Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security adviser in Barack Obama’s White House, has emerged as a “person of interest” in the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the unmasking of American individuals in foreign surveillance intelligence reports, Circa reported Tuesday evening.
In a letter to the National Security Agency, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes asked officials to provide details on any unmaskings requested by Rhodes between Jan. 1, 2016 to Jan. 20, 2017, congressional sources said.
Rhodes is the fourth Obama administration official to be officially named as a person of interest in the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into whether any laws were broken by a series of unmaskings potentially related to Donald Trump’s campaign for president.
Obama’s former National Security Advisor Susan Rice became the public face of the investigation earlier this year when it was revealed, in the face of public denials, that she had requested the unmasking of individuals thought to be involved with Trump’s campaign. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and ex-CIA Director John Brennan have also been named.
In a letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats last week, Rep. Nunes, a California Republican, claimed that the Obama administration had requested hundreds of unmaskings during the 2016 campaign, according to The Hill.
“We have found evidence that current and former government officials had easy access to U.S. person information and that it is possible that they used this information to achieve partisan political purposes, including the selective, anonymous leaking of such information,” Nunes wrote.
In March, Nunes also claimed the Intelligence Committee had evidence that outgoing Obama administration officials had been unmasking officials involved in Trump’s campaign and transition team.
While Rhodes had the authority to order unmaskings as deputy national security advisor, one intelligence source noted that “it’s like hell and high water to fill out and gain approval for these types of unmaskings.
“It’s something analysts take seriously and could entail filling out 80 pages of paperwork to prove there is a need to unmask,” he added. “If top officials were unmasking without oversight it’s something everyone should be concerned about and it puts our intelligence community in a very bad place.”
And now, it could be putting some top Obama officials in a very bad place.
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