Bloomberg is reporting that Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice requested to “unmask” the identities of Trump’s transition team members that may have been incidentally monitored as they spoke to foreign officials. According to a Bloomberg source, Rice reportedly made dozens of requests to uncover the names in reports that,
“contained valuable political information on the Trump transition such as whom the Trump team was meeting, the views of Trump associates on foreign policy matters and plans for the incoming administration.”
Rice’s efforts were found during a review by the National Security Council on the government’s policies regarding unmasking names that were incidentally collected in the government’s mass surveillance efforts. Because every President since Ronald Reagan has expanded the role of spy agencies in the United States, Rice’s actions are likely legal. The standard used for determining whether to unmask someone’s name is simply asking if it has any foreign intelligence value. It is a broad standard to say the least.
The revelation about Rice’s actions adds to an already bizarre investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election and subsequent allegations by President Donald Trump that he was wiretapped by President Obama. So far there is no evidence to support Trump’s claims and the evidence pointing toward Russia’s involvement has been sparse.
The story has taken plenty of twists and turns and the investigation is playing out in dramatic fashion in the press. That said, it has become obvious that partisan politics have taken center stage, at the expense of fact-based proceedings. Whether it Devin Nunes’ laughable attempts at his own clandestine investigation or Adam Schiff’s eloquent but reaching accusations, the need for an independent panel is growing.
It is also alarming how the corporate media has jumped at the story. Outlets on both sides, whether it is traditional, but left-leaning publications like The New York Times or The Washington Post or less reputable publications on the right like Breitbart or Fox News, everyone seems to have chosen a side. If you listen to the press, it would be easy to conclude that Russia must have been behind Trump’s victory or that Obama surely was certainly spying on Trump.
However, a more accurate stance is being ignored by the general public, that we should not trust the government, nor the corporate media. Members of Trump’s team likely acted unethically. Likewise, members of Obama’s team probably abused their positions for political reasons. Meanwhile, the truth fluctuates depending on which publication you chose to consume.
We must accept the possibility that both parties are acting without public interests in mind. We must also accept that the corporate media has ulterior motives in reporting what they do. Cozy relationships to politicians, the influence of advertisers, and the need to counter the popularity of openly biased outlets, like the Ring of Fire (we are openly progressive), have all pushed the mainstream media to a new level of untrustworthiness.
Now, more than ever, we must abandon our old habits of blindly supporting our chosen parties. We must also be more critical of news outlets that used to be easily trusted. A lack of critical thinking lead to Donald Trump’s victory in November, but if these trends continue, the future could be even more bleak.