Surveillance powers backfire on US senator

US Senator Devin Nunes, who has been a promoter of greater secret surveillance of citizens, and has been a staunch defender of Donald Trump in the Ukraine saga that is progressing to impeachment proceedings has been awkwardly implicated by metadata obtained from surveillance.

Reason: Devin Nunes Supports Secret Surveillance of Americans, Finds Himself Under Surveillance

The call records are coming home to roost for Rep. Devin Nunes (R–Calif.).

Before he became a stalwart defender of President Donald Trump, Nunes consistently fought any and all efforts to restrain the authority of the National Security Agency (NSA) to secretly, warrantlessly collect Americans’ call records and metadata. He wasn’t quiet about this support for domestic surveillance.

When Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan (then a Republican, now an independent) tried to restrain the feds’ ability to access American call records, Nunes didn’t just vote against Amash’s legislation; he attacked Amash loudly and publicly. In 2014, one of Amash’s efforts prompted Nunes to call the congressman “Al Qaeda’s best friend in the Congress.” Nunes even donated $5,000 to Amash’s primary opponent.

Now this surveillance apparatus that Nunes has long supported has happily provided his political opponents with information that could destroy his career. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (which Nunes used to chair, and where he is now the ranking minority member) just published its impeachment report.

It shows calls between Nunes and Rudy Giuliani in 2016, as Giuliani was making the media rounds arguing that Ukrainian officials colluded to help Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. This information will most certainly be used to argue that Nunes is not just a defender of Trump but also an active participant in Giuliani’s Ukrainian push.

Nunes isn’t happy about that. Last night he tweeted a Washington Examiner piece in which Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R–La.) accuses Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D–Calif.) of “spying” on Nunes and asks, “Are there other members of Congress that he is spying on, and what justification does he have? He needs to be held accountable and explain what he’s doing, going after journalists, going after members of Congress, instead of doing his job.”

But there’s no reason to assume that Schiff was specifically targeting Nunes, and it’s unlikely that any laws were broken here. Nunes’ name and calls came up in the metadata of the impeachment’s investigation targets. What is happening to the California congressman right now is an easily foreseeable consequences of the surveillance system Nunes supports.

I think it would be difficult to exclude politicians from NSA data gathering, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to get special exclusions.

The surveillance data revealed more. Washington Post: Phone records from AT&T and Verizon obtained in impeachment inquiry spark controversy

The records were some of the strongest circumstantial evidence included in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report this week, revealing extensive contact between Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and the Trump administration during critical points of the Ukraine saga. They also exposed calls between a Giuliani associate who has been indicted in New York, Lev Parnas, and the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.).

Republican lawmakers are blasting Democrats’ decision to publish the records of Nunes’s calls, as well as call records from John Solomon, a conservative columnist formerly at The Hill. Nunes said in a Fox News interview the inclusion of the phone records in the impeachment report is an infraction of his “civil rights” and promised to explore “whatever legal remedies I have.”

“They have now set a precedent where Adam Schiff can go get any phone number he has to AT&T and AT&T is going to comply,” Nunes said.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called Schiff’s move “brazen and shameful” in an op-ed for Fox News yesterday. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) asked Sen. Lindsey Graham to subpoena Schiff’s records in response, a move the South Carolina Republican shut down.

But Democrats deny legally asking the telecom companies for any phone records belonging to members of Congress or journalists. The report doesn’t say whose records the committee subpoenaed, but the records suggest they targeted the calls of Giuliani and Parnas. 

“The Committee did not subpoena call records for any member of Congress or their staff, including Ranking Member Nunes, or for any journalist, including Mr. Solomon,” Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Schiff, said in a statement.

This makes the already very murky and politically charged Ukraine and impeachment issues even more controversial.

And as Nunes is leading the political opposition to the impeachment inquiry, then evidence of possible complicity by him must surely be relevant.

In general, if politicians push for and allow wide ranging surveillance powers they should not be surprised if there are unintended consequences.

Leave a comment

47 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  7th December 2019

    And so it continues…

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  7th December 2019

      And for the Head Clown’s next act …

      Donald Trump’s latest target for deregulation is Americans’ toilets.

      The US President said he ordered a federal review of water efficiency standards in bathroom fixtures and complained that “people are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times as opposed to once” in homes with low-flow appliances. He said other bathroom fixtures have slowed water to a trickle.

      “You can’t wash your hands practically, there’s so little water comes out of the faucet, and the end result is you leave the faucet on and it takes you much longer to wash your hands, you end up using the same amount of water,” Trump said at an event with small-business owners at the White House.

      Sounds like typical Trump overblown fake news. But no doubt the trumpanzees in the audience were cheering and clapping, even though their all own bogs probably flush quite normally.

