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How Wiretaps Actually Work (washingtonpost.com) 519

David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security from 2009 to 2011, has responded to the recent accusations made by president Donald Trump. On Saturday, Trump accused former president Obama of orchestrating a "Nixon/Watergate" plot to tap the phones at his Trump Tower headquarters in the run-up to last fall's election. He writes in an opinion piece for The Washington Post: First, the U.S. government needs probable cause, signatures from government officials and advance approval from a federal court before engaging in wiretapping in the United States. There are some narrow exceptions, for things such as short-term emergencies, which are then reviewed by a judge promptly after the fact. This is not something that the president simply orders. Under the law governing foreign intelligence wiretaps, the government has to show probable cause that a "facility" is being used or about to be used by a "foreign power" -- e.g., a foreign government or an international terrorist group -- or by an "agent of a foreign power." A facility is something like a telephone number or an email address. Second, there is no requirement that the facility being wiretapped be owned, leased or listed in the name of the person who is committing the offense or is the agent of a foreign power. [...] Third, government officials, including the president, don't normally speak publicly about wiretaps. Indeed, it is in some cases a federal crime to disclose a wiretap without authorization, including not only the information obtained from the wiretap, but also the mere existence of a wiretap with an intent to obstruct it. With respect to intelligence wiretaps, there is an additional issue: They are always classified, and disclosure of classified information is also generally a crime. The president enjoys authority over classified information, of course, but at a minimum it would be highly irregular to disclose an intelligence wiretap via Twitter.
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How Wiretaps Actually Work

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  • Newsflash (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:05PM (#54006725)

    Trump shoots off mouth about topic with no justification in fact. News at 11.

    #IStandWithSweden

    • Re:Newsflash (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:21PM (#54006841)

      Newsflash - the intelligence agencies of the United States have a documented history of breaking the law.

      Any claims based on the assertion that they behave lawfully is flawed and not to be considered credible.

    • Re:Newsflash (Score:5, Informative)

      by known_coward_69 ( 4151743 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:21PM (#54006847)

      every weekend he flies off to florida to golf and meet with business and foreign leaders right after he shoots off some idiotic tweet that the media eats up all weekend long to take away from what he is actually doing

      total justification

    • Re:Newsflash (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:28PM (#54006913) Homepage Journal

      Trump shoots off mouth about topic with no justification in fact. News at 11.

      Which is exactly the point. When he doesn't like the way the news is talking about he changes it by saying something outrageous.

      Donald Trump isn't crazy. And he isn't really careless -- not about the things that matter to him. He's manipulative. His supporters understand this, and don't mind when he is factually wrong because they understand he is a bullshit artist. They just think he's their bullshit artist.

      The difference between bullshit and a conventional lie is that the bullshitter doesn't lie to deceive, he lies to produce an effect. Bullshitting is often safer and more effective than lying because a lie disproven is neutralized, but disproving bullshit is a waste of time because nobody is meant to believe it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't care where you fall on the political spectrum, it needs to be admitted that there are some serious problems affecting Sweden right now.

      For example, just look at this list of recent grenade attacks in Sweden [wikipedia.org].

      Sweden's population is only about 10 million people yet they've been suffering from grenade attacks almost every other week for several years now.

      That's extraordinarily abnormal, especially for what was once one of the most advanced and peaceful nations on Earth.

      It has been particularly bad in Ma

    • Re:Newsflash (Score:5, Insightful)

      by schitso ( 2541028 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @01:45PM (#54007609)
      Hashtags on Slashdot? Truly these are dark days.
  • Highly irregular (Score:5, Informative)

    by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:07PM (#54006737) Homepage

    The president enjoys authority over classified information, of course, but at a minimum it would be highly irregular to disclose an intelligence wiretap via Twitter.

    A General Hayden explained on the Late Show the other night that the president can tweet whatever he damned well pleases - Since he's the ultimate classification authority, information just BECOMES unclassified BY being tweeted. Of course this is irregular - We've never had a president who used Twitter (or any social media) the way DJT does. This is just an irregular presidency all together.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      The president enjoys authority over classified information, of course, but at a minimum it would be highly irregular to disclose an intelligence wiretap via Twitter.

