Editorials: Su­san Rice strikes again

Some­one is play­ing at in­sur­rec­tion, and some­one must find out who

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY -

Su­san Rice, the most no­to­ri­ous liar in the em­ploy of Barack Obama, is re­vealed as the queen of the un­masked ball. She abused her po­si­tion as the na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser to the pres­i­dent to ob­tain the “masked” name of at least one mem­ber of the Trump tran­si­tion team in the weeks be­tween the elec­tion and the inau­gu­ra­tion. What she did with the in­for­ma­tion is any­body’s guess, and any­body could make a pretty good one.

The masked name was in sum­maries she re­ceived of U.S. eaves­drop­ping on con­ver­sa­tions be­tween for­eign of­fi­cials dis­cussing the Trump team, or when for­eign of­fi­cials, not nec­es­sar­ily Rus­sians, were talk­ing to mem­bers of the tran­si­tion team. The sur­veil­lance was le­gal, and so was Miss Rice’s re­quest, but it was un­usual and more than a lit­tle trou­bling to a grow­ing num­ber of skep­tics in the cap­i­tal.

Mask­ing names is done to pro­tect the in­no­cent, and Miss Rice’s re­quest was al­most cer­tainly made to sat­isfy po­lit­i­cal cu­rios­ity, use­ful to Barack Obama’s cam­paign to put up as many ob­sta­cles as he could in the way of or­ga­niz­ing a pres­i­den­tial ad­min­is­tra­tion. Mischief is al­ways an ef­fec­tive ob­sta­cle.

Miss Rice in­sists she did noth­ing wrong or il­le­gal. “The al­le­ga­tion is that some­how the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials uti­lized in­tel­li­gence for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses,” she told NBC News on Tues­day. “That’s ab­so­lutely false.” That sounds pretty cat­e­gor­i­cal, but Su­san Rice is one of the last gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials past or present whose word is safe to take, even with a lot of salt. She es­tab­lished her sor­did rep­u­ta­tion for truth-telling in the wake of the mur­der of the Amer­i­can am­bas­sador and three other Amer­i­cans in Benghazi, when she raced around Wash­ing­ton on a Sun­day morn­ing to get on all the talk shows to blame the mur­ders on Is­lamic rage over an ob­scure video, pro­duced in Amer­ica, that of­fended del­i­cate Is­lamic sen­si­bil­i­ties. She knew she was telling a lie — ob­vi­ously on White House in­struc­tions — and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion later ad­mit­ted her story was a po­lit­i­cal con­coc­tion. This episode re­mains the most in­fa­mous ex­am­ple yet of “fake news.”

The Wall Street Jour­nal re­ports that a source who had seen the un­masked doc­u­ments says they in­cluded in­for­ma­tion about meet­ings and pol­icy dis­cus­sions by high of­fi­cials of the Trump tran­si­tion team. None of th­ese doc­u­ments, the news­pa­per re­ported, in­cluded in­for­ma­tion about Rus­sia or the FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into ties, if any, be­tween Rus­sia and the Trump or­ga­ni­za­tion. Sum­maries of the doc­u­ments were dis­trib­uted “only” to a se­lect group of re­cip­i­ents, in­clud­ing Miss Rice.

When an in­ter­viewer for PBS Ra­dio had asked her last month whether Don­ald Trump might be right, that his tran­si­tion aides were “surveilled,” she replied: “I know noth­ing about this.” Of course not. Why would any­one think Mr. Obama’s des­ig­nated fall guy (or fall girl), would have any­thing to do with pol­i­tics and leaks?

Miss Rice and her de­fend­ers on the left, in­clud­ing the usual sus­pects at the tele­vi­sion net­works, in­sist there’s no story here. Oth­ers on the right are call­ing the story “big­ger than Water­gate,” which so far is more than a bit over the top. But no one can say where a story of po­lit­i­cal chi­canery and sur­veil­lance in Wash­ing­ton will lead. Water­gate, as those with long mem­o­ries will re­call, was at first dis­missed as “a third-rate bur­glary.”

Miss Rice is said to be re­luc­tant to speak un­der oath, but that is ex­actly where she should tell her story. There’s no short­age of in­ves­ti­ga­tions, and one of them — or all of them — should get to the bot­tom of this sor­did story.

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