The Trump allegation that he was “wiretapped” is still unproven, but there is increasing evidence that the Obama Administration was using intelligence collected on foreigners to keep tabs on the Trump team.
In surveilling foreigners, which can be done without court warrants, some US citizens’ names and conversations are inevitably overheard. Since there are no warrants to collect information on these US citizens, these “collaterally-collected” names are supposed to be “masked” (kept secret). Only a small number of senior officials have the authority to find out the names behind those masks.
We know, too, that one name, Michael Flynn, was not only unmasked but deliberately (and feloniously) leaked to the press, ultimately costing him his job as National Security Adviser.
Today, the news on this story advanced when Bloomberg’s Eli Lake reported that Susan Rice, Pres. Obama’s National Security Adviser, repeatedly sought names of Trump Associates masked in raw intelligence. That does not prove she leaked the information–someone else may have done so–but it puts her in a difficult spot.
The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like “U.S. Person One.” . . .
One U.S. official familiar with the reports said they contained valuable political information on the Trump transition such as whom the Trump team was meeting, the views of Trump associates on foreign policy matters and plans for the incoming administration.
Rice did not respond to an email seeking comment on Monday morning. Her role in requesting the identities of Trump transition officials adds an important element to the dueling investigations surrounding the Trump White House since the president’s inauguration. –Eli Lake reporting for Bloomberg.com
For a summary of this and two other scandals currently being investigated, see my column at Real Clear Politics: A Quick Guide to the Three-Ring Circus of Scandals