      A General Hayden explained on the Late Show the other night that the president can tweet whatever he damned well pleases

      No, he can't. When the President tweets his every thought, any tweet can literally cost taxpayer money or affect domestic or foreign policy. Trump tweets these claims about wiretapping, and now Congress has to do an investigation. If he tweets some about say, Turkey, that the Turkish government doesn't like, they could expel diplomats or sever diplomatic ties. If he tweets something about North Korea that pisses them off, they might fire off a missile or 2, or shell a South Korean island. Hell, his twe

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GWXerxes ( 2980493 )
        How does that mean he can't tweet "whatever he wants." The point was there's no higher power stopping from from speaking. If he wants to speak about classified information than he can, and literally nobody can stop him. People just don't seem to like the fact that a loudmouth president has a direct line to the public
        • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:43PM (#54007067)

          How does that mean he can't tweet "whatever he wants." The point was there's no higher power stopping from from speaking.

          The higher power is his duty to faithfully represent the United States and guide its government. He's not tweeting things like "I hate Taco Tuesday", thereby preventing all Tex-Mex restaurants in the US from offering cheap tacos on Tuesday. He has directly tweeted accusations that the prior administration broke federal law and did something so unethical that Congress is required to investigate and, if true (which so far there is zero evidence of it being true), would shake the very foundation of American government-especially considering the hostile and adversarial political climate currently in the US. He has used tweets to lay blame for the effects of ill-conceived and horribly executed Executive orders not on his orders but on companies who were in no way involved (ie. the travel ban). He tweeted about cancelling the new Air Force One contract and Boeing's stock dropped immediately (in fairness it did recover once people realized he wouldn't actually do it). Presidents have Press Secretaries, speechwriters, and communications staffers precisely because his words carry so much weight that they have to be carefully considered, otherwise you risk very serious fallout or collateral damage. He's not a reality TV host anymore, or someone who just licenses his name to everything from belts to buildings: he represents 320 million people and the largest military spender in the world by far. Being an unfiltered loudmouth is the last thing you want to be in that situation.

          • How does that mean he can't tweet "whatever he wants." The point was there's no higher power stopping from from speaking.

            The higher power is his duty to faithfully represent the United States and guide its government.

            Sure, but Trump only really cares about himself. This is probably true for most politicians, except they may also care about their party. The country and (most of) its people are way down on the list, just below corporations and rich people. I/we could probably list many examples on both sides of the aisle, but I'll simply refer to recent events since January 20th, like the newly released Republican formulated American Health Care Act.

            /cynical

            • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

              How does that mean he can't tweet "whatever he wants." The point was there's no higher power stopping from from speaking.

              The higher power is his duty to faithfully represent the United States and guide its government.

              Sure, but Trump only really cares about himself. This is probably true for most politicians, except they may also care about their party. The country and (most of) its people are way down on the list, just below corporations and rich people. I/we could probably list many examples on both sides of the aisle, but I'll simply refer to recent events since January 20th, like the newly released Republican formulated American Health Care Act.

              /cynical

              That's true, but most career politicians have had it ingrained in them to at least appear to adhere to a higher power and that they serve the people. Haven't you noticed how almost everyone (especially Republicans) magically find religion a couple years before they start running for a major office? Trump basically just said "Fuck it", and people are eating it up.

        • Re:Highly irregular (Score:4, Informative)

          by dfghjk ( 711126 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:51PM (#54007123)

          "If he wants to speak about classified information than he can, and literally nobody can stop him."

          That's true of everyone, not just the president. Doesn't mean there won't be consequences, that's how the law works.

          Of course, with the president there can be no prosecution while in office but he can be prosecuted after he leaves office. Furthermore, he can be removed from office through impeachment and disclosing "whatever he wants" could constitute an impeachable offense. You are simply wrong on this, the constitution has more authority than the president and he can't simply do what he wants.

          Presidents always have a direct line to public, twitter hasn't changed that and people don't dislike it. People don't like trump for other reasons.

          • Re:Highly irregular (Score:4, Informative)

            by ImprovOmega ( 744717 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @01:28PM (#54007455)
            The president has declassification authority. It is literally impossible for the president to be prosecuted for leaking classified information since he can decide to declassify anything he damn well pleases. Now Congress can be a check on this by impeaching and convicting him because what he declassified had horrible consequences, but he can declassify it and there's no law to prevent it. In fact the law very specifically allows him to declassify it as part of his duties as president.
        • Re:Highly irregular (Score:4, Interesting)

          by ripvlan ( 2609033 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @01:40PM (#54007559)

          While correct - there is a nuance to the "nobody can stop him." Congress can - via impeachment proceedings. If he starts disclosing "real" Classified information to the point that Congress feels he's a danger to the country - then Congress has a tool to "stop" him. There are also smaller hammers such as Censure.

