Posts Tagged ‘FBI’

Russia targeted Trump adviser during effort to infiltrate and influence campaign, staff

April 23, 2017

AFP

Former aide Carter Page one of several Trump advisers whose contact with Russian officials raised suspicion of intelligence agencies, says CNN

 .
Carter Page
Carter Page, who advised Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, makes a presentation in Moscow in December 2016. Photograph: Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters/Reuters

Russian operatives tried to infiltrate Donald Trump’s presidential campaign through his advisers, including former foreign policy aide Carter Page, CNN reported on Saturday.

CNN said this emerged through FBI intelligence gathering, which triggered an investigation into any possible coordination between Trump campaign operatives and Russian officials.

US officials told the news network that it was unclear whether Page, who is being scrutinised as part of a wider probe over Russian efforts to influence the 2016 elections, was aware that Moscow was trying to use him.

A Russian agent would likely have concealed his or her true role or identity while speaking with Page, who himself has vigorously denied any collusion with Moscow.

Page gave a speech critical of US policy toward Russia at a top Moscow university in 2016 that caught the FBI’s attention and raised concerns that he was maintaining contact with Russian operatives and being influenced by them.

Page was one of several Trump advisers who US and European intelligence revealed had been in touch with Russian officials and other Russian agents frequently and extensively enough to raise suspicions, according to CNN.

Federal prosecutors said that Page met in 2013 with Victor Podobnyy, who turned out to be a Russian operative living in New York. The FBI thus had Page on its radar for at least four years.

Think tank with ties to Putin reportedly had plans to sway election in Trump’s favor

April 20, 2017
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a joint news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a joint news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow  (Reuters)

A Moscow-based think tank controlled by a Russian official appointed by President Vladimir Putin reportedly hatched a plan to increase Donald Trump’s chances to win the presidency.

Reuters, citing three current and four former U.S. officials, reported Wednesday that the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies provided a framework for top Russian officials on how to sway the U.S. election. Five officials told Reuters the institute is the Kremlin’s in-house foreign policy think tank.

The report said the think tank produced two documents. The first was released to the upper reaches of the Russian government, the report said.

The document reportedly said the Kremlin should launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian-backed news that stressed the point that the smart choice for president would be a candidate with a softer approach to Moscow.

The classified document called for state-backed news outlets to get the message out, the report said.

The think tank’s opinion on the approach apparently shifted by October, when Hillary Clinton appeared to be gaining distance on Trump. The second document said it would be best to increase its message on voter fraud and to attack Clinton’s reputation.

These documents were acquired by U.S. intelligence officials and were the basis of what led U.S. officials to blame Russia for meddling, the report said. The sources declined to comment on how the documents were obtained. Reuters reported that U.S. intelligence agencies also declined to comment on them. The report was not independently confirmed by Fox News.

The think tank said in a statement to The Tass Russian News Agency that the report is incorrect.

“Unfortunately, the number of slanderous remarks against Russia has been growing recently but those making such remarks wrongly perceive the world,” the center said.

Putin has denied any interference in the U.S. election, and Trump said the Kremlin’s activities did not play a role in the election outcome. There is no evidence thus far that Trump or his associates knew about Russia’s effort during the campaign. The FBI and lawmakers are investigating.

Trump recently said that U.S.-Russia relations “may be at an all-time low,” and that “right now we’re not getting along with Russia at all.”

The comment underscored long-standing difficulties that have plagued the two nations’ attempts at greater understanding since the days of their World War II alliance. The Cold War may be over, but from Eastern Europe to the Middle East, Washington and Moscow don’t see the world the same way.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Edmund DeMarche is a news editor for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @EDeMarche.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/04/20/think-tank-with-ties-to-putin-reportedly-had-plans-to-sway-election-in-trumps-favor.html

US spies hacked global banking system – report

April 16, 2017

Deutsche Welle

A hacker group has claimed the US National Security Agency hacked into the global bank payment system known as SWIFT. It says the intelligence agency monitored payments in the Middle East and Latin America.

USA NSA Hauptquartier in Fort Meade, Maryland (picture-alliance/AP Photo/P. Semansky)

The mysterious hacker group known as “Shadow Brokers” released files late on Friday showing that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had found and exploited numerous vulnerabilities that allowed them to penetrate the SWIFT banking network.

