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 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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Shanghai: China’s Potemkin Village
Following a recent outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has imposed a month-long draconian lockdown on the residents of Shanghai. The CCP has used the outbreak to persecute its own citizens, including through forced evictions and quarantines, and placing alarms on doors to prevent COVID-19 people from leaving their homes. The harsh measures have resulted in food and healthcare shortages and separation of families.
But of course, we wouldn’t know that by reading the CCP-run press readily available in the United States. Instead of presenting the facts, the CCP engages in a comprehensive propaganda campaign that props up Shanghai as a Chinese Potemkin village. The CCP media asserts that China’s actions in Shanghai are benevolent and wise, while Western criticism is a product of malice. Chinese state-run media also insists that the Shanghai lockdown promotes economic stability in China and the world.
Claim 1: China Has the Best Policy for Combating COVID-19
The CCP media portray the Shanghai lockdown as the best and ideal policy. As cited by a XinhuaNet editorial, “China’s dynamic zero-COVID approach” is “the best option to save lives,” according to a “Rwandan researcher and publisher,” “…a miracle for us to learn,” according to a Kenyan scholar, and “a very ideal response,” according to Ethiopia’s National COVID-19 Response Task Force Coordinator. According to CCP media, Chinese citizens have greeted the Shanghai lockdown warmly, even with “[a] mixed sense of intensity, unity and hopefulness,” according to China Daily.
Claim 2: The West Hypocritically Defames China
The CCP press also accuses the West of lying about the Shanghai lockdown, and using COVID policies for nefarious ends. According to XinhuaNet, “Shanghai…has never imposed what Western media described as a ‘lockdown.’” Other CCP editorials actually accuse the West of malice. One Global Times editorial claims that the lockdown “has been deliberately exaggerated by the West.” Another Global Times editorial asserts that the Western approach of “coexisting with the virus” amounts to a way “…to drive out a large number of the vulnerable people with low immunity,” and a form of “cruel social Darwinism.”
Claim 3: China’s COVID Policies Result in an Economic Windfall to China and the World
The CCP also portrays the lockdown as necessary to achieve great economic growth in China and beyond. One Global Times editorial, while conceding that the lockdown amounted to a “sealing-off,” it is “a temporary measure to better resume work and production and to make the economy and society function more effectively. Its effectiveness has been proven.” According to another Global Times editorial, China’s policy is “widely considered to be the best strategy…to both contain the epidemic and ensure stable economic development.”
In an Orwellian fashion, Chinese press claims that China is solving, not causing, the world’s economic problems. According to XinhuaNet, “China has played a decisive role in stabilizing the global economy and resuming the supply chain disrupted by COVID-19.” Citing a Bloomberg article, the same XinhuaNet editorial claims that China “has prevented a huge number of deaths at home and ensured that everything from iPhones and Teslas to fertilizer and car parts continues to flow to the rest of the world.” Chinese citizens, of course, are collateral damage: Ji Qiwei, vice-general manager of SAIC Motor Passenger Vehicle, stated that “The domestic market may be impacted a little by the COVID-19 outbreak this year, but our export market will continue to see strong growth,” according to China Daily.
While the world continues to suffer economic and human damage as a result of COVID-19, China continues to revise history regarding its role. Through its propaganda in its English publications of Xinhua, China Daily, and Global Times, China seeks to portray itself as a benevolent force in the fight against the virus.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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