Russia Probe

The Michael Flynn Unmasking Fight Is Another Chance for More Transparency About Secret Government Surveillance

People insisted the wiretapping of Carter Page was perfectly normal. That turned out to be wrong.


When Rep. Devin Nunes (R–Calif.) claimed that the FBI's warrant applications to wiretap former Trump aide Carter Page had serious problems, he faced a lot of mockery and criticism. Defenders of the investigation insisted that the FBI has so many regulations and so much oversight that every T must have been crossed and every box checked before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court would ever approve such warrants.

But an independent review by the Department of Justice's Office of Inspector General ultimately found that proper procedures had not been followed. There was a significant number of errors and omissions that should have been caught in the three warrant requests the bureau submitted to the FISA court. A later audit found that this was not an anomaly: The FBI regularly makes mistakes in its warrants targeting Americans for secret surveillance.

We've seen something similar play out this week. Richard Grenell, acting director of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declassified the list of officials in President Barack Obama's administration who sought to unmask Michael Flynn's identity as the feds kept tabs on his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. It turns out that a lot of Obama officials—nearly 40 of them—had requested Flynn's unmasking.

In some cases, the requests make sense. Some people have compained that James Comey, James Clapper, and John Brennan were on the list, but at the time they were, respectively, the head of the FBI, the director of national intelligence, and the head of the CIA. Of course they were going to request this information; it was part of their jobs. The fact that they have subsequently become critics of President Donald Trump doesn't change the level of authority they held under Obama.

But why did so many other people put in those requests? Why would Vice President Joe Biden (or a representative from his office) be on the list? Is this normal? Some analysts are insisting that what happened to Flynn is business as usual and that this is all legal and above-board. But as with Page, the average American doesn't have the context required to be sure that's true.

This "unmasking" is part of a very secretive process of deciding who gets to see the names of Americans on transcripts of intercepted foreign communications and raw intelligence. Thanks to an annual transparency report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, we know that this happens a lot. According to the latest transparency report, the National Security Agency (NSA) unmasked the names of 10,012 U.S. citizens or residents in 2019 in response to requests from another agency. In short, what happened to Flynn happens much more frequently than what happened to Page.

Many media outlets (Reason included) reported back in January 2017 that as Obama was leaving office, he issued an executive order expanding the NSA's ability to share raw intelligence with other federal agencies. Clearly the Trump administration is using these same orders. So what does this look like exactly? The audit of the Page investigation shows that the government wasn't following its own procedures when it sought surveillance warrants; what would an audit of the Flynn unmasking show? At the very least, it might explain why so many people sought his name, whether this was atypical, and whether it was part of a politically driven process.

Americans deserve more transparency on how this unmasking process works—and a better explanation of why all these people keep requesting unmasking and what happens to that information. This may well be a "routine" process, as so many officials insist, but that doesn't mean that we as citizens should accept the status quo. People insisted the Page warrants were part of a routine process, too, and it turned out that the routine itself was broken.

NEXT: An Absurd Premise and Stellar Acting Anchor TNT’s Snowpiercer

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.


    The pattern started with Lerner and the IRS targeting of Tea Party. Once downplayed by media, the administration knew they could get away with the behavior, without media scrutiny, so it continued, progressively ratcheting up. #complicitmedia

    1. Obummy knew all about that too, as the IRS head met with him over 50 times at the WH before all this crap went down!

    2. I am now making extra $19k or more every month from home by doing very simple and easy job online.
      You can join without any investment and start making extra cash online by follow instruction on this website………………………………Home Profit System

    3. Basically. The press showed Obama he never had to worry about “Scandal” because they’d ignore every single one he was involved in.

  2. We saw this week that when offered the opportunity to shitcan the surveillance system that nearly brought down Trump, the GOP and Trump himself were happy to keep it motoring along. It is the reason why, despite coming from a conservative background and being on the right most my life, I can no longer support the GOP (and haven’t since around 2004).

    This is like Lord of the Rings- these people fight all these battles and nearly get killed by the Ring of Power, and the finally have the chance to throw it in the fire…And every time, they say “Naw, it’ll be fine!” and slip that ring on.

    1. “It is the reason why”

      It being the GOP’s consistent support for the Patriot act despite the fact that it has been shown time and again to be a shit show.

      1. Yeah but only one of two parties will hold power. There’s a distinct difference between them In that republicans at least try to be the loyal opposition whereas democrats are simply disloyal traitorous preening frauds who advocate for leftist ideology despite all evidence to the contrary. Even if many in the gop are rinos I can at least deal with that vs the insanity of the prog left.

        1. >>one of two parties will hold power

          not the peasantry.

      2. It’s the same with the FISA act, which the GOP voted to reauthorize (and Trump signed) at the same time that they were out there saying that it had bee used to spy on the Trump campaign/. Even Nunes voted for it, which goes to show he’s not concerned about the government spying on ordinary citizens, just powerful and well-connected politicians.

    2. Did you even bother to look at the vote totals on both passed Bill’s before starting your rant?

    3. To put your rant in perspective…

      House Votes: 276-138 With Democratic support despite minimal reforms. More than Half of democrats voted for it including the House leadership.