The breach, which was carried out due to vulnerabilities in older versions of Microsoft Windows software, allowed NSA spies to monitor money flows among some Middle Eastern and Latin American banks.

Former CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden described the NSA’s hack as the “Mother Of All Exploits,” in reference to the massive US bomb dropped last week on Afghanistan. Snowden previously released files showing the NSA had the ability to intercept SWIFT messages.

knew their hacking methods were stolen last year, but refused to tell software makers how to lock the thieves out. Are they liable?

Several analysts have said that the revelations by “Shadow Brokers” are credible and that the files have almost certainly come from the NSA, as some of them bear the agency’s seals.

Bank vulnerabilities exposed

The hacking report also contained computer code that could be adapted by criminals to break into SWIFT servers and monitor messaging activity between banks, according to cybersecurity consultant Shane Shook.

Shook warned that the code could be used in operations similar to last year’s theft of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank.

Sommercamp GenCyber NSA (picture alliance/landov)SWIFT links more than 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries and territories

Another prominent security researcher, Cris Thomas, said the NSA hack was carried out “presumably as a way to monitor, if not disrupt, financial transactions to terrorist groups.”

The SWIFT messaging system, which is headquartered in Belgium, is used by banks to transfer trillions of dollars each day.

The released files appear to indicate that the NSA had infiltrated two of SWIFT’s service bureaus, allowing the monitoring of transactions of financial institutions in Kuwait, Dubai, Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen and Qatar. Service bureaus handle transactions on behalf of smaller banks.

 

Revelations downplayed

The NSA could not immediately be reached for comment, but SWIFT said in a statement that the hacking involved only its service bureaus and not its own network.

“There is no impact on SWIFT’s infrastructure or data, however we understand that communications between these service bureaus and their customers may previously have been accessed by unauthorized third parties.”

“We have no evidence to suggest that there has ever been any unauthorized access to our network or messaging services.”

One of SWIFT’s service bureaus, the Dubai-based EastNets, which was allegedly among those hacked, strongly rejected the claims as “totally false and unfounded.”

Microsoft, meanwhile, said it has already patched the vulnerabilities found in the hack. In a statement, the tech giant said it had not been contacted by the NSA about the breach.

“Shadow Brokers” has previously released leaked malware which it attempted to sell for tens of millions of dollars. But the group’s identity remains a secret.

http://www.dw.com/en/us-spies-hacked-global-banking-system-report/a-38437946

PHOTO: REUTERS

Related:

 (Contains links to several related articles)

CIA chief Pompeo: Wikileaks ‘hostile intelligence service’

April 14, 2017

BBC News

  • 13 April 2017

Mike Pompeo
Mr Pompeo said Wikileaks “walks and talks” like a hostile intelligence service. Reuters

The head of the CIA Mike Pompeo has described anti-secrecy organisation WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service” that is often abetted by states such as Russia.

Russian military intelligence used Wikileaks to distribute hacked material during the US election, he added.

Earlier this month Wikileaks published details of what it said were CIA hacking tools.

The FBI and CIA have launched a criminal investigation into the leak.

“WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service,” Mr Pompeo said, speaking at a Washington think tank.

“It overwhelmingly focuses on the US, while seeking support from anti-democratic countries and organisations,” he added.

Wikileaks responded by posting a screenshot of a tweet sent by Mr Pompeo last July, in which the then member of the House of Representatives referred to material contained in the Wikileaks release of Democratic party emails. The tweet has since been deleted.

tweetImage copyright@WIKILEAKS

US intelligence agencies say Russia stole emails from the Democratic party to try to tilt the election in favour of Republican Donald Trump.

However Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has said the release was not intended to affect the election.

The CIA has refused to comment on the Wikileaks release of papers said to detail a wide range of hacking methods including using mobile phones and smart TVs.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in central London, 5 February 2016
Mr Assange fears extradition to the US. GETTY IMAGES

But former CIA boss Michael Hayden told the BBC the leak was “incredibly damaging” and had made the US “less safe”.

US officials say IT contractors are likely to have breached security and handed the documents to Wikileaks.

