Former CIA operations officer Scott Uehlinger, co-host ofThe Station Chief podcast, talked about the Susan Rice “unmasking” story with SiriusXM host Raheem Kassam on Tuesday’s Breitbart News Daily.
“I think it’s an issue which deeply concerns people like myself and other people, working-level officers in the intel community,” Uehlinger said. “Even though at this point, there seems to be no evidence of breaking the law, this ‘unmasking’ of people was ill-advised at best. I think it really shows that abuse of power and the fact that many people in the Obama administration were willing to violate the spirit of the laws designed to protect Americans, perhaps rather than the law itself.”
“As a working-level CIA officer, we were always told by upper authority, you’re always told to – and the quote is – ‘avoid the appearance of impropriety,’” he said. “Well, this does not pass that smell test, definitely.”
Uehlinger said another thing that concerns working-level officers in the intelligence and military communities is “the American people, average Americans like myself, are tired of seeing two sets of rules followed by the higher-ups and then the working-level people.”
“This is just part of that again. A working-level officer would have gotten into big trouble doing anything remotely like this,” he observed. “But now, we have a lot of people saying that she should just be given a pass.”
“While I understand, you know, it’s important that the Trump administration has to move forward with its domestic agenda, but these allegations demand to be further investigated,” he urged.
Kassam proposed that Democrats and their media would not allow the Trump administration to move forward with any part of its agenda until this “Russia hysteria” is cleaned up. That will be a difficult task since, as Kassam noted, the hysteria has been burning at fever pitch for months without a shred of evidence to back up the wildest allegations.
Uehlinger agreed and addressed Kassam’s point that media coverage alternates between “no surveillance was conducted” and “we know everything about Trump’s Russia connections.”
“The Obama administration relaxed the rule that allowed raw intelligence that was gathered by the NSA to be shared throughout the government,” he pointed out. “First of all, to relax that, there is absolutely no operational justification for doing that. With all of the counter-intelligence problems, with espionage, with Snowden, all these things we’ve had, to raise by an order of magnitude the access to this very sensitive information makes no operational sense at all.”
“So for someone to approve that, it’s clear they had another intent, and I believe the intent was to allow for further leakage,” he charged. “To give more people access, thus more leaks, which, in fact, would hurt the Trump administration. It seems very obvious when you put that together and combine it with the actions of Susan Rice and other people in unmasking people. That is the true purpose behind this.”
“I say this as somebody who – you have to remember, when I was a station chief overseas, this is what I was reporting on. I was in countries like Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kosovo – countries which constantly had the offices of the prime minister or president using the intelligence services to suppress the domestic opposition. So I’ve been to this rodeo before, many a time. I saw the storm clouds gathering several weeks ago, and everything I’ve suspected has so far come to fruition,” Uehlinger said.
He pronounced it “very disappointing” that such transparent abuse of government power for partisan politics would occur in the United States.
“An intelligence service has to have the trust of the people and the government in order to function effectively,” he said. “With all of these scandals happening, and with the name of perhaps the CIA and other intelligence community elements in the mud, this makes the object of protecting our national security more problematic. The agencies have to have the trust of the American people, and they’re losing it, because it seems as though they’ve been weaponized – perhaps, like I said, not breaking the law but playing very close to the line.”
Kassam suggested that leaking the information might have been illegal, even if Rice was legally entitled to request information on Donald Trump’s campaign and unmask the U.S. persons monitored during surveillance of foreign intelligence targets.
“That’s absolutely the case,” Uehlinger agreed. He went on to argue that the absence of hard evidence for any wrongdoing by the Trump campaign in all of these leaks was highly significant.
“Since basically the Obama administration has sort of loaded this with these rule changes and all to allow for leaks the fact that there is no ‘smoking gun’ of Trump administration collusion with Russia indicates that there isn’t any. There is nothing substantial here because a juicy morsel like that would certainly have been leaked by the same people that have been leaking everything else. The fact it hasn’t been leaked out means it does not exist,” he reasoned.
