We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers.
From the 2013 post, Martin Luther King: “Everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was Legal”
The fact that most of the debate surrounding the unmasking of Trump personnel revolves around whether it was legal or not highlights just how superficial and ethically deranged our culture has become. If what she did was indeed legal, this is an enormous problem in the first place, one that privacy advocates and opponents of Big Brother surveillance have been warning about constantly since the gulag spying panopticon was put in place following 9/11. For the purposes of this post, let’s assume that what Susan Rice did was legal.
If her actions were indeed totally by the books, we need to use this incident as a rallying call to reform the laws immediately. Likewise, Donald Trump should be pushing such reform tirelessly from his bully pulpit, but given his authoritarian nature I doubt he will. Fortunately, Rand Paul is heeding the call.
As reported by The Hill:
U.S. citizens who are caught up incidentally in foreign intelligence surveillance are typically subject to minimization rules to conceal their identities, though there are some exceptions.
But individuals can be exempt from the minimization rules if their identities are necessary to understand the value of the foreign intelligence.
Paul used Monday’s development to renew his push for reform of a controversial provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that allows the U.S. intelligence community to target non-Americans outside the United States without a warrant. The provision, Section 702, is up for renewal later this year.
Paul also signaled that he sees Nunes — who has long been an advocate for the foreign intelligence law — as a potential ally for reform.
Sad that most people are ok with rampant surveillance until it’s used against their team, but I’ll take it.
Nunes previously took issue with the fact that Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, had his communications monitored by the intelligence community, which were later the subject of media reports.
Paul’s emphasis on reforming the law is exactly where it ought to be. For example, Susan Rice herself explained during a recent MSNBC interview, how the unmasking process works. Basically, she sees an intelligence report containing surveilled conversations between a foreigner and an American, and if she decides she wants to unmask the American, she makes that request to the intelligence community, which then approves or denies the request. That’s all it takes. Think about how potentially abusive this is. What happened when you have a situation where the deep state and the President are adamantly united against a candidate, as they were against Trump? Naturally they’re going to approve the unmasking of a political enemy, and it appears that is precisely what happened.
As The Daily Caller noted:
Michael Doran, former NSC senior director, told TheDCNF Monday that “somebody blew a hole in the wall between national security secrets and partisan politics.” This “was a stream of information that was supposed to be hermetically sealed from politics and the Obama administration found a way to blow a hole in that wall,” he said.
Doran charged that potential serious crimes were undertaken because “this is a leaking of signal intelligence.”
“That’s a felony,” he told TheDCNF. “And you can get 10 years for that. It is a tremendous abuse of the system. We’re not supposed to be monitoring American citizens. Bigger than the crime, is the breach of public trust.”
Waurishuk said he was most dismayed that “this is now using national intelligence assets and capabilities to spy on the elected, yet-to-be-seated president.”
“We’re looking at a potential constitutional crisis from the standpoint that we used an extremely strong capability that’s supposed to be used to safeguard and protect the country,” he said. “And we used it for political purposes by a sitting president. That takes on a new precedent.”
Tucker Carlson summarized the situation perfectly on his show.
Finally, when it comes to illegality, while the unmasking may have been legal, the leaking to the press certainly wasn’t. As Glenn Greenwald noted, Obama prosecuted leakers for the exact same behavior.
No. We don't know who leaked it. But whoever did - whether Rice or someone else - committed felonies which Obama Admin prosecuted people for https://t.co/Cmb0jw6Ogg— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 4, 2017
We live in fascinating times.