          The President is not the all powerful ruler that some think he is -- rather one branch of government balanced by the others.

          Wikipedia has this wonderful quote in the Impeachment article: "Benjamin Franklin noted that, historically, the removal of "obnoxious" chief executives had been accomplished by assassination. Franklin suggested that a proceduralized mechanism for removal—impeachment—would be preferable"

      • by gnick ( 1211984 )

        As President every word you say, every statement you make, has the weight of the US government and military behind it. You damn well can't just say whatever you want, because at best it can cost people money.

        Yes, he really can say whatever he damn well pleases. It's terrifying the amount of weight behind it. What he says may be ill-thought out and terrible; it may have globe-shattering implications; he could condemn countless lives with a flick of his thumb; but it's not illegal and there's nothing stopping him. Not if the president does it.

        • by dfghjk ( 711126 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:53PM (#54007145)

          It very well may be illegal. Presidents are not above the law although some, including trump, believe they are and have said so.

          "Not if the president does it."

          Trump has said this and it's very, very wrong. Nixon said it too. He was wrong as well and paid the price for it.

          • by gnick ( 1211984 )

            I hadn't heard Trump say it. I was referencing Nixon. Except that in this case it seems to largely apply. I may have gone too far saying, "whatever he damn well pleases," but it's true with regard to disclosing classified information. Somebody mentioned that he could be caught out for "self-promotion," but he's immune from most of the conflict-of-interest stuff. Somebody also mentioned calling him out for "calls to violence." I'd be curious to see how that one played out. The president is beholden to some o

        • ...which is why I think Twitter needs to seriously consider removing his account. I know it'll be controversial, I know people will accuse Twitter of "censorship" (like you can shut up the President!), but their medium seems to be a serious catalyst and outlet for damaging behavior on the part of the second most powerful man on the planet, and they're pretty much the only body that can stop it.

          • ...which is why I think Twitter needs to seriously consider removing his account. I know it'll be controversial, I know people will accuse Twitter of "censorship" (like you can shut up the President!), but their medium seems to be a serious catalyst and outlet for damaging behavior on the part of the second most powerful man on the planet, and they're pretty much the only body that can stop it.

            They would be fools to do so. If they have any competitors at all, Trump simply needs to pick one of them, and Twitter would lose a ton of users overnight. It wouldn't just be Trump supporters, it would be every reporter or blogger that wants to keep up with him, all the people that want to bitch at his comments, everyone who wants to follow any one that jumps to the new platform. It would pretty much doom Twitter.

      • Yes he can. That should be obvious by the simple fact that he does.

        Usually people get in trouble because they are revealing classified information, but that doesn't apply the President since they are at the top of the chain and can declassify at will anyway.

        Can is not the same as should, but the claim is explicitly about "can".

      • You damn well can't just say whatever you want, because at best it can cost people money. Worst case, it can cost people their lives.

        You say that as if you think Trump actually gives a shit about costing other people money or their lives. I think Trump loves the fact that he can move markets with nothing more than a fact free tweet from the toilet.

        • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @01:35PM (#54007521)

          You damn well can't just say whatever you want, because at best it can cost people money. Worst case, it can cost people their lives.

          You say that as if you think Trump actually gives a shit about costing other people money or their lives. I think Trump loves the fact that he can move markets with nothing more than a fact free tweet from the toilet.

          That's the point I am trying to make. Trump either doesn't know or doesn't care. And the problem is a President has to know and has to care.

    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:23PM (#54006857) Journal

      A General Hayden explained on the Late Show the other night that the president can tweet whatever he damned well pleases - Since he's the ultimate classification authority, information just BECOMES unclassified BY being tweeted.

      Even if something becomes unclassified because the president tweeted it doesn't mean it becomes TRUE because the president tweeted it.

      • by gnick ( 1211984 )

        Even if something becomes unclassified because the president tweeted it doesn't mean it becomes TRUE because the president tweeted it.

        No argument there. The nice thing about unclassifying the information is that the statement, "I can neither confirm nor deny," can be reduced to simply, "I can deny."

    • by creimer ( 824291 )
      As another politician pointed out, no one can be charged for talking about the Trump Tower wiretap (if it exists) since POTUS publicly disclosed the wiretap existence.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:08PM (#54006743)

    All this person is explaining is how it should normally function when done legally. It being done legally is not and has not been the problem.

    Now I don't believe Obama went and wiretapped Donald Trump. But to claim that this is "how wiretaps work" is nothing but disinformation using the Trump accusations as a veil to pretend that nothing illegal was done to any other americans. Like the ones actually being illegally wiretapped.

