Accuracy in Media

A Special Report from the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Journalism; Cliff Kincaid, Director.

The British Guardian posted a report on April 13 claiming that its sources now admit that the British spy agency GCHQ was digitally wiretapping Trump associates, going back to late 2015. This was presumably when the December 2015 Moscow meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lt. General Michael Flynn took place.

This runs contrary to the blanket nature of the denial insinuated in GCHQ’s carefully-crafted statement of March 17 claiming it was all “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous” that they conducted surveillance of “then president-elect” Donald Trump (emphasis added). The surveillance went back a year before he became “president-elect.”

President Trump’s claim of being “wire tapped” has been vindicated. Indeed, the surveillance is far more extensive than even he suspected at the time.

Based on the new disclosures, we can safely conclude that the world’s most advanced and extensive system of computerized espionage was indeed used against him and people he worked with, for political purposes, with the knowledge and approval of top Obama officials such as CIA Director John Brennan (one major name implicated by the Guardian).

Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano, who said GCHQ was involved in wiretapping Trump, has also vindicated. Fox News owes Napolitano an apology for yanking him off the air for a week for making that “controversial” and now-verified assertion.

Trump Was Right

President Trump stressed the pervasive “extent” of this Obama political “wiretapping” to Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business in an Oval Office interview on April 11 (aired April 12).  “Me and so many other people” surveilled, Trump said. He explained again that he had picked up the “wire tapped” terminology straight from the headline of The New York Times (of January 20) as he has explained before (on March 15; see AIM report).

Now we’re learning that GCHQ did wiretap Trump for a year before the election. “Trump” is, of course, shorthand for Trump associates and possibly Trump himself directly, depending on context. But GCHQ is trying to put a positive spin on what it admits would be illegal spying on U.S. citizens if done by U.S. agencies.

The Guardian’s sources claim a heroic role for the British GCHQ as a courageous “whistleblower” in warning U.S. agencies to “Watch out” about Trump and Russia—but carefully avoiding mention of the U.S.’s NSA, which must be protected at all costs as part of the NSA-GCHQ spy-on-each-other’s-citizens “wiretap shell game.” (See AIM Special Report of March 18).

These sources virtually admit the mutual “wiretap shell game” by inadvertently mentioning the Trump-Russia data was originally passed on to the U.S. by GCHQ as part of a “routine exchange” of intelligence. The use of this term, “exchange,” suggests what we had previously reported—the shell-game “exchange” between the NSA and GCHQ where they can spy on each other’s citizens and deny it all.

British Wiretapping

Past British Prime Ministers have been implicated in various scandals involving wiretaps.  Some have involved the “Echelon” global surveillance system set up by the NSA with its counterparts in the other “Five Eyes” nations—UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  Any one of these countries is able to circumvent domestic laws against spying on their own citizens by asking another Echelon member country to do it for them. This is precisely the “wiretap shell game” used by the Obama administration to have British GCHQ spy on Trump, as outlined by Judge Napolitano and his sources.

To avoid unraveling the longstanding Five Eyes spying “wiretap shell game,” the GCHQ had to pretend they “routinely” came across this Trump-Russia wiretap data “by chance,” unprompted by requests from U.S. agencies (such as the NSA or CIA) or by Obama officials, working outside normal NSA chain of command on Signals Intelligence or SIGINT (as Judge Napolitano reported on March 14).

So the heroic British GCHQ comes to the rescue with conveniently “accidental” (our word) captures of wiretap communications between Trump people and sinister-sounding “Russian intelligence agents,” with the wiretaps sent here to help out the U.S. agencies. We are supposed to believe the U.S. agencies and the Obama White House just passively received this bombshell wiretap data from GCHQ, no questions asked, for over a year from late 2015 to early 2017. (The Guardian has no end date for the surveillance, such as the November 8 election, and indicates continued surveillance into the Trump transition, with the FBI “throwing more resources” into the investigation then.)