      Senate Votes: 80-16 With the only amendment for reform being adopted being from Mike Lee (R)

      Rand Paul’s amendment was defeated 11-85

      But please, do explain how this is all the fault of one singular party. It makes total sense.

      1. In overt’s defense, I read his comment as more a “both sides” implication (which is accurate in this case), with the shittiness of Ds as assumed.
        Unfortunately, the shitty GOP is the only alternative to totalitarian leftism…

        1. Or was, until Trump came in to provide actual opposition

      2. Jesse- I didn’t say it was one group’s fault. I said that the Republicans experienced FIRST HAND the effect of being targeted and they didn’t take the opportunity they had to stop it.

        All the Senate had to do was…Nothing. The provisions had expired. No matter what the Dems did, the Republicans had the opportunity to stop it.

        I totally agree that both sides were awful here. My point was that only one of those sides knows RIGHT NOW what it is like to be a target of this bullshit, and yet they still voted for it.

        1. I have to agree, Overt. Team R and POTUS Trump can put an end to this overnight. Literally by a stroke of the pen, for POTUS Trump. By either signing a reform bill, or outright rescinding Obama’s EO. Their failure to do so is…so typical of DC politicians. It is not a good look for the President.

          1. If he was smart he’d hold a press conference and talk about how this secret court bullshit was used against him to try and overturn a legitimate election and he would therefore be vetoing this bill, and any others like it, with extreme prejudice.

            Then he’d lift it off the podium, throw it in a trash can and set it on fire.

            1. I recommend pissing on it first.

              1. Would probably result in a sexual harassment accusation. Might still be worth it.

  3. OT:

    “But regionalism is at the heart of the settlement of all college football arguments. Would the SEC, the dominant force in the sport the last 15 years, and Big 12, which also has the overwhelming support of its presidents to bring students back, really wait around for their brethren in virus-ravaged parts of the country?”

    I’ve been opposed to mandated lockdown policies from the get-go, but I’ve been pretty laid back about it and just gone with the flow. However, if I don’t get to experience college football this fall because of the political whims of coastal urban centers, I’m not going to be nearly so passive.

    I know that might be irrational and selfish, but I’m pretty confident I’m not alone in that sentiment. Things could get interesting.

    1. I think college football is the ideal opportunity to spread herd immunity among the young who aren’t really in any danger from it.

      1. Hell I’ll take it if they close off the stadiums to fans and televise the games. (Though I’d prefer to be able to make a trip up to Bill Snyder Family Stadium this fall.)

        Just don’t take my bread and circuses.

        1. Football is the country’s religion.
          They try to take it away, I’m rioting

        2. man i was going to get KSU@ISU tix this year and surprise my mom for Mothers’ day then the world ended right before we got to beat Baylor in the hoops tourney …

          1. ISU K-State is always wild. I went last year and froze my ass off in 50 mph winds… worth it though.

            Got a feeling Klieman’s gonna do big things with the ‘Cats.

            1. yeah if they get to play again lol. go Cats.

              1. EMAW

        3. K-Stank? Son, I am dissapoint.

          Rock Chalk.

          1. I’d offer some good-natured rivalry banter, but we’re talking college football here… I’m not sure what goes on over at David Booth Stadium actually counts as football.

    2. Nobody northeast of Happy Valley matters to college football, and even the PAC12’s annual “powerhouse” is only top 10 by virtue of playing other PAC12 teams.
      The SEC will tell everyone to fuck off, we’re playing. The ACC will find a way for at least Clemson to play. The Big12 has nothing else but college football, and I’d assume Ohio State will strong arm the Big10 into figuring something out.
      It’ll be interesting if the ACC puts up a fight. Could definitely see the SEC pouncing to try and pry away Clemson (and another, probably Miami) if that were to happen

      1. Another round of conference realignment could be a real consequence of all this. I hope, though, that we see a reversal in the trend of super-conferences of more than 12 members. I’d like to see a greater emphasis on traditional rivalries and geographic ties in smaller conferences with round robin league schedules.

        With the rise in streaming platforms and the possibility of playoff expansion with automatic-qualifier bids, the incentives for large conferences might be going away.

      2. “The ACC will find a way for at least Clemson to play.”

        Well, to be fair, nobody else in the conference really matters.

        1. If UVA and VaTech try to raise a fuss the poliitcs will get very interesting.

          Coonman will not like another uprising, although he is proving good at creating them.

          1. BC and Syracuse will probably be a problem, but they don’t have much pull.
            Va Tech will probably want to play, but if UVA pitches a fit there could be issues.
            And of course Wake Forest and Duke could be assholes

            1. SEC already has 3 of the top 6 programs in the country – Bama, UGA, LSU – Ohio State and Oklahoma being the other 2, and Clemson of course.
              The ACC, and maybe ncaa at large, can’t afford Clemson going SEC. Thatd be 4 of the top 6, and Auburn and Florida might be the next 2 or 2 of 3

  4. I guess I don’t get a big deal what the “unmasking” story is even about.

    Compared to the actual railroading of Flynn, as the culmination of a very Watergate-esque operation, this seems like such a flyspeck detail. But maybe there’s something about it I’m not understanding.

    1. “I guess I don’t get a big deal what the “unmasking” story is even about.”

