Thursday on MSNBC, former CIA Director John Brennan called Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) comments criticizing the unmasking of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn “inane,” adding Paul lacked understanding of the intelligence profession.
Brennan said, “Let’s get straight what unmasking is. The National Security Agency, which is responsible for collecting intercepted communications and then pushing them out to the intelligence community, the professionals, when they see these intercepts of national security value, they distribute these reports, and if there’s a U.S. person’s name in it, they will conceal that name for privacy purposes as well as for counterintelligence investigative purposes. So the report will say something like U.S. person number one, U.S. person number two, U.S. person number three. When these reports are sent out, there are individuals within the government who have the authority and responsibility to find out who might be engaged in discussions with foreign government officials, whether they be intelligence officers or foreign government officials or whomever. So there have been thousands upon thousands of cases in this current administration where there have been unmaskings of these names, which means that the individuals with the proper clearances can request the identity of the individual who was engaged in some conversation that was collected in this intercept. ”
He continued, “So, therefore, it doesn’t mean that they be declassified. It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be revealed publicly. It just means that the people in positions of authority and responsibility, in fact, are going to have the ability to understand who might be involved in these very sensitive conversations that could, in fact, be designed to undermine our security.”
He added, “So when I’ve heard some of the comments today by like Senator Paul, whose comments —he has no understanding of the intelligence profession. He makes these inane comments that really misrepresents the facts. And so I’m sure at Fox News, and others right now are engaged to try to besmirch the reputation of a lot of people within the Obama administration who were carrying out their responsibilities the way they should have.”
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN