This means that the Obama Administration employed tools, originally created to capture information about possible terrorists – the same tools whose use was publicly frowned upon by the Democrats when they are used to uncover terrorists – to eavesdrop on America’s “closest” ally in the most important strategic corner of the world, Israel.
Most shockingly, the Obama administration also used these terror-hunting tools to scoop up information about members of Congress working to develop their own policy position — one at cross-purposes with the administration. It will be interesting to see what “compelling national security purpose” the administration comes up with for this eavesdropping.
The revved-up spying on Netanyahu yielded information about how much Israel knew about the details of the Iran deal. It also uncovered coordinated talking points with Jewish-American groups against the deal and lobbying discussions with U.S. lawmakers about the deal.
If true, the NSA was gathering, and handing over to the White House, information on the actions of private U.S. citizens and organizations composed of such citizens. This kind of domestic spying hasn’t been done since the days of Richard Nixon. And when Congress found out about that, there was a political firestorm, months of important hearings led by Senator Frank Church, and an avalanche of legislative reports and new laws to make sure it all never happened again.
This latest information was garnered by the current White House playing a twisted version of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” in which the White House took the information from the NSA, while never explicitly asking for it.
According to the Journal, “[t]he White House let the NSA decide what to share and what to withhold, officials said. “We didn’t say, ‘Do it,’ ” a senior U.S. official said. “We didn’t say, ‘Don’t do it,’ ” according to the Journal.
A third Dec. 29 Journal article, this one by Entous and Patrick O’Connor, revealed that the speech Netanyahu gave to Congress last spring sprang from the heads of Republican members of Congress, and was not something devised by Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, or Netanyahu himself, as had been rumored.
And the effect of all of this deeply troubling spy business on the Nuclear Iran Deal?
As former CIA analyst and House Committee staffer Fred Fleitz explained in an email to this JewishPress.com staffer, “This is very serious. The vote in September in Congress to disapprove the nuclear deal was narrow. The White House won this vote by doing better last summer convincing Democrats to support the deal. It now appears the White House won this battle, in part, by using NSA reporting on private discussions by congressmen and members of U.S. Jewish organizations.”
Fleitz asserted in a Dec. 30 article in National Review that the NSA violated federal law by passing on intercepts of private discussions of members of Congress to the White House and the White House was wrong to accept that information about this policy dispute between Congress and the president.
Going further, Fleitz wrote that by “accepting this intelligence, the White House used the NSA as an illegitimate means to undermine its legislative opponents. This represented a major abuse of presidential power, since it employed the enormous capabilities of an American intelligence service against the U.S. Congress. It also probably violates the U.S. Constitution’s separation-of-powers principles and the Fourth Amendment, since surveillance may have been conducted against U.S. citizens without a warrant.”
Yes, this is a very big deal.