Mr Assange has said Wikileaks will give technology firms access to the full details of the alleged spying programmes so they can defend their products against the hacking.

The Wikileaks founder has been living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012 after seeking refuge there when he lost his appeal against extradition to the Sweden, where he faces rape allegations.

He says the sex was consensual and believes the allegations are politically motivated with the aim of having him extradited to the US to face charges over Wikileaks’s release of US military documents.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39597055

FBI monitored former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page on Russia

April 12, 2017

Updated 12:53 PM ET, Wed April 12, 2017

Washington (CNN)The FBI obtained a warrant to monitor President Donald Trump’s former campaign adviser, Carter Page, last summer on suspicions he knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence activities on behalf of Moscow, The Washington Post is reporting.

The FBI and Justice Department obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to monitor the communications of Page, who has called himself a junior member of Trump’s foreign policy advisory team, as part of their investigation into possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, the newspaper says, citing unnamed law enforcement and other US officials.
.
The FBI and Justice Department obtained the warrant after convincing a FISA judge there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign government (Russia), the report says. The warrant presents the strongest information to date that the FBI had reason to believe a Trump adviser was in touch with Moscow and met with foreign operatives during Trump’s presidential campaign.
FBI Director James Comey has acknowledged that an investigation was opened last year into Russia’s efforts to influence the election and the question of whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin. But Comey stopped short of naming anyone working for the campaign who may have been involved.
.
CNN is working to confirm The Washington Post’s story.
.
Page, however, called the FISA warrant “unjustified” in a statement to CNN’s Manu Raju.
.
“There have been various reports [about FISA documents and FBI surveillance of him],” Page said. “But I was so happy to hear that further confirmation is now being revealed. It shows how low the Clinton/Obama regime went to destroy our democracy and suppress dissidents who did not fully support their failed foreign policy. It will be interesting to see what comes out when the unjustified basis for those FISA requests are more fully disclosed over time, including potentially the Dodgy Dossier — a document that clearly is false evidence, which could represent yet another potential crime.”
.
Page was referring to a leaked dossier of unverified information compiled by a former British intelligence official for Trump’s political opponents. Then-President-elect Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the existence of the dossier before Trump’s inauguration, CNN reported.
.
When asked in March of last year to list members of his foreign policy team in an interview with The Washington Post, Trump included “Carter Page, PhD.”
.
Page has said he sent policy memos to the campaign and participated in conference calls as well as gatherings that included Trump, but also said he never personally briefed Trump or was in “small meetings” with him during the election. But Trump said at a White House news conference in February that he doesn’t think he ever met Page.
.
“I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him,” Trump said. “I don’t think I’ve ever met him. And he actually said he was a very low-level member of I think a committee for a short period of time. I don’t think I ever met him. Now, it’s possible that I walked into a room and he was sitting there, but I don’t think I ever met him.”
.
Page told CNN he had never shaken Trump’s hand and that by saying he had met with Trump, he had meant meetings in the “Russian sense,” which he said meant he had attended rallies Trump spoke at.
.
In recent interviews, Page described himself as a “junior member” of Trump’s foreign policy team, and has denied working on any Russia-related policies for the campaign. He also said in February that he is still in contact with some people in the Trump orbit.
.

Russian hacker detained in Spain at the request of American authorities — Possibly linked to the U.S. presidential election

April 10, 2017

By ARITZ PARRA AND RAPHAEL SATTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS

MADRID — Apr 10, 2017, 7:44 AM ET

An alleged Russian hacker has been detained in Spain at the request of American authorities, an arrest that set cybersecurity circles abuzz after a Russian broadcaster raised the possibility it was linked to the U.S. presidential election.

Pyotr Levashov was arrested Friday in Barcelona on a U.S. computer crimes warrant, according to a spokeswoman for Spain’s National Court, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with court rules.

Such arrests aren’t unusual — American authorities typically try to nab Russian cybercrime suspects abroad because of the difficulty involved in extraditing them from Russia — but Levashov’s arrest drew immediate attention after his wife told Russia’s RT broadcaster that he was linked to America’s 2016 election hacking.

Related image

RT quoted Maria Levashova as saying that armed police stormed into their apartment in Barcelona overnight, keeping her and her friend locked in a room for two hours while they quizzed her husband. She said that when she spoke to her husband on the phone from the police station, he told her he was told that he had created a computer virus that was “linked to Trump’s election win.”

