By Colonel Mike Angley
In a recent article, Intelligence Oversight: An Insider’s Perspective, I outlined the general rules within the Intelligence Community (IC) with respect to the collection, retention, and dissemination of information about US citizens. This has been in the news lately as the Democrat Party’s Propaganda Arm (mainstream media) scamper to defend their former Dear Leader, Barack Obama, against allegations that he spied on Candidate Donald J. Trump in the run-up to the November 2016 election.
One area I didn’t delve into in any great detail was the ROE for intentional and incidental collection. These are important since I will postulate a theory about what happened. I’ll warn you, my theory takes us to a dark place.
Let’s dispense with incidental collection first since it’s fairly straightforward, but there is one foot stomp I’ll add in a moment. When the US IC targets a legitimate foreign entity (an intelligence agency, government, terror group, etc.), it occasionally stumbles upon information concerning US Persons. This happens more often in the signals intelligence world where electronic communication is intercepted.
The general rule is this: if incidentally-collected information about a US Person otherwise would have met the strict rules for intentional collection (discussed below), then it may be retained and disseminated. This happens INFREQUENTLY. If it fails to meet these stringent rules, then it’s to be destroyed immediately. The US IC has no more than 90 days to make this determination.
FOOT STOMP: There are only two possible legal outcomes for information collected incidentally about Team Trump: either it met valid intentional collection criteria and then was retained and disseminated or it failed to meet the criteria and was destroyed. Whenever the NSA or FBI Directors have been asked if there’s any evidence of collusion between the Trump Team and the Russians, the answer is always ‘No.’ Therefore, information about President Trump should have been destroyed long ago. But it wasn’t.
We seem to be operating under a third, unlawful outcome. Incidental information from US IC holdings about Team Trump continues to leak, meaning it’s still being retained and disseminated. That’s bad enough. But unmasking their identities worsens the violations and suggests to this former senior IC official that the motive is political and vindictive.
Let’s discuss intentional collection so you have an idea of what would trigger permissible retention and dissemination. The foundational Executive Order (EO 12333) (publicly available) is wordy, so allow me to summarize what’s authorized:
- Information constituting foreign intelligence or counterintelligence (indicating US Persons are in contact with foreign governments or intelligence agencies for nefarious purpose).
- Information obtained during a lawful investigation of the areas in #1, above, plus international narcotics or terrorism investigations.
- Information necessary to protect a US Person from international terrorism.
- Information necessary to protect sources and methods.
There are a handful of other, mainly administrative arenas for intentional collection, but they fall outside the scope of what’s been discussed about Team Trump. As noted in the foot stomp, the IC has consistently said there’s never been any indication that Candidate Trump, his campaign, or his family, have been involved in anything that would permit collection under areas 1 and 2, above.
So what gives? Consider two additional data points. Last year, just in time for the November election, Generalissimo Obama, relaxed the rules in EO 12333 with respect to retention and dissemination. He opened the door to allow information – presumably even unmasked data – to enjoy wider distribution within the IC.
Many have speculated this was done precisely to create the outcome we have today: holdover Great Leader Obama sycophants who still haunt the IC rank and file are maintaining political files about Donald Trump in order to damage his presidency. Why otherwise would Bundesführer Obama make such a strange, last minute change to rules in place since President Ronald Reagan signed the EO in 1981?
Secondly, a former senior Defense Department official, Evelyn Farkas, recently revealed the IC had indeed spied on Candidate Trump, claiming one of the reasons was to preserve intelligence sources and methods. She may have been citing, inartfully, criteria #4 above. What’s most important is that she admitted spying occurred when all along we’ve been told it hadn’t.
Farkas’s specific wording suggested something more ominous; however, and that is the IC collection may have been INTENTIONAL vice incidental. Claiming any collection about Trump was merely incidental is another narrative the leftist media cling to tighter than Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book they were issued in journalism school. Incidental collection is one thing (and as discussed, it should have been destroyed long ago), but an intentional collection operation is a serious undertaking absent any valid justification.
Keep in mind something else that’s been overlooked. Shortly after President Trump first tweeted he had been targeted by the Most Benevolent Obama Star Chamber, there was initial reporting suggesting the Justice Department first tried to obtain a wiretap warrant against Trump Tower in a criminal court. It was turned down.
The DoJ then went to the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA) Court in Washington, DC. The initial application was rejected (very telling since the FISA Court approves 99% of the requests it receives ), but a subsequent pleading with a narrower scope resulted in a warrant.
Here’s my postulated theory of what happened. In early summer 2016, two things occurred. Der Führer Obama had internal polling suggesting that not only would Donald Trump win the GOP nomination, but a severely damaged Hillary Clinton would win his party’s nod (by hook or crook, as WikiLeaks disclosed).
