Reports indicate discovery of pattern of unmasking requests by Rice prompted Devin Nunes actions.
Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice, infamous for lying repeatedly on national television about the Benghazi attack being the result of a video, may be at the center of the “unmasking” scandal uncovered by Congressman Devin Nunes.
We covered yesterday how Dems want Devin Nunes removed, but can’t unhear unmasking allegations.
Eli Lake at Bloomberg News reports on the discovery of a suspicious pattern of unmasking requests by Rice near the end of the Obama administration, Top Obama Adviser Sought Names of Trump Associates in Intel:
White House lawyers last month discovered 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.”
Lake argues that Rice’s requests do not necessarily violate the law, since she would have had broad authority to request unmasking, but that does not lessen the political impact:
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. This suggests 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.
So defense of Susan Rice is that she did nothing illegal — doesn't lessen political impact or make it non-scandal https://t.co/1guo7smHZ8
— Legal Insurrection (@LegInsurrection) April 3, 2017
This information was first reported by Mike Cernovich in a post at Medium yesterday:
Susan Rice, who served as the National Security Adviser under President Obama, has been identified as the official who requested unmasking of incoming Trump officials, Cernovich Media can exclusively report.
The White House Counsel’s office identified Rice as the person responsible for the unmasking after examining Rice’s document log requests. The reports Rice requested to see are kept under tightly-controlled conditions. Each person must log her name before being granted access to them.
Upon learning of Rice’s actions, H. R. McMaster dispatched his close aide Derek Harvey to Capitol Hill to brief Chairman Nunes.
This could be a major league scandal, as Rice publicly has said “I know nothing” about Nunes’ allegations, Susan Rice on Trump’s wiretapping claim: ‘Nothing of the sort occurred.’
Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice pushed back Wednesday against President Donald Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped by the Obama administration during the 2016 election.
“Nothing of the sort occurred,” Rice told PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, in her first interview since stepping down as national security adviser when President Barack Obama left office.
Why hadn’t the NY Times or WaPo, with all their leak sources, previously reported this?
— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) April 3, 2017
This post will be updated as more information emerges.
UPDATE: The Daily Mail reports, State Department insiders have discussed Susan Rice’s role in unmasking names ‘for weeks’:
The diplomat who is in line to be America’s next NATO ambassador said Monday that former National Security Advisor Susan Rice has been suspected ‘for weeks’ of involvement in an effort to publicly unmask Donald Trump associates whose names appeared in foreign intelligence reports.
And he claimed ten days ago that if Rice and her deputy Ben Rhodes were behind politically motivated leaks of classified intelligence, former president Barack Obama was also in the know.
‘Former State Department colleagues of mine have been talking about Susan Rice’s role for weeks,’ Richard Grenell told DailyMail.com on Monday
‘She and her team certainly were hyper-partisan throughout their tenure. It makes sense.’