Lost amidst all the reports of spooks, leaks, and alleged Russian influence is the media's selective memory - although it's actually quite obvious.
A week ago, President Trump unleashed a media firestorm when he accused former President Barack Obama in a tweet of wiretapping Trump Tower in New York.
The standard portrayal: Once again, the president has shot from the hip, right into his foot, "without any evidence" whatever.
These are the same media that excitedly accused the Russians of "hacking the election," based on a report from the CIA, FBI and NSA in early January while Mr. Obama was still president. The partly declassified document alleges that the Russians were involved in securing the hacked emails released by WikiLeaks that embarrassed the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign chief John Podesta. Ouch. That did not help the Dems. But just to be clear, the Russians could not possibly "hack" the nation's thousands of independent voting machines.
In their zeal to make Mr. Trump appear to be unhinged, the media pointedly ignore earlier reports by The New York Times that the Obama administration months ago had, indeed, unleashed America's intelligence agencies in an effort to prove that Russia was conniving with Trump associates to elect Mr. Trump. In other words, they were spying on the Trump campaign.
Here's a profoundly revealing passage from a front-page article in The New York Times on Jan. 20, the day Mr. Trump was inaugurated:
"WASHINGTON — American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald Trump."
The article says that "no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing" was found, but here's the kicker:
"One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House."
Whoa. "Wiretapped communications?" Isn't that what Mr. Trump alleged?
McClatchy reported on Jan. 18 that the FBI was working alongside five other federal agencies on the Russia-Trump probe, including the CIA, NSA, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department and the office of the Director of National Intelligence.
A gusher of leaks started pouring out with sensitive intelligence before and after Mr. Trump took office. One leak took down National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn. Another was aimed at creating the impression that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had committed perjury during his confirmation hearing when asked by Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat, about communications between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Mr. Sessions, who had met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his office once in September, and had seen him briefly with several other ambassadors at a forum in Cleveland in July, told Sen. Franken that he had no communications with the Russians. He later said he understood the context to be solely campaign-related, and that he had met with Mr. Kislyak in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. So did several Democrats.
This past week, the Huffington Post published another "gotcha," noting that Mr. Sessions was at a Trump reception in Washington, DC, last April and might, just might, have run into Mr. Kislyak, who was also in attendance. It's conjecture, but it boosts the "resign now, Sessions" narrative.
Getting back to the leaks, where are they all coming from? Probably many sources, not just WikiLeaks. As reported by Circa News' John Solomon and Sara Carter, the Obama administration "amended a long-standing executive order allowing information intercepted through FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] warrants or by the National Security Agency to be shared to a wider audience in 16 government agencies as Obama was leaving office."
Imagine how many left-wing moles there are in those agencies who are only too eager to leak something to hurt the Trump team, regardless of what it does to national security. This is right up there with the Obama Internal Revenue Service's targeting of political enemies. Plain-spoken talk show host Mark Levin, who has done a masterful job of stringing together the evidence involving the leaks, calls it "police state tactics."
Some of the leaks easily violate the Espionage Act, which provides for a fine and prison for up to 10 years to "Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government."
That would certainly cover the massive WikiLeaks disclosure of the CIA's latest methods of surveillance, which are enough to give us all the creeps. The spies can turn on our smart phones and televisions' microphones and listen in even when you think they're off? And create a false path so that it appears that someone else did the hacking? Good grief.
As far back as June, the Obama administration had been seeking a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump computer server and phone lines, and reportedly secured one for the server in October. If true, that means they were spying – you could call it wiretapping – on a server used by the Trump people.
At the very least, the Obama administration appears to have widely spread information to the media about the Russia probe as part of the left's campaign to delegitimize Mr. Trump's election.
Still think Mr. Trump is making all this up?
Watch what you say. Your smartphone may be listening.
Robert Knight is a senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union. This column first appeared on The Washington Times' website.
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