Did Obama officials ever say, “Wait! Stop sending us this material, it may be illegal!” It does not appear so. Hence, the questions that have to be asked by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are:

  • Were there requests for more wiretap data on Trump and his team?
  • Were there requests for more complete transcripts, or even voice recordings?

This “alerting” of the U.S. on Trump-Russia communications was needed, according to the Guardian and its U.S. and U.K. intelligence sources, because the U.S. agencies were “asleep” or “untrained,” or were legally prohibited from “examining the private communications of American citizens without warrants.” But to the GCHQ, America is a “foreign” nation and evidently they think they are free to spy on Americans “without warrants.”

Obama’s CIA and the Anti-Trump Task Force

Previous reporting has said that an interagency task force of six U.S. intelligence agencies was set up to investigate the alleged Trump-connected names supposedly discovered in “incidental collection” of digital wiretap surveillance of Russian communications. The six agencies are said to consist of the CIA, NSA, FBI, the Justice Department’s National Security Division, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Treasury Department financial crimes unit.

Until now, no one has known who in the Obama administration set up the task force, who directs it, what its operating directives state, what its activities have entailed, and who it is really accountable to.

But the Guardian is now reporting that it was CIA Director John Brennan who initiated, in about August 2016, what clearly seems to be an illegal domestic investigation of the Trump political campaign, which would be prohibited by the CIA charter.

Reportedly “Brennan used [British] GCHQ information and intelligence from other partners to launch a major interagency investigation.” The infamous fake “Trump dossier” is apparently dragged in too.

Brennan then proceeded to give highly classified “urgent” briefings to individual members of the Congressional “Gang of Eight.” Beginning on about August 25, with then-Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) on that date, CIA chief Brennan claimed that the Russian email hackings of the Democratic National Committee were designed to help Trump win the election, according to The New York Times. These partisan briefings represent the politicization of the CIA under Obama, and are of dubious legality.

In September 2016, this anti-Trump intelligence task force changed the previous “incidental” collection to outright direct targeting of Trump people so that their communications with Russia were “actively monitored,” not merely retrieved retroactively in digital archives with names having to be laboriously “unmasked.” (See also New York Times January 19/20, February 14.)

Unmasking is unnecessary if one starts with the specific names of Trump personnel first, and then flags them for future surveillance, going forward in time. In that case, the “actively monitored” and flagged Trump names automatically trigger alerts in the NSA-GCHQ computers whenever the names turn up. These wiretap reports would then have been submitted to Obama officials at the level of national security adviser Susan Rice and CIA director Brennan, and perhaps to Obama himself.

Interestingly, the Guardian’s sources carefully try to avoid implicating or involving the NSA in GCHQ’s allegedly unprompted reporting on intercepted wiretap data on Trump associates. It’s the “shell game” again with the NSA and GCHQ covering for each other.

British GCHQ Director Implicated

Instead, the Guardian’s anonymous intelligence sources say that then-director of GCHQ Robert Hannigan passed on a top secret “director level” report on Trump-Russia in “summer 2016” to CIA Director John Brennan, rather than to the NSA. However, if GCHQ was using NSA’s digital wiretap facilities to “routinely” spy on Trump people, then the NSA would be implicated by the very arrangement used.

As we predicted at AIM, the unexpected sudden resignation of GCHQ director Hannigan, announced on January 23, makes him the potential villain and scapegoat. Hannigan stayed on his job until his replacement took office on April 7.

In an unprecedented BBC interview on April 5, Hannigan fired a parting shot at the Judge Napolitano and White House reports of his GCHQ’s spying on Trump. Hannigan snidely dismissed the reports, saying, “We get crazy conspiracy theories thrown at us every day. We ignore most of them. On this occasion it was so crazy that we felt we should say so and we have said it’s a ridiculous suggestion.”

The Guardian’s report refutes Hannigan, barely a week after he left office, possibly with official connivance or approval. But why is Hannigan getting being thrown under the bus so soon? Is it fear of the impending findings of U.S. Congressional and official investigations exposing GCHQ?