Levashova didn’t elaborate, and the exact nature of the allegations weren’t immediately clear. Malicious software is routinely shared, reworked and repurposed, meaning that even a computer virus’ creator may have little or nothing to do with how the virus is eventually used.

Levashov’s name is familiar in cybercrime circles. He has been alleged to be spam kingpin Peter Severa, according to Brian Krebs, a journalist who has written extensively about the Russian cybercrime underworld, and Spamhaus , a group which polices spam.

Levashov himself couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, and officials did not say whether he had a lawyer

The U.S. Embassy in Spain declined comment. Russian Embassy spokesman Vasily Nioradze confirmed the arrest but wouldn’t say whether he was a programmer, as reported by RT. He wouldn’t comment on the U.S. extradition order.

“As it is routine in these cases, we offer consular support to our citizen,” he said.

The Spanish spokeswoman said Levashov remains in custody.

——

Satter contributed from London. Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.

Related:

Another Russian Hacker Arrested In Spain Reportedly Over U.S. Election Hacking

April 10, 2017
russian-hacker-arrested

A Russian computer hacker and alleged spam kingpin was arrested in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday reportedly over suspicion of being involved in hacking attacks linked to alleged interference in last year’s United States presidential election process.

36-year-old Pyotr Levashov from St. Petersburg was detained by police in Barcelona after US authorities issued an international arrest warrant for his arrest.

While the Russian embassy in Madrid announced Levashov’s arrest on Sunday, it did not confirm the reason for his arrest.This is the second arrest made by the Spanish authorities since the US 2016 election. In January, the police detained Stanislav Lisov, 32, on suspicion of creating and operating the NeverQuest Banking Trojan and possibly influencing the presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor.

US authorities are planning to request the extradition of both hackers to the United State, where they are facing charges for their hacking-related crimes.

During an interview with Russian press agency RT, Levashov’s wife Maria said that her husband was held “at the request of the American authorities in connection with cyber crime.”

Maria spoke with Spanish officials, who mentioned “something about a virus that was supposedly created by [her] husband” and was related to Trump’s victory in last year’s presidential race.Western security researchers have identified Levashov as Peter Severa (aka Peter Levashov) – the man who has also been listed in the world’s Top 10 Worst Spammers maintained by anti-spam group Spamhaus, which has given him the 7th position in the list.

Peter Carr, a spokesperson for the Criminal Division of the US Department of Justice, told the news agency that “the US case remains under seal, so [they] have no information to provide at this time.”

The US government has repeatedly accused Russia of hacking Democratic party and leaking personal data in order to influence election results in favor of Donald Trump, though Russian officials have repeatedly denied the accusations.

Congressional committees and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are examining links between Russia and Trump.

Wang Wei - Hacking News
Security Researcher and Consultant for the government, Financial Securities and Banks. Enthusiast, Malware Analyst, Penetration Tester.
.

Tom Cotton: It’s ‘unusual’ for White House officials like Susan Rice to make unmasking requests

April 7, 2017
Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice: ‘I leaked nothing to nobody’
 Image result for susan rice, photos
Former White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice is battling claims that she mishandled classified information in requesting the identities of people connected to President Donald Trump’s transition team in raw intelligence reports.

Some Republicans have latched onto allegations about former National Security Adviser Susan Rice to bolster their narrative that President Barack Obama’s administration misused intelligence for political purposes.

A few media sources, most prominently Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake, have said Rice repeatedly asked to learn the names of unidentified American citizens who appeared in intelligence reports in connection to the Donald Trump campaign and transition. These reports are based on anonymous sources, and Rice has neither confirmed nor denied them.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Congress should investigate because if the story is true, it’s strange that someone in Rice’s White House position would request for names to be unmasked.

Image result for tom cotton, beard, photos

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark

“You’re right that it’s not necessarily illegal,” Cotton said in an April 4 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. “It is unusual, though. The White House doesn’t conduct criminal investigations. The White House doesn’t conduct counterintelligence investigations. The White House is a consumer of intelligence. Normally, those kind of unmasking requests would be done by the agencies responsible for those activities.”

