Was Obama systematically spying on everyone who could threaten his legacy?
On Friday, Thomas Lifson wrote that last week's news about the Flynn unmaskings was just the beginning. He cited a post by retired naval officer J.E. Dyer, at Liberty Unyielding, for insights about what acting director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell was carrying in a sizable satchel he delivered to the Department of Justice on May 7, 2020. Anyone could see that the satchel contained substantially more information than the five pages revealing the myriad Obama officials who unmasked General Flynn's name.
Dyer's article is worth reading in its entirety, but Lifson gives a quick, elegant summary:
The key message is that for years the Obama administration was mining the incomparable database of the National Security Agency (NSA), which captured virtually all electronic communications — emails, text messages, everything — launched into the ether. The potential for abuse is breathtaking. Everything that political enemies said to each other, except in private in-person conversations or in snail mail letters, could have been spied upon. And now it looks like staggering numbers of intercepts were monitored. Dyer makes that case.
What especially caught my eye was the exponential growth rate of queries that "desk jockeys" in the various federal agencies made to view information about United States Persons of Interest during Obama's second term, all without having to log the specific inquiry or the identity of the person unmasked. Here are the data, straight from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence:
Two thoughts flow from these extraordinary data. First, I am indebted to Mary Theroux, of the Independent Institute, who alerted me to the National Security Agency's collection and storage capacity. Its Utah Data Center, completed in May 2019 at a cost of $1.5 billion, is located at Camp Williams, near Bluffdale, Utah. The structure covers somewhere between 1 to 1.5 million square feet, with 100,000 square feet dedicated to the data center and the remainder for technical support and administration.
The Data Center's storage capacity is estimated to exceed exabytes, plural. If you're wondering, a single exabyte is equal to one quintillion bytes (or 10 to the 18th power of bytes). That's a lot of information.
Mary Theroux pointed out that there is no way that the U.S. can scan this information in real time. That is, there's nothing in this massive database that will alert our intelligence agencies to a planned terrorist attack. Instead, this database exists as a repository to hunt down information after the fact. In that regard, it gives the government power that Lavrentiy Beria only dreamed about.
Lavrentiy Beria was the head of the secret police under Stalin. He was responsible for tens of thousands of deaths (including the Katyn massacre) and hundreds of thousands of imprisonments. Beria's job was to get rid of anyone whom the increasingly paranoid Stalin perceived as a threat.
In that capacity, Beria famously said, "Show me the man, and I'll find you the crime." In other words, because he was spying on everybody, should a person be unfortunate enough to catch Stalin's eye, Bernie could sift through those saved records and retrofit a crime. A government with exabytes of computer data has a lot of material for retrofitting crimes should it need it.
Second, the Obama administration's radical increase in inquiries during his second term demands explanation. It's to be hoped that, in the coming months, John Durham and Bill Barr provide that explanation. In the absence of that information, though, it's not unreasonable to guess that Barack Obama was getting his ducks in a row to preserve his legacy.
Barack Obama was always thinking about the long game. After all, he announced right before his election that he would "fundamentally transform" America. A good insurance policy for ensuring that legacy was to track the opposition and remove — or prepare to remove — anyone who looked like a risk. Once Obama was in his second term, the administration was in a position to consolidate power for a permanent Democrat government class.
If this was, in fact, what Obama was doing, it's a dead certainty that Trump wasn't the only person Obama's administration spied upon. After all, while Trump incurred Obama's wrath for poking at him with the Birtherism, Trump didn't announce his candidacy until mid-2015, and, for quite a while, the political class assumed that he was a joke. Obama could not have been worried about Trump.
However, the numbers show that Obama's minions were searching more and more records when Obama could reasonably be worried about other candidates: Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee — any one of them might have a chance of becoming president. Moreover, although Hillary was the "anointed one," Obama knew from his 2008 primary campaign and from Hillary's stint as secretary of state that Hillary was a tin-eared candidate whom many people hated with a passion. She was going to need all the help he could give her if she was going to be Obama's third term.
In sum, my best guess is that we're going to discover that Obama had teams of faceless drones searching through that enormous NSA stockpile of data for information about every Republican whose head ever appeared above the parapet as a threat to a permanent Democrat presidency.