Such reports in the British press on highly sensitive intelligence matters surely must have been quietly cleared by the British government as a first fallback position on GCHQ spying on Trump. Otherwise the Guardian would be in deep trouble under the UK’s Official Secrets Act and its D-Notice procedure to suppress or censor news stories on secret intelligence matters.

Finally, the British also seem to be trying to spread the blame around to a laundry list of other countries allegedly passing on intelligence about Trump-Russia contacts—Germany, Estonia, Poland, Australia, the Dutch and the French DGSE.

Still, no “smoking gun” has ever been found in any of this wiretap material, for it would already have been leaked like Lt. Gen. Flynn’s fairly benign conversations with the Russian ambassador that got him fired.

Despite the sensational news from The Washington Post that the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to wiretap ex-Trump adviser Carter Page, which may even still be in effect, his “Russian contacts” also seem to be completely ordinary and routine. Page is so confident of his innocence that he has been going on various television news programs to talk openly about his work on Russia, supplying Russian contacts with some of his New York University classroom materials.

To be sure, a certain large percentage of these kinds of business meetings with Russians will turn out to be with undercover Russian intelligence officers—unbeknownst to the Western business and academic people meeting them. The media portray them as suspicious. But this kind of Russian spy game has always been going on since the Cold War and is nothing new.

The FISA warrant, rather than proving any malfeasance by Carter Page—again no “smoking gun”—only adds to the evidence that what President Trump said from the start was true: that Trump and his associates were under electronic surveillance.

Unasked Questions

What do the wiretaps on Trump actually say? The media don’t want to know if the NSA-GCHQ wiretaps actually exonerate President Trump.

One of the advantages of the adversarial system in the courts is that advocates on the opposing side ideally get a fair chance—unlike the one-sided media with journalists who, at the rate of more than 90 percent, contributed to the Hillary Clinton campaign (see this Columbia Journalism Review study of election records).

Questions not asked of Rice or other sources by the media include whether she or other Obama officials “flagged” the unmasked Trump team names for future NSA (or British GCHQ) automatic unmasking and delivery of transcripts and summary reports.

Did the Obama people regularize the “unmasking” so that routinely a new retroactive search was automatically ordered with automatic unmaskings? That would be another way to turn “incidental collection” into an effectively ongoing wiretap order. Did President Obama or Rice or others request actual sound recordings of Trump and others to review?

Did the Obama team “unmask” other presidential candidates and associates besides Trump, such as Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who visited Moscow in December 2015 and dined with Putin? Fox is reporting that Congressional investigators are now looking into whether other presidential candidates and Members of Congress were surveilled too. In 2014, CIA director Brennan was caught red-handed lying to the Senate about the CIA’s criminal hacking of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s computer system.

We are told that many, if not most, of these wiretaps and unmaskings of Trump people were not even wiretaps about Russia or “incidental collection” on legitimate foreign intelligence subjects, though they may have begun that way.

The evidence now indicates that the information was procured for partisan political purposes—to spy on the Trump opposition to Hillary Clinton using the full weight of the U.S. government’s NSA spying apparatus (or NSA facilities used by British GCHQ).

Pompeo Must Clean Out the CIA

Trump’s CIA Director Mike Pompeo is in a position to get to the bottom of this scandal. Yet, on April 13, 2017, in his first public speech as director, he seemed to indicate that the evidence being developed in connection with the CIA’s role in the illegal surveillance of President Trump was going to be ignored or brushed aside. It was a forceful, even strident, defense of the Agency.

“I inherited an Agency that has a real appreciation for the law and for the Constitution,” he claimed. “Despite fictional depictions meant to sell books or box-office tickets, we are not an untethered or rogue agency. So yes, while we have some truly awesome capabilities at our disposal, our officers do not operate in areas or against targets that are rightfully and legally off-limits to us.”

The evidence suggests the opposite. The CIA under Obama’s CIA Director Brennan was involved in illegal surveillance, using those “truly awesome capabilities,” against political targets that should have been off-limits.

One of those targets was the President who appointed Pompeo as CIA director.

