It appears we are about to find out if one of my long-standing theories about surveillance of Michael Flynn is correct. Flynn was not “unmasked”, because he was the direct target.
For three years the official media account of how the intelligence community gained the transcript of incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn talking to Ambassador Sergey Kisliyak on December 29th, 2016, surrounded “incidental collection” as a result of contact with an agent of a foreign power.
Meaning the Flynn call was picked up as the U.S. intelligence apparatus was conducting surveillance on Russian Ambassador Kisliyak.
If this version of events were accurate (it’s not), it would fall under FISA-702 collection: the monitoring of a foreign agent (Kislyak) who has contact with a U.S. person (Flynn).
In order to review the identity of the U.S. person, a process called ‘unmasking’, a 702 submission must be made. As NSA Director Rogers said: that submission, the unmasking, leaves a paper/electronic trail. However, I do not think that is what happened, here’s why:
Back in 2017 Senator Lindsey Graham questioned former DAG Sally Yates and former DNI James Clapper. Within the questioning, Sally Yates tipped her hand. There was never an unmasking of Flynn because Flynn was a target; it was not incidental collection. WATCH:
Sally Yates doesn’t directly say Flynn was a target, but by now we all know he was a target of the FBI investigation. As a result of Flynn being the actual target he would be directly identified within the intelligence documents because the investigation would be about him, and not incidental. But there’s more…
In the three years following this testimony, there was nothing that would deliver the answer as to: who unmasked General Michael Flynn? The reason why is simple, Flynn wasn’t unmasked – because he was the target of authorized active surveillance.
Here’s another way we know.
♦ First, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok were watching that hearing where Senator Lindsey Graham was questioning Sally Yates and James Clapper. As they discussed in their text messages the issue of “unmasking” is irrelevant. “incidental collection” is the “incorrect narrative”:
The “incidental collection” is an “incorrect narrative” because the collection was not incidental. Flynn was actively being monitored. Flynn was an active target in an ongoing FBI counterintelligence investigation. Flynn was THE target.
♦ Second, more evidence of Flynn under active surveillance is found in the Mueller report where the special prosecutor outlines that Flynn was under an active investigation prior to the phone call with Ambassador Kislyak:
Mary McCord was the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the DOJ National Security Division, after John Carlin left in October of 2016. McCord knew about the active FBI investigation of General Flynn. [McCord was also the person who Sally Yates took with her to the White House to confront White House Counsel Don McGahn about the Flynn call and FBI interview.]
It is now admitted by public document releases that Flynn was under investigation during the President-elect transition period when the Kislyak phone call took place.
Put it all together and…. (1) There was never an unmasking request because the collection was not incidental…. (2) Because the intercept was not incidental. (3) Because the intercept was part of the multi-year FBI ongoing investigation of Michael Flynn which included surveillance.
If my three-year hunch is correct, the lack of incidental collection is why FISA-702 doesn’t apply; and why there’s no paper trail to a Flynn unmasking request. The intercept was not ‘incidental‘ because the intercept was the result of direct monitoring and authorized surveillance being conducted on Michael Flynn.
However, the unmasking of Trump campaign officials as noted by the concerns of Devin Nunes; which directly relates to the documents that Ric Grenell may have just presented to Attorney General Bill Barr; is an even bigger issue.
Because Flynn was an active target of the FBI counterintelligence investigation, anyone who came in contact with the target would be identified as U.S. Person 1, 2, 3 etc.
Anyone and everyone who came in contact with Flynn would be masked in the intelligence reports; Flynn would not. So when there are mountains of “unmaskings” of Trump campaign officials, those would apply to anyone who came in contact with Flynn. That is what shocked Devin Nunes as he outlined the unmasking requests:
March 27, 2017, then House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Devin Nunes, held a brief press conference and stated he was provided intelligence reports brought to him by unnamed sources including ‘significant information’ about President-Elect Trump and his transition team.
These reports included unmaskings of President Trump campaign officials; and included Donald Trump himself…. You know what that means:
1.) …”On numerous occasions the [Obama] intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.”
2.) “Details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration; details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.”
3.) “Third, I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition members were unmasked.”
4.) “Fourth and finally, I want to be clear; none of this surveillance was related to Russia, or the investigation of Russian activities, or of the Trump team.
“The House Intelligence Committee will thoroughly investigate surveillance and its subsequent dissemination, to determine a few things here that I want to read off:”
- “Who was aware of it?”
- “Why it was not disclosed to congress?”
- “Who requested and authorized the additional unmasking?”
- “Whether anyone directed the intelligence community to focus on Trump associates?”
- “And whether any laws, regulations or procedures were violated?”
“I have asked the Directors of the FBI, NSA and CIA to expeditiously comply with my March 15th letter -that you all received a couple of weeks ago- and to provide a full account of these surveillance activities.”
Does that make sense now?
When candidate Trump brought Lt. General Michael Flynn into the campaign, he essentially brought in a person who was under an ongoing FBI investigation.
Everyone that Flynn then came in contact with then became a “U.S. Person” identified in the intelligence reports. Those U.S. Persons were then unmasked.
That’s why so many unmaskings.
Flynn was the infection that authorized additional persons to be reviewed and unmasked. The research therein shows up to NSA Director Mike Rogers when the NSA auditor notes a significant uptick in FBI searches of the NSA database. From Rogers position this is what he would see:
However, what Rogers would not see is the unmasking taking place at FBI for the people being searched.
This video of questioning again by Senator Graham shows the dynamic. (A) Rogers notes the FBI would likely have more incidental collection and subsequent unmasking as an aspect of their investigative search functions; and (B) He wouldn’t know because that’s outside of his compartment.
If my long-standing hunch is correct, we’ll soon find out that: (1) Michael Flynn was the walking surveillance infection; (2) those who Flynn came into contact with will cross-reference to the 702 “About” queries; and (3) the FBI reports on those Flynn contacts will contain the unmasked names of the various Trump campaign officials that Barr might soon release.
The FBI did not need a Title-1 FISA surveillance warrant against Flynn because they were already conducting regular Title-3 surveillance on him as a potential domestic national security risk. Thus it was all Flynn’s calls being monitored, not just Sergey Kislyak.
We’ll soon find out if my hunch has been correct…