There was NO way he’d accept a Trump victory because that would mean undoing his legacy. He needed to boost her chances of winning in a general election, and since she was beyond rehabilitation (there was no way to make her even remotely likable), his only option was to make Trump look worse.
His DoJ sought to obtain politically-damaging information about him first by attempting a criminal probe and a wiretap warrant. When that failed, they concocted a foreign intelligence meme, specifically Russian election tampering. They had to tie Trump to this before they went judge shopping at the FISA court.
Still finding NO damaging information about Trump, El Comandante Obama relaxed the rules for IC information sharing in order to spread reports far and wide. Leaving in place enough loyalists meant that if Trump won, they’d continue to damage him politically by creating distractions with the slow leak of improperly obtained and retained IC reports.
What I’ve described is an intentional collection operation targeting specific US Persons. To further mask their intentions, the Russia angle played well. It provided a foreign foil, a ruse of sorts, giving an ‘espionage’ pretext to collect information on Russian individuals. Of course, the IC snooped on the ‘right’ Russians (those known to be in contact with Team Trump, even for innocuous reasons), in order to mask the real collection target. If you want to know what Trump is saying to a Russian official on the phone, listen in but pretend it’s all about the Russian and then claim the collection on Trump was incidental.
If this occurred, then a host of IC rules and procedures were broken as well as US laws with respect to Team Trump’s civil liberties. It’s nothing short of treason, tyranny, and fascism. What amazes me is how a leftist administration, like Il Duce Obama’s, which shunned the likes of Richard Nixon, would engage in worse conduct for political goals.
At the heart of it all is ego. Chairman Obama’s legacy was (is) on the line. Forget his empty rhetoric when he suggested in the last few months that he’ll speak up if President Trump threatens American values (BTW, what’s more UN-American, more fascist, than a government cynically spying on its own citizens?).
It’s about Supreme Leader Obama’s self-esteem first and foremost. It’s also about the preservation of a globalist, elitist, establishment world order. The fact that even many establishment Republicans have jumped on board the various go-nowhere Congressional investigations into Trump ties to Russia is evidence of the latter.
President Trump needs to drain the swamp, and in a hurry. He needs to find, declassify and release publicly the IC reports about him that were generated through this unlawful operation. The American public must know the full scope of the tyrannical activities of its last president so as to learn a lesson about electing future Marxists like El Jefe Obama. AG Sessions must prosecute everyone involved.
I spent 26 years with a sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution while conducting meaningful intelligence operations around the world. What happened over the past eight years sickens me.
Colonel Michael (“Mike”) Angley is retired from the United States Air Force, a published thriller author, and a conservative writer who fashions himself as Attila the Hun with a laptop. Mike wrote for Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government and Big Peace blogs before the Breitbart consolidation, receiving superb feedback and kudos for typically weaving in pop culture references with his far right perspectives. He enjoys writing about military affairs, national security issues, and politics and is an avid Second Amendment advocate. When he’s not writing, he’s busy annoying liberals with FaceBook posts and Twitter tweets that point out the obvious flaws and fallacies of the left.
During his 26-year USAF career, the Colonel was a Special Agent with the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). The OSI is a sister agency to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and has an identical mission that includes felony-level criminal, fraud, and narcotics investigations as well as counterintelligence and counterterrorism operations. His USAF experiences spanned multiple regions around the globe with five command assignments and duties at foreign, regional, theater and national levels.
He is a seasoned counterintelligence and counterespionage officer from the Cold War era, and if you ask him he’ll tell you the spy-vs-spy days were indeed the heady, glory era of espionage. During the latter half of his career he focused on counterterrorism missions in the Middle East and the Far East and operationalized many of today’s concepts for this unique arena while working the sand dunes of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and a few other “choice” locations. When Colonel Angley retired in 2007, he was a Senior Supervisory Special Agent and was in command of all worldwide OSI matters at Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, CO.
Mike Angley is also a published, award-winning author of three thriller novels in the “Child Finder” trilogy. His debut novel, “Child Finder,” received a glowing review from the Library Journal which placed it on its Summer Reading list in 2009. “Child Finder” and its companion sequel novels all won various awards from the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) and the Public Safety Writers Association. In 2012, Mike was named MWSA’s “Author of the Year,” largely for work on his third novel, “Child Finder: Revelation.”
As an avid user of social media, Mike can be found and friended on Facebook (mike.angley) and followed on Twitter (@MikeAngley). His website is www.mikeangley.com. Following his USAF retirement, Mike and his family stayed in Colorado Springs, CO where they enjoy daily, majestic views of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains.