WOW: We Now Know What "Incidentally Surveilled" Means

Lance Armstrong couldn’t backpedal this hard.

I’ve been telling you through the day about House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ bizarre, unsubstantiated claims from yesterday’s press conference, where he claimed to have knowledge from unnamed sources, saying that Trump’s transition team may have been “incidentally surveilled.”

I’ve had several people ask what that means, exactly.

We may have an answer, and it’s a really stupid one.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, R-Calif., does not know “for sure” whether President Donald Trump or members of his transition team were even on the phone calls or other communications now being cited as partial vindication for the president’s wiretapping claims against the Obama administration, according to a spokesperson.

“He said he’ll have to get all the documents he requested from the [intelligence community] about this before he knows for sure,” a spokesperson for Nunes said Thursday. Nunes was a member of the Trump transition team executive committee.

The emphasis there is mine.

Get it? He is so unsure of this so-called evidence that he FIRST met with Trump about, and THEN held a presser about (without reviewing it with the committee he chairs, and refusing to reveal his sources to anyone), that now he’s not even sure anyone on Trump’s team was a part of it.

To “incidentally surveil” means to mention someone’s name, in passing, by the way.

Trump’s apologists were breathless after Nunes spoke yesterday.

Those who work with him on the Committee were dumbfounded.

He really did make it seem as if there was some “there” there.

Nevertheless, Nunes called it a “significant” development, and President Trump later said it “somewhat” vindicated his controversial Tweets two weeks ago alleging that President Obama wiretapped him and his campaign.

Based on the limited amount of information provided by Nunes so far, it’s possible that foreign officials were overheard talking about Trump transition team members, one intelligence official speculated, as opposed to transition members participating directly in the communications.

And please, if anybody wants to protest my bringing this up, I’ll save you the trouble: “Liberal,” “cuck,” “You just hate him!” “Why don’t you want to make America great again?”

Ok. Awesome. I know some of you desperately wanted this to be the smoking gun, but it’s not.

It’s also possible the information now cited by Nunes came from emails –- not phone calls –- intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies.

“We don’t know exactly how it was picked up,” Nunes acknowledged yesterday.

Unraveling.

U.S. officials who spoke with ABC News said they assume the reports obtained by Nunes are summaries or other accounts of communications collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

That section allows the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the phone calls and emails of foreigners located overseas.

The officials further stated that it’s unavoidable that some Americans will get incidentally surveilled (see: mentioned) through this process.

That’s not the same as wiretapping.

Intelligence officials also stated that when an American’s name is brought up in this kind of surveillance, that information is never disseminated any more than is necessary, and is closely protected.

“You can only disseminate information about a U.S. person if it is foreign intelligence, or necessary to understand foreign intelligence, or is evidence of a crime” that should be turned over to the FBI, according to Brad Wiegmann, who’s still a top attorney in the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

If it’s “key” for a foreign government to understand that ‘Joe Smith’ is a threat – that he’s a “malicious cyber hacker” for example – “and it was key to know the information, then you might pass Joe Smith’s name,” Wiegmann said. “If it was incidentally in the communication but was not pertinent to the information you’re trying to convey, then that would be deleted. It would just say ‘U.S. person.’ It would be blocked out.”

Nunes stepped in this one.

Now the question is “Why?”

What got him in front of those cameras and those reporters with such flimsy, baseless, nothing?