Intelligence reports in the middle of the Susan Rice unmasking controversy were detailed, and almost resembled a private investigator’s file. A Republican congressman familiar with the documents; Rep. Peter King of New York, a member of the House Intelligence committee said.
“This is information about their everyday lives,” “Sort of like in a divorce case where lawyers are hired, investigators are hired just to find out what the other person is doing from morning until night and then you try to piece it together later on.”
The only people who have viewed the intelligence report are Republican chairman, Devin Nunes, and Democrat Adam Schiff, also of California, Nunes has consistently stated that the files caused him deep concern because the unmasking went beyond the former national security adviser Mike Flynn, and the information was not related to Moscow.
Schiff said in a statement, “I cannot comment on the content of these materials or any other classified documents, and nothing should be inferred from the fact that I am treating classified materials the way they should be treated – by refusing to comment on them. Only the Administration has the power to declassify the information and make it available to the public.”
Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice is under scrutiny after she sought to unmask the identities of Trump associates caught up in surveillance. Surveillance such as phone calls between foreign intelligence targets and other surveillance. Rice denied ever having sought the information for political purposes. She continues to defend her requests for unmasking as routine. But the most recent government data shows that unmasking or identifying Americans happens in a limited number of cases. The Office for Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the 17 intelligence agencies, said
“in 2015, NSA disseminated 4,290 FAA Section 702 intelligence reports that included U.S. person information. Of those 4,290 reports, the U.S. person information was masked in 3,168 reports and unmasked in 1,122 reports.” Americans were identified in 26 percent of the cases, or about one in four intelligence reports.
In March 20 testimony NSA director Admiral Mike Rogers said while appearing before the House Intelligence Committee, “only 20 individuals within the agency are authorized to approve those requests.”
“They receive specific training, there are specific controls put in place in terms of our ability to disseminate information out of the databases associated with U.S. persons,” Rogers said at the time. What it appears to suggest is that the NSA itself agreed that the instances in which Rice requested unmasking warranted that action.
“It would be nice to know the universe of people who have the power to unmask a U.S. citizen’s name,” South Carolina Republican congressman Trey Gowdy pressed. “Because that might provide something of a roadmap to investigate who might’ve actually disseminated a masked U.S. citizen’s name.”
In October, before the election, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Homeland Security Department put out a joint statement about Moscow’s interference. Given the timeline, it is not clear the intelligence reports Rice discussed during the NBC interview, are the same files reviewed by Nunes and Schiff. Susan Rice told NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell that the reports were requested by the Obama administration. BINGO. Of course Susan Rice did not take it upon herself to investigate the Trump team’s daily lives.
Speaking to Fox News Wednesday, President Trump said he believed the former national security adviser may have committed a crime when she sought the identities of the Trump team members. This was reported by the New York Times.
The NSA explained the request to unmask names must be approved by the NSA. Rice would have known that there is an extensive government paper trail. Unless she expected Hillary would be in the White House to cover for her. That paper trail can be audited within the NSA, and shows who requested the unmasking, on what basis, and whether it was granted. This raises more questions about Susan Rice. Her motivation had to be a political one. She did not uncover anything to do with Russia but still unmasked Michael Flynn. That by itself is a crime. As to the question of whether it was authorized by President Obama himself; she’s already answered that on the Andrea Mitchell show. The answer was Obama asked her to do it. So what is next? When is someone going to go to prison for breaking the law?
My expectation is that President Trump will have the last laugh.