved in the operation, the agency had the target under tight drone surveillance. “We literally had a bead on this guy’s head and just needed authorization from Washington to pull the trigger,” said the source.
Then something unexpected happened. While agents waited for the green light, the al Qaeda operative’s name, as well as information about the CIA’s classified surveillance and plan to kill him in Pakistan, suddenly appeared in the U.S. press.
Abdullah al-Shami, it turned out, was an American citizen, and President Obama and his national security advisers were torn over whether the benefits of killing him would outweigh the political and civil liberties backlash that was sure to follow.
In interviews with several current and former officials, the al-Shami case was cited as an example of what critics say was the Obama White House’s troublesome tendency to mishandle some of the nation’s most delicate intelligence — especially regarding the Middle East — by leaking classified information in an attempt to sway public opinion on sensitive matters.
By the end of Mr. Obama’s second term, according to sources who spoke anonymously with The Washington Times, the practices of leaking, ignoring and twisting intelligence for political gain were ingrained in how the administration conducted national security policy.
Those criticisms have resurfaced in the debate over whether overall intelligence fumbling by the Obama White House in its final months may have amplified the damage wrought by suspected Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election last year.
On repeated occasions during the Obama era, high-level sources and some lawmakers lamented to The Washington Times, the president’s inner circle ignored classified briefings and twisted intelligence to fit political goals. Long before Donald Trump appeared on the White House campaign scene, many pointed to an incident during the 2012 election cycle as the most dramatic evidence of how that approach affected the handling of national security threats.
‘Understating the threat’
On the campaign trail in 2012, Mr. Obama declared that al Qaeda was “on the run,” despite a flow of intelligence showing that the terrorist group was metastasizing — a circumstance that led to the rise of the Islamic State.
Many Americans believed the president was justifiably touting a major success of his first term with the U.S. Special Forces killing of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in 2011. But the gulf between Mr. Obama’s campaign pronouncements and classified briefings provided to Congress touched off a heated debate in intelligence circles over whether the president was twisting the facts for political gain.
“Candidate Obama was understating the threat,” then-House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers told The Times in an interview after the 2012 election. “To say the core [was] decimated and therefore we [had] al Qaeda on the run was not consistent with the overall intelligence assessment at the time.”
Reflecting back this month, Mr. Rogers suggested that Mr. Obama — like many presidents before him — had a propensity for pushing certain politically advantageous narratives even if they contradicted classified intelligence.
Indeed, controversy has long swirled around politicized intelligence and leaks. The George W. Bush administration was accused of “stovepiping” intelligence it needed for its case to invade Iraq in 2003 while ignoring bits that may have undercut the rationale for war.
That case blossomed into a major scandal known as the “Plame affair.” White Housestaffer Scooter Libby was convicted of lying to investigators about the leak of the name of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose husband had challenged the administration’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. President Bush later commuted Mr. Libby’s sentence.
With regard to the Obama White House, Mr. Rogers told The Times, the circumstances were different but no less disturbing. “Over the course of their time in office, the Obama administration’s world got smaller and smaller,” said the Michigan Republican, who retired from Congress in 2015. “They listened to fewer and fewer different opinions. When you do that, that is how you miss things.”
‘Heart was never in it’
Chaos and instability in the Middle East factored into one Obama-era intelligence leak that officials now say badly undermined national security.
The CIA’s covert “Train and Equip” program was crafted to aid forces seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad after the 2011 Arab Spring protests exploded into a civil war in Syria.
Train and Equip began with a flow of “nonlethal aid” to certain Syrian rebel groups, but as its budget ballooned to some $1 billion, the program morphed into an unwieldy and ineffective effort to assist an unconventional military campaign.
One former senior intelligence official said the program was badly undermined because the White House was constantly leaking details of efforts to build a Free Syrian Army with cash, weapons and intelligence.
“Obama had drawn a red line on Syria over chemical weapons, but then he didn’t do [expletive],” the former official told The Times. “The White House was facing a lot of political pressure to show they had policy for Syria, so they leaked the CIA’s covert action plan. They leaked it for purely political reasons, so they could say, ‘Look, look, we have a Syria strategy.’”
Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst now with the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington, said other factors also undermined any chance for the program to succeed. Mr. Obama and his top aides were openly wary of being dragged deeper into the Syrian fight while the administration was trying to execute a strategic “pivot to Asia” — away from the heavy U.S. foreign policy focus on the Middle East.
