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Update: House Intel Chairman Nunes spoke to reporters when he left the briefing at The White House and had some more stunning things to say:
And the punchline: there are "multiple FISA warrants outstanding against Trump" Nunes also told reporters:
Wow - Nunes just said there are "multiple FISA warrants out there" involving Trump.
— Tom Watson (@tomwatson) March 22, 2017
* * *
As we detailed earlier, it appears Trump may have been right, again.
Two days after FBI director Comey shot down Trump's allegation that Trump was being wiretapped by president Obama before the election, it appears that president Trump may have been on to something because moments ago, the House Intelligence Chairman, Devin Nunes, told reporters that the U.S. intelligence community incidentally collected information on members of President Trump's transition team, possibly including Trump himself, and the information was "widely disseminated" in intelligence reports.
As AP adds, Nunes said that President Donald Trump's communications may have been "monitored" during the transition period as part of an "incidental collection."
Nunes told a news conference Wednesday that the communications appear to be picked up through "incidental collection" and do not appear to be related to the ongoing FBI investigation into Trump associates' contacts with Russia. He says he believes the intelligence collections were done legally, although in light of the dramatic change in the plotline it may be prudent to reserve judgment on how "incidental" it was.
"I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community collected information on U.S. individuals involved in the Trump transition," Nunes told reporters.
"Details about U.S. persons involved in the incoming administration with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reports."
The information was "legally brought to him by sources who thought we should know it," Nunes said, though he provided little detail on the source.
BREAKING!!! Rep Devin Nunes (Intel Cmte Chmn):
There was "Incidental collection" of @realDonaldTrump thru IC surveillance <- BOMBSHELL
— Eric Bolling (@ericbolling) March 22, 2017
Nunes also said that "additional names" of Trump transition officials had been unmasked in the intelligence reports. He indicated that Trump's communications may have been swept up.
The House Intel Chair said he had viewed dozens of documents showing that the information had been incidentally collected. He said that he believes the information was legally collected. Nunes said that the intelligence has nothing to do with Russia and that the collection occurred after the presidential election.
Nunes said he briefed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on the revelation and will inform the White House later today. Nunes' statement comes after he and other congressional leaders pushed back on Trump's claims that former President Obama had his "wires tapped" in Trump Tower ahead of the election.
Nunes said Wednesday that it was unclear whether the information incidentally collected originated in Trump Tower.
The revelation comes in the wake of the committee's explosive hearing on Monday, at which FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the bureau has been investigating Russia’s election hacking since July, which includes probing possible coordination between members of Trump’s presidential campaign and Moscow.
The meeting represented the panel’s first open hearing on its investigation into Russia’s election meddling and also featured testimony from NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers.
Nunes says the communications of Trump associates were also picked up, but he did not name those associates. He says the monitoring mostly occurred in November, December and January. He added that he learned of the collection through "sources" but did not specify those source
Politico adds that Nunes is going to the White House later Wednesday to brief the Trump administration on what he has learned, which he said came from "sources."
Nunes says he is "bothered" by this. Won't say whether or not intel community spied on Trump et. al. But says he is "concerned."
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) March 22, 2017
While there are no further details, we look forward to how the media narrative will change as a result of today's latest dramatic development.
In anti-intellectual email, Wellesley profs call engaging with controversial arguments an imposition on students
In an email to fellow faculty yesterday afternoon, a committee of Wellesley College professors made several startling recommendations about how they think future campus speakers should be chosen. If implemented, the proposals by the faculty Commission for Ethnicity, Race, and Equity would have a profound impact on the quality and quantity of voices Wellesley students would be permitted to hear.
FIRE has obtained the email, sent by one of the signatories to a faculty listserv, and republished it in full below.
While paying lip service to free speech, the email is remarkable in its contempt for free and open dialogue on campus. Asserting that controversial speakers “impose on the liberty of students, staff, and faculty at Wellesley,” the committee members lament the fact that such speakers negatively impact students by forcing them to “invest time and energy in rebutting the speakers’ arguments.”
And here we thought learning to effectively challenge views with which one disagreed was an important part of the educational process!
They point specifically to a recent appearance by Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis, a self-described feminist who has criticized Title IX implementation and a “culture of sexual paranoia” on campuses.
— Freedom Project (@WellesleyFP) March 12, 2017
— Edify (@wburEDify) March 8, 2017
The committee recommends that those inviting any future speakers “consider whether, in their zeal for promoting debate, they might, in fact, stifle productive debate by enabling the bullying of disempowered groups,” adding that the committee would be “happy to serve as a sounding board when hosts are considering inviting controversial speakers, to help sponsors think through the various implications of extending an invitation.” They also argue that “standards of respect and rigor must remain paramount when considering whether a speaker is actually qualified for the platform granted by an invitation to Wellesley.”
But the implementation of such reforms would, in itself, establish a campus orthodoxy and a climate in which any speaking invitation might be subject to prior review by a select few faculty.
Kipnis, reached for comment by FIRE, disapproved.
“I find it absurd that six faculty members at Wellesley can call themselves defenders of free speech and also conflate my recent talk with bullying the disempowered,” Kipnis told FIRE in an email.
“What actually happened was that there was a lively back and forth after I spoke. The students were smart and articulate, including those who disagreed with me.”
“I’m going to go further and say — as someone who’s been teaching for a long time, and wants to see my students able to function in the world post-graduation — that protecting students from the ‘distress’ of someone’s ideas isn’t education, it’s a $67,000 babysitting bill.”
FIRE will be looking more into this development at Wellesley in the coming days.
