by Itunuoluwa Adebo
Susan Rice, former Obama administration national security adviser was reportedly behind dozens of requests to unmask the identities of U.S. persons in foreign surveillance reports that connected to the Trump transition.
According to Bloomberg, the revelation on Monday, emerged from a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on unmasking, in which the identities of people in the U.S. who are not targeted in electronic surveillance, but whose communications get collected incidentally, are disclosed.
Those identities are typically supposed to be minimized, except when that information would provide foreign intelligence value. Rice’s conduct would likely meet that broad standard, and it does not appear that she broke the law. The revelations also do not provide any support for President Trump’s claims on twitter that he had been wiretapped by Obama.
The House and Senate intelligence committees, each of which is conducting a Russia inquiry, Republican members in particular have expressed concern about unmasking policies under the Obama administration, warning that the practice could be abused for political purposes.
The National Security Council review that uncovered Rice’s requests was led by its senior director for intelligence Ezra Cohen-Watnick. According to the New York Times, Cohen-Watnick was one of two officials who supplied Nunes with the intelligence reports.