President Obama’s UN Ambassador Samantha Power was reportedly “unmasking” Americans almost on a daily basis right up to President Trump’s inauguration, which bolsters Trump’s claim that the Obama administration tried to rig last year’s election by spying on the then-GOP candidate’s campaign.
Fox News is reporting that in the closing months of the Obama administration, Irish-born Power reportedly made more than 260 requests to identify Americans whose names turned up in foreign intelligence collection, a process called unmasking. Why an envoy to the United Nations would be involved in unmasking anyone, in this case focusing on the private communications of hundreds of Americans, has not been explained.
These private communications were intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies that were surveilling the Trump campaign. Conversations between Trump associates and persons not under surveillance themselves are referred to in the intelligence community as examples of “incidental collection.”
In incidentally collected communications the name of the person whose conversations have been intercepted are supposed to be redacted or “masked,” unless the information is thought to have value as foreign intelligence. Masking is carried out to protect “U.S. persons,” a term of art referring to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of the U.S., who may get inadvertently caught up in the electronic dragnet from being falsely accused of crimes or otherwise improper behavior.
The unmasking of a U.S. person is supposed to be reviewed at the highest levels of government because it is a powerful tool that can be abused.
National Security Agency (NSA) Director Adm. Mike Rogers summarized the unmasking review process before lawmakers in June.
"We [the NSA] apply two criteria in response to their request: number one, you must make the request in writing. Number two, the request must be made on the basis of your official duties, not the fact that you just find this report really interesting and you're just curious,” he said. “It has to tie to your job and finally, I said two but there's a third criteria … the basis of the request must be that you need this identity to understand the intelligence you're reading."
Before Power’s tenure, previous UN ambassadors made unmasking requests, but Fox News reported that in total they number in the low double digits.
With this latest revelation of Power’s apparent interference in the democratic process, it is becoming painfully obvious that the unmasking power was serially abused and that undermining Trump was an official Team Obama effort.
Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice was also involved in unmasking individuals in the Trump orbit. At first she lied about the unmaskings she requested, saying she didn’t use the process to conduct opposition research on the Trump campaign. Then, in April, the high-profile pathological liar and apologist for Obama’s chaotic foreign policy claimed unmasking was a routine part of her job, but assured those who would listen that she had not used the process for partisan political purposes. Then CNN reported earlier this month that behind closed doors Rice informed congressional investigators this summer that “she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late last year.”
The royal visit to the Big Apple took place after the endlessly-hyped, relentlessly-misrepresented meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower that the media howls proves the Left’s wacky Trump-Russia election collusion conspiracy theory.
Relying on unnamed sources, CNN reported that after the election the UAE began trying to establish a back-channel for communication between Russia and the incoming would-be Trump White House. The crown prince of the UAE reportedly met with top Trump officials in December during the transition period, but apparently violated protocol by not providing advance notice to the Obama administration. At a bare minimum, Rice appears to have unmasked identities of individuals whose names came up in the intelligence-gathering process that sought information about UAE activities.
After the UAE story surfaced in the media, President Trump publicly condemned Rice.
"She's not supposed to be doing that, and what she did was wrong. And we've been saying that and that's just the tip of the iceberg," Trump said of Rice's ethically dubious and possibly unlawful unmaskings. "What she did was wrong. Not supposed to be doing that. You know it. The unmasking and the surveillance [of the Trump campaign], and I heard she admitted that yesterday. Just not right."
Rice’s fellow mischief-maker, Power, is expected to testify in secret before federal lawmakers next month who are investigating Obama administration officials’ extremely unusual mid-campaign and post-campaign efforts to obtain the identities of Trump associates in intelligence reports.
As Fox reports:
In a July 27 letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said the committee had 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."
The "official" is widely reported to be Power.
Power, Rice, and Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan, were reportedly named in congressional subpoenas served on three U.S. intelligence agencies in May. Records were requested regarding Obama speechwriter Ben Rhodes but were not subpoenaed.
Of course, Power denies doing anything wrong. On Thursday her mouthpiece sent out a statement saying, "The anonymously sourced reports about Ambassador Power’s intelligence requests are false. Ambassador Power looks forward to engaging the bipartisan Committee in the appropriate classified forum."