Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said on Monday that Susan Rice should have to testify on new reports that she gave the orders to “unmask” the names of President Trump’s transition team who were caught up in Government surveillance. Rice is the former National Security Adviser in former President Obama’s team. Paul, on Twitter, called the reports on Rice a “smoking gun” when he asked for her testimony on the issue.
Fox News, Bloomberg, and others have reported that Rice called for disclosure of the Trump team names even though the standard practice is to keep U.S. citizen’s names masked for their protection. Not only were the names unmasked for Rice, but they were also then sent to members of the National Security Council and the heads of the CIA and National Intelligence. The names were a part of “incidental electronic surveillance” of the president-elect and the people close to him, including family members. This monitoring took place for up to a year before he took office.
Rand Paul said, “I don’t think we should discount how big a deal it was that Susan Rice was looking at these, and she needs to be asked: Did President Obama ask her to do this? Was this a directive from President Obama?” White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, was asked about the report on Susan Rice at Monday’s White House briefing and declined to comment on the role that Rice may have played or the motives behind the actions. “I’m not going to comment on this any further until [congressional] committees have come to a conclusion.” he said. But he did contrast the media’s “lack” of real interest in these discoveries in comparison with their strong coverage of suspected Trump-Russia collusion.
Susan Rice has not responded. She was asked in March on “PBS NewsHour” about the possibility of incidental intelligence gathering and said, “I know nothing about this.”
Apparently House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Devin Nunes knew about this unmasking back in January. That is well before President Trump sent his now famous Tweet about “wiretapping.” It’s clear that Americans are supposed to be protected from incidental collections like these. Rand Paul is calling for stronger limits on “unmasking people in the political process,” and is considering legislation on unmasking in response to the reports on Susan Rice.
What do you think about this story? Even if it was “legal,” was it “ethical” for members of one party to gather and leak information on another?