“Obama’s heart was never in it, and the administration wanted nothing to do with it,” Mr. Pollack told The Times. “He mostly did it to avoid domestic political blowback. We could have done so much more, but the way it was run, it killed itself.”
Mr. Pollack, who once worked in the Clinton White House, said the program’s recruitment vetting was ridiculous. “The [Obama] administration more or less insisted, ‘We will only accept applicants … who had never met a jihadist.’ The vetting standards were absurd and excluded almost everyone who had any contact with the opposition in Syria,” Mr. Pollack said.
“It was like they thought we were going to wage a civil war against the Assad government with members of the social pages of The New York Times,” he said. “The Harvard crew team was not going to show up.”
In the long run, the policy’s failure provided a clear window for Iran and Russia to expand their military presence and political influence into the power vacuum created by Syria’s war.
And then there was unmasking.
Controversy has swirled for the past year around the Obama administration’s use of a process that allowed high-level White House officials to learn the redacted identities of Americans swept up in classified surveillance against suspected foreign operatives during the months surrounding the presidential election.
For decades, national security officials at the highest level have used their security clearances to engage in the process known as “unmasking” while reading raw intercepts from around the world for better understanding of relationships that might impact America’s safety.
President Carter’s hawkish national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was known by America’s spies as one who “loved raw intelligence,” according to Bob Woodward’s book “Veil, The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987.”
“Unmasking itself is not nefarious or conspiratorial; it’s done all the time around the world by ambassadors and CIA station chiefs,” said one former CIA clandestine service officer who spoke with The Times. “It’s a standard procedure and involves a rigorous and bureaucratic process … to ensure whoever’s seeking the unmasking of names has a legitimate reason.”
But Republicans believe the process — and the safeguards against abuse — went terribly awry in the final months of the bitter campaign between Mr. Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton and through the transition period between Mr. Trump’s unexpected victory and inauguration.
Remarks by former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, as well as Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and former top White House strategist Steve Bannon, were all captured in surveillance of a Trump Tower meeting in December 2016. Susan E. Rice, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, has since acknowledged she asked that the identities of the Americans in the surveillance be revealed, citing what she said were legitimate concerns about the purpose of the group’s meeting with foreigners.
Although the unmasking itself may have been justified, the former CIA clandestine service officer said, what came next was dangerous.
“The issue is when any names that have been unmasked end up getting leaked to the press,” the former officer said. “And that is certainly what looks like happened vis-a-vis the Obama administration’s unmasking of Trump officials who were in meetings with Russians or Turks that were under American intelligence surveillance.”
Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the House intelligence committee, has gone further, suggesting that Obama administration officials strategically leaked the names to smear Mr. Trump and fuel a narrative that the Trump campaign was secretly working with foreign forces.
‘Come on, Mr. President’
Suspicion that the Obama White House intentionally leaked the unmasked names has been fueled by what intelligence sources say was the administration track record of other sensitive leaks — which stretched back to the Abdullah al-Shami case in Afghanistan.
CIA agents were shocked when their classified drone surveillance against al-Shami suddenly appeared in 2014 reports by The Associated Press and The New York Times, one intelligence source told The Washington Times. “There’s no question this guy got wind of the reports,” said the source. “The leak gave him a heads-up, and he suddenly disappeared. We lost our bead on him.”
Some at the CIA were outraged. Agents had been tracking the al Qaeda operative since early 2009, believing he had been directly involved in a bomb attack that injured several officials at U.S. Forward Operating Base Chapman in Afghanistan. Al-Shami’s fingerprints turned up on packing tape around a second bomb that didn’t explode.
Roughly a year later, there was another attack on Chapman, a key clandestine operations center in Afghanistan, in which seven CIA officers were killed. Some suspected al-Shami played a role in that attack as well.
Abdullah al-Shami — Arabic for “Abdullah the Syrian” — was the nom de guerre of a young man named Muhanad Mahmoud al-Farekh. Although raised in Dubai, al-Farekh was an American citizen because he was born in Texas.
By the time the CIA had him in its crosshairs in 2014, Mr. Obama was reeling from the furor sparked by his authorization of a drone strike in 2011 that killed another American citizen: al Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.
The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the al-Awlaki strike as a violation of U.S. law because al-Awlaki had “never been charged with any crime” in an American court.
Fearful of a similar reaction, the Obama administration decided the best course of action would be to leak information about the al-Shami case to stir up public awareness of the conundrum facing the president, the former intelligence officials said.