    Makes me think the entire story breitbart copied was planted for a reason...

    • Apparently people forget CALEA pretty much gave the government the ability to tap whatever and whenever they wanted with little to no tracking. I say this having implemented it and seeing just how open to abuse it is.

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @01:33PM (#54007501) Homepage Journal

      Sure, it's physically possible to wiretap someone illegally. Lots of men do it with their wives and girlfriends: install a rogue app on their phone, or listening devices in their apartments. The fact that they have physical access to the places is key.

      The difference is that the Executive Branch is a bureaucracy. The President doesn't have physical access to his target, he has to order the bureaucracy to do it, and that leaves a paper trail. Even he ordered everything to be done without writing anything down, the order will go down the chain of the command from political appointees down to civil servants who don't have the personal loyalty to the president to be trusted to do something illegal. I have to believe that official CIA covert ops aren't run that badly. The very fact that you need people rash enough to do those kinds of things means you can't trust them to be cautious, even if they're personally loyal.

      This is why Nixon turned to his political flunkies, who, to coin a phrase, "knew some guys". The results were predictably misbegotten. The "Plumbers" group broke into the office of whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist looking for dirt. The failed to locate Ellsberg's file because they themselves threw it on the floor without looking at it. Then there was their more successful wiretapping of the DNC at the Watergate Complex. Of the two devices they planted only one worked and that soon broke down, forcing them to attempt a second burglary. That second burglary was badly bungled and five "plumbers" were arrested, eventually leading to the downfall of the Nixon presidency.

      People are right to fear the surveillance might of the US government. But using it for spying on political opponents was too risky to be feasible even in Nixon's day.

      No, what we have to fear is routine data collection, bending or stretching the law and done under the color of legitimate national security purposes. Such datasets can be illegally accessed by a single rogue actor with relatively little risk, and that can be used for political spying.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Let's not forget about the Sharyl Attkisson story [sharylattkisson.com]. She is still in legal battles over the illegal invasion of her phones, computers, and life because she reported some uncomfortable facts about the Obama administration.

  • by reginaldo ( 1412879 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:09PM (#54006751)
    As long as Trump's statements build a platform to justify his future actions, whether true or not, he is happy. It doesn't matter if illegal immigrants are actually criminals or not, it only matters that saying it provides Trump with the justification of building a gigantic wall. It doesn't matter whether Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, it only matters that saying it provides Trump with the ability to deflect conversation about Russian ties. This is how an authoritarian government works. They care less about the truth, and more about justifying their actions with a painted visage of half-truths and lies.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      This is how an authoritarian government works. They care less about the truth, and more about justifying their actions with a painted visage of half-truths and lies

      You mean like when the Obama administration said that benghazi was caused by a video? Then flapped their arms over and over again saying it really was caused by a video. Or started assassinating americans because "reasons" when they were in foreign countries? How about when they said that fast and furious(gunrunning into mexico) really wasn't a problem and they were tracking them all. Or that the AG was held in contempt over it. How about when the obama administration decided to wiretap reporters and jo

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by drfeces ( 584228 )
        WAPO is a deceitful rag, the Fox News of the left. If I see a WAPO article, I take it with a pillar of salt. No objectiveness and the comment section looks like it is WAPO employees posting, "Ya, what he said!" and "But Russia!".
        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          WAPO is a deceitful rag, the Fox News of the left. If I see a WAPO article, I take it with a pillar of salt. No objectiveness and the comment section looks like it is WAPO employees posting, "Ya, what he said!" and "But Russia!".

          WAPO is far worse then that. Fox is at least open with their bias, which is one of the reasons that it has such a large following, on top of the fact that their commentators who have such biases are open about it. WAPO weasel words their way through everything, and even if they get caught lying they'll go out of their way to try and claim it's "fake but accurate"(Hi there Dan Rather). What's funny is you can see the exact time frame that it happened too, just after Bezos bought it out.

    • I don't really care one way or the other but I would like to point out that if an immigrant isn't a criminal then they also must not be an illegal immigrant... just saying if the only criminal act you did was to come here by illegal means then your are still a criminal.

    • I can't quite pin down what you are saying here.

      Every illegal immigrant is by definition a criminal. In addition, many illegal immigrants also break additional laws including robbery, burglary, arson, rape, and murder. These are both factual statements that cannot be refuted. The evidence is, in the first part, self evident and in the second part too well known and researched to cover up or deny. So you are accusing the president of using facts to bolster his case for a border wall.

