Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Obama Commerce Dept. Holdover Ran Very Own Illegal Spy Agency During DJT Administration

With all the nonsense we'd learned about the corruption and illegal activities during the Obama Administration, like spying on AP and Fox reporters and family, nothing should really surprise us about what comes to light out of the Obama years in the WH.

And now we have the Washington Post revealing a real life version of a movie mall cop gone mad with his very limited power, with a little Watergate burglar intrigue mixed in.  A supervisor of an "obscure security unit" in the Commerce Department who got some funny ideas about what his job was supposed to be.

The "Investigations and Threat Management Service" (ITMS) is supposed to be concerned with keeping "Commerce officials and facilities safe".  But under supervisor George Lee, ITMS morphed into a kind of counterintelligence outfit, but without any actual legal authority to do covert spy stuff and shit, routinely overstepping its legal limits without meaningful oversight from within Commerce since the mid-2000s.  Under Lee, the unit did investigations of Commerce employees and regular Americans social media, based mostly on whatever whims Lee might have.

This has the potential to make a really good dark farce, with the right director and screenplay. Almost everything about Lee's attempt to build his own personal KGB seems ploddingly amateurish.  One former supervisor told WAPO that the outfit's operations seemed like "someone watched too many 'Mission Impossible' movies."

ITMS agents did nighttime searches of offices, including looking in storage areas without permission, and even picking locks.  They were all kitted out in Gordan Liddy spy gear, too!
The unit’s equipment for covert searches, kept in duffel bags, included latex gloves, shoe coverings, hairnets, balaclava-style face masks and a lock-picking set, according to a current Commerce employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss unit operations.  During some covert searches, investigators wore the face masks and avoided or blocked the view of security cameras.
OK, but did they pretend they were dodging lasers, like Tom Cruise??

Lee even design his own Derp State training program some said felt as if he learned it all by reading a book on it the day prior to class.  

Former investigators offered all sorts of charming examples of ITMS doing investigations for which it had little or no authority, like monitoring Commerce employees' emails to see if they were in contact with any foreign types, and opening files on people who sent completely nonthreatening mail to the Commerce secretary.
In one instance, the unit opened a case on a 68-year-old retiree in Florida who tweeted that the census, which is run by the Commerce Department, would be manipulated "to benefit the Trump Party!"  In another example, the unit searched Commerce servers for particular Chinese words, documents show. The search resulted in the monitoring of many Asian American employees over benign correspondence.
Now that DJT is gone and Mr. Lee relieved of his duties, the Biden Administration ordered ITMS to pause all investigations on March 10, and on May 13, ordered the suspension of all activities.  46* may not want any further stories about the activities of Lee and any activities during the last administration that may have enriched, or embarrass the democrat party in any way to come to light.  But if it does, it promises to be equal parts hilarious and cringeworthy.

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