Obama aide denies using intel to spy on Trump advisers

05 April 2017, 02:06 | Robert Harris

Obama aide denies using intel to spy on Trump advisers

Dana Rohrabacher

"Unmasking" is quickly becoming the word of the week, after allegations published by Bloomberg News and Fox News that former President Barack Obama's national-security adviser, Susan Rice, requested that the names of Donald Trump associates caught up in incidental surveillance collection be unmasked.

Seven months before Rice's speech, President Obama had called his administration's drone strike-driven military operation in Yemen a success story.

"Let me be absolutely clear", Rice responded.

And last week, it was a debunked talking point that former Obama administration official Evelyn Farkas admitted spying on the Trump team. But we also know that the Obama administration later changed the classification of the "unmasked" transcripts, and other similar material, in order to spread the information as widely as possible within the government.

"I leaked nothing to nobody, never had, never would", she said.

Rice declined to comment about specific intelligence reports on Tuesday, but said that if Trump associates' names were speaking with foreign officials who were under surveillance, it was "possible" their names could have been gathered by USA intelligence agencies. "That is absolutely false". "No spreadsheet, nothing of the sort".

"The notion, which some people are trying to suggest, that by asking for the identity of the American person is the same is leaking it - is completely false", Rice said.

She said there were times she reviewed a report that referred to an American who was unnamed. If a senior official gives what appears to be a national security reason, demasking requests are nearly always approved. The review was prompted by a belief that there were inefficiencies in the current procedures and concerns over a policy change made in the closing days of the Obama administration, according to the official, who insisted on anonymity in order to disclose the sensitive information.

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Cotton, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, added that he's "never asked for an unmasked name". Rice confirmed that she requested the demasking of Americans while she was National Security Adviser. She conceded that that could have resulted in Trump officials' communications being picked up and read by USA intelligence.

RICE: That is exactly right, Andrea.

"There was a pace of reporting that accelerated as the intelligence community got more and more information on that".

"There were occasions when I would receive a report in which a US person was referred to".

It wouldn't surprise me if former Deputy National Security Council Ben Rhodes was deeply involved in this campaign. It is necessary for the Secretary of State, or the Secretary of Defense, or the Central Intelligence Agency director to do their jobs. Imagine if we saw something of grave significance that involved Russian Federation, or China, or anyone else, interfering in our political process and we needed to understand the significance of that. "To not understand it would be dereliction of duty".

MITCHELL: What did you first think when the president tweeted that President Obama had eavesdropped on him?

Many on Twitter were quick to note that two people with prominent access to the president were praising the words and actions of a man who had made many claims they found extremely objectionable.

This is the same Susan Rice who also claimed in 2014 that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl "served the United States with honor and distinction" and that he "wasn't simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield".



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