Was Andrew Napolitano Correct when on “Fox & Friends” he claimed that British intelligence officials had helped former President Barack Obama spy on Donald Trump? We know one thing, he was definitely wrong to have said so without having run the idea past Fox News’s law department, the “Fox & Friends” show’s writers, any managers related to both the “Fox & Friends” show and those responsible for Judge Napolitano and perhaps anyone else he could have found even to include the people behind each of the three cameras shooting the show and perhaps the microphone grip just for good measure. Apparently he also needed to include our friends, the British, into the mix of the Trump accusation his phones in Trump Tower were tapped by the Obama Administration. Of course any allegation which includes the Russians with the election victory by Donald Trump is perfectly within bounds as with the Russian allegations the target is President Trump and with Judge Napolitano’s British accusation the target is President Obama. The difference is more than obvious, it is also very revealing. In American media, even the presumed conservative darling Fox News, any accusation against President Trump can spread guilt to any target and still be acceptable while accusations against President Obama may not apply guilt to other targets because expressing potential for guilt of President Obama is what was not permissible and thus also the British. But perhaps delving deeper might be an interesting exercise and be quite revealing.
We need to go back to the era of PRISM or before that Echelon as well as whatever the code name was back to the mid-1950’s which was finally revealed to the public in the mid-2000’s and was simply the latest data gathering system used by the National Security Agency (NSA) in coordination with the data collection abilities of the other Anglo-nations, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand with the United States in order to be capable of collecting, through coordination, the maximized capabilities of their systems. Their coordinating their systems meant that they could prevent duplicating each other’s efforts. In order to guarantee that each nation would still have access to whatever data they needed there was an agreement. The initial agreement was called the UKUSA Agreement, or the United Kingdom – United States of America Agreement. The actual agreement upon full ratification included all the Anglo-nations mentioned above. This agreement also permitted each nation to have total access to the information of the other nations. Now as it was easiest for each member nation to collect complete and total accumulation and compilation of their own population’s data, each nation was assigned with the collection of all electronic communication including phones of all varieties, internet, wireless and any other variety of communication which lent to interception. Obviously ground mail was still safe from this collection processes though e-mail was not and was also collected along with all else.
The fact that each nation in the group, the United States, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada all have laws which do not permit spying on their own citizens without first having a judge issue a warrant; this made it such a tedious and limiting requirement that each country desired some means of getting around this nasty limitation. Unsurprisingly, leaks revealed that they found just the means by which to collect what was their hearts, and snooping, desires without the needless waste of finding some judge to issue a warrant, even after the The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) and the accompanying FISA Courts where warrants could be granted in complete and total secrecy. But what if your target was somebody who you did not believe that even a FISA Court would issue a warrant? Well, one could always resort to the “old school” method for such situations. The five nations which finally entered the UKUSA Agreement agreed that when any one deemed they required intercepting, read bugging, anyone of their own citizens, something universally illegal under several laws, they would simply request a surveillance report covering the individuals phone numbers, their internet e-mail address and internet entrance and other electronic identifiers using all the direct alpha-numeric identifiers such that no names were ever exchanged. The nation receiving the request would then query all five nations’ data collection systems and compile their report simply listing all communications by the target accounts and thus the individual of interest. This report was then presented to the nation unable to actually collect such information themselves legally without making legal requests at some level. This was the method, as we pointed out, back in the day. Now, all those out there who believe that this method of data acquisition has fallen by the wayside and is no longer accessible, raise your hands. Let’s see, OK George, put your hand down, not funny. So, we all believe that if somebody from the political, law enforcement, foreign intelligence collection group or domestic intelligence group desired to gain such information, they could simply contact somebody they could trust from one of the other nations and have all the information they might desire and all without anybody being all the wiser.
So, what is the most important concept behind all of this spy vs. spy scenario? Well, it has to be the part that nobody would be any the wiser. Would it be possible for somebody in the government, say the President, or more likely a subordinate, a trusted subordinate with contacts across a border in say New Zealand or perhaps Canada to gather a compiled report which includes all the communications, or simply phone conversations, from a specific set of alphanumerics representing a person of interest even daily? The obvious answer is an obvious “Yes” and all without anybody in either government actually believing anything untoward had taken place. Are such requests made currently? Probably, though nowhere near in the numbers which were likely back twenty or so years ago. Still, this polite gentlemen’s agreement was put in place for just the reason that listening to then candidate Trump’s phone calls was made to produce. Did President Obama actually order or just request such a report from the British? The truth is it is unlikely but did he actually mention that he was wondering what Trump was up to, very likely. Might an overeager subordinate have then issued such a request hoping to have something interesting he or she could then report to the President? You tell me and if you have a name and proof, that would be appreciated as well. We promise not to use such information, well, not without giving you the credit if you desire such as we would not desire taking the heat alone. What is obvious is that the scenario is not beyond possibility.
What must be added to this entire scenario is that the new NSA data collection systems currently are capable of collecting every single last piece of electronic data from the United States plus probably Europe and a select dozen additional nations just for fun without taxing their systems which are tied into world-wide communications networks at their sources. Further, when gathering data using the numerical address the actual target remains unidentified in almost every situation as numerical identifiers can be used which disguise the actual target from those collecting the data. Thus, simply using such identifiers one can draw up all the information from any identifier for any period simply by entering a query into the huge data storage complex outside Reno, Nevada. This could even be done directly out of virtually any office of a Congressperson and nothing untoward would ever be suspected. From the White House, well, that might raise some suspicions, but from any agency which is assigned to gather information, nobody would ever suspect anything. Even those who are responsible for guarding that all data acquisition is done all legal and above boards have so much to review that it is very possible that many requests get through never being reviewed as review is probably reserved for such demands made by courts and other persons having a purpose to request such reviews. This means that even had Trump had his file accessed, nobody is likely to have been the wiser and it is entirely possible that the old UKUSA Agreement system of scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours could have been used to make tracing all the more difficult. Whatever the actual situation, Judge Napolitano was hired to give commentary, his best assessments and legal advice. His commentary if presented as fact might have been a bit overly pretentious, but was not entirely out of line. If he presented it as theory, then it was within the assigned duties of a commentator. Whatever the situation proves forth, should the Judge need a part-time, non-paying position, we can always use another commentator here at BTC whose views might be appreciated by our readers and who would add to our broad views of what is, what may be and what we wish would be.
Beyond the Cusp