Splitting Hairs: Comey Says Electronic Surveillance Isn’t the Same as Spying
During an appearance on CNN, the disgraced former FBI director claimed that “electronic surveillance” is not the same as “spying” in response to Attorney General Bill Barr’s Congressional testimony earlier this week.
James Comey appeared on CNN yesterday to split hairs regarding the spying accusation raised by Barr during his second day of Congressional testimony. Barr made clear that he believes “spying did occur,” and that he has started an investigation into the matter, though questions remain as to whether it was done legally or as part of an extralegal fishing expedition to find dirt on or sabotage President Donald J. Trump’s campaign.
Comey seemingly admitted that “electronic surveillance” did occur, but objected to use of the term “spying” during the interview.
“With respect to Barr’s comments, I really don’t know what he’s talking about when he talks about spying on the campaign,” said Comey. “It’s concerning, because the FBI and the department of justice conduct court ordered electronic surveillance.”
“I have never thought of that as spying.”
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) April 11, 2019
While Big League Politics will leave these definitions to the legal experts, in Cornell Law School’s definition of “electronic surveillance,” they offer several examples consider what most Americans would consider spying.
According to the school, “wiretapping, bugging, videotaping; geolocation tracking such as via RFID, GPS, or cell-site data; data mining, social media mapping, and the monitoring of data and traffic on the Internet” are all examples of “electronic surveillance.”
Ironically, President Trump was derided for declaring that President Obama had his “wires tapped” on Twitter in 2017. Comey seems to admit this type of “electronic surveillance” occurred, though stops short of clarifying what types were used.
At this point, regardless of the nomenclature, it only remains to be seen whether the FISA warrant used to gather “electronic surveillance” or to “spy” on President Trump’s campaign was legal, or simply an effort to gain intelligence on failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s competition.