      Our government has st

  • Bad mood (Score:3, Insightful)

    by U8MyData ( 1281010 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:10PM (#54006763)
    BS! All of it. The federal government does what it wants, when it wants and hides behind published procedure. I am so tired of all of this.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by MrVictor ( 872700 )
      This. All this procedure is bullshit theatre to make the masses believe there is justice. They do whatever they want including murder and starting illegal wars over bullshit. #Vault7 is proof they want omnipotent control over all communication so dossiers can be formed to blackmail and intimidate all persons who may try to rock the boat.
  • Turned and twisted (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cwebb1977 ( 650175 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:11PM (#54006767) Homepage
    So you're trying to tell us even if Obama illegally wiretapped Trump, Trump is not allowed to tell anyone. Uhm, yeah...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Trump just made it up like almost everything else he twitters. He's living in "Breitbart fantasy land" like most of his followers and unfortunately also suffers from pathological narcissism. If that's not obvious to you, well, what should I say and where to start...

      Let's just see if Trump would agree to a detailed 4-year long investigation into his spurious allegations by an independent team of specialists not affiliated with the current or prior government. No? Not going to happen? Well, who thought so.

      A

    • by dfghjk ( 711126 )

      If "anyone" means the general public then yes, that could very well be the case depending on circumstances. He could tell some people, for instance those who provided him the information and therefore already know.

      One thing trump seems to enjoy is slandering people. As president, those who suffer from that have no recourse until he leaves office. He can't be sued as president.

    • As I understand it, the president has broad powers to declassify information. President Trump can talk about basically anything (via Twitter or whatever) including if he, or somebody in his building, is having their communications monitored by police or intelligence legally.

      The byproduct of this is that he could be inadvertently publicizing any classified operations leaving them open to questioning by the legislative branch or government or the media. So, nobody is trying to tell you that even if Presiden

  • So, in other words (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:18PM (#54006829)

    So to summarize:

    Trump's offices were definitely not tapped unless
    a) There was some damning evidence he was doing something very bad
    or
    b) Multiple high-ranking people collaborated to break serious laws.

    And if his offices WERE tapped Trump has now broken federal law by revealing that his offices were tapped and we have not one but two Presidents with serious crimes marring their histories.

  • Not so. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bartles ( 1198017 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:21PM (#54006843)

    Chapter 36 of Title 50 of the US Code *War and National Defense", Subchapter 1, Section 1802

    (1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that—
    (A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at—
    (i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801(a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
    (ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801(a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;
    (B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party; and
    (C) the proposed minimization procedures with respect to such surveillance meet the definition of minimization procedures under section 1801(h) of this title; and
    if the Attorney General reports such minimization procedures and any changes thereto to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at least thirty days prior to their effective date, unless the Attorney General determines immediate action is required and notifies the committees immediately of such minimization procedures and the reason for their becoming effective immediately.

    • Please don't let Trump read this or he will be breaking into our cell phone conversations at 3 am shouting "WRONG!"
    • Re:Not so. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:32PM (#54006961) Homepage

      You bolded the first part, but the second part is important too:

      (A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at—
      (i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801(a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
      (ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801(a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;
      (B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party; and
      (C) the proposed minimization procedures with respect to such surveillance meet the definition of minimization procedures under section 1801(h) of this title; and
      if the Attorney General reports such minimization procedures and any changes thereto to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at least thirty days prior to their effective date, unless the Attorney General determines immediate action is required and notifies the committees immediately of such minimization procedures and the reason for their becoming effective immediately.

      This means that, even if Obama did have Trump wiretapped, it was likely due to connections to a foreign power (likely Russia). So "Obama wiretapped me" is another way of saying "I was communicating with Russia."

      Of course, all of these allegations are built literally from Conspiracy ramblings. Trump got his information from Breitbart who got their information from Mark Levin, a conspiracy theorist who thinks Obama's heading a silent coup. (Yes, he's so insidious that he turned over power to Trump while moving his coup forward.) We have a President who - with access to the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc - decides that a right-wing conspiracy theorist is his best source.

      And just to add to the head-shakingly-sad nature of this, some Republicans in Congress want to open investigations on Obama based solely off of Trump's tweets (with Trump's staff specifically saying he doesn't need to provide any evidence that this is true). Yet, with all of the Russia connections coming out, they are dragging their feet as to whether a Trump-Russia investigation is needed. Party before Country!