      I tend to agree that it isn’t this big smoking gun like everyone says. It seems like a bunch of people saw an intelligence report that said “US Person 1 talked with the ambassador of Russia and this is what they talked about.”

      Ok, if you are someone in government who gets that report, it seems like knowing who US Person 1 is could be important. If they were making promises, it could be important to know if they were even in the position of following through. Were they part of the incoming administration, or the old administration?

      I guess I can see many legitimate reasons why that unmasking could be relevant to dealing with that issue. Though, as you said, this doesn’t take away from the fact that Flynn was horribly abused by the administration. I just don’t see what this does to aggravate the case.

      1. And again… do you even know what goes on in a normal transition period after an election? The incoming administration begins to set up contacts with various governments. This is normal. What is abnormal is the exiting presidency spying on this communication, declassifying it when they can, unmasking it, and attempting to charge incoming members of the new presidency with the Logan Act.

        But please, keep saying nothing to see here.

        1. If all was ‘business as usual’, then why did Flynn lie about his contacts with Russians? If it was done according to standard protocol, where were the translators and the State Dept pre- and de-briefs? Where was the contact report to the broader organization to communicate the substance of the call?
          There are absolutely ways that these things are done – solo cowboy crap followed by lies and denials is not that way.

          1. And that excuses the actions of the FBI?

          2. Because the media had been drumming the Russia bullshit for weeks?

          3. He didn’t lie about his contact. His “lie” was claiming he couldn’t remember if he brought up Obamas sanctions on russia in the conversation with kisleyak. And the FBI saying “you asked him to not retaliate over them. GOTCHA!”

            The call itself was proven to be perfectly legal. And as much is stated when you read through the transcripts of the impeachment hearing interviews conducted by schiff, which he then tried to hide. Literally all of clapper, Brennan, and comey said they had no evidence Flynn conspired with russia, under oath and knowing about that phone call.

            1. Of course he didn’t lie about it. He knew damn well that any such contact with the Russians was being surveilled. He even references that during questioning, when he responded with ‘you have the transcripts’ at one point when he didn’t remember the septic is he was being asked about.

              The whole Flynn prosecution was just more crooked Obama bullshit.

        2. Is it normal for staff to lie to the incoming VP? Sounds like a red flag that Flynn could have gone rogue. If he was following Trump’s orders then why was he fired? Doesn’t sound like a normal transition at all.

          1. That still doesn’t excuse the actions of the FBI, which started under the previous administration.

          2. Did he lie to the VP?
            We’ll never really know.
            Turns out, he didn’t lie to the FBI – his response to their question was “i don’t know” and they altered the interview report to change it to something that could be characterized as lie.
            Flynn was fired because there was a coordinated media-DNC-IC strategy to cast him as a traitor and the newly arrived Trump administration wasn’t structurally strong enough to deal with that yet.
            “Lying to the VP” was a convenient excuse/story to can him without fully submitting to the FBI’s frame up.
            Fkynn was apparently a huge threat to all the most corrupt people in the country. I’d be careful about dancing to their tune

            1. Ding ding. Winner

            2. They should rehire him. Then he can work on sending the former Obama administration to prison. Where they belong.

      2. Overt, I would respond this way. This unmasking is an individual part of a larger mosaic of political (corrupt?) behavior, where surveillance tools were used for corrupt political purposes because…well, they could. And did. And it is wrong.

        The bigger reason to me is because if they do this to people in government, what will they do to us?

        1. “They did this” to a private citizen playing cowboy before he was in government. Do not confuse the timeline, or the authorities at any given point in time.
          Remember also that “they” didn’t know who would be uncovered under the unmasking. 40+ people saying “WTF? What US citizen is making promises to this KGB stooge?” should be a hint that there was a strong case to unmask the US person.

          1. Even if you stretch it to be an argument for a couple to unmask him, it doesn’t explain 40 requests to do so, nor does it excuse the FBI’S actions. It also doesn’t change the fact that leaking his name is also illegal.
            KGB? And speaking to the Russian Ambassador would be considered part of his duties. Finally, it was not the decision of the Obama administration, other than possibly telling Trump, to do anything about it.

          2. This is false.


            Look at the dates. Unmasking requests for Flynn were sent BEFORE his December 29th phone call with kisleyak. Only 5 of the nearly 40 requests were made after the call. 4 of the requests also came AFTER trumps inauguration, including joe bidens.

            They were trying to unmask any contacts Flynn had well before the kisleyak call. The question now is why? And if Flynn was such a criminal why was nothing found in the communications he was unmasked in prior to dec 29th? Why is a perjury trap all they could come up with? And why did comey, McCabe, clapper, and Brendan all testify under oath they had no evidence Flynn was conspiring with Russia or anyone else during schiffs closed door impeachment hearings?

            1. None of the unmasking requests were after trump’s inaug. Biden’s was 1/12.

    2. When you legally(-ish) spy on foreigners, you also get their conversations with Americans you cannot legally spy on, so you ‘mask’ the identity of the American. Unmasking means revealing his identity, and so you have now illegally spied on a US citizen.

