Spygate

Friday's Editorial Cartoon   —   Posted on April 7, 2017

Question(s)

An editorial cartoonist often uses humor to illustrate a news item. What recent news item is Mike Lester illustrating in this cartoon?

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.

Cartoon by Mike Lester
























Answer(s)

President Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice tried on dozens of occasions to learn the identities of Trump transition officials whose conversations with foreign officials were “incidentally” collected by US intelligence.


Background on this news story from an April 3 NY Post article “Susan Rice tried to ‘unmask’ Trump associates in intelligence reports” by Mark Moore:

  • Former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice tried on dozens of occasions to learn the identities of Trump transition officials whose conversations with foreign officials were “incidentally” collected by US intelligence, it was reported this week.
  • The names Susan Rice asked to “unmask” were found in raw intelligence documents with summaries of monitored conversations between Trump associates and foreign officials discussing the then-president-elect’s transition, Bloomberg News reported.
  • Normally, the names of American citizens collected in such a manner are redacted (removed; erased).
  • But after being “unmasked,” the identities of the Trump officials became known.
  • Top government officials can ask for the hidden names to be released if they are of “foreign intelligence value,” Bloomberg reported.
  • Rice’s requests to identify Trump transition staffers were uncovered in February during a National Security Council review and were reported to the White House General Counsel’s Office.
  • The revelation adds insight to the actions of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who met with sources on White House grounds to view documents related to surveillance of Team Trump.
  • The Bloomberg report said it appears Nunes viewed NSC logs of Rice’s requests to unmask the names.
  • The next day, March 22, Nunes held a news conference to announce he had received information that showed members of the Trump transition team were caught up in “incidental collection” after the election.
  • The data included sensitive information about who the president’s associates were meeting, their views on foreign policy issues and further transition plans.
  • Nunes told reporters last month he briefed Trump on the documents because of concerns that Americans who were caught on routine surveillance were being “unmasked” for no reason.
  • The Obama administration shared the intelligence with officials throughout government because it feared the information would be covered up in a Trump White House.
  • Once the information was widely distributed, “intelligence officials” began leaking it and some of it appeared in media reports, including conversations fired National Security Adviser Mike Flynn had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
  • Rice did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment, Bloomberg said.
  • But during an appearance on “PBS NewsHour” on March 22, she was asked about whether Trump transition officials were swept up in incidental eavesdropping.
  • “I know nothing about this,” she said at the time.