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Judicial Watch sues DOJ for UNMASKING records requested by Biden, Obama officials on Flynn

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If it wasn’t for the conservative nonprofit watchdog Judicial Watch the American public would’ve been left in the dark about the Russia hoax perpetrated against President Donald Trump, the attack in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server to hide government emails and hundreds more investigations into government malfeasance.

On Thursday Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the “National Security Agency (NSA) for records of requests by former Vice President Joe Biden and other top Obama administration officials, including President Obama’s chief of staff, to “unmask” Lieutenant General (Retired) Michael Flynn.”

President of Judicial Watch Tom Fitton said that the FOIA lawsuit was in response to the government’s failure to turn over the documents originally requested by the watchdog group.

The documents about this illicit spy operation should be released immediately

Tom Fitton, President Judicial Watch

“The requests by Joe Biden and President Obama’s chief of staff to unmask the identity of President Trump’s top national security adviser reeks of corruption and abuse,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The documents about this illicit spy operation should be released immediately.”

It’s a huge struggle to obtain documents that actually belong to the American people. Those in Washington’s bureaucracy hold the keys to the kingdom: the documents reveal the truth and expose the corruption. In early 2017 I filed a Freedom of Information Act request on Sally Yates with regard to Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. I also included specific words that I expected would expedite the matter with the Department of Justice. I finally heard back from the DOJ’s FOIA office on Thursday.

I honestly was taken back at first and thought it was some sort of scam. It was real. Guess what the official told me on the phone, “can you narrow your search terms so it will be easier for us to locate the specific documents you are referring too?”

I said angrily, ” you have to be kidding, it’s been like two years. Do you think I don’t know what’s going on here?” I realized after I hung up it’s been more than three years since I put in for the FOIA. If it wasn’t for Judicial Watch the documents would disappear into the swamp and never be remembered.

In early 2017, John Solomon and I published numerous investigative stories exposing the FBI’s malfeasance in its investigation into former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. At the time Solomon and I were working for Circa, a website division of Sinclair Media Group that has since closed.

We also published extensive reports on the government’s malfeasance with regards to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the expansion spying powers on American citizens under the Obama administration. All of this set the foundation and the stage for the majority of investigations and discoveries that led to the exposure of one of the worst abuses in power in modern political history against a sitting U.S. president.

What made matters worse is that those who weaponized the system against President Trump and his administration have many minions – known as the deep state – that are part of the extensive government bureaucracy and little has been done to hold those who tore our nation apart accountable.

Unmasking Americans, like the abuse that occurred to former Trump 2016 campaign volunteer Carter Page, is the process of disclosing the identities of U.S. citizens captured in private communications to government officials. Judicial Watch notes it is “referenced in intelligence surveillance of foreign nationals. U.S. citizens’ names are typically redacted from such reports unless a specific request is made to “unmask” them.”

Judicial Watch stated in a press release that it filed “this lawsuit after the NSA failed to respond to two separate September 1, 2020 FOIA requests.” In fact, in June 2020, Judicial Watch first sued the State Department for records of requests by former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power to “unmask” Flynn. Power had testified before Congress in 2017 that she didn’t request to unmask Flynn and that her name signed on any unmasking requests must have been done by someone else. But when declassified documents were first made public in May by the National Security Agency (NSA), it showed that she had signed unmasking requests on Flynn least seven separate times betweenNov. 30, 2016, and Jan. 11, 2017.

FROM JW PRESS RELEASE

The first request seeks “records about a January 12, 2017, request to ‘unmask’ Lieutenant General Flynn submitted to NSA by or on behalf of then-Vice President Joe Biden.”