      1. My understanding is that unmasking is not illegal. My understanding is that you need to show that knowing the identity of the person unmasked is necessary for your group to use the intelligence. Like I said above, there are many legitimate reasons why knowing who was talking to the ambassador was required in order to deal with the information (it strains credibility that SOOO many people had legitimate reason, though).

        You cannot do dragnet spying on a specific citizen. And of course, leaking the identity of the unmasked person is also illegal. And finally, it is likely that the process for ensuring these requests aren’t abused is as useless as FISA court protections. But that doesn’t make this a smoking gun.

        1. Surveillance is not illegal. But, surveillance in connection with a phony “counter-intelligence” investigation for nakedly political purposes is an abuse of power and may very well be criminal as well.

          That’s the problem. Just because unmasking can occur for legal reasons is not a basis to assume that it was not quite problematic in the case of General Flynn.

          The issue isn’t that he was unmasked. The issue is **why** was he unmasked.

          1. I totally agree. My point is that there are plenty of legitimate reasons WHY he could have been unmasked.

            I want to stop here and explain that I am not trying to carry water for any of the asshole media who have done their best to sweep this under the rug. I am not trying to get into a flame war here. I just hate it when evidence doesn’t make sense to me.

            Anyway, I can see a lot of reasons why MANY people in the government would need to know who the Ambassador was talking to. That entire conversation about what is going to happen between Russia and the new administration WRT to sanctions is pointless if you don’t know who the American is. It could have been some secretary or intern. It could have been Bob Costas. Hell, it could have been Susan Rice for all you (i.e. the person reading the report) know.

            1. There are legitimate reasons. The problem is that when you are unmasking the national security advisor for the incoming President, your reasons better be really good. And the Obama Administration doesn’t seem to have any reason or explanation. They did it. But instead of coming out and explaining the compelling reason for it, they have nothing. And that would indicate that they didn’t have a good reason and were just using the IC to spy on the incoming administration.

              1. I’m with Overt on this. Not trying to start a flame war. How would they know that it was Flynn that they were trying to unmask before they unmasked him?

                Leading question: Do you suspect it was just a case where they were blanket unmasking any conversations with any “hostile nations” ambassadors to have basically any excuse to start making FISA warrants on any incoming admin officials?

                1. >>How would they know that it was Flynn that they were trying to unmask before they unmasked him?

                  practicing don’t ask a question you don’t know the answer to?

                2. It’s not a smoking gun, it’s another piece of the puzzle

                3. I think it was a case of they were looking to build the phony Russian scandal and either were tipped off that it was Flynn or strongly suspected it was someone tied to Flynn. Therefore they requested the unmasking, a number of people who had no reason to request the unmasking, did so and then they leaked it to the media to feed into the phony Russian scandal. They probably had so many request the unmasking because the leak is highly illegal and the more names involved, the harder it is to prove guilt. Remember just shortly before this Obama changed the rules so far more agencies could request unmasking, and a number of those given permission had no reason to be given this power.

                4. They knew it was Flynn because who else would have that conversation with the Ambassador?

                  And yes I imagine that is what was going on.

                  1. If my leading question is the reality, than we should expect a lot more revelations about unmasking requests happening with a highly suspect increase in frequency shortly after the election. IF that is shown through an investigation, I can’t imagine how anyone can hand wave it away. There would be no other explaination other than directly and knowingly using intelligence agencies to knee cap an incoming admin. If there isn’t unmasking being used more frequently other than just surrounding this one ambassador, are we just looking at a big nothing burger?

                    Honest question. I would love to watch some of these lifelong FBI and CIA creeps go down in flames along with any former admin officials (can we even get it to go back to the Bush years)? I just don’t want to get my hopes up. There’s already a massive uphill battle considering how many propaganda outlets they already have to spin this away.

                5. I guess this is where I fall on this. What’s the big deal with the unmasking itself? I don’t see it as a smoking gun, the smoking gun is the FBI setting up an entrapment interview and then proceeding from there.

              2. A reason so ‘good’ that, when recently asked about it Brennan said he could not remember what it was.

                That. Good.

              3. They weren’t spying on the incoming administration. They were spying on Syslyak and probably had been for a very long time.

            2. Look at the i’m asking dates. Then realize flynns call with kisleyak was December 29th. Nearly 85% of i’m asking requests regarding Flynn occurred BEFORE that call. Yet nothing was found in any of them. Conspicuously only 5 requests were made after his call. 4 of which happened after trumps inauguration, including joe bidens

          2. And knowingly lying to a court by falsely presenting information as factual that you know to not be factual (the “Steele Dossier”) in order to obtain the surveillance is DEFINITELY 100% illegal.

          3. Geraje Guzba : Surveillance is not illegal. But, surveillance in connection with a phony “counter-intelligence” investigation for nakedly political purposes is an abuse of power and may very well be criminal as well.

            Nope. It’s your “reasoning” that’s criminally absurd. Let’s go through this one more time:

            (1) During Flynn’s brief time in the private sector he left a slime trail long, broad, and deep. His most notorious action was two meetings with Turkish officials to discuss kidnapping a dissent given U.S. residency – then smuggling him out the country. The first meeting was in September of ’16, and included Turkey’s foreign minister and President Erdogan’s son-in-law. A second meeting was to discuss Flynn’s price, said to be 15 million.

