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By Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
The latest disclosures that former Obama national-security adviser Susan Rice may have requested that intelligence agencies reveal or “unmask” those from the Trump team who were surveilled in purportedly normal intelligence gathering — and that such requests may have extended over an apparently considerable period of time — remind us that at some point there is always an accounting.
Rice’s past serial and shameless untruths about the tragic deaths at Benghazi (a 2012 Obama re-election “al-Qaeda on the run” narrative, with a supposedly spontaneous riot over a YouTube video as the cause of the attack) were contextualized by the media and eventually vaporized. Her sad “honor and distinction” narrative about the Bowe Bergdahl betrayal of his comrades — the infamous purported “prisoner of war” “captured on the battlefield” fabrication — was intended to mask what was otherwise a dishonest and terrible hostage swap for someone who had endangered the lives of his fellow soldiers. Recently, she has denied all knowledge of what House Intelligence chairman Devin Nunes had been fighting to uncover, and has even tweeted periodically to criticize the purported ethical lapses and unprofessionalism of the Trump administration.
All that is a lot for even the gods to grind. If, as likely, she had access to, or requested, such raw data, and sent it, with names illegally unmasked, to primary players of the Obama administration (e.g., Clapper, Brennan, Rhodes, etc.), that fact would blow up some heretofore denials of any knowledge of such skullduggery and perhaps become the greatest presidential scandal of the last half century.
The Rice revelation might also put into the proper landscape the following: a) the astounding self-confessionals of Hillary adviser Evelyn Farkas about her frantic efforts to convince Obama operatives to increase intelligence gathering and to leak the information to the press (what gave a former mid-level Department of Defense employee the presumption that she could influence the intelligence operations of the U.S. government?), b) the unprecedented eleventh-hour Obama effort to broaden access to classified data to spread and leak such unmasked individuals, c) the political and media landmines that Representative Nunes (facing “kill the messenger” efforts to kill the message) had to navigate around and the character assassination to which he has been subjected, d) why the Russian-collusion narrative, denied by intelligence chiefs, has become the necessary distraction — first, to steer attention away from the improper leaking and surveillance, and, second, to be used to offer pseudo-moral equivalence to stop further investigation: as if Russian collusion is the bookend to unmasking Trump; as if Nunes is the mirror-image of Representative Adam Schiff, to achieve an impasse of “so let’s just call it even and quit the entire mess and ‘move on.’” e) the relative silence of former president and “constitutional law professor” Barack Obama.
What will be most interesting will be two corollary inquiries: 1) We need to know when, why, and how the White House put such unmasked data illegally into the hands of the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, etc. perhaps initially to smear the Trump campaign (will the same reporters who ran with the “Trump frolicking in Moscow” collusion narratives now reboot and run with the true story?), and later the Trump transition and presidency; and 2) were these unmasked individuals really incidentally picked up data from surveilled foreigners — or, in fact, were they the primary targets of monitoring all along, with supposedly preplanned surveillance of foreign operators acting as cover?