Thursday, 21 September, 2017

Obama aide says intel not used to spy on Trump advisers

Melinda Barton | 18 April, 2017, 02:55

Mr. Trump did not offer any evidence supporting his claim, while the current and former intelligence officials from the Democratic and Republican administrations have said they do not believe Ms. Rice's actions were unlawful. Rice says it's "absolutely false" that the previous administration used intelligence about President Donald Trump's associates for political purposes.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy says it is highly unusual for anyone in a political position to request the "unmasking" of US citizens - and it's vital for congressional investigators to determine the full scope of the federal government's incidental surveillance of Donald Trump and his associates during the campaign and the presidential transition. However, she insists there was nothing unusual about it and that she did not leak any of the classified information. The identities of Americans who talk with those foreigners, or who are discussed in conversations between two non-U.S. persons, are masked in intelligence reports.

On some occasions, the official added, it is necessary to know the identity of US persons in order to understand the context and substance of the intelligence. If the National Security Agency deems those reasons vaild, it will unmask the names.

But Trump has now parroted the claim that Rice may have acted illegally, commenting on the issue in an April 5 interview with The New York Times.

"It's something that warrants oversight and warrants her coming in and testifying", said Rep. Scott Taylor, (R-VA).

"There is a civil liberties component to this that should be very troubling in terms of the revelations that keep coming out", White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday.

Trump also said that other Obama administration officials may have been involved in the "unmasking" of the officials' identities.

The names were part of incidental electronic surveillance of candidate and President-elect Trump and people close to him, including family members, for up to a year before he took office.

Democrats on Capitol Hill blasted Trump. USA intelligence agencies routinely do legal surveillance of foreign nationals thanks to a section of law in the "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act", generally referred to as FISA.

Fred Fleitz, an ex-CIA analyst, saw a mismatch in what Rice said versus what she allegedly did. A congressional aide said there were more than a dozen people on the list.

Nunes also said he confirmed that "additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked". I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today'.