April 5th, 2017

Why did Susan Rice request the unmasking?

Andrew C. McCarthy has an important point to make about Susan Rice and the ummasking:

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 unmasking Americans, it was not to fulfill an intelligence need based on American interests; it was to fulfill a political desire based on Democratic-party interests.

Those three collecting agencies — FBI, CIA, and NSA — must be distinguished from other components of the government, such as the White House. Those other components, Comey elaborated, “are consumers of our products.” That is, they do not collect raw intelligence and refine it into useful reports — i.e., reports that balance informational value and required privacy protections. They read those reports and make policy recommendations based on them. White House staffers are not supposed to be in the business of controlling the content of the reports; they merely act on the reports. Thus, Comey added, these consumers “can ask the collectors to unmask.” But the unmasking authority “resides with those who collected the information.”

Of course, the consumer doing the asking in this case was not just any government official. We’re talking about Susan Rice. This was Obama’s right hand doing the asking. If she made an unmasking “request,” do you suppose anyone at the FBI, CIA, or NSA was going to say no?

McCarthy has an idea why Rice asked for the unmasking, too:

As we know, the community of intelligence agencies leaks like a sieve, and the more access there is to juicy information, the more leaks there are. 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, geometrically increasing the likelihood of intelligence leaks.

By the way, have you noticed that there have been lots of intelligence leaks in the press?

Please read the whole thing.

In sum: the Trump transition was booby-trapped by his predecessor.

24 Responses to “Why did Susan Rice request the unmasking?”

  1. F Says:

    i agree entirely with your conclusion — a booby trap. How ironic it would be if the trap catches the party that set it in the first place!

  2. Cornhead Says:

    And in order to stop more leaks Susan Rice must be made an example.

    But it will be a tough case. The WaPo reporter she leaked to will never testify. DOJ must squeeze a lower level NSC employee and/or convict her based upon documents. If there is a pattern of unmasking on a large scale, she is really sunk.

    Susan Rice deserves the Scooter Libby treatment times 100.

  3. Yancey Ward Says:

    McCarthy also wrote another good essay today:


  4. neo-neocon Says:

    Yancey Ward:

    You know, I’ve almost never read an article by McCarthy that wasn’t good.

    He was one of the first writers I discovered and admired during my political change process. Here is one of the McCarthy articles that first got my attention.

  5. Cornhead Says:

    Idea. Hire Andy McCarthy back at DOJ and let him prosecute Susan Rice.

  6. Cornhead Says:

    Susan Rice must be completely and utterly destroyed. She must become the scapegoat.

    Why? Trump’s base despises her. But her previous lying was not a crime. Now she has given us something to work with. She is also very unlikable.

  7. John Guilfoyle Says:

    F Says: April 5th, 2017 at 1:52 pm
    “How ironic it would be if the trap catches the party that set it in the first place!”

    A good observations that’s not without precedent.

    “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.” – Proverbs 26:27

  8. Sam L. Says:

    Booby-trapped? Of COURSE it was.

  9. carl in atlanta Says:

    You’ve got to hand it to Susan Rice, Obama, et. al.: They do an excellent job of creating layers upon layers of plausible deniability and “wiggle room”, knowing all the while that they’ll be given every benefit of every doubt by the Dems and MSM.

    The more I see the Left in action the more I’ve come to respect their ability to control narratives and present a monolithic front; they have an uncanny ability to stay in lock-step regardless of any obstacles they encounter. Uncanny; almost like they’re of one mind. Like Army Ants.

  10. Griffin Says:

    It really is as simple as increasing the number of potential leakers exponentially therefore limiting the possible exposure for the leakers. What a mess our federal government is. Broke beyond repair I fear.

  11. The Other Chuck Says:

    There are several things about the unmasking by Rice other than the political angle that bother me. If it was motivated purely by politics, surely she would snoop in on communications of other Republican candidates. And if not, why Trump who was a long shot at best in 2015 when this started?

    It seems obvious that they wanted this stuff to leak out, as McCarthy suggests. But was the reason solely political or did they actually believe there was collusion between the Russians and certain Trump operatives?

  12. Ryan Says:

    The Other Chuck:
    Do you think Obama really give a **** about America’s well being? Of course all these leaking and unmasking is just a strategic move to help the democrats and most importantly, to hurt Trump for personal reasons. Obama is a person who will go the distance to hurt someone just for payback, remember There was personal beef between Trump Obama? the hatred is mutual.

  13. huxley Says:

    If it was motivated purely by politics, surely she would snoop in on communications of other Republican candidates.

    The Other Chuck: It’s a breaking story, so who knows. Perhaps Trump looked like low-hanging fruit for spy-and-unmask. Or, more likely IMO, she was snooping on other Republican candidates as well.

    The Obama administration strikes me as so thoroughly corrupt in their use of the government for political ends that I doubt we’ll ever touch bottom on all the rotten stuff they did. Likewise Susan Rice.

