Thursday, October 25, 2018

And Republicans carried on about Hillary's emails being a security risk...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chinese spies often eavesdrop on President Donald Trump when he uses his unsecure cellphone to gossip with old friends, and Beijing uses what it learns to try to sway U.S. policy, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing current and former U.S. officials.
Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure and that Russian spies routinely eavesdrop on the conversations, but they say the president still refuses to give up his cellular phones, the Times reported.
The officials said U.S. spy agencies had learned from people in foreign governments and by intercepting communications from foreign officials that China and Russia were listening to the president’s calls.
The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the Times report.
China has a sophisticated approach toward the intercepted calls and is seeking to use them to determine what Trump thinks, whom he listens to and how best to sway him, the Times reported, cited the officials.
Of course, I can imagine his conversations with "old friends" probably contains a ridiculously high noise to useful information ratio.   I can imagine some intelligence analyst in Beijing grimacing about having to listen again to the time he got some model or other into his bed.

Update:  Allahpundit at Hot Air is pretty much spot on, I expect:
 The view on both left and right for the most part will be a fatalistic “this is just how things are now” even though there absolutely would have been impeachment chatter among the House GOP if the Times had dropped a story like this on Obama. (If you thought Emailgate was a strong attack line against Hillary, imagine if she’d been caught using a phone which she knew had been tapped by foreign spooks.) In fact, if I know MAGA Nation, I bet we’ll see a few hot takes online tomorrow that this is all eight-dimensional chess and that Trump wants the Russians and Chinese listening in because it’s easier for him to feed them disinformation that way.
 He also finds amusement (and/or dismay) with this:
Administration officials said Mr. Trump’s longtime paranoia about surveillance — well before coming to the White House he believed his phone conversations were often being recorded — gave them some comfort that he was not disclosing classified information on the calls. They said they had further confidence he was not spilling secrets because he rarely digs into the details of the intelligence he is shown and is not well versed in the operational specifics of military or covert activities.
He just doesn’t pay close enough attention to the details of his job to pose a real security risk. Whew?

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