Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

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Some Schmo
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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

Post by Some Schmo »

We've got a pandemic going on and these morons want to talk about a manufactured scandal like it's something we should concern ourselves with at the moment. Like the 2000 plus or minus deaths a day shouldn't be our overwhelming concern.

____ Trump and Fox News and their idiotic "Obamagate." You guys are assholes and a ____ disease in this country.

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

Post by EAllusion »

[quote]

Is the Flynn the first future cabinet member for an incoming administration to have conversations with foreign government leaders before January 20? [/quote]

He was on the payroll of Turkey and advancing their agenda in the government. He was their paid lobbyist and he lied about it on official forms where lying about such things is a crime. To reduce this into "having conversations with foreign government leaders" is itself a lie.

[quote]Could Comey be prosecuted for his admitted leaking? It just seems odd to me that leaking is so common and seems to be done with impunity. [/quote]You are confused here. Reporting anything that goes on in the government isn't unlawful "leaking" even if that makes sense in a colloquial sense. Comey's report of his conversation with Trump in which he was asked to drop investigation into Flynn wasn't an unlawful leak. Reporting out on intercepted conversations Flynn was having was, depending on who was doing it. It's a perfectly justifiable thing to do, given the stakes, but if they ever catch that person, you're gonna explode because then you'll have slightly more than innuendo and lies as the basis of your complaints.

[quote]Well I seriously doubt Obama will ever be held accountable for any of this any more than he was held accountable for Benghazi.[/quote]Yeah, this doesn't reply to the point you are quoting. The point you are quoting is that if you are to be believed, you don't think Obama should be "held accountable" because there is nothing to hold him accountable for. But you aren't to be believed, because you have one standard for fascist leaders you support and an completely different standard for everyone else.

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Icarus
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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

Post by Icarus »

Well written, and very informative. It hits on a lot of the points EAllusion has made over time.

Richard Grenell deploys noninformation campaign with Flynn “unmasking” document

Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, a former Fox News contributor and Republican Party stalwart who was appointed to lead the U.S. intelligence community because of his loyalty to President Donald Trump, provided a document of his own devising to Congress on Wednesday. It promptly leaked to the press. Republicans, including Trump himself, immediately seized on the content in the document as evidence of vast Obama administration malfeasance. Fox hosts spent the next two days incessantly declaring that it vindicated their conspiracy theories, turning their attention away from the coronavirus pandemic. And more credible media outlets, buffeted by the partisan claims, responded with a flurry of stories, at times failing to properly contextualize the story.

Trumpists have declared Grenell’s document a smoking gun showing that disgraced former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI about his calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, was a victim of an Obama administration conspiracy, and Fox is hyping that narrative with wall-to-wall coverage. In reality, the document provides almost no information whatsoever. It is simply a list of senior Obama administration officials who received Flynn’s name after they followed the National Security Agency’s standard process and asked the agency to unmask the identity of an individual generically referenced in an NSA report they were authorized to read. It does nothing to establish that any of the individuals named acted improperly in any way -- or even how many unmaskings were related to the Kislyak calls.

We’ve seen misinformation campaigns, where false or deceptive information is distributed, and disinformation campaigns, when that distribution is done with the full knowledge of its inaccuracy. Grenell is engaged in a noninformation campaign. He deliberately crafted and propagated a data point so vague that it is virtually meaningless on its own. But pro-Trump partisans -- particularly at Fox -- have easily picked up, misread (deliberately or not), and promoted the point, aligining it with their wild assumptions. Those furious misinterpretations have in turn spurred attention from the mainstream press, driving the conspiratorial thinking into the broader public.

This is an intentional plan that corresponds with what the president wants from his director of national intelligence. “Trump hopes enough information will be released by his intelligence appointees to muddy the waters and lend a patina of confusion about what Mr. Obama may have done, according to people familiar with his thinking,” The New York Times reported Thursday. As the president struggles in reelection polling, Trump and his Fox propagandists are using the Flynn story to try to damage the credibility of former President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s 2020 opponent.

Grenell’s noninformation campaign is the latest salvo in a years-long campaign by Trump and his Fox propagandists to turn the Russia investigation inside out, presenting the Trump associates who pleaded or were found guilty under its auspices as victims and those involved in carrying out the probe as criminals.

With vast swathes of the federal bureaucracy in the hands of partisans selected for their loyalty to the president, including the DNI and Justice Department, we should expect more of these releases -- and perhaps more dangerous actions -- in the coming months, as Trump’s supporters try to push the political debate away from the ongoing pandemic that has killed more than 80,000 Americans so far in order to secure his reelection.