  14. AesopFan Says:

    I agree with Huxley: they were pulling in reports on everyone, but only Trump’s have hit the headlines.

    The degree of corruption is so wide and deep maybe it’s time to shut everything down and start over with new offices and employees all the way around, and only for what’s absolutely necessary (see GB’s link to Daniel Greenfield from the McCain post).

    I really began to understand the Old Testament boom-and-bust cycle after Obama’s election and the flow of scandals began, although I suspect it’s been in operation several times in America already.

  15. AesopFan Says:

    I read Andrew McCarthy rigorously – everything he writes is clear, accurate, and on-point.
    If we could only put him on the Supreme Court, since the AG slot is taken…

  16. AesopFan Says:

    Some more fodder to chew on (long excerpt from a very long but persuasive article):


    “In a December 29, 2015 article, The Wall Street Journal described how the Obama administration had conducted surveillance on Israeli officials to understand how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, like Ambassador Ron Dermer, intended to fight the Iran Deal. The Journal reported that the targeting “also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”

    Despite this reporting, it seemed inconceivable at the time that—given myriad legal, ethical, political, and historical concerns, as well as strict National Security Agency protocols that protect the identity of American names caught in intercepts—the Obama White House would have actually spied on American citizens. In a December 31, 2016, Tablet article on the controversy, “Why the White House Wanted Congress to Think It Was Being Spied on By the NSA,” I argued that the Obama administration had merely used the appearance of spying on American lawmakers to corner opponents of the Iran Deal. Spying on U.S. citizens would be a clear abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance system. It would be a felony offense to leak the names of U.S. citizens to the press.

    Increasingly, I believe that my conclusion in that piece was wrong.I believe the spying was real and that it was done not in an effort to keep the country safe from threats—but in order to help the White House fight their domestic political opponents.
    “At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism—activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.”

    This is what systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection for domestic political purposes looks like: Intelligence collected on Americans, lawmakers, and figures in the pro-Israel community was fed back to the Obama White House as part of its political operations. The administration got the drop on its opponents by using classified information, which it then used to draw up its own game plan to block and freeze those on the other side. And—with the help of certain journalists whose stories (and thus careers) depend on high-level access—terrorize them.

    Once you understand how this may have worked, it becomes easier to comprehend why and how we keep being fed daily treats of Trump’s nefarious Russia ties. The issue this time isn’t Israel, but Russia, yet the basic contours may very well be the same.

    To make its case for the Iran Deal, the Obama administration redefined America’s pro-Israel community as agents of Israel. They did something similar with Trump and the Russians—whereby every Russian with money was defined as an agent of the state. Where the Israeli ambassador once was poison, now the Russian ambassador is the kiss of death—a phone call with him led to Flynn’s departure from the White House and a meeting with him landed Attorney General Jeff Sessions in hot water.

    Did Trump really have dealings with FSB officers? Thanks to the administration’s whisper campaigns, the facts don’t matter; that kind of contact is no longer needed to justify surveillance, whose spoils could then be weaponized and leaked. There are oligarchs who live in Trump Tower, and they all know Putin—ergo, talking to them is tantamount to dealing with the Russian state.

    Yet there is one key difference between the two information operations that abused the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for political purposes. The campaign to sell the Iran deal was waged while the Obama administration was in office. The campaign to tie down Trump with the false Russia narrative was put together as the Obama team was on its way out.

    The intelligence gathered from Iran Deal surveillance was shared with the fewest people possible inside the administration. It was leaked to only a few top-shelf reporters, like the authors of The Wall Street Journal article, who showed how the administration exploited a loophole to spy on Congress. Congressmen and their staffs certainly noticed, as did the Jewish organizations that were being spied on. But the campaign was mostly conducted sotto voce, through whispers and leaks that made it clear what the price of opposition might be.

    The reason the prior abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus is clear only now is because the Russia campaign has illuminated it.

  17. AesopFan Says:

    Roger Kimball lends some literary class to the furor:
    “Susan Rice is not known for her attention to poetry, but I suspect she is familiar with Walter Scott’s famous lines (from the poem Marmion):

    Oh, what a tangled web we weave
    When first we practice to deceive.

    I wonder if she also knows J. R. Pope’s sly addition:

    But when we’ve practiced for a while
    How vastly we improve our style.

    Pope’s amusing title for that opus is “A Word of Encouragement.”

    To be perfectly frank, I believe that Ms. Rice, Barack Obama’s former national security advisor, needs more practice.”

  18. AesopFan Says:

    Charlie Martin assess the consequences of Rice’s (or whoever’s) actions:

    “One of the hardest problems in computer security — in all security, really — is the insider attack. It means pretty much what it sounds like: how do you prevent the illicit release of information by someone who is authorized to have access to the information? How do you limit the damage an insider can do?