Kassam said some of the Russia hysteria came from imputing sinister motives to conventional business dealings, arguing that Trump’s organization made deals around the world, and it is exceedingly difficult to do business with any Russian entity that is not somehow connected to the Russian government.
“That’s an excellent point. You’re absolutely right,” Uehlinger responded. “It shows these people who are doing these gambits are relying on the relative ignorance of the American public of the actual nuts and bolts of intelligence to make their point. Anyone with any background in this stuff can see it for what it is: a desperate attempt to discredit an administration because they were crushed in the past elections.”
Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.
Listen to the complete audio of the interview above.
On Tuesday afternoon, President Barack Obama’s former National Security Advisor Susan Rice appeared on MSNBC with host Andrea Mitchell to answer questions about allegations that had emerged earlier in the week to suggest that she requested the “unmasking” of the names of Donald Trump’s campaign and transition teams in intelligence reports, which allegedly had nothing to do with national security, and that she had compiled spreadsheet of those names.
Here are the highlights of Mitchell’s interview with Rice, which took up the first quarter-hour of Mitchell’s show.
- Rice admitted asking for the names of U.S. citizens in intelligence reports to be “unmasked.” Rice said: “There were occasions when I would receive a report in which a U.S. person was referred to. Name not provided, just U.S. person. And sometimes in that context, in order to understand the importance of the report, and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out, or request, the information as to who that U.S. official was.” Rice argued it was necessary for her and other officials to request that information, on occasion, to “do our jobs” to protect national security.
- Rice admitted asking specifically for the names of members of Donald Trump’s transition team. She argued that she had not done so for political purposes, however. Mitchell asked: “Did you seek the names of people involved in — to unmask the names of people involved in the Trump transition, the people surrounding the president-elect in order to spy on them and expose them?” Rice answered: “Absolutely not for any political purposes to spy, expose, anything.”
- Rice denied leaking the name of former General Michael Flynn. “I leaked nothing to nobody, and never have, and never would.” She added that to discuss particular targets would be to reveal classified information. She later walked back her denial. Mitchell: “The allegation is that you were leaking the fact that he spoke to the [Russian] ambassador and perhaps to others.” Rice: “I can’t get into any specific reports … what I can say is there is an established process.”
- Rice denied reports that she prepared a “spreadsheet” of Trump transition staff under surveillance. Mitchell asked specifically about the Daily Caller story Tuesday: “They allege there was a spreadsheet you put out of all of these names and circulated it.” Rice: “Absolutely false. No spreadsheet, no nothing of the sort.” She said that unmasked names “was not then typically broadly disseminated throughout the national security community or the government.”
- Rice said that even if she did request the names of citizens to be unmasked, that did not mean she leaked them. “The notion … that by asking for the identity of an American person, that is the same as leaking it, is completely false.”
- Rice admitted that the pace of intelligence reports accelerated throughout the election. She said she could not say whether the pace of her “unmasking” requests accelerated, but she said there was increasing concern, as well as increasing information, relating to the possibility of Russian interference in the election, particularly after August 2016.
- Rice implied that President Obama himself ordered the compilation of intelligence reports on Trump officials. “…the president requested the compliation of the intelligence, which was ultimately provided in January .”
- Rice said that she was unaware, even while working with Flynn during the transition, that he was working for the Turkish government. Mitchell asked: “When did you learn that?” Rice answered: “In the press, as everybody else did.” Mitchell, incredulously: “You didn’t know that, when you were National Security Advisor?” Rice: “I did not.”
- Rice reiterated that President Obama never tapped Trump’s phone. “Absolutely false … there was no such collection [or] surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals … directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals.” She did not deny that there might have been some surveillance by other agencies, however. She said it was impossible for the White House to order such surveillance, but that the Department of Justice could have done so.
- Rice seemed aggrieved by Trump’s claims. “It wasn’t typical of the way presidents treat their predecessors.”