The Trumpist defense of Michael Flynn
Michael Flynn is a retired general who served as Trump’s national security adviser during the 2016 presidential campaign, the transition, and the early days of his White House tenure. At various points during that timeline, Flynn was also assigned by Trump to find the Hillary Clinton emails he had publicly asked Russia to procure; was under investigation by the FBI, which was concerned with whether he was serving as a witting or unwitting agent of the Russian government; was illegally acting as an unregistered agent of the Turkish government, for which he was reportedly involved in discussions of a kidnapping plot; and was seeking Trump’s approval for a plan to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia after working as a paid adviser for the group behind the proposal.

On December 29, 2016, the day the Obama administration placed sanctions on Russia in response to its interference in the presidential election, Flynn called Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and urged him that Russia not retaliate for those sanctions. Flynn was fired as Trump’s national security adviser after reports surfaced that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about those conversations, which opened Flynn up to blackmail from the Russian government. He would later repeatedly plead guilty as part of Mueller’s probe to lying to the FBI about those calls before renouncing that plea last year.

The position on Flynn among Trumpists like Fox host Sean Hannity is that he is an American hero, that there was no good-faith reason to probe any of his actions during that period, and that anyone involved in such an effort was a participant in the broad-ranging Obama administration conspiracy to take down Trump, which the president terms “OBAMAGATE.”

Their argument features Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak in two ways: They argue that the FBI’s interview with Flynn was a nefarious “setup” and suggest that the leak about the conversation from a “senior government official” to The Washington Post’s David Ignatius for his 2017 column, which brought the call into public light, was an illegal attempt to take down Flynn and Trump by someone who had improperly “unmasked” his identity from intelligence intercepts.

William Barr’s Justice Department showed last week that the Trump administration is putting the force of the federal government behind Fox’s conspiracy theories when it filed a dubious and virtually unprecedented motion seeking to drop the government’s case against Flynn, citing the FBI’s interview tactics. And on Wednesday, Grenell tried to use his own power as the director of national intelligence to provide grist in support of the other fork of the Flynn defense.

“Unmasking” and what Grenell’s document shows
On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Grenell had declassified and provided to the Justice Department what the paper described as “an Obama-era document related to President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn” and “a list of Obama administration officials who sought to learn the identities of Trump associates swept up in surveillance of foreign officials.” Later that day, Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson sent a letter to Grenell and Barr asking for the document. Grenell provided it to the senators on Wednesday, and it was immediately leaked to CBS News’ Catherine Herridge, a former Fox reporter whose work often promotes Republican talking points. Herridge then published the letter on Twitter. (The document did not turn out to be precisely what the Times had reported. It had been generated on May 4, not during the “Obama era,” and dealt solely with cases involving Flynn, not “Trump associates” more generally.)

In NSA reports derived from the legal surveillance of foreign targets, analysts anonymize (“mask”) the names of U.S. persons to protect their privacy. It is routine for senior officials to ask the NSA to reveal (“unmask”) those identities in cases where they believe that information is necessary to understand the intelligence. The NSA has a standard procedure for doing this, including a review of the justification of the person seeking the unmasking. For context, Trump administration officials sought and received the unmasking of U.S. persons from the NSA more than 10,000 times in 2019 and nearly 17,000 times in 2018.

The document is a list created at Grenell’s request of several dozen “officials who submitted requests” to the NSA between Trump’s election and the end of January 2017 to unmask an identity which turned out to be Flynn, as detailed in an attached memorandum to Grenell from NSA Director Paul Nakasone. It provides the names of the officials, which include then-Vice President Biden, Cabinet secretaries, and intelligence agency leaders, and the date on which their requests were processed. It is the second version of the document -- as Nakasone detailed, the list was originally provided in alphabetical order but revised to be chronological.

That’s it.

Contrary to the insinuations from the right-wing figures, the document provides no evidence that any single unmasking was related to Flynn’s calls with Kislyak. In fact, the record suggests none of them were the original unmasking that first discovered Flynn had made the call, as that one was done by the FBI from its own intercept, not the NSA’s. Nor does it show that Flynn was in some way targeted -- by definition, unmasking occurs when senior administration officials don’t know the name of an American referenced in an intelligence report.

Indeed, there is no indication in the document that anyone listed behaved inappropriately -- in fact, it makes clear that the Obama-era unmaskings happened by the book. “Each individual was an authorized recipient of the original report and the unmasking was approved through NSA’s standard process, which includes a review of the justification for the request,” it states. It also points out that the NSA cannot confirm that any of the persons who requested the unmaskings eventually saw the information.

