A new Fox News report sheds further light on the expansive and unwarranted war on American privacy that was waged in the final months of the Obama administration. According to several sources, former UN ambassador Samantha Power was not just “unmasking” a handful of associates in and around the Trump campaign – no, no – she was unmasking multiple people every single day for months!
From Fox News:
Two sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said the requests to identify Americans whose names surfaced in foreign intelligence reporting, known as unmasking, exceeded 260 last year. One source indicated this occurred in the final days of the Obama White House.
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.
Power’s spokespeople have not responded to the latest revelations, but her lawyer David Pressman has previously insisted that his client did nothing wrong in asking for the names of redacted targets of foreign surveillance.
“While serving as our Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Power was also a member of the National Security Council responsible for advising the President on the full-range of threats confronting the United States,” Pressman said. “Any insinuation that Ambassador Power was involved in leaking classified information is absolutely false.”
Oh, we’ll see about that.
There is nothing de facto illegal about the unmasking practices of either Samantha Power or former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, but there is certainly something scandalous about their actions in the final year of the Obama administration. Protocols are in place to make sure that these unmaskings are not simply done to satisfy the whims or curiosities of interested intelligence officials. Whether those protocols were followed remains to be seen. Certainly, it’s hard to imagine that Power, for instance, found more than 200 good reasons to uncover the names of American citizens ostensibly protected by a constitutional right to due process.
As for what happened to those names after they were unmasked, THAT’S where we might be heading into illegal territory. Because some of them were leaked to the press – about that, there can be no doubt. Was it Power who leaked them? Rice? Former CIA Chief John Brennan? President Obama? We don’t know. But they were leaked and they were leaked for a reason.
We need to know who and we need to know why.