            But it wasn’t just Turkey alone. Flynn was selling his butt to foreign governments around the world, even while heavily involved in the Trump campaign and transition. This included lobbying for a scheme to transfer nuclear technology to the Saudis, and (yes) it included the Russian government., who paid 45K to put Flynn in the chair at Putin’s right-hand during a ceremony for Russia Today.

            (2) With proper transparency, lobbying for foreign governments isn’t illegal, but:….. As a retired military officer, Flynn was required to get prior permission from the Defense Department before the Russian government payout. He didn’t. He was supposed to register as a foreign agent for his overseas lobbying. He didn’t. He was supposed to report foreign payments for his services. He didn’t. When Flynn wrote for publication – such as his op-ed in the Hill calling the Turkish dissent Gülen part of a “dangerous sleeper terror network” – he was supposed to disclose that he was paid by Turkey to write those words – he didn’t.

            (3) This ethical train-wreck was frantically filling out late disclosure forms right up to his appointment, and he was named to one of the most important national security positions in the White House. By then it was known he had pocketed Russian cash. By then it was known he failed to disclosed all his work for foreign governments.

            So what’s the first thing he does as National Security Advisor? Call up the Russian Ambassador, promise him better treatment to come, then lie about the call to White House officials, lie about the call to Vice President Pence, lie about the call to the FBI…..

            How in the world could that NOT be a counter-intelligence issue ?!?!

            1. So what’s the first thing he does as National Security Advisor? Call up the Russian Ambassador, promise him better treatment to come,

              He did that because it was the President’s policy. And everyone knew he made the call and it was entirely appropriate and legal.

              Fuck off.

              1. John : “And everyone knew he made the call and it was entirely appropriate and legal”

                Rather an Orwellian Kafkaesque Black-is-White way of describing a call that Flynn lied about. To everyone.

                But you surely won’t permit me to disrupt your little lie of a fantasy world, and it’s a given facts mean nothing to you. So who can penetrate the dense fug of your obliviousness? I know just the man!

                Donald John Trump : “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI”

                1. Yes, Trump said this in January 2017. But new evidence has come forward. So your quoting Trump from when the story first broke is completely meaningless.

                  1. Question : What “new evidence” that contradicts Flynn’s lying?

                    Answer : None.

                    1. Several. First he wasn’t informed it was an official interview, in fact he was told it was off the records and he didn’t need a lawyer. Secondly his statement was more I don’t remember than it never happened. Third, the FBI originally concluded he didn’t lie. Fourth, that the supposed lie was not material to an actual criminal act. Fifth, that the prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence. Shall I continue? Because it is obvious you don’t know what you’re talking about.

                    2. Typical GRB lies. Nothing but a lying commie faggot.

                2. BTW, the use of this quote is the exact same tactic AmSoc uses. Is it just a standard talking point from the left? Or is it a sock account?

                  1. Yep. Quoting people’s actual words and using documented facts is a tactic of the Left.

                    You should give it a try some time……..

                    1. No using the same mantra that is meaningless is not a good strategy. It is trying to distract from new data.

                    2. And in this case a type of appeal to authority, because you are attempting to use Trump’s dated words as all the proof you need, while ignoring any evidence that is contrary to your view. This is the exact same strategy used by AmSoc which is why it makes one wonder why you both use the same obviously flawed tactic.

                    3. No, you’re a dirty liar. Every goddamn time you post here you lie more. You’ve never quoted any real facts. Just leftist bullshit that is always discredited.

                  2. The argument that it wasn’t a material lie is only relevant to whether it was a criminal offense, not to whether it was lying to the FBI. And even if you ignore lying to the FBI as “entrapment”” because they didn’t warn him not to lie and they were hoping he would lie, that doesn’t alter the fact he also lied to the VP. That’s something the intelligence agencies might just be interested in, especially coming from a senior security official with lots of foreign contacts!

                    1. Firing him for lying is defensible. For it to be a criminal act the lie has to be material to a criminal investigation. This wasn’t. There was no criminal investigation. His acts weren’t technically illegal. Furthermore, his supposed lying was a statement to the effect he didn’t remember exactly what he had said. And discussing how they could get him to lie is proof that it was entrapment. There can be no other way to interpret that.

                    2. And even if some needed to know it, there is no defense for 40 people to request the information.

                    3. I don’t care if he told them that Elvis was his father and he’d witnessed Trump murder a kitten while fucking Stormy Daniels. It shouldn’t be a crime and doubly so if what you’re lying about or omitting (who the fuck knows why he lied about making a phone call they already knew he made. Why does my 8 year old lie about eating a piece of candy while holding the fucking wrapper?) isn’t illegal.

                    4. I would have hoped the national security adviser would be smarter than your 8-year-old

            2. Hey look, it’s grb to provide his retarded talking points. How utterly predictable.

        2. Your understanding is naive and sophomoric.

    3. They wouldn’t have known who to railroad had he not been unmasked, and the number and variety of people who requested it is telling that there was effectively a conspiracy involved.

      If it’s just the head of some law enforcement and intel agencies asking for it you can see why it might be relevant to their job duties, but when the entire fucking administration asks for it that should ring some alarm bells.

