DNI warned Obama Admin. about campaign spies in 2008

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) released a document on Thursday that was distributed to incoming White House staff members in 2008, which implied that foreign and domestic spy agencies were closely tracking both the Obama and McCain presidential campaigns.

The memo was released through a new executive program called “The Open Government Partnership”, which aims to require federal agencies respond to Freedom of Information Act requests in a more timely fashion.

Entitled “Unlocking The Secrets: How to Use the Intelligence Community”, the document warns that, “(f)oreign intelligence services have been tracking this election cycle like no other”, and have “targeted the campaigns.”

Specifically, DNI warned would-be Obama Administration members that foreign spies employed the following techniques:

  1. “Met with campaign contacts and staff”.
  2. “Used human source networks for policy insights”.
  3. “Exploited technology to get otherwise sensitive data”.
  4. “Engaged in perception management to influence policy”; “This exceeded traditional lobbying and public diplomacy”.

These points were followed by a warning: “Be cautious – The reality of foreign intelligence operations is more nuanced and subtle than you might expect”.

DNI then issued some advice, particularly for Cabinet members that planned to travel abroad.

  1. “Be mindful of electronic interception”; “Wireless devices are especially vulnerable”.
  2. “Check for malicious software . . . before putting any foreign media into your systems”.
  3. “You should no expect privacy in most foreign countries”; “Hotel rooms and guest houses can be bugged”.


Given America’s global leadership role, such revelations that foreign governments are attempting to glean inside information about the inter-workings of the next “leader of the free world”, is not surprising.

What DNI would never put in writing is their own role in spying on domestic political campaigns, which would likely be much more intricate and intrusive than any foreign entity would be able to achieve.

One can only speculate on the amount of intelligence data U.S. agencies like the FBI and CIA have on what the Pentagon probably considers to be unpredictable leadership personalities in Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Only if Sanders is elected will U.S. executive agencies become more transparent than they are under the Obama Administration. Expect a Clinton or Trump presidency to close the doors on public scrutiny of a government supposedly “of the people” once again.


[The Intercept] [Photo courtesy governmentsecrets.com]