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        This means that, even if Obama did have Trump wiretapped, it was likely due to connections to a foreign power (likely Russia). So "Obama wiretapped me" is another way of saying "I was communicating with Russia."

        No, it means they could turn around and get a FISA warrant by saying "He is talking to someone in the UK" then skirt it and record all information anyway. Minimization(subsection c) means that "areas that aren't subject to the application" aren't supposed to be recorded(or if they are, to be deleted and not used), but if you think that intelligence agencies don't record this you're either naive or incredibly naive. That means they can factually lie in the face of the warrant application, record and gather

        • Using this method to surveil a US Person is illegal. It is called "reverse targeting".

          • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

            Using this method to surveil a US Person is illegal. It is called "reverse targeting".

            Of course it's illegal. Do you really think that stops someone from doing it? Nope. Stop being naive. Might want to dust off your favorite search engine or criminal law library search engine, because you're going to find a lot of cases where that's happened. You'd think after the shit that's been leaked by wikileaks over the last decade including the illegal taps against foreign leaders by the Obama administration people would understand that.

      • Communicating with Russia is not illegal. Nor was it illegal to communicate with Iran in 2008. You can see in this statue that if a US person is incidentally caught in a foreign wiretap, the communication must be "minimized". Not retained and disseminated widely throughout government and the press.

      • This means that, even if Obama did have Trump wiretapped, it was likely due to connections to a foreign power (likely Russia). So "Obama wiretapped me" is another way of saying "I was communicating with Russia."

        Of course it only allows surveillance w/o a warrant if the communications are all between foreign powers (A:i) or if under open/exclusive control of a foreign power (A:ii) and explicitly not involving US persons (B). If it doesn't meet those requirements, a warrant is required -- which means a court would have to agree there was probable cause. (I'm pretty sure Trump didn't think this through when he fired off those tweet as, if true, it would implicate himself.)

    • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

      So... how about a link to the actual document?

      I say this, mainly because it's not uncommon for conspiracy theorists to post contents of a bill that never actually passed, or a law that may have been valid decades ago, but is no longer in force.

    • Re:Not so. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @01:24PM (#54007419)

      Chapter 36 of Title 50 of the US Code *War and National Defense", Subchapter 1, Section 1802

      (1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that— (A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at— (i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801(a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or (ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801(a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; (B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party; and (C) the proposed minimization procedures with respect to such surveillance meet the definition of minimization procedures under section 1801(h) of this title; and if the Attorney General reports such minimization procedures and any changes thereto to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at least thirty days prior to their effective date, unless the Attorney General determines immediate action is required and notifies the committees immediately of such minimization procedures and the reason for their becoming effective immediately.

      I'm not sure what you're trying to show. The text you included gives the President the authority to request surveillance, w/o a court order, on foreign communications - either (A:i) entirely between foreign powers or (A:ii) if under open/exclusive control of a foreign power. It specifically prohibits surveillance of US persons in (B). In all situations, cases must be reviewed in (C). No where does it authorize surveillance on US persons w/o a warrant.

  • weasel words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:24PM (#54006861)

    This is not something that the president simply orders.

    Obama also didn't "order" the IRS to audit conservative organizations either. Crooks in authority often don't "order" things, they imply things, or simply create a climate and reward systems where things they want to happen happen. So, those are weasel words, attempting to obfuscate the obvious fact that the president has the power to make such things happen, tolerate them, or stop them.

    I think it's pretty clear that the Obama justice department submitted applications to FISA courts for surveillance of Trump associates and that these were turned down multiple times until it eventually approved a narrow version. These applications were based on the notion that people associated with Trump might have illegal financial ties to Russia, charges that keep getting repeated to this day by Democrats, so it seems outright bizarre that Democrats would now deny any attempt at investigating those ties.

    So, of course, the Obama DOJ conducted wiretapping and surveillance of Trump tower and attempted to involve Trump in it, and Obama either encouraged this or tolerated it or didn't know about it. Any of those possibilities make Obama responsible for it. That is, the wiretapping of the presidential candidate of an opposing party is such a politically important issue that Obama is personally responsible even if he was out golfing and only heard about it on TV afterwards.

    • Fake news (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @03:04PM (#54008251)
      but you're still right. Obama didn't order the IRS to audit conservative organizations. Period. Full Stop. No quotes around order. The IRS did it themselves because there were so many right wing political organizations filing as charities that they were low hanging fruit for agents looking to bump their enforcement numbers up. Where they being profiled? Yeah. But they were being profiled by the IRS, not Obama and because they were up to no good and everybody knew it. Sad thing is they cried a little and now they get away with it all day long.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:27PM (#54006887)

    Why has nobody else mentioned that the mere existence of this story points to one undeniable fact: Donald Trump, the president of the United States of America, does not know what the powers and limitations are for the office of president.