    4. The big deal is that we had the Church Commission back in the 1970s and the result of that were FISA and a bunch of reforms whereby the intelligence community promised they would no longer spy on Americans unless those Americans were acting as foreign agents or there was some kind of foreign connection.

      Part of that promise was even when information was collected on Americans because they happened to be talking to a foreigner, the identity of that American would not be revealed to anyone unless there was a good reason. The information obtained on Americans is not supposed to be used as a way to spy on them for reasons outside of foreign intelligence.

      What they did to Flynn violated all of that. There was no foreign intelligence connection at all. Yes, the CIA was and should have been listening to the Russian Ambassador’s phone calls. But the conversation he had with Flynn had no intelligence value. The only reason it was kept and the only reason Flynn’s name was unmasked is because the Obama White House was using the IC to spy on the incoming administration. And that is a big deal.

      1. I agree with everything except that there is no intelligence reason for releasing Flynn’s name.

        Imagine you are Trump and you just read through a report where US Person 1 is promising that next quarter, the US will recommend lifting Russian Sanctions. What do you do with that information? You don’t even know if it is someone who can reliably follow through. Is someone in your administration promising something that you didn’t authorize? Is someone expecting that your administration will be gone next quarter?

        When someone is making assurances to another country, it absolutely matters who that person is.

        And by the way, this means that I absolutely disagree with the notion that ANY leader of intelligence needed to unmask Flynn. There was nothing in their job description that required knowing who he was. There was a legitimate conversation between Russians and someone. There was no indication that the unnamed American was doing anything that required followup by the FBI- he wasn’t spilling state secrets or anything like that. It was only people responsible for foreign policy who needed to know the identity of the speaker.

        1. Imagine you are Trump and you just read through a report where US Person 1 is promising that next quarter, the US will recommend lifting Russian Sanctions.

          What is the value of that other than political? There isn’t. That isn’t intelligence on anyone except the incoming Trump administration.

          1. And maybe the incoming Trump administration would want to know that one of their staff has been making promises to foreign governments – something that Mike Pence didn’t know about.

            1. And there was ways to do that without illegally leaking it or having 40 people request the unmasking. Wow, that wasn’t a well thought out counterargument on your part.

            2. Oh, commentguy is just another progressive npc.
              So ineffective

            3. TRUMP said he’d try to resolve the issues with Russia and work with them when possible. It’s not like he was on record for turning the screws on them.

    5. I think, like most scandals, it is the increasing amount of information that can’t be ignored. Like someone stated below, the media can pretend with the previous stories that these were all the acts of underlings. This, however, directly ties it to the White House and the current Democratic presumptive candidate. Now the question begins to become (though many of us have been asking for awhile) how much did the White House know, when did they know and how much were they responsible for? The Democrats are increasingly needing an Olly North. Brennan, Comey et al, or does it become Biden?

      1. Or another way of putting it, it wasn’t the Watergate break in that was the scandal but that it was directed by the President. This unmasking gives more credence to the hypothesis that the whole Russia-Page-Flynn conspiracy is tied to the White House.

    6. The only reason the unmasking is interesting is that it was done by the previous administration and it shows both Obama and Biden were involved in the corrupt behavior. Otherwise it’s old news about how deep state actors attempted to oust Trump. The only revelation here is that Obama himself is implicated in the malfeasance. It’s become a norm that the deep state attacks anyone right leaning and coordinates with the media, but we are infrequently given information that top elected politicians directed these actions

      1. But we’ve known Obama was directly involved in this for a while now. This isn’t new, and it doesn’t feel like a crushing revelation. It’s people asking for the name of the anonymous person speaking to the ambassador on the transcript.

        Sure, it’s a fourth amendment violation, but compared to the whole process it’s a tiny one, and there’s much worse illegal search-and-seizures happening every day. It’s a flyspeck detail in the whole story. It’s throwing another single bullet point into the third paragraph of the 80-page report.

        1. We knew but had little evidence. This provides more evidence.

        2. That’s like saying it’s not a big deal that there was a gang rape at the White House, because there are brutal murders happening every day in Chicago.

          It’s not a flyspeck.
          When the President employs the Director of the FBI, the Deputy Director of the FBI, the Chief of the Counterespionage Section of the FBI, the Director of the CIA, the Director of National Intelligence, and members of the Justice
          Department and the State Department to gather dirt on members of the opposition political party, it’s an enormous fucking deal.

          1. But you’re talking about the big picture. The big picture is a big deal, and we know that already.

            This is saying, “Wait, the crew who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima scribbled a DIRTY WORD on it?”

  5. “ Why would Vice President Joe Biden (or a representative from his office) be on the list? Is this normal?”

    I don’t know: why don’t you ask Dick Cheney, who was far worse?

    1. You have evidence that Cheney used the IC to spy on the incoming Obama administration? I’d love to see that!

    2. I’m not sure how this fits with some folk’s Deep-State conspiratorial gibberish, but:

      By the time Biden requested information on the call it was already public knowledge. His request came after the Washington Post story about Flynn’s call,

      1. Not being an asshole, I would genuinely like to read a citation please.

        1. No problem. It’s been reported everywhere, but I chose Yahoo for the source. Relevant quote :

          “The list, obtained by CBS News, shows that Biden’s office made its request to see Flynn’s identity on January 12, 2017 — the same day that Washington Post columnist David Ignatius broke news of Flynn’s calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak”

          1. “the same day”

            Lol. Not really what you said.

