It looks like the law was secretly changed in the last months of the Obama Administration to allow for unmasking of individuals so that info could be obtained on them technically within the Law.
Here is :
William Jacobson , Cornell Lawyer Reports on Legal Insurrection
‘Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice, infamous for lying repeatedly on national television about the Benghazi attack being the result of a video, may be at the center of the “unmasking” scandal uncovered by Congressman Devin Nunes.
We covered yesterday how Dems want Devin Nunes removed, but can’t unhear unmasking allegations.
Eli Lake at Bloomberg News reports on the discovery of a suspicious pattern of unmasking requests by Rice near the end of the Obama administration, Top Obama Adviser Sought Names of Trump Associates in Intel:
‘White House lawyers last month discovered that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like “U.S. Person One.”
Lake argues that Rice’s requests do not necessarily violate the law, since she would have had broad authority to request unmasking, but that does not lessen the political impact:
But Rice’s multiple requests to learn the identities of Trump officials discussed in intelligence reports during the transition period does highlight a longstanding concern for civil liberties advocates about U.S. surveillance programs. The standard for senior officials to learn the names of U.S. persons incidentally collected is that it must have some foreign intelligence value, a standard that can apply to almost anything. This suggests Rice’s unmasking requests were likely within the law.
The news about Rice also sheds light on the strange behavior of Nunes in the last two weeks. It emerged last week that he traveled to the White House last month, the night before he made an explosive allegation about Trump transition officials caught up in incidental surveillance. At the time he said he needed to go to the White House because the reports were only on a database for the executive branch. It now appears that he needed to view computer systems within the National Security Council that would include the logs of Rice’s requests to unmask U.S. persons.’