Rand Paul requests information on whether Obama administration was spying on him

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has "formally requested" more information from the White House and the intelligence community on whether he was "surveilled" by the Obama administration during the presidential election, he said Friday.

"Did the Obama admin go after presidential candidates, members of Congress, journalists, clergy, lawyers, fed judges?" Paul tweeted. "Did the Obama admin use warrantless "wiretapping" on other candidates besides @realdonaldtrump?

President Trump tweeted an unfounded claim in early March that President Barack Obama Obama had ordered Trump Tower phones to be "wiretapped" during the election.

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DES MOINES, IA - FEBRUARY 1: Senator Rand Paul (R-TX) speaks during a caucus day rally at his Des Moines headquarters on February 1, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. The Presidential hopeful was accompanied by his wife, Kelly, mother, Carol Wells and his father, former Congressman Ron Paul. Pauls were there to thank all the staff and volunteers for all their hard work in Iowa. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 16: U.S. President Donald Trump, right, acknowledges US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), left, prior to signing H.J. Res. 38, disapproving the rule submitted by the US Department of the Interior known as the Stream Protection Rule in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on February 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. The Department of Interior's Stream Protection Rule, which was signed during the final month of the Obama administration, 'addresses the impacts of surface coal mining operations on surface water, groundwater, and the productivity of mining operation sites,' according to the Congress.gov summary of the resolution. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and other members of the House Freedom Caucus hold a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) arrives for a classified briefing on the airstrikes launched against the Syrian military, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Rand Paul speaks at a campaign rally in the Olmsted Center at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Brian C. Frank/File Photo
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and wife, Kelly, arrive on the red carpet for the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul talks to supporters at a campaign stop at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum in Knoxville, Iowa, January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Scott Morgan
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to the media about repealing Obamacare after playing golf with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) U.S. Senator Rand Paul, Governor Chris Christie, Dr. Ben Carson, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio, former Governor Jeb Bush and Governor John Kasich pose together onstage at the start of the debate held by Fox News for the top 2016 U.S. Republican presidential candidates in Des Moines, Iowa January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Rand Paul speaks at the New Hampshire GOP's FITN Presidential town hall in Nashua, New Hampshire January 23, 2016. REUTERS/Mary Schwalm
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul takes a photo with Scott Blum of Monroe, Iowa, after speaking at a campaign stop at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum in Knoxville, Iowa, January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Scott Morgan
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (C) speaks about Obamacare repeal and replacement while flanked by members of the House Freedom Caucus, during a news conference on Capitol Hill, on March 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is currently working on a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul (R-TX) fires an AR-15 rifle at CrossRoads Shooting Sports in Johnston, Iowa, January 17, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 16: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., attends a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Dirksen Building featuring testimony by David Friedman, nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel, February 16, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: Sen. Rand Paul and Kelley Paul attend the Capitol File 58th Presidential Inauguration Reception at Fiola Mare on January 19, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capitol File Magazine)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 15: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks during the House Freedom Caucus news conference on Affordable Care Act replacement legislation on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. Behind Sen. Paul from left are Rep. Tom, Garrett, R-Va., Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 28: Kelley Paul and her husband, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, at the National Gallery of Art on September 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 6: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Community, said later that, upon reviewing classified intelligence reports from the previous administration, he had seen no evidence that Trump was ever illegally surveilled. FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers corroborated that assessment in a March hearing before the committee.

In both tweets, Paul linked to an article by the publication Circa that said Americans overseas had had their information collected, "searched," and "disseminated" by the National Security Agency "after President Obama loosened privacy protections" in 2011. The article cited the Statistical Transparency Report published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence earlier this week.

Paul sent a letter to President Donald Trump on April 10 asking him to investigate a claim made to him by an "anonymous source" that his name was "unmasked" in intelligence reports collected under the Obama administration. He cited "revelations" that people associated with the Trump campaign had had their names unmasked as warranting an investigation into "allegations that myself and other elected members of the legislative branch may have also been unmasked."

Paul's letter came roughly a week after reports surfaced that Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, tried to learn the identities of officials on Trump's transition team whose conversations with foreign officials were incidentally collected during routine intelligence-gathering operations.

The intelligence reports obtained by Rice, who served from 2013 to 2017, "were summaries of monitored conversations — primarily between foreign officials discussing the Trump transition, but also in some cases direct contact between members of the Trump team and monitored foreign officials," Bloomberg's Eli Lake reported at the time.

"I ask that your administration promptly investigate whether my name or the names of other Members of Congress, or individuals from our staffs or campaigns, were included in queries or searches of databases of the intelligence community, or if their identities were unmasked in any intelligence reports or products," Paul wrote in April.

Unless Paul or his staffers were communicating with monitored foreign agents, it is unlikely their names would be unmasked by high-level Obama administration officials such as Rice, who received these intelligence reports daily.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authorizes the US intelligence community to surveil non-US persons "reasonably believed to be located outside the United States" in order to "acquire foreign intelligence information." US persons caught up in those monitored communications must have their identities "minimized," and then the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court must "review the sufficiency" of the intelligence community's minimization procedures.

The restrictions on how intelligence agencies handle "non-publicly available US person information acquired from Section 702 collection of non-US person targets" must be "consistent with the needs of the government to obtain, produce, and disseminate foreign intelligence information."

"The identities of US persons may be released under two circumstances: 1) the identity is needed to make sense of the intercept; 2) if a crime is involved in the conversation," said Robert Deitz, a former senior counselor to the CIA director and former general counsel at the National Security Agency.

"Any senior official who receives the underlying intelligence may request these identities," Deitz said, noting that while "the bar for obtaining the identity is not particularly high, it must come from a senior official, and the reason cannot simply be raw curiosity."

Steve Slick, a former CIA operations officer and NSC official who now heads the Intelligence Studies Project at the University of Texas at Austin, said that "by definition, any report that the NSA elects to disseminate is relevant to a foreign or national-security issue."

But it is "often not possible for a consumer or reader to fully understand the significance of a report without knowing precisely which US person may have been communicating with the foreign official," he added.

SEE ALSO: We now have a better idea who's behind 'unmasking' Trump officials' contact with foreign agents — and why
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