There are several theories floating around the Interwebz about how Michael Flynn’s unmasked name might have turned up in an FBI transcript of a phone call with the Russian ambassador. The recently declassified unmasking record doesn’t appear to show a timely request to unmask Flynn during the period between when the call was made and when other evidence suggests the FBI had the transcript. So how did the get it?
One possible explanation is that the FBI was working with information from a non-U.S. source.
The Five Eyes is a signals intelligence alliance among Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US. Documents leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013 revealed that the Five Eyes has been spying on one another’s citizens and sharing the collected information with each other in order to circumvent their domestic legal restrictions on surveillance of citizens. Thus, if the Australian Signals Directorate successfully wiretaps a Russian, overhears something said by an American, and tips off the FBI, no laws have been broken—just severely bent. I picked the Aussies for that example because of another Australian connection to the Russian Collusion Hoax, but such a signal intercept could have been made by Canada’s Communications Security Establishment, New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau, or the UK’s General Communications Headquarters.
There’s another explanation floating around suggesting the use of a Presidential authorization of a wiretap without a FISA warrant (something that is allowed under FISA). However, such a warrantless wiretap is still supposed to be subject to the same masking requirements as a court authorized one.
Obamagate raises some serious issues. Corruption of public officials is one. An unnecessary weakening of the Fourth Amendment is another.