    It was already pretty probable based on his public promises and problems with executive orders. This is just one more confirmation that he thinks Barack Obama had the powers of a king and that now he has been appointed king and that the only limitation is how far he's willing to take things.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      Guess that explains the people that's been selecting are ardent constitutionalists and believe that law is "the word of law" not a "living breathing document" like Obama and most democrats do right? The breadth and scope of power under Obama expanded to such a level that one of Trumps election promises was to limit the scope and overstep that the government has engaged in, and roll states rights back to the levels they were before Obama came to power.

  • First let me be the first to say that it never happened.
    That said, the fact what is legal and/or procedure doesn't mean jack shit nowadays. If the FBI can lie, if the NSA can lie, if any other person in government can lie and all this without any consequences, there is NO reason why I should be discussing what the procedure should be.

    That is just a nice mental exercise. Besides that, it is a waste of time.

  • You know, Trump, the AntiPresident reminds me of Norman Muller [wikipedia.org] from the Asimov short "Franchise". Takes place in 2008 (so Asimov was only off by 8 years!) and instead of just one person selected to vote for president, current affairs make it seem like Norman -became- president...

    In any case, Asimov was certainly prescient insomuch as the "future" presidential state of affairs is mind boggling.

  • If it's anything like maple tree tapping, all you need is a spile of appropriate size for your wire.

  • Misleading Title (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:32PM (#54006949)

    Allow me to correct it:

    How Wiretaps Are Supposed To Work If Everyone Follows the Laws

    Many folks know this already, but the laws don't really apply to people operating at that level. They're supposed to. We're assured they do, but they don't.
    They do what they want, then make up some bullshit story to justify their actions later on if they get caught and end up with a wrist slap at worst. It's RARE to see people at that level going to jail or even being held accountable for their actions.

    I sincerely hope Wikileaks releases the most god-awful embarrassing revelations about what the Intelligence Community is doing under the guise of " National Security ". While most on /. already suspect the three letter agencies have their fingers in just about everything, it's nice to see it show up in the spotlight from time to time as a reminder that the World isn't nearly as nice a place as it seems to be.

    Now, turn off your hatred for all things Trump for a moment and entertain the possibility that there might be some truth behind Trump's wiretapping claims. The ability to spy on everyone means our future leadership can be hand-picked because any possible opposition can be singled out and utterly destroyed simply by putting their entire life under a microscope and " leaking " information that would be useful to destroy their reputation. If the Hillary camp is to be believed, releasing damaging information at the right time is quite effective isn't it ?

    If that doesn't work, mis-information is equally devastating in this day and age. We don't need proof, just make some shit up and, if it's juicy enough, the media jumps all over it like a Republican on a Tax Cut ( or to be fair, like a Democrat on a Tax Increase ). Retractions later on are irrelevant if the time window is narrow enough. ( Like an election ) The damage is already done.

    Taking that a step further: Would you like the Trump ( or any ) administration to have the ability to hand-pick their successor by utilizing tools / agencies designed to Spy on foreign powers ? Tools that are unavailable to any potential opposition which puts them at a tremendous disadvantage. Better yet, would you like the CIA, NSA, $TLA to pick your leadership FOR you ?

    I doubt it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Better yet, would you like the CIA, NSA, $TLA to pick your leadership FOR you ?

      No, but I'd like whistleblowers who are part of those agencies to continue to report on dubious activities by the state. It surprises me how many people are suddenly upset when it's Trump that's having problems when anonymous agents leak evidence of wrongdoing to the press, but were totally happy when, say, Snowden did it.

      Because to be a 100% clear, that's what we're talking about. And lest you say its different because you

  • Gimme a break buddy. We know from NSA whistleblowers that the federal government is sweeping up every single piece of digital or voice communication that we generate. Warrants? Probable cause? Judicial oversight? LMAO Even if they bother to get a FISA warrant, it's issued by a secret court that basically rubber stamps any request that the federales put in front of them. Or the feds just directly issue a "National Security Letter" with no court approval to get the information they want without the targ

  • We all already know that EVERYTHING is monitored and recorded so the whole idea that it would be some big process to "wiretap him" is ridiculous. All that would be needed would be to look at what they had already recorded.

