February 19, 2019 – 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 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)
September 20, 2018 – Opinion: Clinton’s “Researchers” lose their top secret security clearance
(…) “Jeff Carlson has assembled a strong and in-depth outline covering most of the weaponized intelligence agencies and how they related to “spygate” – SEE HERE –
However, there has also been a strong suspicion that most of the corrupt origination activity would never surface.
The downstream ramifications to the institutions of our IC apparatus would be too destructive. What follows below is the story that will never reach sunlight officially.
When reading the Department of State (DoS) letter today, I cannot avoid reviewing the information against the backdrop of known DoS corrupt political activity that extends beyond the Clinton emails scandal. For this explanation, here’s the excerpt that matters:
Forget Clinton’s motives for a moment. We all know her “request” was a proactive measure due to the likelihood her clearance was going to be forcibly revoked. Requesting the removal avoids multiple political and logistical issues of her security file being damaged by a forced revocation. The request is transparent in motive; so lets get beyond the surface issue.
The “researchers” who Secretary Clinton designated is the topic of interest; and the redacted identifications therein are telling. The Executive Order referenced is HERE. The subsection [Sec. 4.4 (a)(2)] involves:
Sec. 4.4. Access by Historical Researchers and Certain Former Government Personnel.
(a) The requirement in section 4.1(a)(3) of this order that access to classified information may be granted only to individuals who have a need-to-know the information may be waived for persons who:
(1) are engaged in historical research projects;
(2) previously have occupied senior policy-making positions to which they were appointed or designated by the President or the Vice President; or
(3) served as President or Vice President.
Essentially what this tells us is that Secretary Hillary Clinton used her authority to waive the ‘need to know‘ limit on the people she listed. In essence, she gave unlimited access to her “researchers” for an unspecified reason.
When I see the wording, immediately I think of two distinct reasons for Clinton to grant her researchers with top-level security access to classified information: (1) to participate in searches of FISA databases (ie. ‘queries’); and (2) to make unmasking requests for any results within those search query results.
Keeping in mind these appear to be State Department access / authorized researchers. The DoS is one of the intelligence authorized access portals. (FBI, DOJ-NSD, NSA, CIA, DoD are others.) In short, Clinton ‘researchers’ would have access to compartmented intelligence gathering systems, ie. FISA intelligence systems.
Now, remember all of the ‘unmasking requests’ attributed to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers? Hundreds of them. Ambassador Samantha Powers is a top-level official, for Obama a cabinet level official, within the Department of State.” (Read much more: Conservative Treehouse, 10/12/2018)
June 7, 2018 – Clapper expresses doubt on Samantha Power’s claims about her role in unmasking Americans
“James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, expressed doubt on Thursday at former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power’s claims about her role in unmasking Americans’ identities in intelligence reports.”
“…It was revealed in October that Power made 260 unmasking requests during her final year in office, a rate that far surpassed her previous rate of unmaskings.”
(…) “Power told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in an interview in October that others in government made the unmasking requests under her name.
Asked about Power’s explanation by Hewitt, Clapper suggested that it is cause for concern.
“If that happened, if people usurped the authority to request unmaskings, would that concern you, Director Clapper?” Hewitt asked.
“Yeah, it would,” said Clapper.
“I don’t know quite how that would happen, you know, because the only way you can make an unmasking request is that you have authorized access to the report in question in the first place.”
“So I don’t know how that, quite how that would work,” he added.”
February 16, 2018 – Judicial Watch Sues State Department for Samantha Power Unmasking Documents
“The former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations reportedly requested to unmask over 260 Americans in her last year in office with no explanation.
Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State for “unmasking” and other records tied to Obama’s United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power relating to the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:18-cv-00300)). Unmasking refers generally to the practice of political appointees obtaining the identities of American citizens referenced in intelligence surveillance of foreign nationals.