* * *Full email below:
From: ?Michael P Jeffries? <?email@example.com?>
Date: Mon, Mar 20, 2017 at 1:43 PM
Subject: [FacStaffDiscuss] Statement from CERE faculty re: Laura Kipnis Freedom Project visit and aftermath
To: Faculty-Staff Discussion <?firstname.lastname@example.org?>
To: Wellesley Community
From: Faculty on Commission for Ethnicity, Race, and Equity (CERE)
Re: Laura Kipnis visit and aftermath
Over the past few years, several guest speakers with controversial and objectionable beliefs have presented their ideas at Wellesley. We, the faculty in CERE, defend free speech and believe it is essential to a liberal arts education. However, as historian W. Jelani Cobb notes, “The freedom to offend the powerful is not equivalent to the freedom to bully the relatively disempowered. The enlightenment principles that undergird free speech also prescribed that the natural limits of one’s liberty lie at the precise point at which it begins to impose upon the liberty of another.”
There is no doubt that the speakers in question impose on the liberty of students, staff, and faculty at Wellesley. We are especially concerned with the impact of speakers’ presentations on Wellesley students, who often feel the injury most acutely and invest time and energy in rebutting the speakers’ arguments. Students object in order to affirm their humanity. This work is not optional; students feel they would be unable to carry out their responsibilities as students without standing up for themselves. Furthermore, we object to the notion that onlookers who are part of the faculty or administration are qualified to adjudicate the harm described by students, especially when so many students have come forward. When dozens of students tell us they are in distress as a result of a speaker’s words, we must take these complaints at face value.
What is especially disturbing about this pattern of harm is that in many cases, the damage could have been avoided. The speakers who appeared on campus presented ideas that they had published, and those who hosted the speakers could certainly anticipate that these ideas would be painful to significant portions of the Wellesley community. Laura Kipnis’s recent visit to Wellesley prompted students to respond to Kipnis’s presentation with a video post on Facebook.
Kipnis posted the video on her page, and professor Tom Cushman left a comment that publicly disparaged the students who produced the video. Professor Cushman apologized for his remarks, but in light of these developments, we recommend the following.
First, those who invite speakers to campus should consider whether, in their zeal for promoting debate, they might, in fact, stifle productive debate by enabling the bullying of disempowered groups. We in CERE are happy to serve as a sounding board when hosts are considering inviting controversial speakers, to help sponsors think through the various implications of extending an invitation.
Second, standards of respect and rigor must remain paramount when considering whether a speaker is actually qualified for the platform granted by an invitation to Wellesley. In the case of an academic speaker, we ask that the Wellesley host not only consider whether the speaker holds credentials, but whether the presenter has standing in his/her/their discipline. This is not a matter of ideological bias. Pseudoscience suggesting that men are more naturally equipped to excel in STEM fields than women, for example, has no place at Wellesley. Similar arguments pertaining to race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, and other identity markers are equally inappropriate.
Third, faculty and administrators should step up in defense of themselves and all members of the Wellesley community. The responsibility to defend the disempowered does not rest solely with students, and the injuries suffered by students, faculty, and staff are not contained within the specific identity group in question; they ripple throughout our community and prevent Wellesley from living out its mission.
North Korea has tested the patience of America for way too long, now that there is a new sheriff in town, President Trump, things may be different.
Ron Paul has some views on this too... Is North Korea about to launch an attack? Is it capable of being an existential threat to the US? Or is it possible that the threat is only made worse by continued US meddling in the dispute?
When a big story breaks while I'm at lunch, it can be a real pain in the ass. Instead of following it in real time, I have to rush around later trying to piece together what's happened. On the other hand, sometimes this is a blessing, because by the time I get to the story it's clearer what the real issue is. I think today is an example of the latter.
For starters, here's a nutshell summary of what happened. Devin Nunes, the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee, took the stage a few hours ago to declare himself "alarmed." He believes that some of Donald Trump's transition team might have been "incidentally" recorded during surveillance of foreign nationals. He won't say who. Nor will he say who the foreign nationals were, other than "not Russian." And as soon as he was done with his press conference, he trotted off to the White House to brief President Trump.
There are several problems here. First, Nunes didn't share any of this with Democrats on the committee. Second, incidental collection is both routine and inevitable in foreign surveillance. Congress has had ample opportunity to rein it in if they wanted to, and they never have. Third, if this was part of a criminal investigation, Nunes may have jeopardized it by going public. Fourth, the chair of the Intelligence Committee isn't supposed to be briefing the president on the status of an investigation into the president's activities.
This is plenty to embarrass the great state of California, from which Nunes hails. But for what it's worth, I don't think any of this is the biggest issue. This one is:
He claims to have gotten the information personally from an unspecified source, and had not yet met with FBI Director James Comey to review the raw intelligence intercepts he was provided. Why would he go public without first consulting spies to see if what he had was actually worth sharing with the public?
Oh. This is one of those deals where the Republican chair of a committee gets some information; releases a tiny snippet that makes Republicans look good; and then eventually is forced to release the entire transcript, which turns out to be nothing at all like the snippet. We've seen this gong show a dozen times in the past few years.
My advice: ignore everything Nunes said. He's obviously carrying water for Trump, hoping to drive headlines that vaguely suggest the Obama administration really was listening in on Trump's phone calls. I gather that he's succeeded on that score. For now, though, there's no telling what this raw intel really says. Eventually the intelligence community will provide analysis, and committee Democrats will get to see the transcripts too. Then we'll have a fighting chance of knowing whether it's important or not. In the meantime, everything Nunes said is literally worthless. He's not "probably right" or "probably wrong." He's nothing.