However, experts in intelligence collection and classified information told us it’s normal for someone in such a high-up national security role to make unmasking requests, and it would be hard, though not impossible, to abuse the practice for political purposes.

“It’s not unusual at all,” said Joshua Rovner, chair of international politics and national security at Southern Methodist University and author of Fixing the Facts: National Security and the Politics of Intelligence.

What ‘unmasking’ is and how it works

We couldn’t find a way to quantify how often national security advisers or other White House officials make unmasking requests, but experts said it’s a routine, legitimate occurrence.

The FBI and NSA regularly produce reports for government customers. The customer could be another investigating agency, Congress, the Justice Department or the White House. If an American’s name appears in a piece of intelligence — for example, if agents intercept a conversation between two foreign nationals who mention an American friend in passing — those preparing the report generally“mask” the American’s name, replacing it with something like “U.S. Person.”

The recipient of the report might decide that in order to fully understand the intelligence, they need to know the “U.S. Person’s” identity. So they make a request for the name to be unmasked, and the agency that produced the report either approves or denies the request. The NSA approved 654 requests in 2015, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

It’s not just agencies conducting criminal or counterintelligence investigations that make the unmasking requests, as Cotton said. It’s anyone who consumes intelligence reports.

“The national security adviser, who is a consumer of the most selective and restricted intelligence products, would certainly be entitled to request unmasking in the course of his or her duties,” said Steven Aftergood, who directs the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy.

For example, a national security adviser might learn from an intelligence report that a foreign agent is trying to cultivate an unnamed U.S. official. They would need to know the official’s name in order to alert him or her in advance, or to get a full picture of the situation, Rovner said.

Unmasking for political purposes?

Implied in Cotton’s statement is that Rice may have made unmasking requests for political purposes. The idea is that an official could use unmasking requests to surreptitiously dig up information about a U.S. citizen, such as a political opponent, without a warrant to surveil them.

But experts said abusing the unmasking process would be difficult, in large part because the agency does the actual unmasking, not the requester.

The official who wants to abuse the process would have to get agency workers on board with her plan because they would have to make sure she receives reports about the American in question. They would also have to make sure that any unmasking request would be granted, said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty & National Security Program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, a civil liberties group.

“It’s certainly not an easy or direct route to spying on political opponents,” she said, adding that there are other provisions of surveillance laws that are far more susceptible to abuse.

Only a select group of high-up officials in the intelligence and national security communities have the authority to make or approve unmasking requests, and they have to do so while complying with an elaborate set of minimization guidelines, compliance procedures and documentation, said Susan Hennessey, a national security fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former NSA lawyer.

These procedures, along with the intelligence community’s extreme sensitivity to accusations of political abuse, likely deters intelligence officials from complying with illegitimate unmasking requests, Rovner said.

Hennessey added that the media reports about Rice are so inconsistent and vague that it’s not really possible to assess whether the unmasking requests in question (if they occurred) were legitimate.

But “I have not seen anything in the public record that indicates there is any kind of problem here,” she said.

Our ruling

Cotton said, “It is unusual” for a White House official like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice to make unmasking requests.

As the president’s top consultant on issues of national security, Rice and other national security advisers consume a large amount of intelligence. There are numerous legitimate reasons why Rice might ask an intelligence agency to reveal the identity of an unnamed person in an intelligence report.

It might not be an everyday occurrence, but it is not so “unusual” as to raise suspicion, as Cotton said. We rate Cotton’s claim False.

Share The Facts
Tom Cotton
Republican senator from Arkansas
*
“It is unusual” for a White House official like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice to make unmasking requests.

