Former President Obama’s U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, “unmasked” hundreds of Americans in U.S. intelligence reports during her final days in office, many of them Trump campaign officials. It’s an amount so large that it equals one unmasking per day in 2016.
The process is carried out when one wants to reveal the identity of an individual whose name surfaced in foreign intelligence documents.
“Unmasking is not a regular occurrence—and definitely not a weekly habit. It is rare, even at the National Security Council, and ought to be rarer still for a U.N. ambassador,” a former senior U.S. official said recently to the Washington Free Beacon. But Power used it again and again — even going so far as to seek the names of Trump associates just before his inauguration.
Several sources told Fox News that there were over 260 requests made by Power in 2016 to unmask Americans who had surfaced in foreign intelligence surveillance. That’s one new person a day Powers wanted to know about.
According to Daily Wire,
The details emerged ahead of an expected appearance by Power next month on Capitol Hill. She is one of several Obama administration officials facing congressional scrutiny for their role in seeking the identities of Trump associates in intelligence reports – but the interest in her actions is particularly high.
The report indicated the reason that Congress is especially interested in Power’s role in unmasking Trump officials is due to a July 27 letter sent from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
In the letter, Nunes said the committee learned “that one official, whose position had no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama Administration.”
Fox News added that Power is believed to be the official that the letter was referring to and that although “previous U.N. ambassadors have made unmasking requests,” the number is usually in the “low double digits.”
Power is just the latest Obama official caught up in the unmasking scandal, as former national security adviser Susan Rice was recently caught lying about the unmasking of Trump officials.
As HotAir points out, this is more than problematic — and may blow up into a mega-scandal:
What was a UN ambassador doing in her “official duties” that required her to know the identities of so many Americans who turned up in intelligence reports? If it turns out she did in fact “just find this report really interesting” and was “just curious” and the NSA or FBI *granted* unmasking requests made along those lines then this scandal will blow up far beyond Power herself.
A lone official trying to go rogue on intelligence by making a ridiculous number of unmasking requests is one thing. The FBI and NSA abetting her by granting those requests and outing Americans to someone who may have had no legitimate intelligence purpose in knowing who they are is another thing entirely.
Alternatively, you’d have to believe there was a compelling reason for all the activity.
Maybe Power had reason to suspect there were Americans working at the UN, maybe even on her own staff, who were quietly double-dealing with foreign powers in the building? That would be a legitimate intelligence purpose for unmasking, but why the UN ambassador would be left to make those requests instead of Brennan or Rice, I have no idea. American double agents at the UN would be a big deal, worthy of attention from the big cheeses of natsec.
Certainly, it’s not illegal to unmask U.S. citizens who happen to pop up in foreign intelligence surveillance; however it’s against the law to seek the information for political advantage and public release.
That’s precisely what seems to have happened when former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s identity was leaked to the Washington Post.
Power is scheduled to testify before the Senate and House Intelligence committees in connection with the Russia probe in October.