Related AIM Special Reports:

Just Who Was the Russian Agent After All?

on April 11, 2017

Watergate-style Wiretapping Confirmed

on April 4, 2017

A Watergate-style Threat to the Democratic Process

on March 18, 2017

How CNN Recycled Last Year’s Fake News

on February 20, 2017

Ready to fight back against media bias?
Join us by donating to AIM today.


  • James Dunham

    So what you are saying is this:

    That Trump Administration Collusion is backed up by years of legitimate intelligence gathering by a foreign agency (Britain). That ‘high quality’ intelligence services saw Collusion. That it appears the idea that there is nothing to the Trump Russia Connection, is not true based upon high level intelligence.

    What you are saying is not that Trump or his Cronies were victims… but rather that a British Intelligence Agency known for high level accurate intelligence gathering saw links and monitored.

    You do realize this incriminates Trump Administration folks monitored even more right? Your contortion into trying to make Trump or any of his associates victims is laughable.

    Lets take Flynn for instance: A high level GENERAL from America starts making unsanctioned trips to Russia, meeting with High Level Russian Intelligence Officers, and British Intelligence isn’t going to be interested???? Come back to the real world.

  • bobs33hotrod

    I watch FOX NEWS every Night, You Fox News Need to apologizes to Judge Neapolitan Now, and Re-Instate him back to your News Network. A.S.A.P. NOW !!!, or you lost me as your Number One Viewer..
    BOBBY ~!~

  • x18E40

    Good article, but unless the CIA Director takes action and cleans his organization from political hacks of all stripes, the only folks who will read or know this will be the same folks that would come to a website about media accuracy. The Left is no longer even trying to stay within the confines of reality, so unless you start producing criminals in orange jump suits, this good read amounts to nothing. There is a war being waged by the legitimate elected government, and the mess that Obama left behind and the operatives willing to serve his shadow government (deep state).

  • RightVote

    FOX has/is becoming FAUX FOX FAKE news !
    FOX Business is the ‘last best’ news beat on cable.
    After that…………..It’s strictly the INTERNET !

  • RightVote

    Every story reported regarding the Corruption and Collusion (FBI / IRA / NSA / DNC / RNC and much more)
    Illustrates over and over the SHADOW GOVERNMENT that IS the AMERICAN GOVERNMENT.

    The Corruption IS the GOVERNMENT ! Period.

  • votedemout

    No, what was said is that after years of intelligence gathering by left leaning, politically driven, globalist intelligence organizations, NOTHING was found to implicate the Trump administration in ANY act of collusion with the Russians. Furthermore it is obvious that many if not all of these activities were in direct contravention of our Constitution, a document that you and you liberal “cronies” wish to believe is irrelevant.

    You seem to forget that anti-Brexit groups, resident within the British government, were incensed that Trump aligned himself with those that sought British independence from Globalist Europe. Another point that you so easily glossed over is the mounting evidence that Obama and his “cronies” were the perpetrators and enablers, of these rouge intelligence operations.

    Hopefully some brave, patriotic individuals will be willing to pursue these nefarious activities, but that is questionable due to the high level of death and personal destruction seen among those who oppose these very powerful entities.

  • russw

    Since Brittan is a foreign nation, so the NSA can wiretap them freely. If that wiretap is of Brittain wiretapping US citizens, on US soil, is that what they mean by “incidental ” collection of US citizens conversations? In reverse for each foreign nation to spy on its own citizens without technically violating that countries laws?

    So, what do u call a multinational agreement for each nation to wiretap other nations, then each have all information via “incidental” collection on each nations own citizens? Globalizationists?

  • jug

    Doesn’t sound to me, anything like what was said!
    Sounds more like some reading comprehension remedial work is called for!
    Real world, you have quite a ways to go yourself!

  • Anthony Duhe

    Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch knows the truth.