“Look,” said the source, “I actually appreciate that Obama didn’t like the idea of killing another American without due process. But was leaking this stuff really the right way to handle this?
“I mean, come on Mr. President, it’s your finger on the trigger. You’re the one who decides. All we do is aim the gun,” said the source, who said it was fortunate that al-Shami was later captured alive and secretly flown to the United States for trial.
The al Qaeda operative was convicted in September in U.S. federal court in New York on terrorism charges under his birth name, Muhanad Mahmoud al-Farekh.
The 31-year-old is slated to be sentenced next month.
This is amazing to watch unfold.ReplyDelete
The DEA, Drug Enforcement Agency, began its classified investigation (called Project Cassandra) into Hezbollah in 2008. It found that the Iranian proxy had laundered nearly a half a billion dollars and was moving cocaine to the United States. According to Politico the Obama administration not only threw obstructions in front of investigators but failed to prosecute major players in the enterprise.ReplyDelete
There is an active media blackout on this story. Other than Fox News, the usual suspects have ignored this. They are the arm and mouth piece for the Democrats.
You know that Obama is up to his big floppy ears in swamp shit.ReplyDelete
A deafening media silence on the Obama-Hezbollah scandalReplyDelete
Guess we'll have to have q retroactive impeachment.ReplyDelete
Then we can invalidate the 2016 election and make Biden the President.
Catch our collective breath and wait for the next Harvey Weinstein production, starring Al Franken and Matt Lauer.
Yeah, it'll be special, like the Olympics
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Catalonia’s separatists look set to regain power in the wealthy Spanish region after local elections on Thursday, deepening the nation’s political crisis in a sharp rebuke to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and European Union leaders who backed him.ReplyDelete
What media bias/collusion?
(Slow loading site.)Delete
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) has launched a parallel investigation into corruption by Obama Justice Department and FBI officials during the election against the Trump campaign, according to reports.
Nunes revealed the existence of the investigation to Fox News’s Catherine Herridge on December 8, although Politico claimed in a report on Wednesday that the investigation had been going on “secretly for weeks.”
The group of lawmakers who are part of the probe hope to release a final report of their findings, and may seek congressional votes to declassify evidence they have gathered.
The probe will investigate whether the Obama administration used a salacious and unverified Trump dossier paid for by the Clinton campaign to launch an investigation into the Trump campaign and get a spy warrant on a campaign member.
Republicans suspect the Obama Justice Department did just that. The probe is relying on documents and testimony provided by former acting attorney general Sally Yates, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, according to Politico.
Looks as if that driver in Australia was not an Islamist, just a poor sap with mental health and drug issues.ReplyDelete
The fellow was a nut case, true enough.
But not part of the global struggle of the followers of Christ against those that prefer the Law of Leviticus.
Sorry Christians, but your incessent attempt to paint every pedestrian fatality as an act of religious terror, fell short of reality.
Knee jerk reactions are made by jerks, no doubt of that.
“How many mentally ill Japanese, run down pedestrians?”Delete
Sweden: est 77% of rapes committed by 2% Muslim male population – Crime statisticsDelete
Gangs of Muslim migrants and refugees of Arab or North African descent are now shooting innocent people at random in the capital city of Copenhagen, using them for target practice. . . Danish government on Muslim migrant crime: “Worst situation since 2nd World War” by Nicolai Sennel 10news.one The rule of law is implodingDelete
Germany: Muslim migrant criminal suspects soared by more than 50% in 2016Delete
Germany: 75% of Algerian Migrants Have Been Sex Assault SuspectsDelete
The world’s most violent and worst cities are dominated by IslamDelete
I fully agree with Deuce in calling BS on Jack's comment above.Delete
I would have used the term HORSESHIT instead though.
The world’s most violent and worst cities are dominated by Islam
The Most Dangerous Cities in the World
The 50 Most Dangerous Cities
Homicide Rate (Per 100,000)
San Pedro Sula
Feira de Santana
35 more follow none of which are dominated by Islam. That might be because many violent cities previously run by Islam have now been turned into rubble by US bombs.
Germany: 75% of Algerian Migrants Have Been Sex Assault Suspects
I'd like to see where that stat came from.
It might be because you can get your hands chopped off for stealing a candy bar, or because rape is basically legal.Delete
Stuff like that....
All 6 Defendants Not Guilty In Key Felony Trial Of Trump Inauguration Protesters
McCarthy-style targeting of Jill Stein proves Democrats have truly lost the plotReplyDelete
The collusion circus is coming for Jill Stein. The US Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the 2016 Green Party presidential candidate to hand over documents amid accusations she was part of a Russian plot to elect Trump.
