Thursday, March 16, 2017


Submitted by: Royce Latham

Literal wiretaps probably weren’t used in any of the relevant cases.  Wiretapping is old-school technology.  It is still sometimes used, just not very often now, as compared to the constant monitoring of digital communications. Today, digital communications data is recorded in bulk, and searched later for the targets that become interesting to intelligence or law enforcement, for one reason or another.  That includes voice data (“phone calls”), as well as text-based data of various kinds.

When FISA warrants were sought against Trump-connected communications twice in 2016 – and I pointed this out in the earlier posts – they would have been warrants to retrieve data from the store of it that is constantly recorded.  We can be sure the data is constantly recorded on Trump Tower, in particular, because there are targets of national security interest with space leased there.  Those targets include the two Russian banks mentioned in the June 2016 warrant application (see my 6 March post).

In the two earlier posts, I alluded to the Executive Order 12333 revision made by James Clapper and Loretta Lynch that loosened the rules for agencies retrieving “unminimized” data on Americans.  Clapper and Lynch made this change in the very last weeks of the Obama administration – and their revisions basically loosened the rules into meaninglessness.

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