Decoding wiretap allegations and the latest Wikileaks releases on State of Mind, Timothy Edgar

Recently Timothy Edgar, EMCS academic director and former Obama National Security director of privacy, joined Dan Yorke on Fox Providence evening news for an in-depth discussion about President Trump’s wiretapping accusations against President Obama and the latest round of Wikileaks.

According to Edgar, due to reforms enacted in the 1970s after Watergate, President Obama could only have wiretapped Trump if he had a FISA court warrant. However, because of the politically charged context of the election, Edgar argues, we need to make sure that an investigation is conducted fairly. But when you go further and accuse the intelligence community of a federal crime that, says Edgar, undermines trust between the president and the intelligence community and that break is damaging.

Edgar continued, these accusations risk turning the intelligence community into a partisan entity instead of it being an important and serious part of national security. Intelligence officials might make mistakes but they’re not political people. They’re not out to get anyone. That’s why they were slow to respond during the 2016 election regarding the Russian interference because they didn’t want to appear partisan.

Edgar thought that there should be an independent commission on the whole issue of Russian interference. But regarding the wiretapping, he said it was ludicrous for President Trump to call for an independent investigation of his own executive branch regarding the wiretaps. All President Trump has to do is call the head of the FBI and ask him what happened. That’s what being the president is.

Edgar called on Attorney General Sessions to formally state that there has been no intentional targeting of the president elect in 2016.

Edgar also shed light on Wikileaks’ recent release of CIA cyber tool intelligence; leaks that Edgar claims were damaging but could have been a lot worse. The leaks, of which more are expected, exposed dated and now well-known software flaws about encrypted applications such as Telegram. These hacking tools are used to undermine operating systems of phones or devices so you can extract data before the encryption is applied.

Edgar said he was concerned that future leaks could focus on zero day attacks or flaws that the CIA has discovered but most people don’t know about. The intelligence community decides whether they should notify the developer or keep them secret to exploit for their own surveillance purposes.

To hear the rest of the interview, go here.

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