The news was met with delight by some pro-Hillary Clinton Democrats who have long expressed a visceral hatred of Stein simply because she had the audacity to run for president — an act which they say hurt their candidate’s chances of winning by unnecessarily splitting the vote on the left. In the greatest democracy in the world (supposedly) Stein committed the unforgivable sin of running for office and winning some votes. There can only be one explanation for this, the ‘Russiagaters’ say: Stein was a Russian plant, designed to pull votes away from Clinton to tip the election in Trump’s favor. In their increasingly warped minds, nothing else could possibly make sense.
Quirk is gonna be pissed when he hears this. Hopefully he will never agree vote for a Democrat if there isn't a third party pretty skirt who invests in the tobacco industry to vote for.....Delete
US Senate Intelligence Committee
I assume you mean the GOP majority lead US Senate Intelligence Committee.
ANOTHER DEMOCRAT LIE TAKES ONE BELOW THE WATER LINEReplyDelete
A federal judge in New York dismissed one of the lawsuits against President Trump’s business dealings, ruling Thursday that a watchdog group didn’t have standing to challenge whether the president’s continued connection to his hotel chain violates the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington had sued, saying that the president was benefiting from foreign government cash when employees of those governments held events or stayed at Trump hotels. The emoluments clause prevents the president from accepting a gift from another government without the consent of Congress.
But Judge George B. Daniels, sitting in the Southern District of New York, said the group wasn’t able to bring the action.
“Plaintiffs have failed to properly allege that defendant’s actions caused plaintiffs competitive injury and that such an injury is redressable by this court,” he wrote.
ANOTHER DEMOCRAT LIE TAKES ONE BELOW THE WATER LINE
I assume the 'lie' comment is simply your personal opinion as nothing in the rest of the comment indicates that.
'Standing' is a common practice used by government entities and businesses to avoid prosecution. It's one reasons they really hate class action suits.
We see it used all the time. The most blatant use of it recently was in fighting lawsuits posed by the government surveillance programs. The pattern was clear. Those who believe they have been targeted bring a lawsuit. The suit is rejected because of standing since the plaintiff can't actually prove he's been targeted. To assure he can't proof it, the government threatens to sue any third party that informs him that he is actually being targeted or provides proof of it. Catch 22. If it hadn't been for Snowden we would still be speculating about this shit and accused of conspiracy theories.
While it's possible the plaintiffs are mistaken in their suit or even that as you argue they are lying you have provided no evidence of that.
Robert Mueller And Lost IllusionsReplyDelete
The lantern jawed will never be trusted again....
See at: American Thinker
You mean by the 33% who form Trump's base?
I mean anyone who has at least one third of a brainDelete
Well, then, you just might qualify.
The Ultimate Revenge
Trump and Haley spent yesterday 'taking names' at the UN. Now, we know why. It was to help develop a guest list for a "Friendship Party".
The lucky guests will include those countries like Togo and Palau that voted with the US. And since that group was pretty small the guest list was expanded to those countries who while lacking the balls to actually express their views publically at least didn't vote against the US.
Rumor has it that special quests at the party will iclude Celine Dion and Weird Al Yankovic each doing a compilation of their greatest hits.
As for those 128 countries that voted against the US position on Jerusalem? 'No canapes for you, my friend.'
USA out of UNDelete
UN out of USA
Stopping The Moslem Brotherhood Plan To Infiltrate The USAReplyDelete
Quirk see: American Thinker
The Donald is doing some good work here.
For Inspector QuirkReplyDelete
Man Who Mowed Down Pedestrians In Australia Talked About "mistreatment of Muslims"
See: Hot Air
Where did you hear that, Pam Geller?
No, I heard it at Hot Air.Delete
When reality does not meet the narrative ...ReplyDelete
Declare the truth to be Bullshit
The driver was known to Victorian Police due to "historical assault matters" and a history of drug use. "We understand he is on a mental health plan and receiving treatment for a mental illness," Patton said.
The vehicle attack in Charlottesville was not motivated by Islam ...
Neither was the attack in Australia.
Unless the Law Enforcement officials there are corrupt, lying sacks of shit, like so many here claim the Federal Bureau of Investigation is teeming with.
No FBI agent can be believed, not a single word of testimony from the DEA can be believed.
No Congressional investigation, not the Attorney General of the United States.
Not a word released by any Federal Law Enforcement or Intelligence operative can be taken as valid.
