The battle over Florida ripped a veil off a dysfunctional system .
Over the past 16 years – ever since the epic, 36-day presidential showdown in Florida in 2000 that was resolved not by a full recount of the votes, but by a supreme court split along partisan lines – accusations of vote-rigging and out-and-out theft have become increasingly common among partisans on both sides, and the electoral process has become ever more politicized, rancorous and fraught with mistrust.
Opinion polls suggested that Trump’s charges of a “rigged election” have struck a nerve: 41% of voters believe him when he says the election could be stolen, according to one survey. More than two-thirds of all Republicans believe that if Hillary Clinton is declared the winner, it will be because of illegal voting or vote-rigging, according to another.
Eight years before Trump ever publicly uttered the words “rigged election”, Obama’s first Republican opponent, John McCain, said in a presidential debate that Acorn was “on the verge of perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy”.
While Democratic candidates have rarely resorted to such inflammatory language, their rank-and-file supporters certainly have, suggesting the problem crosses party lines. The 2004 election, which saw George W Bush re-elected despite the mounting unpopularity of the Iraq war, saw an explosion of unfounded conspiracy theories that Republicans were in cahoots with the manufacturers of electronic voting machines and would never lose an election again.
Then the battle over Florida ripped a veil off a dysfunctional system and offered an opportunity not just for meaningful electoral reform – a slow and frustrating process – but also for new forms of political warfare unseen since the darkest days of the segregation era in which the electoral process itself became fair game, particularly for the Republicans.
New revelations have surfaced that the Obama administration abused intelligence during the election by launching a massive domestic spy campaign that included snooping on Trump officials.
The irony is mind-boggling: Targeting political opposition is long a technique of police states like Russia, which Team Obama has loudly condemned for allegedly using its own intelligence agencies to hack into our election.
The revelations, as well as testimony this week from former Obama intel officials, show the extent to which the Obama administration politicized and weaponized intelligence against Americans.
Thanks to Circa News, we now know the National Security Agency under President Barack Obama routinely violated privacy protections while snooping through foreign intercepts involving US citizens — and failed to disclose the breaches, prompting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court a month before the election to rebuke administration officials.
The story concerns what’s known as “upstream” data collection under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, under which the NSA looks at the content of electronic communication. Upstream refers to intel scooped up about third parties: Person A sends Person B an email mentioning Person C. Though Person C isn’t a party to the email, his information will be scooped up and potentially used by the NSA.
Further, the number of NSA data searches about Americans mushroomed after Obama loosened rules for protecting such identities from government officials and thus the reporters they talk to.
The FISA court called it a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue” that NSA analysts — in violation of a 2011 rule change prohibiting officials from searching Americans’ information without a warrant — “had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed to the Court.”
A number of those searches were made from the White House, and included private citizens working for the Trump campaign, some of whose identities were leaked to the media. The revelations earned a stern rebuke from the ACLU and from civil liberties champion Sen. Rand Paul.
We also learned this week that Obama intelligence officials really had no good reason attaching a summary of a dossier on Trump to a highly classified Russia briefing they gave to Obama just weeks before Trump took office.
Under congressional questioning Tuesday, Obama’s CIA chief John Brennan said the dossier did not “in any way” factor into the agency’s assessment that Russia interfered in the election. Why not? Because as Obama intel czar James Clapper earlier testified, “We could not corroborate the sourcing.”
But that didn’t stop Brennan in January from attaching its contents to the official report for the president. He also included the unverified allegations in the briefing he gave Hill Democrats.
In so doing, Brennan virtually guaranteed that it would be leaked, which it promptly was.
In short, Brennan politicized raw intelligence. In fact, he politicized the entire CIA.
Langley vets say Brennan was the most politicized director in the agency’s history. Former CIA field operations officer Gene Coyle said Brennan was “known as the greatest sycophant in the history of the CIA, and a supporter of Hillary Clinton before the election. I find it hard to put any real credence in anything that the man says.”
Coyle noted that Brennan broke with his predecessors who stayed out of elections. Several weeks before the vote, he made it very clear he was pulling for Hillary. His deputy Mike Morell even came out and publicly endorsed her in the New York Times, claiming Trump was an “unwitting agent” of Moscow.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she believes that the Democratic National Committee was “rigged” in favor of former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the 2016 primary.