Former Obama national security advisor Rice contradicts earlier denials of "unmasking"
The last time it happened was 1975, and then-president Richard Nixon was forced to resign rather than face likely impeachment--with conviction and removal seemingly assured.
Unfortunately, this time the perps are Democrats, so the odds of anyone being punished in even a trivial way are virtually zero. But this doesn't diminish the seriousness of the crime.
Summary of the crime: Long before last November, the National Security Agency--which routinely wiretaps the conversations of foreign officials to American telephones--recorded Russian officials talking with Trump advisors. But because it's illegal for the NSA to spy on American citizens in the U.S. law, by law the names of the Americans in such wiretapped conversations are kept secret--"masked"--to protect their privacy.
The intelligence agencies can unmask the American names when there's a compelling national-security reason for doing so, but the process is loaded with procedural safeguards. By law, unmasking the names of Americans recorded by NSA intercepts is not supposed to be done lightly.
Information discovered by the NSA is part of the "presidential daily briefing." So when the NSA recorded Russian officials talking with members of Trump's team, Obama saw a chance to ensure a Hillary victory, by having the information--with the names of the Trump advisors--"leaked" to the Democrat-friendly media. He ordered one of his trusted lackeys--national security advisor Susan Rice--to ask the NSA to "unmask" the names of the Americans.
The statute does not include the national security advisor in the list of officials who can make the decision to unmask Americans--and the NSA was well aware of this constraint. So the only way they could *legally* have unmasked the names would have been if Rice had told the NSA that the "unmasking order" was coming from the president.
Now: Given the political consequences of violating the law on unmasking, does anyone think Rice would have done this without being ordered to do so by Obama? Of course not. Yet this is precisely what Rice now claims: "I was just doing my job, to ensure the security of the United States."
This is unmitigated horse-shit.
In asking the intelligence community to unmask Trump's advisors, Rice was not acting to protect national security but to advance the political interests of the Democratic party by ensuring that Hilliary would win the election.
For weeks now, the media has been repeating that any unmasking of people in Trump’s circle that may have occurred had two innocent explanations: (1) the FBI’s investigation of Russian meddling in the election and (2) the need to know, for purposes of understanding the communications of foreign intelligence targets, the identities of Americans incidentally intercepted or mentioned. The unmasking, Obama apologists insist, had nothing to do with targeting Trump but was purely to insure national security.
That won’t wash. When American citizens are suspected of committing crimes or of acting as agents of foreign powers, it's investigated NOT by the White House but by the FBI. In the matter of alleged Russian meddling, the investigative camp also includes the CIA and the NSA. And indeed, all three agencies did investigate--and issued a joint report in January stating that any foreign activity had no effect on the results of the election.
If revealing the names of the Trump advisors--unmasking--was relevant to the Russia investigation, it would have been done by those three agencies.
To repeat: there would have been no valid reason for Susan Rice to ask for identities to be unmasked. If there had been a real need to reveal the identities — an intelligence need based on American interests — the unmasking would have been done by the investigating agencies.
The national-security adviser is not an investigator. She is a White House staffer. The president’s staff is a consumer of intelligence, not a generator or collector of it. If Susan Rice was ordering the intel agencies to unmask Americans, it was not to fulfill an intelligence need based on American interests; but to help the Democratic party win the election.
Rice was a key Obama political collaborator. She would have known who the Trump-team players were without needing to have their identities unmasked. Do you really think her purpose in demanding that names be revealed was to enhance her understanding of intelligence about the activities and intentions of foreign targets, or to help national security?
Finally, consider the comment made by Obama's former deputy defense secretary Evelyn Farkas made at the end of a recent MSNBC interview that inadvertently revealed the spying by Team Obama: “That’s why you have all the leaking.” Put this in context: Farkas left the Obama administration in 2015, subsequently joining Clinton's presidential campaign. She told MSNBC that she had been encouraging her former Obama-administration colleagues and members of Congress to "seek as much information as you can” from the intelligence community. “That’s why you have the leaking,” she said.
To summarize: The NSA routinely--legally--intercepts phone conversations by foreigners--but by law, isn't allowed to spy on American citizens. If the agency records a conversation between a foreigner and a U.S. citizen, the name of the citizen is supposed to be kept secret--again, by law. The intel community can "unmask" the citizen, but the president's national security advisor doesn't have the power to make that call.
In this case, Obama's national security advisor Susan Rice asked the NSA to "unmask" the names of Trump advisors when there was no valid security reason for doing so. The unmasked names of Trump advisors were then disseminated widely throughout the intelligence community--and leaked to Obama-loving media.
Meanwhile, former Obama officials and Clinton-campaign advisers, like Farkas, were pushing to get the information transferred from the intelligence community to members of Congress, vastly increasing the likelihood that the names would be leaked--again, illegally.
There's a principle in criminal law that false exculpatory statements show guilt by the person who made them. During a televised interview on March 22nd, Susan Rice was asked about allegations by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) that the Obama administration had unmasked Trump-team members. She answered “I know nothing about unmasking. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.” But in a televised interview with Democrat shill Andrea Mitchell last Sunday, Rice confirmed what Nunes already knew: that she had "requested" the NSA to "unmask" the names of the Trump advisors.
Her false statement denying any knowledge just two weeks earlier shows she knew her action was illegal--*unless* it was ordered by Obama.
H/T Andrew McCarthy at National Review