Susan Rice wasn’t the only White House official looking to ‘unmask’ Trump team figures – and Mike Flynn wasn’t the only one exposed

April 5, 2017
Former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice asked intelligence agencies dozens of times to 'unmask' the names of Donald Trump associates that were redacted from raw intelligence reports – and she wasn't the only one

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice asked intelligence agencies dozens of times to ‘unmask’ the names of Donald Trump associates that were redacted from raw intelligence reports – and she wasn’t the only one

  • Obama national security advisor Susan Rice is accused of repeatedly asking U.S. agencies to ‘unmask’ Trumpworld names from raw intelligence reports
  • A new report says Rice wasn’t the only one in the Obama White House to do this  
  • It’s not unusual for a high-ranking national security official to ask for the names of people ‘incidentally’ surveilled, in order to understand a report’s context
  • But the name of Rice’s successor Mike Flynn was subsequently leaked to the press – which constitutes a felony
  • The new report also says Flynn was just one of at least two Trump officials whose names were left exposed 

Former national security advisor Susan Rice wasn’t the only Obama administration official to request the ‘unmasking’ of members of President Donald Trump’s transition team – and her successor Mike Flynn was just one of at least two who were left exposed.

Flynn was forced out of his job after a transcript of an intercepted phone call was leaked to The Washington Post, detailing a conversation he had last year with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. – a discussion that reportedly included mention of rolling back U.S. sanctions on Moscow.

It’s not known who the second Trump transition official is, but The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night that there were two – based on information from a Republican linked to the House Intelligence Committee.

‘The official said Ms. Rice had requested the unmasking of at least one transition official—not Mr. Flynn—who was part of multiple foreign conversations that weren’t related to Russia,’ the Journal reported.

And ‘Rice wasn’t the administration official who instigated Mr. Flynn’s unmasking.’ That puts at least one other Obama White House official in the picture.

Retired Gen. Mike Flynn (left), who served briefly as National Security Advisor before being forced out, wasn't the only Trump transition official whose name was 'unmasked' 

Retired Gen. Mike Flynn (left), who served briefly as National Security Advisor before being forced out, wasn’t the only Trump transition official whose name was ‘unmasked’

Rice forcefully denied on Tuesday that she purposely collected classified intelligence information about anyone associated with the Trump campaign or transition, and said any suspicion that she leaked names to the press was ridiculous.

‘The allegations that somehow Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes, that’s absolutely false,’ she said.

She used the same words – ‘absolutely false’ – to deny a report in The Daily Caller that she had requested intelligence information on Trump associates and compiled it into a spreadsheet.

‘No spreadsheet, no nothing of the sort,’ Rice said.

she blasted Trump’s tweeted claims on March 4 that Obama had authorized surveillance of him and his team before and after the November election.

‘There was no such collection, surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals … and by that I mean directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals,’ she said.

Rice forcefully denied on Tuesday that she or anyone in the White House ever went out of their way to 'unmask' the identities of Trump or his associates, but The Wall Street Journal says at least two White House officials – and two from Trumpworld – are in the picture

Rice forcefully denied on Tuesday that she or anyone in the White House ever went out of their way to ‘unmask’ the identities of Trump or his associates, but The Wall Street Journal says at least two White House officials – and two from Trumpworld – are in the picture

White House officials, including any president, Rice added, ‘do not have the ability to order such collection.’

‘That can only come from the Justice Department through an established process. It never originates in the White House. So not only did it not occur, it didn’t occur and it could not have occurred – directed by the White House.’

WHAT IS UNMASKING? 

When U.S. intelligence services conduct surveillance of foreign targets, it’s possible that American citizens can be swept up in recorded conversations, intercepted emails or other surveillance.

That can happen when Americans who are not targets of an investigation are ‘incidentally’ captured talking to a target. it can also occur when targets merely mention them during a conversation or in a document.

When this happens, intelligence analysts routinely delete the Americans’ names and replace them with vague identifiers like ‘U.S. Person Number One’ or ‘Person A’ – masking their identity from other government officials who may look at reports.

Senior intelligence officials can request the ‘unmasking’ of those names under certain circumstances, but that creates a risk that the names will be leaked.

Rice said she was ‘surprised’ and ‘shocked’ by Trump’s accusation, saying ‘it had no basis in fact.’

‘And it wasn’t typical of the way presidents treat their predecessors, she said on MSNBC.

Host Andrea Mitchell asked her whether she ever intentionally ‘unmasked’ Trump-related names ‘in order to spy on them and expose them.

‘Absolutely not for any political purposes, to spy, expose, anything,’ Rice responded.

She also flatly denied leaking the name of Gen. Michael Flynn, her successor, to reporters.

‘I leaked nothing to nobody, and never have and never would,’ Rice insisted.

