It was an awkward interview. Rice confirmed that she requested the demasking of Americans while she was National Security Adviser. While Rice would not deny that she asked that names of Trump officials be demasked, she insisted the Obama administration did not spy on Mr. Trump or his staff for political purposes. She also offered some questionable explanations for the demasking process.

As a former CIA analyst who has handled requests for demasking the names of American citizens for a U.S. policymaker, I thought Rice’s claims in her interview did not add up.

The names of U.S. citizens “incidentally” mentioned in NSA reports are masked to preserve their identities because America’s intelligence agencies are barred from spying on American citizens except in extraordinary circumstances with court approval.

Rice correctly said in her interview that policymakers sometimes request to know the identities of Americans from NSA reports to understand these reports in certain circumstances. She also tried to dismiss this controversy by claiming NSA demasking requests are routine.

They actually are not routine and taken very seriously by NSA.

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