unmasking requests

February 19, 2019 – ODNI and NSA impede lawmakers review of Obama admin ‘unmasking’ requests

The Director of National Intelligence oversees the 16 federal organizations that make up the intelligence community. (Credit: Linked in)

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 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.” (Read more: Sarah Carter, 2/19/2019)

October 13, 2017 – Samantha Power testifies intel officials made ‘unmasking’ requests in her name

Trey Gowdy walks on Capitol Hill, July 25, 2017. (Credit: Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press)

“House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy said Tuesday that President Obama’s former United Nations ambassador has testified that not all of the “unmasking” requests made in her name were directed by her.

Samantha Power testified in Gowdy’s committee last week, and Fox News reported weeks before her appearance that she was thought to have made as many as 260 requests to “unmask” Americans caught up in the surveillance of non-U.S. citizens.

But Tuesday evening, Gowdy told Fox News that Power told his committee that she was not the official requesting that unmasking in every case.

“I think if she were on your show, she would say those requests to unmask may have been attributed to her, but they greatly exceed by an exponential factor the requests she actually made,” Gowdy said.

“So, that’s her testimony, and she was pretty emphatic in it,” he added. “The intelligence community has assigned this number of requests to her. Her perspective, her testimony is, they may be under my name, but I did not make those requests.” (Read more: Washington Examiner, 10/17/2017)

July 27, 2017 – The House Judiciary Committee makes a formal request to take a second look at the Clinton Foundation and email investigations

(Timeline editor’s note: While preparing this timeline entry, I discovered the links provided by Jeff Carlson to Rep. Goodlatte’s press release and letter, are no longer working links on the House Judiciary Committee website. I called Rep. Nadler’s office to ask why those documents are no longer available and they could not (or would not) give me an answer. With a little further searching, I was able to find the original letter in the Wayback Machine.) 

(A screenshot of my attempt to access Rep. Goodlatte’s press release and letter on the House Judiciary Committee website.)

“The House Judiciary Committee issued a press release on July 27, 2017, stating that a formal request for the appointment of a second Special Counsel has been made to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The actual letter may be viewed here.

The Judiciary Committee members were specific in their request. They are asking for investigation into the following:

The members call for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate grave concerns such as former Attorney General Lynch’s directive to former FBI Director Comey to mislead the American people on the nature of the investigation into former Secretary Clinton; the FBI and Justice Department’s investigative decisions related to the Clinton email investigation, including the immunity deals given to potential co-conspirators; selected leaks of classified information that unmasked U.S. persons incidentally collected upon by the intelligence community; and the FBI’s reliance on “Fusion GPS” in its investigation of the Trump campaign, among many others issues.

Fourteen specific topics of investigation are noted – many of which were asked previously but remain unanswered:

  1. Then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch directing Mr. Comey to mislead the American people on the nature of the Clinton investigation;
  2. The shadow cast over our system of justice concerning Secretary Clinton and her involvement in mishandling classified information;
  3. FBI and DOJ’s investigative decisions related to former Secretary Clinton’s email investigation, including the propriety and consequence of immunity deals given to potential Clinton co-conspirators Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson, John Bentel and possibly others;
  4. The apparent failure of DOJ to empanel a grand jury to investigate allegations of mishandling of classified information by Hillary Clinton and her associates;
  5. The Department of State and its employees’ involvement in determining which communications of Secretary Clinton’s and her associates to turn over for public scrutiny;
  6. WikiLeaks disclosures concerning the Clinton Foundation and its potentially unlawful international dealings;
  7. Connections between the Clinton campaign, or the Clinton Foundation, and foreign entities, including those from Russia and Ukraine;
  8. Mr. Comey’s knowledge of the purchase of Uranium One by the company Rosatom, whether the approval of the sale was connected to any donations made to the Clinton Foundation, and what role Secretary Clinton played in the approval of that sale that had national security ramifications;
  9. Disclosures arising from unlawful access to the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) computer systems, including inappropriate collusion between the DNC and the Clinton campaign to undermine Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign;
  10. Post-election accusations by the President that he was wiretapped by the previous Administration, and whether Mr. Comey and Ms. Lynch had any knowledge of efforts made by any federal agency to unlawfully monitor communications of then-candidate Trump or his associates;
  11. Selected leaks of classified information related to the unmasking of U.S. person identities incidentally collected upon by the intelligence community, including an assessment of whether anyone in the Obama Administration, including Mr. Comey, Ms. Lynch, Ms. Susan Rice, Ms. Samantha Power, or others, had any knowledge about the “unmasking” of individuals on then candidate-Trump’s campaign team, transition team, or both;
  12. Admitted leaks by Mr. Comey to Columbia University law professor, Daniel Richman, regarding conversations between Mr. Comey and President Trump, how the leaked information was purposefully released to lead to the appointment of a special counsel, and whether any classified information was included in the now infamous “Comey memos”;
  13. Mr. Comey’s and the FBI’s apparent reliance on “Fusion GPS” in its investigation of the Trump campaign, including the company’s creation of a “dossier” of information about Mr. Trump, that dossier’s commission and dissemination in the months before and after the 2016 election, whether the FBI paid anyone connected to the dossier, and the intelligence sources of Fusion GPS or any person or company working for Fusion GPS and its affiliates; and
  14. Any and all potential leaks originated by Mr. Comey and provide to author Michael Schmidt dating back to 1993.

I have written previously about almost every one of these issues – including Comey’s TestimonyComey’s handling of the Clinton Investigation, the Clinton FoundationUranium OneUnmaskingObama’s Surveillance and the Russian Investigation.