            1. Just how stupid are you? My newspaper arrives at about 7:00. Are you idiot enough to think Biden made the request at 6:30?

              ( I honestly think Trump support addles the mind )

              1. Slow Joe isn’t called that for nothing.

                But, if it was common knowledge, they why even make the request?

              2. So since your paper arrives at 7 am Biden must get his paper at the same time. And the Vice President first act is to read the paper? This counterarguments by you is extremely weak. Yes, it could be that he was informed in a briefing about it (because that is what briefers do, read the paper first thing). It could be that he read the paper, it could be he heard rumors, it could be he knew before hand and once it came out in the papers he made a formal request so he would have a formal reason for knowing information he wasn’t supposed to. There are about 100 different explanations that are all equally plausible. Your proof is not proof of anything.

                1. I can hardly type for laughing! It’s not just that you guys are clowns, but you try so hard to be clownish. You actually strain for the effect! As I noted below, Joe either read his morning paper or was briefed on the days news. He then either picked up the phone, or asked an aide to find out more. Either way, it’s not your silly little fantasy of Biden’s deep in conniving Deep State maneuvers .

                  To be fair, you can make a case that Biden didn’t need to satisfy his curiosity about a sleazy little turd like Flynn – given there were mere days left in his term. But that’s not the point you’re trying to make with all this implausible flailing…..

                  1. And I already answered why that defense is weak. You are still not addressing the other 39 requests and even your explanation for Biden still doesn’t disprove the existence of a deep state conspiracy. The reason you are laughing is because of your simplicity.

                  2. If only John Dean had used active duty CIA and FBI people to spy on Nixon’s political opponents instead of the retired Hunt and Liddy. Then it would’ve been okay. Amirite?

                2. soldiermedic, you really think it’s a coincidence that on the same day there’s a big news scoop about Flynn talking to Kisylak, Biden happens to request unmasking for a conversation between an anonymous individual and Kisylak? You think it’s pure conjecture to suppose hat the VP might get briefed on the day’s news first thing?

                  1. No, I am stating that that is only one of several possible conclusions and that still doesn’t explain why 39 others requested the same information, most before the story. Nor does it change the fact that the leak itself that was referenced in the story was illegal. Nor does it change the fact that this in no way disproves a deep state.

              3. Also, it wasn’t just Biden but 40 others that requested the information. And not all of them did it the same day the story broke, most did it before hand. And a good number had no reason to need that information and worked closely with the White House.

                1. Maybe. Specific examples would be required, though I don’t doubt information is sometimes trafficked as causally as gossip. Plus you keep making a determined effort to ignore Flynn’s record at the time this happened. Would you have peddled you ass for the things Flynn did, regardless of the money involved? I ain’t rich by any means, but 45K would not make me Putin’s lapdog. No amount of money would make me advocating nuclear tech to the Saudi, and if I’m in a meeting where kidnapping is discussed I get up and walk out – not schedule a follow-up to haggle over the price.

                  No one knew what Flynn was into at the time, because it was clear by then he’d broken every rule on transparency required when representing foreign governments. That he was conducting negotiates with the Russians (his former employer) AND lying about it to his own White House had to be troubling

                  1. It doesn’t matter his record. That is almost the same as saying a rape victim was at fault for being raped because she was sexually promiscuous. Flynn was a dirtbag, but he still gets the same legal protections as any other Americans Citizen. His record doesn’t mean shit. You just bring it up to impugn his reputation, thus providing cover for an obviously illegal activity. Yes rumors exist, they are started by someone with knowledge. By that person sharing that knowledge, they committed an illegal act. Even if they didn’t call the WaPo themselves. It isn’t a difficult concept.

                  2. No one is upset about his firing, they are upset above the illegal unmasking and the trumped up process crime. To use another allegory, just because a person is a drug dealer, doesn’t give the cops carte blanche to shoot them for no reason.

                    1. Obama’s FBI used a bogus file of fiction bought by Hillary’s campaign to mislead a judge so it could spy on the nominee for the other party and then pressure a probe after GOP victory, but this isn’t a scandal about the corruption of Democrats or DOJ for grb, because shut up Russian bot.

                      It’ll only be a shocking scandal impacting democracy and undermining the rule of law if a Republican does it.

                    2. Mother’s Lament, a good summation.

                    3. I’m a bit upset about his firing.
                      The most corrupt people in the world coordinated slander to get him fired.
                      It was their first priority during transition.
                      It seems they were scared of him.
                      And I want them to be scared

          2. Thank you. That does change the story significantly. I wouldn’t go so far to say that it means that Flynn wasn’t railroaded and investigated under false pretenses. It does really rub me the wrong way when someone like him who is constantly using his position, both when he was in government and in the private sector, for some jawdroppingly evil shit goes down for being on the wrong team instead of his myriad of actual crimes.

            1. He is focusing only on the Biden timeline and ignoring the other 39 people who requested unmasking, many before January 17th.