The second request asks for “records about requests to ‘unmask’ Lieutenant General Flynn submitted to NSA by or on behalf of the following officials on the dates or date ranges indicated:

Samantha Powers – Nov. 30, 2016 to Jan. 11, 2017

James Clapper – Dec. 2, 2016 to Jan. 7, 2017

Kelly Degnan – Dec. 6, 2016

John R. Phillips – Dec. 6, 2016

John Brennan – Dec. 14 & 15, 2016

Patrick Conlon – Dec. 14, 2016

Jacob Lew – Dec. 14 & 15, 2016

Arthur McGlynn – Dec. 14, 2016

Mike Neufeld – Dec. 14, 2016

Sarah Raskin – Dec. 14, 2016

Nathan Sheets – Dec. 14, 2016

Adam Szubin – Dec. 14, 2016

Robert Bell – Dec. 15, 2016

John Christenson – Dec. 15, 2016

Sarah Raskin – Dec. 15, 2016

Nathan Sheets – Dec. 15, 2016

Adam Szubin – Dec. 15, 2016

Robert Bell – Dec. 15, 2016

John Christenson – Dec. 15, 2016

James Comey – Dec. 15, 2016

Paul Geehreng – Dec. 15, 2016

Douglas Lute – Dec. 15, 2016

James Hursh – Dec. 15, 2016

Lee Litzenberger – Dec. 15, 2016

Scott Parrish – Dec. 15, 2016

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall – Dec. 15, 2016

Tamir Waser – Dec. 15, 2016

John Tefft – Dec. 16, 2016

John Bass – Dec. 28, 2016

Denis McDonough – Jan. 5, 2017

Michael Dempsy – Jan. 7, 2017

Stephanie O’Sullivan – Jan. 7, 2017

The Deputy Assistant Director of the National Media Exploitation Center, whose name was not known – December 15, 2016

The names of officials and dates identified in the FOIA requests were taken directly from a list which was declassified on May 8, 2020, by then-Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell and submitted to Senators Charles Grassley and Ron Johnson on May 13.

On May 19, Senator Grassley responded and asked for “the declassification of additional information related to the unmasking of Americans around the time of the 2016 election, but also to expand the scope of our request to include information as early as January 2016. Based on our investigation and recent press reports, we are increasingly concerned that the surveillance of U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump campaign began earlier than the opening of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation in late July 2016.”

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China Expands Charm Offensive in Southeast Asia to Squeeze out U.S.

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Similar to what is happening in the Pacific, the US is facing a significant uphill battle to balance China’s rise in Southeast Asia. During the recent G20 and ASEAN summits in Indonesia and Cambodia, the Chinese Community Party (CCP) media upped its propaganda war against the United States over Southeast Asia. Outlets like Global Times and Xinhua claim that China’s interests in Southeast Asia are focused on mutual benefits, while the US is a malicious force in the region. The CCP press also claims that China is generously giving robust and purposeful aid to the Southeast Asian countries, while the US is neglecting them.

Claim #1: China’s Interest in Southeast Asia is Peaceful and Mutually Beneficial

China’s approach to Southeast Asia is benevolent and focused on mutual benefits, according to the CCP-run press. “China’s goal is to achieve a truly prosperous and peaceful ASEAN,” and “doesn’t interfere in ASEAN members’ internal affairs,” according to Global Times. “China focuses on pragmatic issues, such as promoting infrastructure construction, living standards, which are needed in those countries,” and “China is seeking a cooperative path toward common development,” according to another Global Times article. That same article quoted Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as stating that China and the ASEAN countries “are good neighbors who will always be there for each other…”

One country that is particularly thankful for growing Chinese influence, according to the CCP press, is Indonesia. Indonesians want China to “lead…the world to a more peaceful and prosperous future,” and view Chinese President Xi Jinping “with an apparent sense of affability and affection,” according to Global Times. Marzuki Alie, former speaker of the People’s Representative Council of Indonesia, praised China as “becom[ing] essential in improving global governance,” and that “the visionary concept of building a human community with a shared future proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping shows China is willing to work with other countries to create a peaceful and secure world with openness and inclusiveness,” according to Xinhua. And perhaps the most perplexing aspect of China’s “benevolence” in Indonesia is the “Peace Ark” – a hospital ship that has recently docked in Indonesia, but that is also a navy ship run by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), according to Global Times.

Malaysia has a favorable view of China as well, according to the CCP press. Koh King Kee, president of Center for New Inclusive Asia, a Malaysian think tank, stated that “China is the backbone of the global supply chain and acts as a ballast stone of the global economy in times of uncertainty,” according to Xinhua.

