Beyond McCarthyism

Recent actions and rhetoric of Democratic Party operatives and mainstream media figures are evoking the same undesirable label.

From newspaper opinion pieces to social media posts, the ghost of Senator Joseph McCarthy roams the D.C. corridors and McCarthyism permeates the Democrat playbook, punctuated with the leadership’s incessant murmurings of “the Russians hacked the election.”

As fallout of his investigation in the 1950s into Russian connections in the United States, McCarthy was accused of conducting a “witch hunt” and was also indelibly linked to the Hollywood blacklist era.

Interestingly, after decades of vilification the Wisconsin senator and World War II veteran was in great part vindicated by the Venona papers, which revealed that spies working for the old Soviet Union had indeed infiltrated key positions in government and other U.S. institutions.

Democratic operatives and media hacks have been engaging in an attempted cover-up in which they have focused on the fake “the Russians hacked the election” narrative in an apparent effort to distract from the tainted primary that delivered the Democratic nomination to an unusually flawed candidate, Hillary Clinton.

As Michael McGough wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “This [the Russia story] is the Holy Grail —  or smoking gun, to switch clichés —  of some Democrats’ imaginings.”

Bitter Democrats and left-leaning talking heads have been claiming that mere meetings with a Russian diplomat were enough to have compromised individuals who are associated with the Trump administration. In McCarthyite fashion, they have essentially been asking the following question: “Are you now or have you ever been in contact with any Russian official?”

President Donald Trump’s tweets regarding the Obama administration’s investigating and monitoring of the Trump campaign point to a series of reports, which reveal that methods used and actions taken go well beyond anything with which the term “McCarthyism” had previously been associated.

The Guardian reported that, during the summer of 2016, the FBI applied for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to allow for the conducting of surveillance of individuals in the Trump campaign, a request that was duly denied by the FISA court.

The FISA Court was established in 1978 to handle secret law enforcement agency requests for surveillance warrants against foreign spies and terrorism suspects in the U.S.

In the years 2014 and 2015 of the Obama administration, almost 3,000 requests were submitted by the NSA and FBI to intercept emails, phone calls, and other communications. Every request was approved by the FISA court and not a single application was rejected.

In January 2017 controversial whistleblower Edward Snowden used some additional data from The Wall Street Journal to tweet the following: “Interesting: The rubber-stamp FISA court blocked just 11 requests in 33 years (99.9%+ approval), but chose to block the Trump investigation.”

At a rejection rate of only .03 percent over 33 years, the FISA court’s refusal to grant the Obama administration’s first request to monitor the Trump campaign indicates that the application was a very tenuous one.

Yet, in November 2016 journalist Louise Mensch reported that in a second application for FISA surveillance the FBI was given a warrant for some kind of digital eavesdropping (report confirmed by the BBC). The probable cause for the warrant concerned a server located in Trump Tower, which was claimed to have been communicating with a Russian bank.

The FBI ultimately concluded that the communications were innocuous ones.

According to the New York Times, mere days before Obama left office, officials in his administration “scrambled to spread information about so-called Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians — across the government.”

The Obama administration issued Executive Order 12333, which allows the NSA to share raw intercepted communications with agencies that include the FBI, DEA, and Department of Homeland Security.

The previous president had a curious way of dealing with the Russian government. His response to Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014 and Moscow’s support of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine was to issue woefully inadequate economic sanctions.

However, very late in his second term (December 2016), seemingly to add fuel to the Democrat talking points on Russia, the outgoing president took risks he had avoided for eight years and expelled 35 diplomats, placed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies and three companies, and closed down two Russian-owned buildings, acts that could have been, and perhaps were actually perceived to be, warlike by Moscow.

It is not as if the Obama administration was unskilled at conducting questionable domestic surveillance. The Obama Justice Department spied on Fox News reporter James Rosen in 2010 by collecting his telephone records, tracking his movements in and out of the State Department, and seizing two days of his personal emails.

The same Obama Justice Department spied on Associated Press reporters, obtaining two months’ worth of telephone records for more than 20 different phone lines, which included reporters’ cell, office, and home lines and impacting more than 100 members of the AP staff.

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