Tuesday on CNN, Rep. Adam Schiff – the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee – defended Rice and said she has been ‘a perennial target for the hard right.’

Schiff said there is ‘a strong desire by the White House that we lose our focus, that we not pursue the investigation of Russia, particularly as it might impact the Trump campaign.’

He also said continuing Rice-bashing ‘is appealing to the Breitbart crowd.’

Rice explained Tuesday that it isn’t uncommon for White House or cabinet officials to request the unmasking of names of U.S. citizens when they are incidentally snared in a spying net.

‘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”,’ she recalled.

‘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 said intelligence officials ‘can’t be passive consumers’ of information.

But ‘there’s no equivalence between so-called unmasking and leaking,’ she insisted.

There is not necessarily anything illegal or unusual about a national security adviser seeking to unmask names in raw reports, in order to fully understand the meaning of intercepted conversations.

But in this case those identities – including the name of then-National Security Advisor Mike Flynn – were subsequently leaked and made public. That is a federal felony.

Rice sat down with MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell for a noontime interview that the network hastily began promoting at 11:30 a.m.

Rice sat down with MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell for a noontime interview that the network hastily began promoting at 11:30 a.m.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said a half-hour before Rice's interview that some news outlets defending Rice have 'an invested angle and narrative'

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said a half-hour before Rice’s interview that some news outlets defending Rice have ‘an invested angle and narrative’

House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff said Susan Rice is 'a perennial target for the hard right'

House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff said Susan Rice is ‘a perennial target for the hard right’

President Trump retweeted a message from Internet newsman Matt Drudge on Tuesday, pointing to an article that claimed Rice ordered intelligence agencies to spy on him

President Trump retweeted a message from Internet newsman Matt Drudge on Tuesday, pointing to an article that claimed Rice ordered intelligence agencies to spy on him

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul appeared on Morning and demanded that Rice testify under oath before Congress

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul appeared on Morning and demanded that Rice testify under oath before Congress

Rice is being blamed for requesting that members of President Trump's teams names were unmasked in intelligence reports

Rice is being blamed for requesting that members of President Trump’s teams names were unmasked in intelligence reports

Rice, shown in the White House situation room (at left) listening to former president Barack Obama, is now at the center of the firestorm over whether they snooped on Trump during the 2016 election season

Rice, shown in the White House situation room (at left) listening to former president Barack Obama, is now at the center of the firestorm over whether they snooped on Trump during the 2016 election season

President Donald Trump claimed in a series of March 4 tweets that Obama had 'wiretapped' him before the November election; he later clarified that he was talking broadly about secret surveillance

President Donald Trump claimed in a series of March 4 tweets that Obama had ‘wiretapped’ him before the November election; he later clarified that he was talking broadly about secret surveillance

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes got a sneak peek last week at intelligence reports at the White House which are now believed to be security logs showing how often Rice asked to know which Trump officials were identified 'incidentally' in court-approved foreign snooping

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes got a sneak peek last week at intelligence reports at the White House which are now believed to be security logs showing how often Rice asked to know which Trump officials were identified ‘incidentally’ in court-approved foreign snooping

White House Press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that unspecified documents seen by Nunes were uncovered 'in the normal course of business'

White House Press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that unspecified documents seen by Nunes were uncovered ‘in the normal course of business’

Trump hasn't stopped tweeting about reports that support his March claims that he was surveilled for political purposes

Trump hasn’t stopped tweeting about reports that support his March claims that he was surveilled for political purposes

WSJ: Obama Administration may have abused domestic surveillance for its political purposes — Susan Rice unmasked (again)

April 4, 2017

Obama’s security adviser sought the name of at least one Trump official in intelligence reports.

Susan Rice speaks during a conference on the transition of the U.S. Presidency from Barack Obama to Donald Trump at the U.S. Institute Of Peace, Jan. 10.

Susan Rice speaks during a conference on the transition of the U.S. Presidency from Barack Obama to Donald Trump at the U.S. Institute Of Peace, Jan. 10. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Well, what do you know. On the matter of who “unmasked” the names of Trump transition officials in U.S. intelligence reports, we now have one answer: Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s national security adviser.

