There is much more to the Rice unmasking story.
Susan Rice wasn’t the only person asking that American citizens be unmasked and it wasn’t only General Flynn who was unmasked.
To step back a little, unmasking is the naming of Americans who are picked up during transmissions with foreign entities under surveillance. Americans are masked in accordance with our 4th Amendment, that is, their identity is redacted.
To unmask for political reasons or to leak classified information is illegal. That appears to be what the Obama administration might have done.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting new information – according to a Republican official familiar with GOP lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee – two US citizens were unmasked.
The names of “two U.S. citizens who were part of Mr. Trump’s transition team have been unmasked in intelligence reports.” One is Mr. Flynn and “the other hasn’t been identified” in the conversations with the Russian ambassador.
“Rice had requested the unmasking of at least one transition official — not Mr. Flynn — who was part of multiple foreign conversations that weren’t related to Russia”.
In addition, it wasn’t only Rice seeking unmasking: “The Republican official and others said Ms. Rice wasn’t the administration official who instigated Mr. Flynn’s unmasking.”
Rice’s motives are extremely suspicious.
Andy McCarthy’s article at the National Review online explains why Rice’s motive had to be political – logically.
Susan Rice, as the national security adviser, is not an investigator. She is a White House staffer. She does not generate or collect intelligence, but rather she is a consumer. If she unmasked Americans, it was to fulfill a political goal based on her party’s interests. It is the FBI, CIA and NSA who generate and collect intelligence.
Rice said she did not ask for the identity of any American person to leak the information.
Laura Ingraham wonders if Rice used a double negative on purpose.
“I leaked nothing to nobody….” said Susan Rice, Harvard grad who doesn’t know (or does?) a double negative expresses the affirmative.
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) April 4, 2017
If Rice didn’t leak the intel, someone did and gave it to the Washington Post and the NY Times. Someone committed a felony. Mike Flynn’s communications were revealed with intel-level detail.
On March 22nd, Rice lied and said she “knew nothing” about what Devin Nunes was talking about when he gave his presser saying that intel on American citizens tied to Trump was leaked though it had nothing to do with Russia. She could be lying again.
Rice claimed she requested unmasking of numerous pieces of information to better understand the communications.
It might be hard to prove in court that Rice was unmasking for political purposes since she could conceivably label anything of “foreign intelligence value” under the statute. However, the definition is limited to criminal conduct type of behavior or its security equivalent. It might leave Rice vulnerable. As Robert Barnes wrote for LawNewz, “neither the 1st nor the 4th Amendment has a “talking to foreigners’ exception”.
The Obama administration spied before, according to Tablet Magazine’s Lee Smith:
In a December 29, 2015 article, The Wall Street Journal described how the Obama administration had conducted surveillance on Israeli officials to understand how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, like Ambassador Ron Dermer, intended to fight the Iran Deal. The Journal reported that the targeting “also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”
In light of the new revelations, it does appear that this also was spying “to help the White House fight their domestic political opponents”, Lee Smith writes for The Tablet.
The administration was pushing the Iran deal at the time.
“At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism—activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.”
Was the NSA weaponized for years? The Republicans smell blood in the water.
Intel agencies are now stonewalling.
— Malia Zimmerman (@MaliaMZimmerman) April 5, 2017