Understanding the 'wiretapping' scandal

Everything we know about the "wiretapping" scandal is provided by the media and politicians, who have an agenda.

There are members of the media who believe they have exclusive rights to information.  CNN's Chris Cuomo informed his viewers regarding one issue, "Remember, it's illegal to possess these stolen documents.  It's different for the media.  So everything you learn about this, you're learning from us."  MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski complained that Donald Trump "could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think.  And that is our job."

Barack Obama had almost eight years to install his followers into positions of leadership in the bureaucracy.  These followers have done their best to weed out members of the bureaucracy who would not follow the Obama agenda.  These people are a fifth column.  They leak information to the press that they believe will damage the Trump administration and do their best to conceal evidence that might damage their cause.

On 4 March 2017, Donald Trump tweeted, "Terrible!  Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory.  Nothing Found.  This is McCarthyism!"

Obviously, Donald Trump was not "wire tapped."  Every member of the intelligence community can swear to this.  When Representative Adam Schiff asked FBI director James Comey whether President Trump's claims that his predecessor had wiretapped Trump Tower were true, Comey responded, "I have no information that supports those tweets."  Comey added,  "The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components, the department has no information that supports those tweets."  Even the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, has asserted that Trump Tower was not "wiretapped.  Wiretapping is defined as "an act or instance of tapping telephone or telegraph wires for evidence or other information."  Wiretapping is simply no longer done.

In an age when the meaning of "is" is in dispute, the word "wiretapped" needs to be clarified. 

The question remains: was Trump or members or his staff surveilled during the campaign?  On January 20, 2017, the New York Times ran an article claiming that Team Trump had Russian connections.  In support of their claim, the Times reporters said Trump's people were wiretapped.

NBC later described Trump's claim as "discredited."  Through repetition, this description has become the accepted truth.  The contradiction in the story that Trump was not surveilled, and the assertion that there are transcripts of his aide's contact with the Russians has been solved.  Information on Americans was inadvertently collected when our intelligence agencies were surveilling foreigners.  Former NSA and CIA director Mike Hayden has even suggested that the information was obtained from conversations between foreigners talking about Americans.

Aside from the legal question, it is commonly believed that this is something Americans don't do.  They do not spy on political opponents.  Or do they?

Representative Maxine Waters stated:

The president has put in place an organization with the kind of database that no one has ever seen before in life.  That's going to be very, very powerful.  That database will have information about everything on every individual on ways that it's never been done before and whoever runs for President on the Democratic ticket has to deal with that. They're going to go down with that database and the concerns of those people because they can't get around it. And [President Obama's] been very smart. It's very powerful, what he's leaving in place.

Obviously, the president took his database with him when he left office.  Hillary Clinton illegally obtained FBI files for political purposes.  The NSA has a database named MAINWAY that contains metadata for hundreds of billions of telephone calls made through the four largest telephone carriers in the United States.  Many people might look at this as unimportant.  Do they feel the same way about J. Edgar Hoover's surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King? 

The power of this information cannot be overestimated.  Even people who are very supportive of the president may be convinced to change their positions in order to keep certain information from going public.

John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy, Algora Publishing, 2013.