Eli Lake’s new scoop has got the right wing media all excited. Lake who is a national security columnist for the Bloomberg View reported that that top Obama aide Susan Rice had sought names of Trump associates caught up in surveillance during the campaign as part of routine intelligence activities. This report has seemingly changed the tide as far as Trump supporters and admirers go. Now, it’s not about dealing with the scandalous interference by Russia in the US elections, but somehow the story has been twisted to be about “unmasking” a sinister plot on members of the Trump campaign and the President himself during the campaign.
Eli Lake’s article at first read may appear scandalous. In fact at the beginning, it puts it clear that last month lawyers from the White House learned that former National Security Adviser for the Obama administration had asked repeatedly for the identities of US nationals connected to the Trump team. This was in the form of raw intelligence gathered as part of a routine surveillance of foreign operatives. However, Lake stated clearly that there is intelligence value in learning the identities of US citizens who are caught up in normal surveillance operations.
In a nutshell, there is the distinct possibility that Susan Rice acted within the law. However, when you see how the story has been covered by republicans and the right wing media, it can get murky. It appears as if this is a very desperate attempt to validate Trump and his allegations of wiretapping by the former US President. And not only that, but the right wing coverage is designed to make the ongoing investigation into contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia scandalous by painting it as politically motivated right from the get go.
But experts say there is nothing here, just a smoke screen to divert the attention of people from the real issues. In fact, many will argue that it was within the required duty of the former Obama administration to look into any suspicious contacts between members of the Trump campaign at the time and known foreign operatives. There is no doubt though that Americans are not cleared for information regarding surveillance operations and when such things happen, the whole issue of privacy can be presented as a concrete argument. But that is not what Trump and his apologists are looking for.
Their argument is simple. As long as they were caught up in a lawful surveillance of foreign operatives, then there has to be some sinister political motive behind it.
Trump got elected against all odds. Some called it a stroke of genius, but the current twist to the Eli Lake story paints Trump as a manipulative figure who’s got his supporters dancing to his tune just as he did on November 4th last year. Whether the so-called “Unmasking” as Trump put it in a tweet on Monday morning after Lakes’ article came out will help lift the pressure on the embattled President remains to be seen.