Gary Bauer / August 2, 2017

Clapper Controversy

A big story broke in the last 24 hours. This story it has far greater implications than anything else the left-wing pundits are talking about, but you won’t hear about it from the mainstream media. It goes straight to the question of whether Barack Obama weaponized America’s intelligence agencies against Congress and perhaps even the Supreme Court.

A big story broke in the last 24 hours. This story it has far greater implications than anything else the left-wing pundits are talking about, but you won’t hear about it from the mainstream media. It goes straight to the question of whether Barack Obama weaponized America’s intelligence agencies against Congress and perhaps even the Supreme Court.

The story revolves around the Obama administration’s monitoring of conversations by his political opponents combined with strategic “unmasking” of individuals and leaking of those conversations to damage his political opposition.

Just to refresh your memory, “unmasking” is Washington jargon that refers to the process of exposing an American citizen’s identity in intelligence reports. As you know, the government has the authority to monitor conversations of foreign citizens for national security reasons. But, in the process, it routinely picks up conversations of U.S. citizens.

Constitutional protections demand that the names of U.S. citizens incidentally intercepted not be disclosed except under the most extraordinary circumstances. That disclosure is referred to as “unmasking.”

Now to the bombshell development that big media are ignoring.

It has already been widely reported that the Obama administration relaxed rules governing the sharing of classified information during its final days in power. This rules change made it easier for members of the intelligence community to leak sensitive information to the media.

You may recall the Evelyn Farkas interview in which the former Obama official admitted that she and her colleagues were trying to get intelligence information regarding Donald Trump out to as many places as possible before he took office.

We are now learning that in March of 2013, James Clapper, Obama’s director of National Intelligence, dramatically changed the rules governing surveillance to make it easier to unmask members of Congress and their staff.

The implications are obvious, particularly as a web of facts begin to take shape — facts which strongly suggest that the Obama administration, which had already politicized the IRS, was in the process of weaponizing the national security apparatus of the United States against its political opponents.

One intelligence official with knowledge of Clapper’s rules change said, “We understood we were more than doubling the universe of those who could make special requests outside the [normal] process.”

Why would Obama want to make it easier to spy on Congress?

March of 2013 just happens to be the same month that the Obama administration began secret meetings with the Islamic Republic of Iran, meetings that ultimately led to Obama’s nuclear deal with the ayatollah.

Obama knew his nuclear deal with an avowed enemy of America — the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, an enemy with the blood of American soldiers and citizens on its hands, an enemy that has repeatedly promised to wipe Israel off the map — would be extremely controversial. It seems he wanted to stay one step ahead of his political opponents. And that is exactly what happened.

Think about that. Obama submitted the deal to the United Nations, while doing everything he could to prevent a vote in the U.S. Senate.

This deal has had only two “successes” that we know of: It successfully eliminated many of the strongest sanctions against Iran that had been painstakingly developed over many years by our allies and us. And it successfully provided billions of dollars to a rogue regime. The Islamic Republic won big.

In a world so concerned about foreign governments interfering in our politics, how does one meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and a Russian lawyer rise to the level of “treason” and impeachable offenses compared to Obama’s Iranian sellout?

“A Grave Threat”

Since 9/11, the greatest advocates for robust monitoring of communications in a world of Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc., have been strong national security conservatives. I proudly count myself among them.

We have argued with our libertarian brethren about this issue because they felt that the risk of abuse by an overpowering federal government was greater than the risk we face from radical Islam. With each new disclosure of what the Obama administration was up to, the libertarian argument becomes more compelling.

Power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The path the Obama administration was on is the path often traveled by authoritarian regimes. A good example is Venezuela, where a republic is being fundamentally transformed into a socialist dictatorship. All the power of the government is being brought to bear against the political opponents of the Maduro regime.

On Fox & Friends Tuesday morning, Judge Andrew Napolitano warned that this abuse of our intelligence community is “one of the gravest threats to democracy in the modern era.” Judge Napolitano also said that Justice Antonin Scalia once told him that he believed the private deliberations of the Supreme Court justices were also being monitored.

Scalia was a brilliant man. If he had reason to be suspicious, I am concerned. This news is likely to set off another round of speculation regarding Chief Justice John Roberts’ inexplicable Obamacare ruling.

We know the Obama administration unmasked members of Congress. We know it spied on journalists. We know it unmasked members of the Trump campaign. Months ago I asked, “Why should we believe that only Donald Trump was monitored?” Sens. Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham believe they have been monitored. Was Mitt Romney’s campaign monitored?

Were Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton aware of these tactics? What was the role of former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former Attorney General Eric Holder and other top Obama officials? Who in the intelligence community cooperated with this scheme and is still there?

Attorney General Sessions should appoint a second special counsel to conduct an open-ended investigation of the political abuse of our national security agencies. Such an appointment is desperately needed and would level the playing field that exists right now.

Tisha B'Av

Yesterday a record number of Jews went to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to observe Tisha B'Av. It is a day of mourning and repentance commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples, as well as “a list of catastrophes so severe it’s clearly a day set aside by God for suffering.”

Jews throughout history have understood the meaning of this day. One way to understand the evil times we are in is to consider that bureaucrats at the United Nations and Palestinian mobs in Jerusalem deny that there ever were temples there to be destroyed.

One mark of authoritarian regimes is that they not only try to destroy their enemies but they often attempt to erase any history of their enemies’ existence. That is why Jewish cemeteries or Christian holy sites are at risk in areas that fall to Islamists.

As always, I stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters on this day of mourning and repentance.

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