ODNI And NSA Impede Lawmakers Review Of Obama Admin ‘Unmasking’ Requests
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency still have not granted access to Republican lawmakers to review hundreds of unmasking requests made on Americans by Senior Obama Administration officials, SaraACarter.com has learned.
Despite an order from President Trump more than a year ago, ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-CA, on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence said his committee has been stymied in its investigation into the unmasking requests that rocked Washington D.C. when discovered in 2017.
The president ordered them to do it more than a year ago. We have yet to see that implemented, Nunes
The ODNI and NSA were ordered by President Trump to make available the highly classified documents for congressional review. In order to make those classified documents available the ODNI needed to set up a secured repository for lawmakers on the committee to review the documents, added Nunes.
Ordinarily, Americans names are redacted or minimized by the NSA before being shared with outside intelligence sources. The names of Americans in these communications with foreign persons are considered highly classified and are rarely unmasked. However, it was discovered that many senior officials in the Obama Administration unmasked more frequently than previous administration. In some cases the names were unmasked, in other cases they were specific enough that the American’s identity was easily ascertained, intelligence sources had told this reporter.
“The NSA and ODNI were to put in safe guards – a repository so we could go and review (the documents)- they have yet to do it,” said Nunes. “The president ordered them to do it more than a year ago. We have yet to see that implemented.”
The press office of Director of National Intelligence could not be reached for comment. NSA officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
Nunes said Republican members on the committee are determined to continue the investigation into the extraordinary unmasking requests made before and after the 2016 presidential election.
“I’m pretty sure unmaskings are almost always non-existent because there’s hardly ever a reason to unmask,” said Nunes. He said, however, without the repository “There is no way to review the highly classified material.”
“That’s got to be completed so we can go and easily review the reasons for all these unmaskings,” he said. “Any member of congress that sits on the Intelligence committee should be able to go and review. That was guaranteed to us a year ago.”
He said ODNI and NSA “told us it would be done immediately.”
Samantha Power’s Unmasks Nearly 300 Americans
This reporter and others revealed in 2017 that senior Obama officials, including former Secretary of State Susan Rice, former United Nation’s Ambassador Samantha Powers and former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had made requests. Further, there were other senior Obama officials who also made unmasking requests.
Powers had made nearly 300 unmasking requests of private communications of Americans, including members of the Trump campaign, prior and after the 2016 presidential election.
In October, 2017 then Chairman Trey Gowdy, revealed that Powers had made as many as 260 requests to “unmask” Americans. Unmasking occurs when the intelligence agencies intercept communications where an American is speaking to a non-U.S. citizen overseas.
The “requests to unmask may have been attributed to her, but they greatly exceed by an exponential factor the requests she actually made,” said Gowdy, regarding Power’s then testimony.
Powers stressed in her testimony that she did not sign off on all the requests that were made in her name, raising speculation that someone was falsifying her signature, said Gowdy.
“The intelligence community has assigned this number of requests to her,” Gowdy told Fox News. “Her perspective, her testimony is, they may be under my name, but I did not make those requests.”
Susan Rice Unmasks Americans
The logs discovered by National Security Council staff suggested Rice was interested in the NSA materials, some of which included unmasked Americans’ identities, intelligence sources said. Those unmasking requests appeared to begin in July, 2016 around the time Trump secured the GOP nomination. Those requests also accelerated after Trump’s election in November and launched a transition that continued through January.
The intelligence reports included some intercepts of Americans talking to foreigners and many more involving foreign leaders talking about the future president, his campaign associates or his transition, the sources then said.
Most if not all had nothing to do with the Russian election interference scandal, the sources said, speaking only on condition of anonymity given the sensitive nature of the materials.
Rice first denied unmasking Americans. Later she told MSBNC that she had accessed unmasked intelligence reports involving Trump and his associates, but called claims she had done so for political purposes “absolutely false.”
Rice, however, accessed multiple intelligence reports during the end of Obama’s presidency. She unmasked Americans in some of those reports. The reports revealed the identities of then-candidate Trump and his associates, according to sources. She also said her access of the data did not constitute wiretapping, despite Trump’s claim he was wiretapped.
Clapper Unmasks Americans
Further, Clapper, who was then the Director of National Intelligence, admitted to congress that he would also make “unmasking” requests. He said he would unmask the identity of a U.S. citizen every “couple of weeks” during his tenure. He told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, he would make an unmasking request “once every couple of weeks, something like that, over the six and a half years.”
“I’d come across reports that, and I felt, you know, that it was my duty to understand, my obligation as the director of national intelligence, to understand these interactions when U.S. persons were interacting with valid foreign intelligence targets, particularly Russians, our adversary,” said Clapper.