The U.S. government’s foreign surveillance incidentally collects information on lawmakers and their staffs as often as once a month, according to a new report.
In what seems like the first attempt to shift the narrative of Susan Rice's alleged wrongdoings, the report positions the 'unmaskings' as "routine" almost as if the fact that 'everyone's doing it' somehow negates the fact that the law was allegedly broken.. (as The Hill reports)
Congress frequently receives alerts that its members and their aides have been unmasked and their identities shared with intelligence and law enforcement forces, Circa said Thursday.
Circa said such alerts, named “The Gates Notification” after former CIA Director Robert Gates, go to the Gang of Eight leadership team in Congress. The Gang of Eight includes the Speaker and House minority leader, the Senate Democratic and Republican leaders, and the bipartisan heads of both chambers’ intelligence committees.
Circa added the lawmakers often don't learn about such unmasking unless it involves a hacking or security threat.
Intelligence community sources speaking on the condition of anonymity confirmed to Circa that lawmakers' names may appear in executive branch intelligence reports.
However, the plot thickens further, as Fox news reports that the intelligence reports at the center of the Susan Rice unmasking controversy were detailed, and almost resembled a private investigator’s file, according to a Republican congressman familiar with the documents.
"This is information about their everyday lives," Rep. Peter King of New York, a member of the House Intelligence committee said. "Sort of like in a divorce case where lawyers are hired, investigators are hired just to find out what the other person is doing from morning until night and then you try to piece it together later on.”
On the House Intelligence Committee, only the Republican chairman, Devin Nunes of California, and the ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, also of California, have personally reviewed the intelligence reports. Some members were given broad outlines.
Nunes has consistently stated that the files caused him deep concern because the unmasking went beyond the former national security adviser Mike Flynn, and the information was not related to Moscow.
The most recent government data shows that unmasking or identifying Americans happens in a number of cases. The Office for the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the 17 intelligence agencies, said "...in 2015, NSA disseminated 4,290 FAA Section 702 intelligence reports that included U.S. person information. Of those 4,290 reports, the U.S. person information was masked in 3,168 reports and unmasked in 1,122 reports."
The report said "NSA is allowed to unmask the identity for the specific requesting recipient only under certain conditions and where specific additional controls are in place" and those conditions were met for "654 U.S. person identities" in 2015.
That means Americans were identified in 26 percent of the cases, or roughly one in four intelligence reports.
Still we are sure CNN will keep plugging away with its "nothing to see here, move along" narrative... until the last lonely viewer has switched off.