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Democrats Shouldn’t Dismiss Nunes’ Spying Claims So Quickly: New at Reason

Democrats used to warn about the kind of “incidental” data collection House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) talked about yesterday.

David Harsanyi writes:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told reporters yesterday that members of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team—and possibly Trump himself—may have been caught up in surveillance during the last days of the Obama administration. Nunes says the surveillance, by both the FBI and NSA, looked to be legal “incidental collection” that had nothing to do with concerns over Russia collusion.

If true, this isn’t the wiretapping of Trump Towers, as Trump claimed in his infamous tweet a few weeks ago, but it is spying in any commonly understood sense of the word. The NSA routinely listens to calls and reads emails of Americans and collects other data “incidentally” from third parties, avoiding warrants. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which has been found constitutional, states that government doesn’t need a warrant to collect information on Americans as long as the target of the collection is a foreigner.

That’s one thing. But if we’re to believe Nunes, the names of Trump associates were “unmasked,” and “details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.” CNN reported that some of the communications picked up were of Trump transition officials talking about the president’s family. What possible need was there for those details to be passed around in an intelligence report? Who ordered the unmasking of the people involved? Was the information properly minimized? If the investigation wasn’t aimed at collusion with the Russians, what investigation ensnared the president-elect and his transition team?

While the answers might not vindicate Trump, they are legitimate questions.

View this article.

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Trump Demands Health Care Vote Today, Jay Z Making Trayvon Martin Movie, Sex Toys Were Really Water Snakes: A.M. Links

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Brickbat: Sacred and Profane

Ruslan Sokolovsky faces up to seven and a half years in prison for playing Pokemon Go inside a church in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Officials have charged Sokolovsky with inciting religious hatred and insulting the feelings of religious believers….

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