Grenell’s noninformation plot

Grenell is totally unqualified for his post. While previous occupants of his position ran intelligence agencies, he at most was a consumer of their products during a brief stint as U.S. ambassador to Germany. What he brings to the table instead, along with unswerving loyalty to the president, is broad experience in public relations and shaping news cycles, which he honed as a spokesperson for Republican politicians and for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, a strategic communications consultant for domestic and foreign clients, a Fox contributor, and a notably unhinged Twitter troll.

Grenell personally requested, sought revisions to, declassified, and provided the document to Congress in precisely this form, showing precisely what he wanted to become public.

If he wanted the document to include more information -- by for example, including the actual documents for which Flynn’s name was unmasked, or summaries thereof -- it would. Without that, despite the right-wing chorus linking Grenell’s document to Flynn’s Kislyak calls, it doesn’t provide evidence that any single unmasking had anything to do with them. In fact the majority of the unmaskings predate the calls and thus could not be related. Indeed, it doesn’t even indicate that Flynn was a participant in the intercepts used in the intelligence reports in which his name was unmasked, as the New York Times’ Charlie Savage points out:

"Under US surveillance rules, unmasking an American's identity in a report derived from foreign-intelligence surveillance is routine when necessary to understand (e.g., who was the Russian ambassador talking to?). The NSA did so 10,000 times last year, nearly 17,000 times in 2018."

"The same rules apply to intercepts of foreigners talking ABOUT an American. Hypothetical ex: an NSA intercept of Turkish officials discussing how they covertly paid "U.S. Person 1" to lobby for Gulen's extradition & are excited about his growing influence. Who's US Person 1???"

If Grenell had wanted the document to include less information -- by, for example, limiting the date range to after Flynn’s December 29 calls with Kislyak, which would reduce the list from 39 names to only eight -- it would.

What he produced is a very long list of names that maximized its impact, with no information whatsoever that any of them were involved in something the least bit inappropriate. That is, presumably, exactly what he wanted to do.

Perhaps Grenell has no evidence of wrongdoing, and few or none of the unmaskings reference the Kislyak calls (which is not implausible, as the FBI derived and distributed its own intercepts of the call with no masking as part of their already in-progress counterintelligence probe of Flynn). In that case, he’s declassified and released this information for a political purpose.

Perhaps he does have that evidence, but isn’t releasing it for now so he can continue to dribble documents out and generate more news stories as the presidential election approaches. In that case, he’s withholding that information for a political purpose.

Fox’s propagandists understand that their role in this noninformation campaign is to fill in the gaps left by the document with feverish, often fact-free speculation. Fox’s Tucker Carlson described Flynn’s unmasking as a “domestic spying operation” that was “hidden under the pretext of national security,” and that the Obama administration officials involved are “amoral creeps” who committed “felonies” and should be “punished.” His prime-time colleague Hannity opened his Monday show by asking, “What did Barack Hussein Obama know and when did he know it? Tonight, we will unravel the biggest abuse of power scandal in American history.” He also attacked Biden for “lying” about the story and claimed on Wednesday that if the officials involved in Flynn’s unmasking don’t face “justice,” “the great American republic will disintegrate before your eyes.” Despite how little information the Grenell document provides, they are convinced that it vindicates their conspiracy theories.

Meanwhile, Fox personalities are attacking the mainstream press for not obsessing over the story, with Hannity arguing that this proves they are “Democratic shills.” On Friday, Trump himself picked up that angle, praising the Fox morning show for “covering, supremely, the greatest political scandal in the history of the United States, OBAMAGATE,” while pillorying CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, and The New York Times as “Fake News” for failing to do so.

It’s no coincidence that Trump and Fox are trying to bully the mainstream press into giving the story more attention. They are counting on journalists to repeat the failures of the 2016 election and flood the zone with context-free scandal coverage that dirties up the president’s opponent. That’s the play Trump is calling, and the leaders of the Justice Department and intelligence community are eagerly supporting the effort, and will likely continue dropping noninformation and disinformation until Election Day.

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Doctor CamNC4Me
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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

Post by Doctor CamNC4Me »

Welp. Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point just posted a full banner on Drudge pushing the Flynn conspiracy. I wonder who’s funding that?

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Doctor CamNC4Me
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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

Post by Doctor CamNC4Me »

Here's the site linked from Drudge:

https://getinvolved.tpaction.com/tp_pet ... r_ds-in_di

"Members of Obama's DOJ and the intel community entrapped American Patriot Michael Flynn. Turning Point Action and other groups such as Judicial Watch have exposed the corrupt targeting of General Flynn.