They are all questions and topics that merit actual investigation.

The Committee’s questions fall into broader subgroups:

Hillary Clinton Investigation

Clinton Foundation

Surveillance

Unmasking of U.S. Citizens

FBI/Comey Collusion

Illegal Leaks

The final question pertains to Michael Schmidt, a New York Times reporter who has broken a number of stories on Trump-Russia as well as apparent leaks from Comey. You may find a complete listing of Schmidt’s articles here. Someone was whispering directly into his ear.

I’m not sure what will come from this letter – perhaps nothing – but the House Judiciary Committee’s timing is excellent. Attorney General Sessions has been under pressure for his recusal on the Russian Investigation along with his lack of prosecutorial zeal. If this request had come out a month ago, I would have noted it but not thought much else. At this particular juncture of events, I find myself marginally more hopeful that something – anything – might result from the Committee’s formal request.” (Read more: themarketswork.com, 7/29/2017)

January 1, 2016 – January 1, 2017: ‘Unmasker in Chief’ Samantha Power writes and receives anti-Trump bias in government emails

Samantha Power votes March 2, 2016 to approve the toughest sanctions on North Korea in 20 years. (Credit: Seth Wenig/The Associated Press)

(…) “It turns out that Power — the diplomat whose authority inexplicably was used to unmask hundreds of Americans’ names in secret intelligence reports during the 2016 election — engaged in similar Trump-bashing on her official government email, according to documents unearthed by an American Center for Law and Justice lawsuit. The conservative legal group is run by Trump defense attorney Jay Sekulow.

The discovery could add a new dimension — a question of political bias — to a long-running congressional investigation into why Power’s authority was used to unmask hundreds of Americans’ names in secret National Security Agency intercepts during the  election. That practice of unmasking continues to grow today.

Power’s barbs toward Trump started as early as the GOP primaries, when she used her email to connect Oskar Eustis, the artistic director at the Public Theater in New York, with oft-quoted think tank scholar Norman Ornstein, the memos show.

“Oskar, Norm will explain our political system, in a way that will fleetingly make it seem rational, though maybe not after Trump and Sanders win NH,” she wrote, predicting the future president and upstart socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would win the esteemed New Hampshire primary.

After Trump stunned the world with his general election win over Hillary Clinton, the observations of Power and those emailing her on her official government account turned more vitriolic.

“I am discouraged and frightened. Electing a right-wing president is something, but such a morally repugnant bully!” read a Nov. 14, 2016, email to Power from a sender whose name the State Department redacted for privacy reasons. The email referred to former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon as “an avowed racist” and predicted, “The worst is coming.”

There is no evidence in the released documents that Power responded or chastised the sender for using government email for such political animosity.

But there is ample evidence she engaged in similar Trump-bashing.

In December 2016, for example, when sent a news story about Trump’s effort to communicate a new policy direction for the U.N., Power snarkily replied: “This reflects the lack of understanding of history.”

When Trump announced his intent to withdraw the U.S. from a global climate deal, Power emailed a colleague: “Lord help us all.”

And when a routine diplomatic issue with Japan arose in late November 2016, Power emailed another colleague: “It is unreal how the Trump dynamic has changed things.”

Perhaps most telling are Power’s efforts to arrange media interviews and speeches during her final days in office, clearly aiming to counter the incoming president’s agenda and fan the narrative that Trump might be dangerously soft on matters involving Russia and mercilessly hard on immigrants.” (Read more: The Hill, 6/26/2019)

November, 2015 – Former US Attorney: Susan Rice orders spy agencies to produce ‘detailed spreadsheets’ involving Trump

Ben Rhodes, right, speaks as Susan Rice listens during the White House Daily Briefing on March 21, 2014. (Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“Former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice ordered U.S. spy agencies to produce “detailed spreadsheets” of legal phone calls involving Donald Trump and his aides when he was running for president, according to former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova.

“What was produced by the intelligence community at the request of Ms. Rice were detailed spreadsheets of intercepted phone calls with unmasked Trump associates in perfectly legal conversations with individuals,” diGenova told The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group Monday.

“The overheard conversations involved no illegal activity by anybody of the Trump associates, or anyone they were speaking with,” diGenova said. “In short, the only apparent illegal activity was the unmasking of the people in the calls.”

Other official sources with direct knowledge and who requested anonymity confirmed to TheDCNF diGenova’s description of surveillance reports Rice ordered one year before the 2016 presidential election.

Also on Monday, Fox News and Bloomberg News, citing multiple sources reported that Rice had requested the intelligence information that was produced in a highly organized operation. Fox said the unmasked names of Trump aides were given to officials at the National Security Council (NSC), the Department of Defense, James Clapper, President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, and John Brennan, Obama’s CIA Director.

Joining Rice in the alleged White House operations was her deputy Ben Rhodes, according to Fox.

Critics of the atmosphere prevailing throughout the Obama administration’s last year in office point to former Obama Deputy Defense Secretary Evelyn Farkas who admitted in a March 2 television interview on MSNBC that she “was urging my former colleagues,” to “get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration.”

Farkas sought to walk back her comments in the weeks following: “I didn’t give anybody anything except advice.” (Read more: Daily Caller, 4/03/2017)

On April 4, 2017, “former national security adviser Susan Rice told MSNBC on Tuesday that allegations she “unmasked” associates of Donald Trump for political reasons while she served in the Obama administration were “absolutely false.” (Read more: Business Insider, 4/04/2017)