Last night, CNN’s Don Lemon dealt a decisive blow to the supposed Susan Rice scandal. Rice, acting as National Security Adviser, requested intelligence services divulge the names of (unmask) Americans involved in particular instances of contact with foreign agents.
Foreign agents are often surveilled and in the cases in question the routine surveillance found foreign agents communicating with Americans. Rice believed that knowing who these citizens were was relevant to national security, so she legally asked for their names. It seems that when the implicated Americans were unmasked, some of them turned out to be Trump campaign and transition team staffers.
Lemon emphasized that the right wing is creating a scandal where there is none:
“Let’s be very clear about this: There is no evidence whatsoever that the Trump team … was spied on illegally. There is no evidence that backs up the president’s original claim [that President Obama wiretapped him].
“We will not insult your intelligence by pretending otherwise, nor will we aid and abet the people who are trying to misinform you, the American people, by creating a diversion.”
Jim Sciutto, a top national security official in the Obama administration who departed in 2013 before the alleged surveillance would have occurred, has told the press,
“The idea that Ambassador Rice improperly sought the identities of Americans is false. There is nothing unusual about making these requests when serving as a senior national security official, whether Democrat or Republican. This appears to be a story largely ginned up, partly as a distraction from this larger investigation.”
The Atlantic spoke to former CIA-analyst and current national security commentator Nada Bakos, who reiterated the point:
“In a situation where there’s incidental collection and it appears that they’re discussing U.S. incoming or current officials, it would not be unusual for a national security adviser to try to understand what it is this foreign government is trying to do to manipulate their position against the U.S. That’s how the game is played.”
Lemon is a prime example of what America needs from the media right now – a willingness to boldly call out Trump’s lies and explain exactly why he is saying them. In this case, Trump wants to distract from the ongoing investigations into his team’s Russian ties.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo covered the issue on his show, New Day, and came to a similar conclusion:
“So President Trump wants you to believe that he is the victim of a ‘crooked scheme.Those are his words. And here are our words: There is no evidence of any wrongdoing. And, in fact, if anything the [national security adviser] asking for identities was a reflection of exactly how much traffic there was involving Trump people and foreign players.”
With the White House trying to undermine the role of truth in American politics, critical journalism is more important than ever.
Watch Cuomo here:
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) April 4, 2017
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.