    (Doesn't mean that he did but it does mean it would be impossible to tell...)
  • Don't Believe It (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Arguments that the White House couldn't order tapping is deception. Justice Requests A tap then the FISA court reviews. If there is sufficient justification, it orders the tap, so technically, all FISA taps originate with court, not the administration. The WH denial Is spin and deception. Obviously WH can consult with justice about whether and how to submit the FISA request.

    Further, Fisa is not a criminal tool, it is a national security tool, so standards for granting the tap are much lower than for a cr

  • by DeathToBill ( 601486 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @12:39PM (#54007025) Journal

    Isn't it fun, watching all the people who were out in the streets over the NSA's bulk domestic surveillance, suddenly reassuring us that there's all sorts of oversight over wiretaps?

    Isn't it fun, watching all the people who cheered Snowden on, suddenly up in arms about "irregular" declassification of information by the president?

    • Pretty sure David Kriss was not out in the streets protesting the NSA's bulk domestic surveillance.

      I cheered on Snowden, and I cheer on the anonymous CIA agents revealing problems with the current administration. I have no objection to Trump revealing he was wiretapped, especially as that's pretty much an admission there were legitimate reasons to believe his campaign was linked to enemies of this nation.

      My advice: actually listen to what individuals are arguing before assuming that because of their po

  • But I suspect that if the surveillance was conducted against Trump, it was neither legal nor justified from a legal stance.

  • The problem here is we don't have all the facts and we will NEVER know if or when we do have all the facts.

    There is a practice called Plausible deniability, which basically means that for some activities there is no direct order from the authority to do it, it's just understood (rightly or wrongly) it should be done. This is what tripped Nixon up, because those stupid tapes showed that he was attempting to maintain the ability to deny he had anything to do with Watergate. Even if we had that 18 min and 2

  • by tacokill ( 531275 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @01:07PM (#54007245)
    There is less than zero chance that the President (Obama) didn't know about or sign off on this surveillance. The idea that a sitting President investigating his opponent would be done by lower level people without his knowledge is preposterous. Of course his administration (and he) knew. The question is: was the surveillance legitimate? Or was it done for political purposes?

    Unless Trump really is an agent of the FSB and Russians, it's looking more and more like it's the 2nd option. And that should scare everyone no matter what party you are for. This looks like Lois Lerner pt 2 but since it's all classified behind the bureaucracy, there is no Lois to blame. Not yet, anyway.....

    The only way this works out well for the previous administration is if Donald and his lackeys really are agents or really were in collusion with the Russians to throw the election. Thus far, no evidence has been presented and even James Clapper says there is nothing there. So why is this Russian thing still in the news? Politics. Which begs the question: was this investigation/wiretapping done for political reasons? If so, Obama and his admin have some explaining to do.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by fredrated ( 639554 )

      What surveillance? No surveillance has been established.

      • What surveillance? No surveillance has been established.

        This, right here and now. Trump was just echoing a claim printed by Breitbart which was quoting a right-wing radio host.

        THERE IS NO EVIDENCE. This is all a distraction to keep people's minds away from the real issues, like how the current administration is basically dismantling decades of regulations and oversights on industry, etc.

    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      this surveillance

      What are you talking about?

  • It is great to finally have a President that exposes crap going on in the government rather than does what his masters tell him.

  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @01:12PM (#54007287) Homepage

    From what I've read in the news, the wiretapping wasn't aimed at Trump but at a Russian server operating out of Trump Tower. But, yeah, let's blame Obama for that one too.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/cover_story/2016/10/was_a_server_registered_to_the_trump_organization_communicating_with_russia.html [slate.com]

  • The shill quoted in TFA incorrectly assumes that TLA's have always, and always will, act within the letter and spirit of the law, and within the scope of their organizational charter.

    History has amply demonstrated this not to be the case. Any assertion to the contrary is either uninformed or astroturf.

  • The president (likely through a stand-in to distance himself and provide plausible deniability) could informally tell his head of agency/bureau/administration/etc. that he suspects Donald Trump, campaigning for office, and exposed to classified information, and with suspected ties to the Russian government, is a wild card who can't handle classified information, and is suspected of leaking it, This could leak the aforementioned agency to draft a request to the FISA court, whose goings on are not made publi
  • Why is it that wiretaps still exist? Why doesn't every phone negotiate the highest possible encryption level with the other phone it is connected to? Then whoever you call you get the highest encryption supported by their phone, and wiretap is impossible.

    You could have your phone warning beep if the other phone doesn't support secure connection.

    Why isn't this built into just about every phone?

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