      The president said he’s considering different standards for states with different levels of rainfall. “There may be some areas where we’ll go the other route, desert areas, but for the most part, you have many states where they have so much water that comes down, it’s called rain, they don’t know what to do with it,” he said.

      Fuxake. Does he think they could put it in their cisterns? 🙄

      But 40 of 50 state water managers said they expected water shortages under average conditions in some portion of their state over the next decade, according to a 2014 report from the Government Accountability Office.

      Trump has similarly complained about light bulb energy efficiency requirements imposed under President Barack Obama, and the administration announced earlier this fall it would roll back the rules.

      The president mentioned that effort during Friday’s event, complaining that new energy-efficient bulbs made him appear orange.

      Gotta be a leg pull, that one. How come they only make HIM look orange 👱 & everyone else looks normal 👱🏻 👱🏽 👱🏾?

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/118024692/donald-trump-orders-toilet-rule-review-saying-people-flush-too-many-times

      Reply
      • Pink David

         /  8th December 2019

        “Gotta be a leg pull, that one. How come they only make HIM look orange 👱 & everyone else looks normal 👱🏻 👱🏽 👱🏾?”

        You really cannot recognize a joke? Did you miss the punchline; “Has anyone noticed?”

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  8th December 2019

          Did you really miss the “Gotta be a leg pull?”

          You must be a Trump supporter ! No sense of humour.

          Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  7th December 2019

    What a load of malevolent garbage. Nunes:
    The Democrats’ impeachment charade is flailing, and desperate people do desperate things. So Schiff suddenly published phone records of myself, current and former Republican staff members, and a journalist whose reporting he doesn’t like. It’s a gross abuse of power for a congressman to go after his political opponents, staffers, and reporters in this way, but it’s characteristic of the way Schiff has run this entire show. He’s going to need a long rehabilitation period when this is over.
    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/republicans-angry-concerned-about-schiff-release-of-phone-records

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  7th December 2019

      It’s a gross abuse of power for a congressman to go after his political opponents, staffers, and reporters in this way

      Well, their President goes after his political opponents in ways just as bad, or worse, so Welcome To Trump’s Big American Circus.

      Reply
      • Exactly. Using the powers of the state to target your political opponents is what Trump has admitted to doing. And it is what Nunes is both opposing and defending. What a moron.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  7th December 2019

          Schiffs Committee subpoena didnt ‘target’ Nunes. The target was Guiliani

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  7th December 2019

            No, the target was Trump. Everyone else was just collateral damage.

            Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  7th December 2019

          Using the powers of the State to target Trump has been continuous since before he was elected.

          And in response he has relied mostly on Tweets. Successfully, to Democrats’ chagrin.

          Reply
        • Pink David

           /  8th December 2019

          ” Using the powers of the state to target your political opponents is what Trump has admitted to doing”

          Obama was doing this as a matter of policy for 8 years.

          Reply
    • Corky

       /  7th December 2019

      If Nancy Pelosi’s outburst against a reporter who asked her whether she hated Trumpy is any thing to go by,then yes, the Dems are desperate. They are realising they may have bitten off more than they can chew. On the positive side, Nancy prays for the president everyday.What a lovely lady.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  7th December 2019

        Have you even heard the words Trump had previously called Pelosi?

        ‘Nervous Fit’
        ‘3rd Rate politician
        ‘Unhinged meltdown’
        ‘Very sick person’
        ‘mentally ill’

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  7th December 2019

          Just goes to show..Christian people are forgiving people. Not like socialists..eh, Duker,
          BTW..anyone can get records from American telcos…especially those associate with the government.

          Reply
  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  7th December 2019

    To point out the obvious, AT&T supplying phone records to a politician is nothing to do with NSA data collection or surveillance.

    That is a Blazer level attempt at distraction from the issue.

    Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  7th December 2019

    If you want facts, go to the library. If you want theatrical entertainment, go to Trump”s press conference. Some of it will be true, some of it will be what you wish was true, some of it will be what Trump wishes was true and some of it will just be invented to make the story better.

    If you are a Trump hater you will be insane with rage that he doesn’t behave like a proper President. If you are a Trump supporter you will find it all hilarious, especially the reaction from the haters.

    If you are an EU apparatchik you will be saying “WTF??!!”

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  7th December 2019

      Trump supporters don’t seem to find it all hilarious.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  7th December 2019

        Really? How many do you know?

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  7th December 2019

          I don’t think Gezza likes Trumpy, Alan. It’s just a feeling I get. Trumpy can deal to such people in a simple way – get reelected. I really hope that happens. I couldn’t bear watching Sleepy Joe fall asleep during a White House press conference. Or Bernie nationalising every industry in sight. Or Elizabeth Warren going on another Cherokee warpath.

