PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–In the wake of allegations that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice played a role in the unmasking of Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who’s conversations with Russian officials were captured during intelligence surveillance, Rich Zeoli spoke with Andrew McCarthy, a former US Attorney now writing for National Review, who says Rice, herself, could not have ordering the unmasking, but would have had to request it.
“The objective of foreign intelligence collection is supposed to be not to figure out what Americans are up to, it’s to understand the intentions and actions of foreign powers and they’re agents. It’s the collecting agency’s that do the unmasking and have the authority to unmask. Everybody else in the intelligence community, including the White House staff is a consumer of intelligence and they don’t have the authority to unmask. They have to ask for it to be done.”
He pointed out that many high ranking Americans have dealings with foreign agents, the vast majority of which does not rise to the level of investigation.
“We’re talking about intelligence investigations, not criminal investigations. It’s not a crime to talk to Russians. A lot of Americans do business Russians, including people in the Clinton camp, which we’re told is perfectly lawful. You have to remember with intelligence investigations, the legitimate purpose of an intelligence investigation is to understand the activities and intentions of the foreign power. The Americans are incidental in the sense that they’re incidentally collected. They’re not the targets are the surveillance.”
Thus McCarthy has not seen evidence Flynn did nothing wrong by speaking with Russians and, if he did break the law, investigators would have had to go back to court to gain permission to investigate him.
“If it was thought that they were agents of a foreign power, then the FBI would go into the FISA court and get surveillance warrants targeting those Americans specifically. These are people who were incidentally caught up. So, the purpose of the intelligence collection is not to figure out what the Americans are up to, it’s to figure what the Russians or the Chinese or Iranians are up to.”