No politician, not even the President of the United States, can be trusted to tell the truth.
If they do not toe the tribal line, their truths are considered to be bullshit.
Dangerous ground ... to be sure.
We have all read here, for the duration of the Obama Administration that ...Delete
The Labor Department statistics are LIES.
Their unemployment numbers, lies
The inflation rate, the CPI nothing but lies.
The State Department, the FBI, Justice Department, US Military ... dissemblers one and all.
The US Courts are, it is claimed, totally corrupt. Why there are even Hispanics on the bench!!
Now that Mr Trump is the President, shock of shock ...
The Labor Department speaks the Gospel Truth.
Times they are a changin'
The humiliating condemnation of the US this week at the UN General Assembly over its Jerusalem policy revealed both Washington's contempt for democracy and international law, and just how isolated America has become globally.
The overwhelming rejection of President Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital by 128 member nations at the UN is a signal event of how far US international standing has slumped.
Leader of the free world?
More like a miscreant whose overbearing megalomaniacal ego is no longer tolerable to virtually everyone else.
Even close US allies among the NATO military alliance voted against Washington's position. Britain, France, and Germany joined with other international powers, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Brazil, to repudiate Trump
Who needs Britain, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, India, and Brazil?
We have Togo on our side!
Mr Trump was right, this kind of WINING is really getting old.
We'll have to twist and shout, to get him to stop ...
... before we WIN our way back to 12% inflation.
BitCoin dropped 37 percent yesterday.ReplyDelete
Meanwhile QueCoin went up over 300 percent.Delete
Folks are moving out of Bit and investing in Que
That is what the international smart money is doing.
United Nations Preparing To Jump Into OblivionReplyDelete
See: American Thinker
It might be because you can get your hands chopped off for stealing a candy bar, or because rape is basically legal.
Bob, you are constantly praising Hindus; you say nothing about the continuing sectarian attacks by Hindus in India on Muslims and Christians. About the cow vigilantes there. about thousands killed because of their faith or the believe 'that they might have eaten meat'. They have armed 'cow vigilantes' there for god's sake. And Human Rights groups condemn the Modi government for talking a good game and then doing absolutely nothing about it. The police have proven complicit in the atrocities in some cases.
There is Myanmar where the Buddist majority is now conducting genocide on the Muslim Rohingyas. There is the Philippines were Christians are now doing the same against Muslims.
Deuce says the Japanese aren't running down people. What about Britain where the white guys ran down a bunch of Muslims outside of a place of worship. That's one we haven't heard about here.
If all you read is Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer all you are going to hear about are crimes committed by Muslims. That's all those fear-mongers do. It's how they make their living catering to dolts like you.
Don't get overwrought, Q.Delete
The Doctor told you that you were overweight and hypertension might do you in.
Please relax and have some chocolate milk.
Once again, we get the local yokel response.
When the faux farmer is confronted with the truth and has no legitimate response, rather than admit to the offense or even simply walk away with what's left of his dignity, he pulls some puerile comment out of his ass in order to prove himself once again the fool.
Your clown car is waiting outside, old timer. Depart.
Quirk see: American Thinker
Are you fucking nutz.
You must have put up a dozen of these over the last couple days. Save the keystrokes.
You are overwrought.ReplyDelete
I am concerned you may be at some sort of tipping point.ReplyDelete
Archaeology As A Blood Sport: How the discovery of an ancient mastodon ignited debate over human arrival in North America.ReplyDelete
13000/ years ago ?
130,000 years ago !Delete
Trump has "lost a step".
He's like an "11 year old".
He has a 30% chance of making it through his presidency without being booted out by impeachment or a revolt of his cabinet using the 25th Amendment.
By nature, personality, and intellect, these two deserve each other. The only way you can tell them apart is that Trump is the fat guy who wears the red tie down to his crotch and Bannon is the fat guy who looks like a homeless person that just walked in off the street and needs a bath.
Banning dreams of being Present himself some day, and it still stings being escorted out like that.Delete
welp, it's that time of year again - yet another holiday animation.ReplyDelete
They keep getting better each year, Ash.
Damn I can't access it....Delete
That's because you are a real loser, Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson.Delete
December 23, 2017
Remember, there's only a couple days left to try to get on the 'nice boys' list.
I want to be on the list.Delete
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas, Quirk !
We even have snow and I have a wonderful book to finish, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo !Delete
Right back at you, Bob.
I hope you and your family have a happy, safe Christmas.