          Reply
        • Gezza

           /  7th December 2019

          Well, look at Nunes. And most Republicans who we see. And Fox Tv. They’re not usually laughing.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  7th December 2019

            He is a politician for heaven’s sake, G. He can’t possibly say what he really thinks.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  7th December 2019

              Major thunderstorm here at Pooken Manor in Tawa here at the moment. Even the birds are taking cover. 1911 hrs.

              You’ve only got to watch tv interviews with Trump supporters to see how few of them find any of Trump’s bullshit & lies funny when they’re pointed out to them, Al. Faces like thunder. Or just stand there looking blank.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  8th December 2019

              Nothing like a weeping Lefty analysis to kill s joke, G. Even Boris’s letterbox ladies who dress to depress can’t see their funny side.

  5. duperez

     /  7th December 2019

    Nunes repeatedly rubbished proceedings, their lack of substance and being a charade. Those were easy to define for him, it was by the numbers watching on tv. Because a certain number weren’t watching, because some days numbers were lower than on previous days there was nothing of merit in allegations and charges.

    Trump owes his position to being a reality TV personality. Nunes extended that with facile and childlike perspectives. The lunatic can only run the asylum if other lunatics let them. Or Nunatics.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  7th December 2019

      Nonsense. Being a TV personality just got him a foot in the door along with an avalanche of opinion that his candidature was a bad joke.

      He owes his position to figuring out what the truth looks like to a big hunk of the population.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  7th December 2019

        Tru dat. He’s got fatter. He really is a the big hunk of the population. And he may really think that his lies are the truth.

        Reply
      • duperez

         /  7th December 2019

        I don’t disagree.

        “Dwight Eisenhower won the US presidency by designing the D-day landings that would help the Allied Forces win the Second World War. Donald Trump won the presidency by winning his timeslot with the TV show, The Apprentice.”

        “Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America” James Poniewozik.

        Interview: https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons/audio/2018715907/how-trump-s-ego-splintered-america

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  7th December 2019

          Quoting someone else spouting the same rubbish doesn’t make it true.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  7th December 2019

            Doesn’t stop Trump from doing that sort of thing.

            Reply
            • duperez

               /  7th December 2019

              I suppose so. Just like saying someone who’s made a study of something is spouting rubbish isn’t necessarily not spouting rubbish. 🙂

            • Gezza

               /  7th December 2019

              That one’s boggling my brain a bit.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  8th December 2019

              Come on dups, you are better than that. Your quote is just plain dumb and you know it.

            • Duker

               /  8th December 2019

              Yes . Eisenhower can take credit , because he would have taken the blame if it went wrong. The actual detailed planning is taken by subordinates, who were senior generals. The normal system was for these commanders In Chief was to free them from all the detail , so they can think of the big picture.
              After Normandy Eisenhower spent the rest of the war at his HQ in Reims France and its golf course and that schoolhouse was where the German surrender was signed.

            • Pink David

               /  8th December 2019

              “The actual detailed planning is taken by subordinates, who were senior generals”

              Again, it was not. The landings were planned prior to Eisenhower’s involvement by his superiors. He was the operational commander, not the planner. You are correct he would have carried some level of blame had they failed. Plenty of things did go wrong, the expectation was that Eisenhower would deal with that, which he largely did. Omaha being a good example where things did go badly wrong.

              Where Eisenhower did do some great design was in response to Japan’s attack on Pearl Habour. He outlined the strategy that the US largely until final victory in just a few days after the attack. That was before anyone really knew who he was.

              That was a far more impressive achievement than D-Day.

            • Duker

               /  8th December 2019

              Not really the operational commanders were Montgomery , Bradley and others and below them Patton etc
              The Supreme command was only ever Eisenhower, the job was created for him when the decision to do the cross channel invasion was made in May 43 . Generals Morgan and Barker were the generals who were responsible for the paper planning under Eisenhower

        • Pink David

           /  8th December 2019

          “Dwight Eisenhower won the US presidency by designing the D-day landings that would help the Allied Forces win the Second World War.”

          Eisenhower didn’t ‘design’ the D-day landings.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  9th December 2019

            No he was supreme Commander of Allied forces,and history shows that far from playing golf after D Day, he became a post war POTUS,and a very good one.
            Even warned people about the dangers of the military/industrial complex.
            Unheeded of course .

            Reply
  6. Patzcuaro

     /  7th December 2019
    Reply
  7. Patzcuaro

     /  7th December 2019

    Reply
  8. Gezza

     /  8th December 2019

    Whoops. Should’ve gone in OF. I’ll repost there. Sorry.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  9th December 2019

      Who needs Superman comics,when adults can live vicariously through Super Don…eh ..Al!

      Reply

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