The WashPost tries to defend Rice

Washington PostThere is precisely zero evidence that Rice used this information — assuming the reports are true — for anything other than her own official purposes or did anything unholy.

Actually there is a lot of evidence of exactly that. From the large number of requests for unmasking, to the long duration (going back a full year to the beginning of the primary process), to Rice's two-week-old denial that she knew anything about it, to Rice's general untrustworthy nature (see Benghazi), to the wide dissemination of the unmasked identities throughout the Obama Administration, to the leaks themselves. Rice's fingerprints are on a number of those things directly.

Washington PostUnmasking is not leaking, and as our own Karen DeYoung notes, Rice couldn't have names unmasked without permission from the relevant intelligence agency — a system in place to prevent political abuses.

Clearly, that system failed in this case. Rice had the authority to unmask. She did so (a lot). It appears, in hindsight, that those requests to unmask were improper. If that in itself is not specifically illegal, it should be. In the absence of specific laws against abusing intelligence information to interfere with a candidate for president and/or the actual president-elect's transition team, laws must be put into place, and surely there are some general purpose laws that would serve well enough in the meantime.

Admittedly, we don't know whether Rice is the actual leaker. The actual leaker will likely face multiple 10-year prison sentences, under existing law regarding leaking of US identities in incidentally-collected intelligence information.

But we know she took deliberate steps to make it easier to leak the information and harder to identify the leaker. We know from Farkas and other commentary that the administration was doing that deliberately to make it possible to leak the intelligence information even after they left the White House. That makes it a political strategy and that means Rice was very likely involved in both formulating and implementing it. That seems like it would make her vulnerable to RICO, too.

The claim that, hey, maybe she had job-related reasons to request all these unmaskings is stretched thin indeed when used to cover all of the activity within the Obama administration on this issue.

The identity of the leaker(s?) matters, because each of them is guilty of a felony and needs to spend 10 years in prison writing "I will not abuse intelligence information for political purposes" on license plates. But the identity of the conspirators matters too. After all, Watergate brought down the President, even though he didn't break into the hotel personally.

This entry was published Tue Apr 04 12:55:19 CDT 2017 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2017-04-04 12:55:19.0. [Tweet]

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