aside Susan Rice Unmasked Key Players In President’s Russian Saga

Image result for images of susan rice and barack obama
Obama/ Rice

Okay, there is finally at least one reasonable explanation for the odd behaviors of the US House’s Intelligence Committee’s chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) on 3/22/17, when after he contacted the House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-KY) he gave a quick impromptu press conference, followed by a run to the White House to share newly discovered data with the president, before holding another press conference. Originally, he asserted that the source was a whistle-blower until after it was divulged by the “Daily Beast” that he did a clandestine meeting at the White House on the evening of 3/31/17.

The Representative Devin Nunes kept referring to the incidental collection of intelligence surveillance records. It turns out that in the legal wiretapping of foreign officials, people from the republican President Donald Trump’s team were recorded as incidental participants during his transition period of moving into the White House. The participants would have undergone a legal request to have their names unmasked by Susan Rice, the National Security Advisor under President Barack Obama. So now we know why the president is worried.

Image result for images of susan rice and barack obamaHere is the rest of the story…

On 4/3/2017, Eli Lake of Bloomberg penned the following article, “Top Obama Adviser Sought Names of Trump Associates in Intel:”

“White House lawyers last month learned that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.”

“The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like “U.S. Person One.”

Image result for photos of national security council“The National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, was conducting the review, according to two U.S. officials who spoke with Bloomberg View on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. In February Cohen-Watnick discovered Rice’s multiple requests to unmask U.S. persons in intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities. He brought this to the attention of the White House General Counsel’s office, who reviewed more of Rice’s requests and instructed him to end his own research into the unmasking policy.”

“The intelligence reports were summaries of monitored conversations — primarily between foreign officials discussing the Trump transition, but also in some cases direct contact between members of the Trump team and monitored foreign officials. One U.S. official familiar with the reports said they contained valuable political information on the Trump transition such as whom the Trump team was meeting, the views of Trump associates on foreign policy matters and plans for the incoming administration.”

Image result for photos of nunes schiff“Rice did not respond to an email seeking comment on Monday morning. Her role in requesting the identities of Trump transition officials adds an important element to the dueling investigations surrounding the Trump White House since the president’s inauguration.”

“Both the House and Senate intelligence committees are probing any ties between Trump associates and a Russian influence operation against Hillary Clinton during the election. The chairman of the House intelligence committee, Representative Devin Nunes, is also investigating how the Obama White House kept tabs on the Trump transition after the election through unmasking the names of Trump associates incidentally collected in government eavesdropping of foreign officials.”

Image result for images of susan rice and barack obamaRice herself has not spoken directly on the issue of unmasking. Last month when she was asked on the “PBS NewsHour” about reports that Trump transition officials, including Trump himself, were swept up in incidental intelligence collection, Rice said: “I know nothing about this,” adding, “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today.”

“Rice’s requests to unmask the names of Trump transition officials does not vindicate Trump’s own tweets from March 4 in which he accused Obama of illegally tapping Trump Tower. There remains no evidence to support that claim.”

Image result for images of susan rice and barack obama“But Rice’s multiple requests to learn the identities of Trump officials discussed in intelligence reports during the transition period does highlight a longstanding concern for civil liberties advocates about U.S. surveillance programs. The standard for senior officials to learn the names of U.S. persons incidentally collected is that it must have some foreign intelligence value, a standard that can apply to almost anything. Rice’s unmasking requests were likely within the law.”

“The news about Rice also sheds light on the strange behavior of Nunes in the last two weeks. It emerged last week that he traveled to the White House last month, the night before he made an explosive allegation about Trump transition officials caught up in incidental surveillance. At the time he said he needed to go to the White House because the reports were only on a database for the executive branch. It now appears that he needed to view computer systems within the National Security Council that would include the logs of Rice’s requests to unmask U.S. persons.”

Image result for images of nunes and schiff“The ranking Democrat on the committee Nunes chairs, Representative Adam Schiff, viewed these reports on Friday (3/31/17). In comments to the press over the weekend he declined to discuss the contents of these reports, but also said it was highly unusual for the reports to be shown only to Nunes and not himself and other members of the committee.”

“Indeed, much about this is highly unusual: if not how the surveillance was collected, then certainly how and why it was disseminated.”

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4 comments

  1. “Rice’s unmasking requests were likely within the law.” Good for her, she’s digging in the right direction. Unfortunately, getting the CIA or FBI to declassify their sensitive intel is nearly impossible, or one would wait decades for the info to become publicly available. Sadly US intelligence is an oxymoron. 😦

    • Dear 1EarthUnited,

      Republicans will want to make a big deal over Ms Rice’s unmasking of certain individuals. It sounds like Gen Flynn was one of them and it would have been derelict of her not to unmask him. This would have been legal, but it looks like she unmasked others and this data has not been made public.

      The republicans had better be careful about what they decide to pursue.

      Ciao, Gronda

  2. Hmmm, from what I read here and various other sources, it would seem that for some reason the tRump team prior to the election and during the transition period was coordinating with someone from a foreign nation, supposedly Russia. I can not in any way think that this could not be construed as a manipulation of the election process. IMO, I would suspect that Mz. Rice was attempting to ensure that the data that had been collected, that contained questionable political information, would not simply vanish upon the new administration taking command.

    I know that it would be an impossible task, but at some point I would like a valid explanation as to why the GOPTP loves leaks, moles and whistle blowers only as long as it can be used against their political opponents? It does amuse me in a perverted sort of way that King tRump can’t seem to understand that in a large number of incidents it is he that is the leaker, thru his childish rants on twitter… His attempt at defense is sort of like a bank robber attempting to blame the teller for the crime because the teller is the one that actually put the money in the bag, and the robber can not understand why he could be the bad guy just because he ran from the bank with the bag…

    • Dear Crustyolemothman,

      The republicans do protest too much and this may come back to bite them where it hurts. What Susan Rice did as President Obama’s National Security Advisor was perfectly legal and Gen. Flynn was a person of interest. No other unmasked person has been made public.

      Republicans are thinking that the unmasking of Gen. Flynn was not a legal act but I disagree. As usual time will tell all.

      Ciao, Gronda

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