Obama aide says intel not used to spy on Trump advisers

Apr 06, 2017, 02:41

Unmasking is the word of the week inside Washington, D.C.

Former national security adviser Susan Rice committed a "monumental abuse of power" in unmasking the names of American citizens included in intelligence reports previous year, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy said Wednesday.

But according to national security experts, Rice's actions are far from unprecedented, and are neither illegal nor unethical.

Rice said she was "surprised" and "shocked" to learn that Trump was recklessly tweeting baseless assertions that the Obama personally ordered wiretapping of any kind.

"I think it's going to be the biggest story", he said. For now, we know that the most important aspect of the Russia-hacking-wire-tapping-spying-Susan-Rice story is that Trump's transition team was in contact with Russian operatives and others - and it would be nice to know that they were only exploring critical questions related to cabbage. One wonders how long this surveillance of team Trump will remain a story with only Fox News and such outlets as The American Spectator. The president did not offer any evidence for his claims.

Rice has not confirmed or denied making the requests, but denies that any requests were politically motivated.

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Rice, in an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday, said her senior White House role did give her the ability to request the names of Americans swept up through USA spy craft. "I've been called a lot of things by folks on the right that are unfair and disingenuous", she said.

In a statement today, a spokesperson for Rice, Erin Pelton, said, "I'm not going to dignify the president's ludicrous charge with a comment".

A month ago, President Donald Trump claimed Barack Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped. The identities of Americans who talk with those foreigners, or who are discussed in conversations between two non-U.S. persons, are hidden in intelligence reports.

Unless you happen to be a Mafia don or a drug kingpin, the US government doesn't spy on its citizens. She conceded that that could have resulted in Trump officials' communications being picked up and read by USA intelligence.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice, at the White House in Washington, July 22, 2015.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, BYLINE: Huge distinction here, Tam, asking for somebody's identity to be unmasked versus then leaking that identity.

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"There is a civil liberties component to this that should be very troubling in terms of the revelations that keep coming out", White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday.

He declined to say if he had personally reviewed new intelligence to bolster his claim but pledged to explain himself "at the right time".

Rice told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that she was sometimes asked for the identities of Americans which had previously been redacted; however, she added her job was never used for any political gain.

En fin, the crucial unmasking - Who is that masked man in the White House? - is yet to come.

Rice also denied knowledge that the Trump administration surveilled Trump associates last month on PBS's "News Hour".

You see how the focus keeps getting directed away from Russian Federation to the Obama administration or any other handy object. ABC and NBC didn't cover them on Monday's evening newscasts, while the "CBS Evening News" quoted a former official as saying Rice did "nothing improper or political".

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It also appears that the monitoring at issue had little if anything to do with the investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election.

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