Attorney General Barr dropped the case against Flynn, but the politically motivated investigation to ruin the former Army General cannot go unpunished.

Join thousands of Americans now by signing the petition urging Attorney General Barr to investigate Obama DOJ corruption."

Unbelievable.

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

Post by ajax18 »

in fact, it makes clear that the Obama-era unmaskings happened by the book.
Why did Susan Rice feel it necessary to come back 15 days later and point out that President Obama wanted the Flynn investigation to be done, "by the book?" It's not that far of a stretch to believe she was specifically covering for the presidents cabinet not doing the investigation by the book. This is partly why I think if anyone goes to jail over this, Obama will be covered and can just say he didn't know what those underneath him were doing.
"Under US surveillance rules, unmasking an American's identity in a report derived from foreign-intelligence surveillance is routine when necessary to understand (e.g., who was the Russian ambassador talking to?).
Unmasking requires an imminent military/terrorist threat to the United States or a clear act of sabotage. You can't unmask a citizens private conversation just because you don't like the results of the last election and want to find a way to undo it.
Last edited by ajax18 on Sat May 16, 2020 11:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

Post by EAllusion »

Ajax, suppose while spying on Saudi Arabian officials our intelligence uncovers an American citizen who is having conversations with those officials about plans to circumvent American rules for transferring over sensitive nuclear technology to them. Do you think the President, say President Trump, has a right to ask, "which American citizen is that?" when finding out about this? How about the Secretary of State?

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

Post by EAllusion »

[quote]
Unmasking requires an imminent military/terrorist threat to the United States or a clear act of sabotage. You can't unmask a citizens private conversation just because you want don't like the results of the last election and want to find a way to undo it.[/quote]

That's blatantly false, and really wrong on several numbers of fronts. You seem to be confusing "unmasking" with something like directly surveilling, but even if we grant you that confusion, the criteria for that is much lower than an imminent military or terrorist threat. The US spies on foreign powers. Sometimes American citizens are caught up in our intercepts because they are having conversations with those foreign powers. Because we don't want this lead to unnecessary surveillance of American citizens, those names are redacted on a need to know basis with an internal process within the executive branch to determine that. The unredacting is "unmasking" them.

Also, by definition, you don't know who you are unmasking until you unmask them. I'm sure it can be inferred from context clues sometimes, but if you knew for sure, then you wouldn't need to unmask them. They'd already be unmasked.

Flynn was involved in all sorts of shady communications, some of which we didn't know about until this story dropped, where it seems to makes sense to know which American citizen it was. If you say Flynn had a right to be in talks to give up nuclear tech to Saudi Arabia, for instance, because of his role with Trump, that's not a defense of unmasking him because you don't know it's Flynn doing that until you unmask him. Prior to that, it's just some unknown American citizen conspiring with Saudis on American nuclear secrets.

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Icarus
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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

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Ajax is confusing unmasking with assassinating military leaders of other countries. Something Trump did sans an imminent threat.

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

Post by Res Ipsa »

ajax18 wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 9:55 am
in fact, it makes clear that the Obama-era unmaskings happened by the book.
Unmasking requires an imminent military/terrorist threat to the United States or a clear act of sabotage. You can't unmask a citizens private conversation just because you don't like the results of the last election and want to find a way to undo it.
Still waiting for that law that you said requires a warrant. Add to your to do list the law that requires an imminent military/terrorist threat. I'll be waiting.

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

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EAllusion wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 10:12 am
Ajax, suppose while spying on Saudi Arabian officials our intelligence uncovers an American citizen who is having conversations with those officials about plans to circumvent American rules for transferring over sensitive nuclear technology to them.
I suppose so. Are you saying this is what Flynn did? How do you know he did this for sure? I'm still unclear on why the ambassador to the UN needs this information.

At first I thought you were talking about Bill Clinton but then I remembered it was China to whom he was circumventing American rules for transferring over sensitive nuclear technology.

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

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Ajax: unmasking requires a warrant

Fact: No it doesn't

Ajax: unmasking requires an imminent military/terrorist threat

Fact: No it doesn't.

I'm just wondering ajax, at what point you'll begin to realize that your preferred sources are constantly lying to you.

