On Thursday, Ned Price, a former spokesperson for the National Security Council under former President Barack Obama, decided to attack Richard Grenell, the acting Director of National Intelligence, for declassifying documents showing that Democratic officials in the Obama administration “unmasked” former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Price attacked Grenell, claiming that the U.S. “Intelligence Community is being weaponized in an effort to assist President Trump’s reelection prospects,” prompting Grenell to deftly respond with a reminder of the Obama administration’s lack of transparency.
Price tweeted, “@RichardGrenell’s declassified documents point to a MASSIVE scandal – namely that our Intelligence Community is being weaponized in an effort to assist President Trump’s reelection prospects.”
.@RichardGrenell's declassified documents point to a MASSIVE scandal — namely that our Intelligence Community is being weaponized in an effort to assist President Trump's reelection prospects. https://t.co/LqW2CAOzs6
— Ned Price (@nedprice) May 14, 2020
Grenell, in his inimitably succinct and subtle style, fired back at Price, tweeting, “Transparency is not political. But I will give you that it isn’t popular in Washington DC.”
Transparency is not political. But I will give you that it isn’t popular in Washington DC. https://t.co/j9sf5or0Tg
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) May 14, 2020
Grenell’s tweet was an obvious gibe at Barack Obama’s assertion that he ran the “most transparent administration in history.”
Price then responded, “I appreciate that you raised the issue of transparency. If that’s what this truly is about, why not declassify the transcript of Flynn’s call with Kislyak and the full, unredacted text of Susan Rice’s 1/20/17 email to herself? Allow the American people to judge for themselves.”
I appreciate that you raised the issue of transparency. If that's what this truly is about, why not declassify the transcript of Flynn's call with Kislyak and the full, unredacted text of Susan Rice's 1/20/17 email to herself?
Allow the American people to judge for themselves.
— Ned Price (@nedprice) May 14, 2020
That, in turn, prompted Fred Fleitz, a former chief of staff for the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration, to fire back at Price: “Was it normal for 39 Obama officials to make 53 unmasking requests for @GenFlynn’s name after the 2016 election? And weren’t you a CIA staffer working for NSC who helped @brhodes run an “echo chamber” to misled the American people about the flawed Iran nuclear deal?”
@nedprice: Was it normal for 39 Obama officials to make 53 unmasking requests for @GenFlynn's name after the 2016 election? And weren't you a CIA staffer working for NSC who helped @brhodes run an "echo chamber" to misled the American people about the flawed Iran nuclear deal?
— Fred Fleitz (@FredFleitz) May 14, 2020
Fleitz had a point.
Price served as Ben Rhodes’ assistant when Rhodes served as deputy national security adviser for strategic communications under former President Barack Obama. Rhodes infamously promoted what he called a “narrative” with a “misleading timeline of U.S. negotiations with Iran over a nuclear agreement,” as The Washington Post reported. That timeline suggested that the Obama administration had only started negotiations with Iran after Hassan Rouhani was elected president in 2013, as the Obama administration viewed Rouhani as a “moderate.” The Post acknowledged, “In fact, the administration’s negotiations actually began earlier, with the country’s powerful Islamic faction, and the framework for an agreement was hammered out before Rouhani’s election.”
Rhodes bragged to The New York Times Magazine, “All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus. Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing … We created an echo chamber. They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”
Of Price, the Post noted:
Rhodes’s assistant, Ned Price, told the newspaper that the administration would feed “color” — background details — to their “compadres” in the press corps, “and the next thing I know, lots of these guys are in the dot-com publishing space, and have huge Twitter followings, and they’ll be putting this message out on their own.”
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