Surveillance

These Are the Questions Susan Rice Needs to Answer Under Oath

We've been incessantly assured there's nothing to this story. Perhaps.

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The House Intelligence Committee reportedly wants former national security adviser Susan Rice to testify in the probe of alleged Russian election interference, which now includes evidence that Obama officials may have improperly used intelligence gathered on President Trump's transition team.

We've been incessantly assured there's nothing to this story. Perhaps. This week, though, Rice felt the need to seek out a friendly face in NBC's Andrea Mitchell—although there were plenty to choose from—to tell us that she never improperly unmasked any Trump transition officials whose conversations were caught on surveillance.

Now, there are a number of worthy follow-ups that Mitchell forgot to ask. But since Rice says nothing unethical transpired, there should be no problem in her answering those queries under oath.

For instance: Why did you lie to PBS about having no knowledge of the unmasking of Trump officials or family?

On the heels of the allegations made by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Rice was asked whether the Obama administration had unmasked Trump transition members swept up in surveillance of other individuals. "I know nothing about this," she claimed at the time. "I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today." She didn't say "so much of this is routine, I'm unsure" or "it would be completely inappropriate for me to talk about intelligence reports." She said, "I know nothing" and "I was surprised."

After retweeting an ally who claimed Rice's words were distorted, Rice wrote, "I said I did not know what reports Nunes was referring to when he spoke to the press."

The transcript says otherwise. Judy Woodruff correctly and broadly laid out the situation, and then asked a straightforward question. She said: "We've been following a disclosure by… Devin Nunes that in essence, during the final days of the Obama administration, during the transition after President Trump had been elected, he and the people around him may have been caught up in surveillance of foreign individuals and that their identities may have been disclosed. Do you know anything about this?"

Rice replied, "I know nothing about this."

What are the chances that a national security adviser forgot she's asked for intelligence reports on members of the incoming administration? This is the same woman who went on national television and repeatedly lied that the Islamic terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2012, in Benghazi were a "spontaneous reaction" to a "hateful and offensive video."

So, Ambassador Rice, did you request that the identities of Trump campaign officials, transition team members, or family members be unmasked?

Is it normal for high-level officials to request for names of political players to be unmasked in raw intelligence?

Ben Rhodes, one of the most frazzled former Obama officials on social media these days, tweeted yesterday, "Bullying people into covering routine work of any senior nat sec official as news is clear effort to distract from Qs about Trump and Russia."

Is it really the "routine work" of top national security officials to proactively collect information on incoming officials of the opposition political party? Sounds like a bad idea. Is this something Rhodes endorses for Trump officials as well? Is it OK to share this information with chief White House strategist Steve Bannon?

Because Bloomberg's Eli Lake reported this week that Rice allegedly "requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign." It was not something that was plopped on her desk by some functionary—incidentally.

Which individual in government initially provided you with the raw intelligence reports containing the masked Trump team identities?

Which Trump team members did you specifically ask to be unmasked? And why did you ask for their identities to be unmasked?

In what way did unmasking these people have foreign intelligence value?

In what way was this done to protect the American people?

If Nunes is telling the truth—and despite a widespread effort to make him look like a liar, he's been right so far—then this incidental collection had nothing to do with Russian collusion charges. Why has the media shown such little curiosity about the subject matter of the collection?

Yes, reporters, we know that "unmasking" is legal. So is meeting with a Russian ambassador during a campaign. And no, it does not vindicate Trump's tweet. Stressing the legality of the unmasking is a way to distract from the real questions: Did Rice abuse her power? Who did she share it with? Why? Did those people then leak the information for political purposes? That is illegal.

Rice says she gave "nothing to nobody."

Ambassador Rice, do you swear under oath that you have never leaked any classified information to anyone in the media ever?

Did you share the information you garnered about the Trump transition team with anybody, whether inside or outside the federal government?

Did anybody ask you to collect the unmasked information or to disseminate it?

After all, erstwhile civil libertarians have been warning about the potential for this sort of abuse for many years. Now, this isn't exactly how they imagined it unfolding, of course, but it doesn't make the charges any less serious.

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  1. Now, there are a number of worthy follow-ups that Mitchell forgot to ask.

    “Forgot”? That’s too generous by a long shot. She wouldn’t ask them even if somebody wrote it down for her in crayon. Hell, that’s why Rice was there.

  2. “And no, it does not vindicate Trump’s tweet.”

    Hmmm….

    This was Trump’s original tweet: “”just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!””

    So, in reality President Obama’s National Security Advisor was improperly using foreign intelligence gathering to acquire transcripts involving Trump and Trump’s associates. And it wasn’t restricted to Trump Tower, but almost certainly included it. And, as far as has come out, nothing incriminating appeared in the transcripts.

    But Obama didn’t personally order it, so yeah Trump is totally crazy man here!