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

Post by Doctor CamNC4Me »

Ajax likes to parrot the totally-not-fake-news he's consuming's tactic of asking leading questions that leave the reader to fill in the blanks with their own paranoia. The only difference I see between Ajax and subgenius and LDSFAQs is that Ajax can actually form sentences, which, at this point, is a ____ amazing accomplishment when interacting with a Conservaspiratard.

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

Post by ajax18 »

Thus, it remains a question as to who initially unmasked Flynn’s name and how Comey was allowed to share that information to those who did not have to specifically request to unmask him, and why the unmasking request is not on the declassified list of unmaskers after the December 29 phone calls.

It also remains a question as to who exactly leaked the calls to the Post. Since the unfinished intelligence is still classified intelligence, sharing or speaking about it to the Post still would have been illegal.
https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020 ... his-calls/

This seems to fit with EAllusions point about who illegally leaked this intelligence to the Post being a crime. I thought leaking was illegal by definition. Why would you call it leaking if it's not illegal? It's just a press conference then right?

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

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As long as the disclosure does not involve classified information or is not otherwise a crime federal employees are entitled to relief from any disciplinary action taken in retaliation for leaks to the press, which they reasonably believe evidence is a violation of law, rule, or regulations, gross mismanagement, a gross abuse or misuse of government funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. <- This is one sentence long, and should fall within Ajax’s attention span, BUT, it’s also wordy and fairly technical which may shut his brain off within two lines.

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

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Ajax you've been proven to be wrong several times now so why do you continue to rely on the source that has been lying to you?

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

Post by EAllusion »

It's not all that unclear *why* the information about the Flynn call was leaked to the Post. Flynn was caught, on tape, attempting to work with Russians to reward them for a recent attack on our democracy. It's quite likely that whomever leaked that information wanted to alert the public about such behavior given that Flynn was up to become the national security advisor and thwarting such influence in our government would be a reasonable motive for a person to have. Flynn said he did not recall if Trump ordered him to have that call or not, because that's totally something somebody forgets, but we know our government reacted internally by trying to warn the Trump admin, which is both hilarious and depressing when you think about it. The Trump admin, if you recall, claimed not to know about this and acknowledged Flynn's guilt when he lied about it in public and to the FBI. Strange that even though this underlying fact hasn't changed, they're now treating Flynn as a hero-victim, isn't it?

Why the person did it is a separate question from whether it was illegal. There's a good chance it was, but we don't know enough to know for sure. It's a perfectly justified whistleblow in any case as far as I'm concerned, but if Barr's goons ever get that person, that's where the focus is going to go because then at least there's actual illegal behavior to attack. All this vague innuendo based on lies right now just lays the ground work for the press to run with an explosive scandal story if they find that person in order to be "fair" and "balanced." Then that inevitable irresponsible press attention can be used, ala "emails!" to imply that there's something to all the charges being leveled in the alternative universe of crazy conspiracy theories and that Trump is an innocent victim of a witch-hunt. It's obvious deception, but our press is quite bad and people have a hard time keeping track of facts, so that doesn't mean it won't work as much as it needs to.

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

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Why the person did it is a separate question from whether it was illegal. There's a good chance it was, but we don't know enough to know for sure.
I guess every voter should know that there was nothing illegal about this leak. If not then they're stupid and uninformed. Or perhaps they just lack the correct political bias, which is the same as low IQ, stupid, redneck, hillbilly, country boy, southerner, etc.

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

Post by Doctor CamNC4Me »

Skim. Stop. Browse a couple of sentences. Then write something nonsensical.

Yep. Perfect.

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

Post by Icarus »

ajax18 wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 5:18 pm
Why the person did it is a separate question from whether it was illegal. There's a good chance it was, but we don't know enough to know for sure.
I guess every voter should know that there was nothing illegal about this leak. If not then they're stupid and uninformed. Or perhaps they just lack the correct political bias, which is the same as low IQ, stupid, redneck, hillbilly, country boy, southerner, etc.
This isn't about political bias unless you're talking about people like you who insist on reading Brietbart which is a fake news outlet. It is about indisputable facts. You've asserted a few things that are demonstrably false but you never feel the need to back up your claims even when asked by several people to do so. You just dodge and throw out some other Brietbart nugget that gets shot down just as quickly. And now you're looking for pity because someone called you a hillbilly months ago?

Good grief you folks are a sad lot.

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Re: Obamagate and Unmasking Flynn

Post by Doctor CamNC4Me »

We’ve literally watched a man hit his literal mental and emotional maturation limit with Ajax. 10 years of this ____. It’s amazing to realize that sometimes a person’s coding is such that they can’t exceed the limits of their programming. It is what it is.

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