A U.S. intelligence official confirms to us the bombshell news, first reported Monday by Bloomberg, that Ms. Rice requested the name of at least one Trump transition official listed in an intelligence report in the months between Election Day and Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Ms. Rice received summaries of U.S. eavesdropping either when foreign officials were discussing the Trump team, or when foreign officials were conversing with a Trump transition member. The surveillance was legally authorized, but the identities of U.S. citizens are typically masked so they cannot be known outside intelligence circles. Ms. Rice asked for and learned the identity of the Trump official, whose name hasn’t been publicly disclosed and our source declined to share.

Our source did confirm that Ms. Rice also examined dozens of other intelligence summaries that technically masked Trump official identities but were written in such a way as to make obvious who those officials were. This means that the masking was essentially meaningless. All this is highly unusual—and troubling. Unmasking does occur, but it is typically done by intelligence or law-enforcement officials engaged in antiterror or espionage investigations. Ms. Rice would have had no obvious need to unmask Trump campaign officials other than political curiosity.

We’re told by a source who has seen the unmasked documents that they included political information about the Trump transition team’s meetings and policy intentions. We are also told that none of these documents had anything to do with Russia or the FBI investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. While we don’t know if Ms. Rice requested these dozens of reports, we are told that they were only distributed to a select group of recipients—conveniently including Ms. Rice.

All of this helps to explain the actions in the last week of House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, the one official in Washington who seems interested in pursuing the evidence of politicized surveillance. Mr. Nunes was roundly criticized by Democrats and the media last week for publicly revealing at least one instance of Obama White House unmasking, albeit without disclosing any names.

Now we know he is onto something. And we know that Mr. Nunes had to go to the White House to verify his information because the records containing Ms. Rice’s unmasking request are held at the National Security Council.

Where are the civil libertarians when you really need them? These columns support broad surveillance powers for national security, but executive officials need to be accountable if those powers are abused. If congressional oversight of U.S. intelligence operations is going to be worth the name, then it should include the unmasking of a political opponent by a senior official in the White House.

Democrats certainly raised a fuss during the Bush years and after Edward Snowden kicked off the debate about “metadata,” which are merely telephone numbers without names. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden went so far as to introduce a bill in 2013 to strengthen the ban on “reverse targeting”—in which intelligence agencies surveil foreigners but with the goal of capturing U.S. citizen communications.

Yet now that there’s evidence that the Obama Administration may have unmasked Trump officials, Democrats couldn’t care less. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on House Intelligence, has spent the past week denouncing Mr. Nunes for revealing that a name was unmasked and for having sources at the White House. But he hasn’t raised a peep about the unmasking itself or who was behind it.

Image result for susan rice, photos

The news about Ms. Rice’s unmasking role raises a host of questions for the Senate and House intelligence committees to pursue. What specific surveillance information did Ms. Rice seek and why? Was this information related to President Obama’s decision in January to make it possible for raw intelligence to be widely disbursed throughout the government? Was this surveillance of Trump officials “incidental” collection gathered while listening to a foreigner, or were some Trump officials directly targeted, or “reverse targeted”?

We were unable to locate Ms. Rice Monday to ask for comment, and she hasn’t addressed the unmasking as far as we know. But asked last month on the “PBS NewsHour” that Trump officials might have been surveilled, she said, “I know nothing about this” and “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today.” She certainly deserves her turn under oath on Capitol Hill.

None of this should deter investigators from looking into the Trump-Russia connection. By all means follow that evidence where it leads. But the media have been running like wildebeest after that story while ignoring how the Obama Administration might have abused domestic surveillance for its political purposes. Americans deserve to know the truth about both.

Appeared in the Apr. 04, 2017, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/susan-rice-unmasked-1491262064

Related:

 (Eli Lake)

Image result for Ben Rhodes, susan rice, photos

Ben Rhodes and Susan Rice (Right)

Image result for Benghazi late on Sept. 11, 2012, photo, man with gun
An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi late on Sept. 11, 2012. US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three of his colleagues were killed in an attack on the consulate in the eastern Libyan city by Islamists outraged over an amateur American-made Internet video mocking Islam. Stevens died less than six months after being appointed to his post. STR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
.

Image result for Susan Rice September 16, 2012, photos

Susan Rice, Sunday, September 16, 2012