    1. This. I sort of assumed there will be a lot of Bill Clintonisms when people backpedal on how Obama didn’t physically tap any RJ45 wires or how people weren’t actually inside the Trump tower when intercepted. The narrative is already going from “that didn’t happen” through “i didn’t actually say that didn’t happen” to “it’s ok if it happened”; they better come with up with the final and best before someone accidentally perjure themselves.

      1. It depends what your definition of know is.

        1. We all know it comes down to what your definition of “is” is.

      2. It depends what your definition of know is.

      3. Look Trump is bad and Obama is good ok. Let’s just be sure we don’t deviate from these ground rules.

      4. They weren’t wiretapping Trump. They were wiretapping the Russians, who just so happened to be in constant communications with the Trump campaign. I find that troubling. But somehow the real criminal here must be Obama?

    2. The great thing about all this is, I really think Trump’s tweet may have been a shot in the dark. The Media were endlessly repeating the ‘Russian’ allegations (with no scrap of evidence, or at least none they could produce), and Trump knew the character of the Obama administration. Obama, perhaps even more than Hillary, is a classic Dirty Tammany Hall Democrat in blackface. He clearly considers all kinds of dirty tricks fair game. So Trump threw a broadly stated ‘Obama was spying on me’ accusation out, figuring the odds were good that it was true. And if it wasn’t, it served notice that two sides could play the ‘throw accusations and see if one sticks’ game.

      So now the Party Of Self Righteous Lefty Pricks is having to play ‘the dog ate my comprehension of ethics’.

      Hysterical.

      I voted for Trump rather than Frump because I figured he would be no worse than Shrillary, and would be more entertaining.

      *win!*

    3. “But Obama didn’t personally order it”

      Neither did Henry II. “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”

    4. No. She was sent the transcripts because the intelligence community deemed them of sufficient value that they be included in the White House intel briefings. Then when she read them, she said, ” I want to know who US person A is.” That request is sent to NSA for approval, and apparently was granted which means that she learned their identity. And how do you know nothing incriminating is in the transcripts? You do realize the FBI has an active criminal investigation into whether the Trump campaign collided with Russia, right? But you’re certain that the real crime is somebody leaking the fact that Michael Flynn straight out lied to everyone including his colleagues in the Trump Administration.

  3. I’m eager to see her being questioned by Trey Gowdy.

    1. Grab the popcorn, that’ll be some great entertainment!

  4. “Yes, reporters, we know that “unmasking” is legal.”
    Actually unmasking is illegal except in one case; when it is NECESSARY to understand the context of a NATIONAL SECURITY issue involving an incidental intercept.
    This is a logical extension of the need to know principle. Even a person with top secret clearance cannot inquire about secret level information without a valid need to know. There is even a real live formal “need to know” form to be filled out as a paper trail. (or there was long ago and far away when I had an active clearance)

    1. “Yes, reporters, we know that “unmasking” is legal.”

      Well it’s legal when the correct person does it. Obviously if somewhat like Steve Bannon engaged in “unmasking” it would clearly be illegal, and we’d have numerous Editorials from the likes of the NYT and WP informing us of this.

    2. There still is and she would have filled it out. Ever pause think that the reason her unmasking request was honored was he same reason that the FBI still has an active criminal investigation into this matter?

    3. So then, let’s have Susan Rice testify, under oath, just which Russian was being spied on, what the conversation was, and how this conversation was such an important national security matter to justify unmasking a private American citizen’a name. If the Russian was discussing, for instance, how releasing cooked Hillary’s and pervert Podesta’s emails would help the Trump campaign, then unmasking of Trump’s name would be justified and Trump would be caught red-handed. If not, then the unmasking was done for purely political purposes and Rice should be immediately arrested and charged with a felony.

      1. You can only think of a single circumstance in which the unmasking would be justified? And you think that the NSA should reveal publicly which foreign nationals it is surveilling?

      2. She should testify… in closed session. Each congressman should sign a form saying they will not divulge details of the testimony under penalty of ((whatever)). When reports of the testimony leak, the entire event will be released to the public.

        1. Why not also have Comey back again to explain why he has an active criminal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia? Oh wait, I know why — because Nunes cancelled that hearing.

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  6. How did Rice know that Trump’s team was “incidentally monitored” in the first place?

    1. She didn’t. Incidentally monitored refers to the fact that the NSA was listening to the Russians. US persons that called those Russians were recorded. That’s the incidental part. Don’t call Russian spies, you won’t get recorded. Simple, right?

  7. This is the type of thing that happens when you provide the state with unaccountable secret systems that are authorized to do their thing through a secret court. If we don’t see heads roll for this on the national level, than we can be fairly certain than the next election very well might be a coup.

    At the very least, incumbent candidates will know a lot of secrets about their adversaries. The next step will be stretching the definition of foreign contact to dragnet more people.

    On the plus side, all someone needs to do in order to get the Democrats on board is mention that now Trump has the ability to read every last one of their communications and phone conversations since, you know, I imagine they’ve all talked to Russia. It’s the Democrat parties neck on the guillotine, maybe they’ll wake up long enough to realize it.