    Whistleblower Tapes: Trump Wiretapped “A Zillion Times” By ‘The Hammer,’ Brennan’s and Clapper’s Secret Computer System – The American Report

    President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper and his Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director John Brennan oversaw a secret supercomputer system known as “THE HAMMER,” according to former NSA/CIA contractor-turned whistleblower Dennis Montgomery.
    Clapper and Brennan were using the supercomputer system to conduct illegal and unconstitutional government data harvesting and wiretapping. THE HAMMER was installed on federal property in Fort Washington, Maryland at a complex which some speculate is a secret CIA and NSA operation operating at a US Naval facility.
    President Trump’s allegation that the Obama Administration was wiretapping him is not only supported by Montgomery’s whistleblower revelations about Brennan’s and Clapper’s computer system THE HAMMER, but also by statements made this week by William Binney, a former NSA Technical Director of the World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group, by former CIA and State Department official Larry Johnson, and by Montgomery’s attorney Larry Klayman.
    Computer expert Dennis Montgomery developed software programs that could breach secure computer systems and collect massive amounts of data.
    That system, THE HAMMER, according to the audio tapes, accessed the phone calls, emails and bank accounts of millions of ordinary Americans.
    The tapes also reveal that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court (FISA), Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, 156 other judges, members of Congress, and Donald J. Trump were targeted by the HAMMER.
    One of the audio tapes made public by Federal Judge G. Murray Snow revealed that Brennan and Clapper particularly targeted and wiretapped Donald Trump a “zillion times.”

  • Pete Bernardin

    Excellent Article! This article is the best, most factual, account of this Scandal that I have read so far (I’ve read at least 50). The Intelligence Dems, Schiff, Swalwell, Warner, etc. are in full cover-up mode. Obama, Hillary, the Federal Surveillance Agencies and MSM were all COLLUDING with each other to steal our Democracy this election. Although unmasking is not new, Obama was just FAR more diabolical than anyone else in how he used it. The true targets of his spying were in FACT the Americans NOT the Russians. He used this Classified intelligence to create his now famous Fake Russian narrative, and to make Flynn resign and to make Sessions recuse himself. It was one of Obama’s most effective Political weapons during his career. I predict he and his administration will have a lot of explaining to do in the upcoming months.

  • Pete Bernardin

    Although I wanted to believe this report, the alleged whistle-blower, Dennis Montgomery, has a VERY checkered past (see Wikipedia). This makes me doubt that he has anything specific to the Trump wiretapping, although his information about surveillance may be of general value.

  • votedemout

    Never forget, anyone can add to and edit Wikipedia, and in this case it would be in many others interest to sully Mr. Montgomery.

  • Pete Bernardin

    Breaking News!! CIA Head “John Brennan Colluded With Foreign Spies to Defeat Trump”

  • cocoon

    CIA Director Pompeo is not stating individuals at CIA exceeded their lawful duties. Leaving the door open to go after Brennan?

  • Frank de Varona

    This is another oustanding article by investigative reporter Cliff Kincaid exposing the Obama’s police state that he created during his eight years in office. Sadly, America in looking more and more to the Big Brother society described by George Orwelll in his novel 1984. I know this from personal experience.

    President Donald J. Trump and Judge Andrew Napoliatano are now vindicated. The connection between the American NSA and the British GCHQ are now exposed. This is why the GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan was forced to resign because his agency was spying on Trump and his team for a very long time at the request of the Obama administration.

    CIA Director Mike Pompeo needs to clean his agency of those hired by John Brennan who were involved in illegal activities. The other intelligence agencies directors need to do the same and clean their agencies of officials of the Deep State who are trying to destroy the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

    Brennan and others need to be investigated by the Justice Department. There are many patriots working in the CIA, NSA, and other intelligence agencies. However, those who leak classified information or illegally spy on Americans should be indicted and prosecuted. The same goes to the members of the Obama’s White House who may have been involved in illegal spying or unmasking individuals, including Susan Rice who lies constantly. This is another major scandal of former President Obama and one that could get him in legal problems.

