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Rice says unmasking of names wasn't for political purposes

Rice says unmasking of names wasn't for political purposes

The focus has instead recently shifted to the issue of "unmasking", namely the circumstances in which a US person's identity is revealed to the government officials reviewing the intelligence reports.

Senior US officials later said that Rice's comments were based on an intelligence assessment that was eventually updated to reflect a preliminary view that demonstrators were not the culprits.

While this new information adds another layer of intrigue into what was going on during the campaign, it would still seem to fall short of proving the president's original claim back on March 4 that he was being "wiretapped" by President Obama.

"Within the context of the Trump campaign, the Trump transition, did you seek the names of people involved in - to unmask the names of people involved in the Trump transition, the Trump campaign, the people surrounding the president-elect in order to spy on them and expose them?"

She explained it would be necessary to find out the identity of the American to see if he was a legitimate threat or just some "kook".

Rice categorically denied the president's claim from a month ago that Obama ordered a wiretapping of Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign - an allegation she said she "shocked" her. In order to protect the privacy rights of those USA persons, the government has imposed procedures for "minimizing" or "masking" those persons' identities.

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The US often monitors the communications of foreigners, but the names of any Americans caught up in the dragnet are typically removed from intelligence reports to protect their privacy. But as national security adviser, Rice was authorized to ask an intelligence agency - such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the CIA and the NSA - to unmask a US person. The unmasking of the identities of US citizens, which would more typically be redacted in documents pertaining to such surveillance, requires fulfillment of two criteria, according to testimony from Rogers.

"I never have and never would", Rice said.

The unmasked names, of people associated with Donald Trump, were then sent to all those at the National Security Council, some at the Defense Department, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan - essentially, the officials at the top, including former Rice deputy Ben Rhodes. Rice confirmed that she requested the demasking of Americans while she was National Security Adviser. Former Obama Administration official Evelyn Farkas appeared to acknowledge Trump officials had been the subject of surveillance.

"Yes, in general, and any other national security adviser would, I think, as a matter of their ordinary course of business", Comey said. "To not understand it would be a dereliction of duty".

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.

The Obama administration's last-second changes also make it very likely somebody would leak, "so Team Obama's "spread the info" initiative certainly broke the spirit of the laws", the Post said.

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