- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 4, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Sen. Rand Paul followed a bomb-blaster of a tweet about Susan Rice’s supposed “spying on [the] Trump campaign” with a call for her to come to Capitol Hill, take the oath and testify.

She won’t. But she should. At the very least, it’d be good for the former Barack Obama national security adviser to explain just why she wanted to “unmask” the names of those in intelligence reports tied to President Donald Trump.

“I don’t think we should discount how big a deal it was that Susan Rice was looking at these, and she needs to be asked, did President Obama ask her to do this? Was this a directive from President Obama? I think she ought to testify under oath on this,” Paul said to reporters, The Hill noted. “I think she should be asked under oath, did she reveal it to the Washington Post.”

And here’s the kicker; Paul put it bluntly.

“I think they were illegally basically using an espionage tool to eavesdrop or wiretap — if you want to use the word generally — on the Trump campaign,” he said.

That’s an astonishing accusation — but an even more astonishing action, if true. And Rice holds it within her power to clarify.

Paul, shortly after learning of the report from Eli Lake of Bloomberg — the one that headlined “Susan Rice Sought Names of Trump Associates in Intel” — tweeted this: “Smoking gun found! Obama pal and noted dissembler Susan Rice said to have been spying on Trump campaign.”

Paul has used this latest intel-tied revelation to platform a new push for reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, FISA, that lets U.S. spy agencies tap into conversations and messaging of non-Americans who are outside the United States, absent going through the constitutional warrant process. Section 702, which gives intel this authority, is due for renewal in Congress in the coming months.

It’s been highly criticized by privacy, civil and constitutional rights’ groups as intrusive and illegal because of its potential to rope in unsuspecting and innocent America citizens on U.S. soil in the surveillance.

Paul called for such intel gathering to be outlawed.

“I think it is inappropriate and it should be illegal,” he said, The Hill reported. “I don’t think you should be allowed to listen to American’s conversations without a warrant. They are doing it without a warrant. They are targeting a foreigner and because they are targeting a foreigner they are gathering all of this information on Americans.”

And here’s why it matters to the current Susan Rice v. Donald Trump issue: Government often operates on a self-serving basis.

“Is there a possibility that Susan Rice was political motivated? Let’s ask her why she was opening up all of the conversations with Trump transition figures,” Paul said.

Yes, let’s ask. And if Rice won’t answer, that silence will tell volumes.

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