And in response to US concerns over rising Chinese influence in Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian dismisses the base as not targeting any third party, according to Global Times. Cambodia’s Minister of National Defense Tea Banh further claimed that the Chinese involvement in that base is benevolent, stating that the base helps Cambodia “in cooperating with friendly countries and help[ing to] maintain regional peace, stability and prosperity,” according to that same article.

Claim #2: The US’ Interest in Southeast Asia is Manipulative, Malevolent

In contrast to China’s benevolence, the United States “only wants [ASEAN] to serve as its pawn to counter China, and to fulfill its own hegemony goal, according to Global Times. At the G20 conference in Bali, the US takes a “hegemonic, unilateral and protectionist approach,” and “is preaching war and confrontation,” according to that same article.

The US and the West are merely using the G20 summit in Bali “to advance their own geopolitical agenda against Russia, therefore preventing the crucial meeting from tackling serious economic issues,” according to another Global Times article. “Such a geopolitical focus “will worsen this uncertain and unstable world,” according to Veronika S. Saraswati, China Study Unit Convener at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies Indonesia.

According to another Global Times article, the US is using ASEAN “to drive a wedge between China and Southeast Asian nations in the future,” is attempting to “rope in the region via political, security, and value-oriented agendas,” and is trying “to buy off” Southeast Asian countries “by pledging to spend certain amount[s] of money.”

Claim #3: China gives Robust, Targeted Aid to Southeast Asia

CCP media taunts the extensive aid that China is giving to Southeast Asian countries. China has pledged $1.5 billion in “development assistance” to ASEAN countries in November 2021, and Chinese-ASEAN trade was about $878 billion in 2021, according to Global Times. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang claims that of the 160 “cooperation initiatives” that China has suggested with the ASEAN countries in the previous 10 years, over 99.5 percent of them have been implemented, as reported by another Global Times article.

Li also stated that China is planning to build emergency storage for medical supplies and rise within the ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan and South Korea) framework, according to Global Times.

Chinese state-run media is particularly touting China’s Belt and Road investments in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia and Laos. According to Global Times, the Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway will be operational in June 2023, and as a “flagship project of China-Indonesia cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative,” will be the first high speed train in Southeast Asia, according to Xinhua. China’s ambassador to Indonesia praised the project, claiming that the railway “will greatly reduce traffic jams, make travel more convenient for local people, improve local investment environment, boost businesses and tourism along the route, and accelerate the building of a high speed railway economic corridor.” The ambassador also mentioned that existing Belt and Road initiatives with Indonesia like the Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park and the PT Virtue Dragon Nickel Industry Park, “have generated tax incomes, job opportunities and foreign exchange earnings, and provided Indonesia with opportunities for greater participation in global industrial chains of stainless steel and new energy.”

Meanwhile, Global Times asserts that the China-Laos Railway has generated at least $1.7 billion in trade and has transported almost 10 million tons of goods.

Claim #4: US Investment Lags Behind China

On the other hand, the CCP media claims that the US is lagging far behind Chinese investments in Southeast Asia. President Biden’s newly announced “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” with the ASEAN countries “…looks more like a symbolic act. The US is playing the catch-up game with China,” according to Koh King Kee, president of a Malaysian think tank, according to Global Times.

US and ASEAN trade, at $441 million in 2021, was almost half that of Chinese investment for that same time, according to Global Times. President Biden pledged to ask Congress for $850 million in aid for electric vehicles and clean energy to ASEAN countries, but this amount is “symbolic” and a “mere ‘drop in the bucket’,” according to Global Times. In May, Biden “announced a $150 million development and security package” for the ASEAN countries according to that same article, which pales in comparison to the amounts in aid that China claims it is giving those same countries.

According to Global Times, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang mentioned that US investment in ASEAN is “a drop in the bucket if compared to US support for Ukraine” during the Biden administration, which Global Times claims is “over $18.9 billion in security assistance.”

Conclusion

CCP media is waging a charm offensive targeting Southeast Asia. While China is investing heavily in these countries, the US has yet to devise a credible counter to such influence.

You can follow Steve Postal on @HebraicMosaic 

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