Up until recently, there has been a great deal of innuendo concerning whether the outgoing Obama administration had been spying on Donald Trump and his presidential campaign.
The broohaha started with the tweet that was read around the world:
Notwithstanding circumstantial evidence indicating that the White House had conduct such monitoring, such as by collecting intelligence “incidentally” through monitoring phone calls of foreign nationals, the question of whether Trump’s accusation had merit got bogged down by the usual partisan bickering.
However, all of that changed yesterday.
Susan Rice reviewed “unmasked” intelligence reports involving Trump officials
Mike Cernovich, who 60 Minutes attempted to portray as a purveyor of fake news in a recent episode, dropped a bombshell by reporting that Susan Rice, Obama’s National Security Adviser, requested that the names of incoming Trump officials be unmasked from communications caught in the dragnet of intelligence gathering.
What “unmasking” means
While the NSA is not allowed to collect phone call data between Americans, it routinely collects phone call data of foreign nationals, including those with an American on the other end of the line. Intelligence reports “mask” the identities of those who are not under investigation. Susan Rice was one of three officials who had authority to request the review reports with unmasked information. Such reports, however, must be reviewed under very specific conditions. There is also a log showing when officials request to review unmasked reports, including the reports Rice requested.
The response thus far has been swift and furious. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentuck) has called on Rice to testify before Congress.
Paul argued the situation should not be downplayed, saying reforms need to be made to prevent individuals from being blackmailed on personal aspects of their lives through unmasking. He noted there was nothing stopping the former administration from looking through Trump officials and national security advisors’ conversations during the transition window.
“If it is allowed, we shouldn’t be allowing it, but I don’t think should just discount how big a deal it is that Susan Rice was looking at these,” he told reporters Monday. “And she needs to be asked, ‘Did President Obama ask her to do this? Was this a directive from President Obama? I think she should testify under oath on this.”
Glenn Reynolds agrees:
All these people need to be placed under oath and questioned separately about what happened. There’s also sure to be a document trail.
But wait, there’s more.
Susan Rice ordered spy agencies to produce “detailed spreadsheets” involving Trump
Earlier today, The Daily Caller reported that, according to former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova, Susan Rice ordered U.S. spy agencies to produce “detailed spreadsheets” of legal phone calls involving Donald Trump and his aides during the presidential campaign.
“What was produced by the intelligence community at the request of Ms. Rice were detailed spreadsheets of intercepted phone calls with unmasked Trump associates in perfectly legal conversations with individuals,” diGenova told The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group Monday.
“The overheard conversations involved no illegal activity by anybody of the Trump associates, or anyone they were speaking with,” diGenova said. “In short, the only apparent illegal activity was the unmasking of the people in the calls.”
Other official sources with direct knowledge and who requested anonymity confirmed to TheDCNF diGenova’s description of surveillance reports Rice ordered one year before the 2016 presidential election.
The Daily Caller also referred to Fox News and Bloomberg News reports indicating that this effort was part of a “highly organized operation”.
Fox said the unmasked names of Trump aides were given to officials at the National Security Council (NSC), the Department of Defense, James Clapper, President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, and John Brennan, Obama’s CIA Director.
Col. (Ret.) James Waurishuk, an NSC veteran and former deputy director for intelligence at the U.S. Central Command, told The Daily Caller that many hands had to be involved in such an operation:
“The surveillance initially is the responsibility of the National Security Agency,” Waurishuk said. “They have to abide by this guidance when one of the other agencies says, ‘we’re looking at this particular person which we would like to unmask.’”
“The lawyers and counsel at the NSA surely would be talking to the lawyers and members of counsel at CIA, or at the National Security Council or at the Director of National Intelligence or at the FBI,” he said. “It’s unbelievable of the level and degree of the administration to look for information on Donald Trump and his associates, his campaign team and his transition team. This is really, really serious stuff.”
ZeroHedge’s analysis of this story led to a stunning, if perhaps unsurprising, conclusion:
In other words, it’s growing increasingly unlikely that this operation was anything but a direct, targeted attempt of the Obama administration to utilize the full force of the U.S. intelligence apparatus to take down a political adversary.
“I leaked nothing to nobody”
Given the whirlstorm that these two stories unleashed, Susan Rice went onto MSNBC to address the allegations these stories raised.
Not that her reaction would change anyone’s minds. As ZeroHedge reports:
If anyone expected former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, the same Susan Rice who “stretched the truth” about Benghazi, to admit in her first public appearance after news that she unmasked members of the Trump team to admit she did something wrong, will be disappointed. Instead, moments ago she told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that she categorically denied that the Obama administration inappropriately spied on members of the Trump transition team.
However, former U.S. Attorney DiGenova had an interesting reaction to her response:
[Rice’s] denial “would come as quite a surprise to the government officials who have reviewed dozens of those spreadsheets.”
Wherefore art thou, mainstream media?
Meanwhile, the mainstream media’s response to this developing story has been, once again, quite revealing.
First of all, Vox Day has observed that the media has been quite careful in not attributing the original breakthough of this story to Mike Cernovich:
It’s fascinating to see the way in which the name “Mike Cernovich” doesn’t appear in any of these reports that I’ve seen. It’s particularly interesting in light of the fact that Scott Pelley just broadcast a 60 Minutes report accusing Cerno of being “fake news”; one would think that this breaking new story would be at least somewhat relevant in this regard.
Much the same is true when Drudge breaks a story. The obvious conclusion is that the mainstream news organizations are determined to defend their perceived status, even if that means omitting where they got the story in the first place and pretending it was the result of their own reporting. Then again, they are the fake news.
Speaking of fake news, the media in general, and CNN in particular, have been trying to downplay the story. As Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist reports:
Yesterday, the news broke at multiple outlets that the unmasking wasn’t done by a low-level official at an intelligence agency, but by Susan Rice herself. She was President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor. All of a sudden people began admitting that Nunes was right that information on political opponents had been collected, unmasked, and disseminated, but they turned to downplaying this as significant news.
This is a media-wide problem, but no one has been more shameless about this than CNN, which formerly at least attempted to position itself as politically neutral. CNN has decided to declare the news story “fake” because of this report from former Obama political appointee Jim Sciutto (who was a colleague of Susan Rice at the Obama State Department) (AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!! – ed.), who now covers the Republican administration:
Wait, wait, wait, wait. Slow down here. A person close to Rice said she did nothing wrong? Well this changes … oh wow, this changes … nothing. I mean, people close to Mike Flynn said he did nothing wrong, and they even had quite the case, but I don’t recall Sciutto either running with that angle, or believing such an angle “debunked” the coordinated leak campaign against Trump he was recipient of.
Meanwhile, yesterday, the Ministry of Truth, otherwise known as CNN, attempted to recapture the narrative slipping away from their ghoulish fingers and proclaim that THE SUSAN RICE STORY IS A FAKE SCANDAL!
This is what is generally known about the Susan Rice story as of Tuesday afternoon. What comes next? Who knows. However, a tweet of Mike Cernovich’s hints that we have not heard the last of this story.
Fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen. We are about to enter into severe turbulence.