    1. I imagine team stupid won’t stop long enough to think about the implications. Team dumb will have the same opportunity to check if the state has anything “good” on their opponents in a couple years.

  8. Ben Rhodes, one of the most frazzled former Obama officials on social media these days, tweeted yesterday, “Bullying people into covering routine work of any senior nat sec official as news is clear effort to distract from Qs about Trump and Russia.”

    Dude, you are an incompetent, felonious asshole.
    I hope you rot in prison.

  9. Hold up — there’s some logical slippage here. SR couldn’t specifically ask for the names of Trump officials to be unmasked if they were in reports that came to her, you know, masked. The apparent scenario is: Americans are overheard talking to, or being talked about by, Russian spies. If Americans are in the orbit of hostile anti-American actors, it’s most certainly in the orbit of the National Security Advisor to ask who that is, exactly. And if it turns out to be people close to the incoming president — well, HTF is that not something that should be followed up on?

    And by the by, how come Susan Rice “lied” about Benghazi when she repeated erroneous talking points on the Sunday talking head shows, but poor Mike Pence is innocent of intent to mislead because he himself was just “misled” and “lied to” by the evil Mike Flynn? Could it be because Pence is a moron and shouldn’t have been expected to be able to smell Flynn’s bullshit? I guess that would be the explanation.

    1. Flynn was fired.

    2. Well, because you’re stupid.
      It wasn’t Russian “spies”, it is basically any foriegner on US soil, and realistically, probably every phone call, email, and text message that goes through any switchboard or server not located on US soil.
      So, any person who talks to any foriegner is going to be incidentally recorded.
      But I suspect that you know this, and are just spinning and trolling.

      1. I’m not crazy. Thank you for clearing that up. I thought Egypt Steve had come across information that I wasn’t privy to. Steve must actually believe the bullshit he invents in his head.

      2. But Rice didn’t ask for every person to be unmasked. She asked for specific people to be unmasked. She couldn’t have known who they were in advance. How is this a serious question?

        1. Accordiing to Nunes, the evidence he saw, showed some names unmasked, and others, were identifiable, if you know the players. There is also other intell that would show foreigner A talking to foreigner B and saying somethin like, Talked to Jared yesterday at 8, the said…. So tying all the ends together Rice could determine who to unmask. BUT the fact is, intell agencies had already anylised the communication and determined to threat to National security was represented in the communication. The are proffessionals, trained to make those determinations. Rice unmasked names, AFTER the decission was made no threat existed. Knowing the players does not change that fact. NO

          1. Nunes saw the logs. Only Rice knows how she knew to ask to be unmasked.

  10. Best Earbuds Under 100 and So, in reality President Obama’s National Security Advisor was improperly using foreign intelligence gathering to acquire transcripts involving Trump and Trump’s associates. And it wasn’t restricted to Trump Tower, but almost certainly included it. And, as far as has come out, nothing incriminating appeared in the transcripts PS3 Yellow Light Of Death .

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  13. So here’s the thing with the unmasking: all of Harsanyi’s questions seem to assume that she must have known who they were prior to being unmasked, which she could not have. If she is somehow conspiring to damage the Trump team, how could she have known that they were in the Trump team? The reports don’t say “Transition Team Member” they say “Citizen A.”

    Here’s something to think about: maybe she wanted to know who the us citizens were because they were up to something very suspicious?

    I don’t understand how she could have had bad intent behind her unmasking request if she didn’t know who they were to begin with.

    1. Nothing suspicious was afoot. That is why the names were NOT unmasked in the intell briefing. The content and the full names were known to the agency doing the intel. They determined no threat. No need to unmask (violate citizens 4th amendment rights) the players. Rice ordered the unmasking, overruling the agency in charge.

      1. No, that’s not how it works. Names of all US citizens are masked. It doesn’t matter if what they’re doing is “suspicious”. You need a FISA warrant or you undertake the process that Rice apparently set in motion. But even if it did work that way: how would Rice know that the people who she unmasked were Trump people?

      2. And how is it that “nothing suspicious was afoot” and yet the NSA is sending the transcript of the call to the White House. These guys record millions of conversations every day and these stood out enough to be included in the white house daily brief. But there was nothing suspicious. Ok… And no active FBI investigation either, right? That Comey must be a Dirty Dem too, is that what you’re saying?

  14. Get ready for:

    I don’t recall;
    I don’t remember;
    I did not say that; and,

    On the advice of counsel, I will take the 5th.

  15. When did the surveillance begin? I have heard mid-2015. If so, where other Republican candidates in the same boat? How about Democratic candidates?

    1. The surveillance was of the Russians. Don’t call Russia, and you don’t get surveilled. That’s the way this works.

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  17. So, in reality President Obama’s National Security Advisor was improperly using foreign intelligence gathering to acquire transcripts involving Trump and Trump’s associates. And Bypass Cinavia wasn’t restricted to Trump Tower, but almost certainly included it. And, as far as has come out, nothing incriminating appeared in the transcripts Tech Fella.

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