    America should not be a Banana Republic where high officials commit serious crimes with complete impunity. That is an America that I do not want to reside. I fought at the Bay of Pigs in 1961 at the age of 17 because I did not want to live in a police state like Cuba. I do not want America to become a police state.
    Frank de Varona

  • S. Richard

    No one will ever clean the swamp. They are all the same. The people in power create and perpetuate the narrative. I barely get upset anymore. They must really think we are all soooo stupid, sad.

  • Curtis Mamzic

    latest update for you rubes:
    – The FBI has been and still is investigating Trump’s collusion with Russia.
    – Sessions not allowed to block Russia investigation due to his lies under oath and actions.
    – Nunes no longer able to stall House investigation of Trump’s collusion with Russia due to his actions.
    – Trump’s claims about Obama “wiretapping” him proven to be a YUGE LIE AND FAKE NEWS!
    – Susan Rice’s supposed masking of Trump’s team also proven a YUGE LIE AND FAKE NEWS!
    – Flynn in very serious trouble both as a retired general officer and a civilian and facing serious charges.
    – Nobody in Obama administration charged with anything.

  • Curtis Mamzic

    Hey Cliff, it looks like you “accidently” got this wrong:!
    “The British Guardian posted a report on April 13 claiming that its sources now admit that the British spy agency GCHQ was digitally wiretapping Trump associates, going back to late 2015. This was presumably when the December 2015 Moscow meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lt. General Michael Flynn took place.
    This runs contrary to the blanket nature of the denial insinuated in GCHQ’s carefully-crafted statement of March 17 claiming it was all “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous” that they conducted surveillance of “then president-elect” Donald Trump (emphasis added). The surveillance went back a year before he became “president-elect.”
    President Trump’s claim of being “wire tapped” has been vindicated. Indeed, the surveillance is far more extensive than even he suspected at the time.”

    No, it does not, Cliff.
    The article in the Guardian actually shows that several foreign intelligence agencies performing routine SIGINT of known and suspected Russian intelligence agents were alarmed at all the contacts between Trump associates and the Russians, and alarmed enough to notify and warn their American counterparts about the contacts and conversations.
    Which led to the FBI investigation of the Trump team.
    Hope that helps and clears it up for your confused readers.

  • Curtis Mamzic

    No, just another stupid conspiracy theory, like Pizzagate.

  • Curtis Mamzic

    You’re wrong, Trump and his administration have a lot of explaining to do right now, not just in the upcoming months.
    Which is why Flynn wants immunity.
    “LOCK EM UP!”

  • Curtis Mamzic

    As Flynn so eloquently put it:
    “LOCK EM UP!”
    Every single one of them who aided and abetted the collusion with a hostile foreign government.

  • Pete Bernardin

    If so explain this Wall Street Journal Article:

    “What Devin Nunes Knows
    Team Obama was spying broadly on the incoming administration.”
    By Kimberley A. Strassel, March 30, 2017 6:53 p.m. ET, WSJ

  • Curtis Mamzic

    FAKE NEWS, pal, which is why Nunes is no longer leading the House Intelligence investigation.
    So, like FLYNN said,
    “LOCK EM UP!”

  • Anthony Duhe

    Montgomery’s reputation was demonized with purpose. John Negroponte did not was the Intel exposed and directed Montgomery’s reputation to be tarnished–The proof of that is that after that demonization Montgomery was rehired by Brennanand Clapper and Muellers FBI supplied the computers. Montgomery is .

    See Commdiginews and CIA Whistleblower Muellers Computers

  • Anthony Duhe

    CIA whistleblower: Mueller’s FBI computers spied on Trump and SCOTUS | Communities Digital News

  • rnsr4Trump

    Agree! Especially now that the Document has been leaked showing it was Project Fulsom approved by OBAMA to illegally bypass American laws & spy directly on Trump and his American team! The level of Filth used to try to deny Americans the right to elect and fully enjoy Trump is disgusting. People must go to Prison, starting with Obama who authorized this! Comey lied over and over, because he was playing word games, knowing all along it wasn’t a FISA warrant, but an illegal campaign by a foreign country to illegally spy on an Innocent American who had the courage to run for office. WOW!