The mystery has been solved. President Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice is the “well known, high up” individual in the Obama Administration’s intelligence community responsible for “unmasking” individuals associated with the Donald Trump presidential campaign and administration.
One of the individuals unmasked was her short-lived successor, Trump’s first National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn. Flynn was fired by the Trump administration in February for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his telephone conversation with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn had told the Vice President that he did not discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador only to later admit that the conversation did reference sanctions.
The revelation that Rice unmasked individuals within the Trump Transition Team and Administration first came to light in an article published on April 2 by journalist Mike Cernovich. The story gained more traction on April 3 with an article by Eli Lake of Bloomberg. In his piece, Lake describes how the National Security Council’s Senior Director of Intelligence Ezra Cohen-Watnick uncovered multiple requests from Rice to unmask “U.S. persons in intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities,” while Cohen-Watnick was conducting a review of the government’s policy for unmasking the identities of U.S. persons who are not the targets of electronic investigations but whose communications were intercepted “incidentally.”
Cohen-Watnick brought his discovery of the Rice requests to the attention of The White House General Counsel Office who instructed him to discontinue his research as there was a concern that the White House could be perceived as instigating the search for the source of the “unmasking.”
The act of “unmasking” is not in itself a crime. In her capacity as National Security Adviser, Rice could have encountered situations where she needed to “unmask” an individual for the purposes of fully understanding the context of a conversation. This scenario became more feasible when President Obama, towards the end of his tenure, relaxed the walls between the sixteen different intelligence organizations to facilitate greater data sharing.
The question on the table is whether Rice unmasked Flynn and others for political reasons. Let’s face it. Her track record for honesty has been poor. She famously lied about the raid on the Benghazi compound on September 11, 2012 which killed four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens by going on the Sunday talk shows and attributing the attack to an internet video instead of Muslim extremists.
Rice lied again in 2014 when she participated in an interview on ABC where she described Sargent Bowe Bergdahl who was later revealed to be a deserter and a traitor as having “served the United States with honor and distinction.”
Then, Rice lied a third time during a March 22 interview with PBS’s Judy Woodruff. When Woodruff asked Rice about the allegations which House Intelligence Committee Chairperson Devin Nunes raised about the Trump transition team being electronically monitored by the Obama Administration, Rice responded, “I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.”
On Tuesday, Rice denied the allegations of unmasking for political purposes during an interview with MSNBC. “The intelligence community made the determination whether the identity of that U.S. person could be provided to me,” Rice said. She further commented, that it was “absolutely not for any political purposes, to spy, expose or anything.”
Did Susan Rice’s unmasking of Flynn facilitate the leak of his unmasking? Is she going to pay a price for her actions? Is the Mainstream Media going to treat Rice’s actions with the appropriate level of outrage or are they just going to sweep under the rug like they did with Benghazi and Berghdahl?
This all remains to be seen.