            2. This is the newest form of the technically legal argument. What this doesn’t address is why so many people needed that information (what Flynn did was in no way illegal in talking to the ambassador, and is part of his duties at the time). The leak to the press, however, was totally illegal and had to have been one of the 40 people who made the request or one of the intelligent agents privy to the raw data.

      2. This could just demonstrate that the request was a CYA measure. And it plays perfectly into the narrative. Someone with knowledge leaked it and that person could only have been from either within the administration or from within the deep state. Not very hard to see that.

        1. Uh huh. Or maybe Joe unrolled his newspaper, read the story, and then asked for information. Please remember : Michael Flynn was (and probably is) an ethical disaster. Even then it was known that engaged in some fairly sordid lobbying for foreign regimes and failed to disclose or register his efforts. There was (and is) a lot in his activities to worry over. How many retired generals plot with a foreign government to kidnap a person permitted to live on U.S. soil?

          1. Which in now way disproves the deep state hypothesis. Your explanation is plausible. And Biden could and should make that argument. But that still doesn’t dispute the deep state hypothesis. This is my point. If Biden and Obama didn’t know, that actually even strengthens the deep state hypothesis, as this proves that it was entirely bureaucrats using their office for their own political goals, e.g. the deep state.

            1. *No way disproves the deep state hypothesis.
              However the timing is very suspect. He made the request on the same day that the paper ran the story. Okay it is possible he read it in the paper, or that he had a tip off before hand and decided to make it official.
              Someone still leaked the name to the paper in the first place. Someone with knowledge. Anyway you cut it this only reinforces the deep state hypothesis. All your explanation does is give a plausible alibi that Biden wasn’t involved. It doesn’t destroy the narrative that it was bad actors within the government trying to take down a duly elected president.

          2. Amidst Flynn’s (putative) parade of horribles, which seems to ground your dim explanation for why Obama‘s posse comitatus was so eager to lynch the General, is one more:

            Obama didn’t like the guy. Loathed the man. Flynn made him look the fool; specifically, made his foreign policy look like amateur hour.

            And if there’s one thing Obama cannot tolerate: it’s his prized ego being bruised. And Flynn didn’t just bruise it, he publicly crushed it.

            Moreover, with Flynn being named as NSA by Trump-the-Hated, Obama’s foreign policy blunders, in Iraq, Syria and the (coterminous) rise of ISIS and al Qaeda-all of which Flynn said would happen from Obama’s rookie errors, Flynn would suddenly get opportunity two to reemphasize Obama’s clown act.

            And the prized ego, and Legacy, couldn’t have that.

    3. How?

  6. Apropos of nothing except my own moronic sense of humor: Today I tried to write “idiotic pan(dem)ic,” and it got autocorrected to “idiotic pan(Dem)ic.” I thought that was hilarious.

    1. Even the auto-correct bots get bored when locked down – – – – – – – –

    2. even funnier that way

  7. No one cares about the policy. They only care about tribal politics.

    Otherwise there would have been no outrage about a foreign policy official asking Russia not to retaliate against US foreign policy.

    It would be different if Flynn has been asking Russia to retaliate prior to an election. But this was after the election. And he was asking for something in the best interests of the US.

  8. The Michael Flynn Unmasking Fight Is Another Chance for More Transparency About Secret Government Surveillance

    Or it may be another chance to show everyone working at the FBI that there is no one that will dare punish them no matter what they do. Only time will tell.

  9. POTUS Trump can change that NSA sharing policy today. He can rescind Obama’s EO. Will he?

  10. If the editorial decision makers at Reason had any sense of shame they’d be rightly embarrassed by this.

    1. I was just going to post that.

      Matt Tabbi of Rolling Stone articulating what Reason has been pussyfooting around.

      That is actually Reason’s raison d’être, but most Reasonistas have been dancing around the issue and pretending they see shades of grey in a very black and white assault on due process and human rights.

      Tabbi’s article should’ve been the front page here.

      1. *Taibbi
        Also, he has been one of the saner voices on the left for several years now. He actually appears fairly principled.

        1. That correction was meant for my reply.

    2. Reading the comments gives me some hope. While there was there were quite a few well he is still guilty and lying to the FBI is a crime no matter what, there is nearly an equal number of self processed Democrats and liberals who appear to be bothered by the revelations, and others who are agreeing with Talib.

  11. Biden requested the unmasking a mere 8 days before leaving office. Why?

  12. If you still believe Flynn’s treatment wasn’t political, I have a bridge to sell you.

    1. And still nothing from Reason about ‘judge’ Sullivan transmogrifying into prosecutor.

  13. grb
    May.15.2020 at 5:37 pm
    “Uh huh. Or maybe Joe unrolled his newspaper, read the story, and then asked for information. Please remember : Michael Flynn was (and probably is) an ethical disaster. Even then it was known that engaged in some fairly sordid lobbying for foreign regimes and failed to disclose or register his efforts. There was (and is) a lot in his activities to worry over. How many retired generals plot with a foreign government to kidnap a person permitted to live on U.S. soil?”

    Regardless of your bullshit attempts at mis-direction, please explain why 40-some people of an outgoing administration would want to know the identity of someone (who happened to be an advisor to the next POTUS) who couldn’t remember the content of a telephone call sometime back.
    Please make it convincing, if you can.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.