- Rice would not say whether she would be willing to testify on Capitol Hill before Congress. “Let’s see what comes. I’m not going to sit here and prejudge,” she said. But she insisted that the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election were of interest to every American citizen, and should be followed wherever the evidence leads.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
It was revealed Monday that President Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice allegedly ordered the unmasking of the identities of Trump campaign aides who were reportedly being surveilled during the 2016 election.
The recent reports further prove, at least in part, President Donald Trump’s claims that senior Obama officials had collected intelligence on Trump aids and disseminated it throughout the government. Rice’s involvement — as it relates to her reported role in the unmasking of Trump aids and circulating sensitive information — places the longtime Obama operative at the center of another major political scandal.
Below are five facts from Susan Rice scandals every American should know.
1. Susan Rice allegedly ordered surveillance of Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign aides as part of a political intelligence operation.
Rice allegedly maintained spreadsheets of Trump aides’ telephone calls “one year before the 2016 presidential election,” according to the Daily Caller.
The Daily Caller reports:
“What was produced by the intelligence community at the request of Ms. Rice were detailed spreadsheets of intercepted phone calls with unmasked Trump associates in perfectly legal conversations with individuals,” diGenova told The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group Monday.
“The overheard conversations involved no illegal activity by anybody of the Trump associates, or anyone they were speaking with,” diGenova said. “In short, the only apparent illegal activity was the unmasking of the people in the calls.”
2. Rice claimed that climate change was responsible for the deadly civil war in Syria.
“In the years prior to civil war breaking out in Syria, that country also experienced its worst drought on record,” Rice said in October 2015, during a speech at Stanford University. “Farming families moved en masse into urban centers, increasing political unrest and further priming the country for conflict.”
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed in the conflict since President Barack Obama drew his infamous “red line” in 2012, promising to retaliate against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime if it used chemical weapons on its own people.
3. Rice once declared that there is “no military solution” to the raging conflict in Yemen.
“As in Syria, there is no military solution to the crisis in Yemen,” Rice said in April 2015, during a speech at the Arab American Institute’s Kahlil Gibran Gala.
Seven months before Rice’s speech, President Obama had called his administration’s drone strike-driven military operation in Yemen a success story.
President Trump, however, ordered more airstrikes against al-Qaeda in Yemen in February than any year in Obama’s presidency.
4. Susan Rice said accused deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl served “with honor and distinction.”
In March 2015, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was charged with treason for allegedly deserting his fellow soldiers and abandoning his Afghanistan outpost in 2009.
In a June 2014 broadcast of ABC’s This Week, Susan Rice defended Bergdahl, saying he “served the United States with honor and distinction. And we’ll have the opportunity eventually to learn what has transpired in the past years.”
As Breitbart News reported, six soldiers lost their lives searching for then-Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl after he abandoned his outpost.
5. Susan Rice was the driving force behind a misinformation campaign about the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi terror attacks.
Then-UN Ambassador Rice, acting as the Obama White House’s spokeswoman, appeared on five Sunday morning talk shows and repeatedly claimed that the Benghazi attacks had been caused by an anti-Islam video.
Rice appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, and CNN and regurgitated talking points purporting that the protests that had erupted “spontaneously” near two U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya and were a result of a “hateful video” that was offensive to Islam.
But government documents, released following a Judicial Watch lawsuit, reveal that government officials monitoring the attack in real-time did not cite an anti-Islam video as an explanation for the paramilitary attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
In May 2015 interview, former Obama CIA Director Mike Morell said Rice’s Benghazi talking points blaming an anti-Islam YouTube video crossed “the line between national security and politics.”
“I think the line in there that says one of our objectives here right on the Sunday show is to blame the video rather than a failure of policy,” Morell said on Fox News’ Special Report. “And as you know, I say in the book that I think that that is crossing the line between national security and politics.”
Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter: @JeromeEHudson
Scarborough: ‘What If Dick Cheney Had Asked for the Unmasking of Names?