    Long before computer security became an issue, the basics were well understood. Before you give people access to anything you want to protect, you make as sure as you can that they’re trustworthy. You identify what you want to protect so no one can say they weren’t aware of its sensitivity. You physically control the information so it’s difficult to get out of your control. You limit what people can see to what they must have to do their job — this is called “need to know” in government parlance. And you establish penalties sufficient to make someone think twice, or three times, before revealing your secrets….
    Even at the time FISA passed, though, civil libertarians were warning that there was little real protection against the Government using the information they collect maliciously. The problem goes back to the basics: you need to make sure that the people with access to the collected data were thoroughly checked and could be trusted.

    In the United States, though, there’s a significant loophole, called “an election.”

    Necessarily, when we elect a president, the president has complete access to any data — the president is the authority who decides what data is to be protected, and with what rigor. The president’s political appointees, just as necessarily, must have the same access. Our only real protection from illicit disclosure by these insiders is the degree to which they can be trusted. An unscrupulous political appointee on the president’s national security staff can obtain anything and leak anything.

    In the Obama administration, scruples about information security were notably lacking. We saw it with the Clinton emails, where information security procedures were openly flouted, and where, frankly, multiple felonious violations of the espionage went unpunished.

    And we’re seeing it now: Susan Rice, and probably a number of others, violated the provisions of FISA, and certainly, with no reasonable doubt violated the privacy of at least one U.S. Person.

    FISA is coming up for renewal not too long from now, and FISA’s opponents have got a new and very strong argument that the government cannot be trusted with the power to intercept U.S. Persons communications.

    If FISA were eliminated, the U.S. would lose a valuable tool — we really do need to be able to intercept communications within the U.S., for both state and non-state (read “terrorist”) actors. But for Americans to be able to trust their government with these surveillance powers, we have got to be able to trust that unscrupulous political appointees are deterred, and that illicit actions will be punished.

    If Susan Rice, and the leakers if Rice wasn’t the one, go unpunished, we’ll have proven the wild-eyed civil libertarians right, and have given their arguments against continuing FISA much new strength.”

    Now we generally expect that NOTHING will be punished if done by a Democrat or ally.

  19. The Other Chuck Says:

    Of course I agree with you about the nature of the Obama administration and especially his consigliere Rice. However, the red flag raised in my mind is: would they, meaning Obama and Rice, go to this extreme political espionage, and in the process expose themselves to felony charges, without believing there was something to it?

  20. The Other Chuck Says:

    I had no idea it was that bad. Thank you for the article links, especially the Tablet Magazine one which I’ve bookmarked and will read when time permits. You’ve answered my doubts.

  21. Brian E Says:

    “Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal expanded on this:”

    “We’re told by a source who has seen the unmasked documents that they included political information about the Trump transition team’s meetings and policy intentions. We are also told that none of these documents had anything to do with Russia or the FBI investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. While we don’t know if Ms. Rice requested these dozens of reports, we are told that they were only distributed to a select group of recipients—conveniently including Ms. Rice.”


    This is from the PJ story AesopFan linked to previously.

    To me, this needs to be more focus on this information.

    I don’t think we should be picking out the prison silverware for Ms. Rice just yet. While she asked for the unmasking, someone else directed her to the documents, or at least that’s what I read in another story.

    And unless it’s proven she leaked the stories to the press, what she did isn’t a crime.

    But if it can be proven that the documents show surveillance not related to the Russia probe, this is a scheme as corrupt as Watergate.

  22. Big Maq Says:

    “In sum: the Trump transition was booby-trapped by his predecessor.”

    McCarthy includes a lot of speculation that reach beyond the facts.

    Don’t think it helps jumping to a conclusion before enough relevant facts are known.

    But, like I said in a past post, we cannot help ourselves, as we want to know everything “now!”, and fill in the gaps with our own worst imaginations.

    If we want to “go there”, then let’s speculate when (not if) the trump admin will do the very same types of things.

    Let’s speculate about how he will use Russian intelligence to do his dirty work, after all, we can speculate that he knowingly had their helping hand this election.

    How fun is it to hear all that?

    How much is true? Nada. But…

    Based on a thread of fact? Absolutely! But blown well beyond, anything supportable.

    Maybe we should demand that the investigations just be carried out without all this unsubstantiated and speculative crap flying around?

    Yep, when pigs fly, I guess.

  23. Big Maq Says:

    This is, indeed, very much the objective putin had.


  24. huxley Says:

    Of course I agree with you about the nature of the Obama administration and especially his consigliere Rice. However, the red flag raised in my mind is: would they, meaning Obama and Rice, go to this extreme political espionage, and in the process expose themselves to felony charges, without believing there was something to it?

    The Other Chuck: Assuming you mean “something to [the claims of illicit relations between Trump and Russia]” — sure, I imagine they did suspect so.

    Heck, I myself wondered when I read that Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, had been a lobbyist for the Ukrainian President who was essentially a Putin stooge and is now in exile in Russia because he is wanted for high treason in Ukraine.

    But the snooping could also be part of a general fishing expedition on Republican candidates the White House abused its authority for.

    As Ann Coulter once wrote, getting sealed records into the press is Obama’s “signature move” against his political opponents.

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