On September 20, 2017, Fox News reported that Power unmasked over 260 persons in her last year as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in an attempt to uncover associates of President Trump. She “was ‘unmasking’ at such a rapid pace in the final months of the Obama administration that she averaged more than one request for every working day in 2016,” even seeking “information in the days leading up to President Trump’s inauguration.”
On October 13, 2017, Power testified behind closed doors about this matter to the House Intelligence Committee. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, who also sits on the Intelligence Committee, stated that “Her testimony is they [the unmasking requests] may be under my name, but I did not make those requests.”
“Unmasking and then illegally leaking the names of Trump team members caught up in foreign intelligence gathering would have been an incredible, but unsurprising abuse by the Obama administration. Was the Clinton-DNC dossier also used as justification to abuse intelligence data to ‘unmask’ American citizens to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Donald Trump?” asked Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And why is the Tillerson State Department stonewalling Judicial Watch’s FOIA investigation into this potentially illegal conduct by its agency employees?”
Separately, in a response to a FOIA request, Judicial Watch was told by the National Security Council (NSC) in May 2017 that the materials regarding the unmasking by Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice of “the identities of any U.S. citizens associated with the Trump presidential campaign or transition team” have been removed to the Obama Library.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 2/16/2018)
September 19, 2017 – Rice tells House investigators why she unmasked senior Trump officials
“Former national security adviser Susan Rice privately told House investigators 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, multiple sources told CNN.
The New York meeting preceded a separate effort by the UAE to facilitate a back-channel communication between Russia and the incoming Trump White House.
The crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, arrived in New York last December in the transition period before Trump was sworn into office for a meeting with several top Trump officials, including Michael Flynn, the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his top strategist Steve Bannon, sources said.
(…) It’s unclear precisely which Trump officials Rice discussed at the House meeting. But multiple sources have confirmed to CNN that Zayed met at the time with Flynn, Kushner and Bannon. The three-hour discussion focused on a range of issues, including Iran, Yemen and the Mideast peace process, according to two sources who insisted that opening up a back-channel with Russia was not a topic of discussion.
Still, the fact that the New York meeting occurred prior to the Seychelles session and that the UAE did not notify the Obama administration about why the crown prince was coming to the United States has raised questions in the eyes of investigators on Capitol Hill.” (Read more: CNN, 9/19/2017)
March 22, 2017 – Devin Nunes holds a press conference claiming the Trump transition team was under ‘incidental’ surveillance
“The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday that some of the communications of the Trump transition team were “monitored” after the election as part of an “incidental collection.”
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said these surveillance operations produced “dozens” of reports which eventually unmasked several individuals’ identities and were “widely disseminated.”
Nunes would not confirm if Trump’s own communications were specifically monitored, saying only that it was “possible” that the president’s communications were picked up.
Nunes said none of the reports he had read mentioned Russia, and he was unsure whether the surveillance occurred at Trump Tower, as Trump has suggested.
He said he believes the intelligence collections were done legally, but he is concerned because they were apparently not related to the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the presidential election and because they were “widely disseminated” across the intelligence community.
Nunes said he told House Speaker Paul Ryan earlier Wednesday and was set to tell Trump and the White House later in the afternoon.” (Read more: Fox News, 3/22/2017)
January 20, 2016 – January 20, 2017: Samantha Power sought to unmask Americans on almost daily basis, sources say
“Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was ‘unmasking’ at such a rapid pace in the final months of the Obama administration that she averaged more than one request for every working day in 2016 – and even sought information in the days leading up to President Trump’s inauguration, multiple sources close to the matter told 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.
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.
During a public congressional hearing earlier this year, Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina pressed former CIA director John Brennan on unmasking, without mentioning Power by name.
Gowdy: Do you recall any U.S. ambassadors asking that names be unmasked?
Brennan: I don’t know. Maybe it’s ringing a vague bell but I’m not — I could not answer with any confidence.
Gowdy continued, asking: On either January 19 or up till noon on January 20, did you make any unmasking requests?
Brennan: I do not believe I did.
Gowdy: So you did not make any requests on the last day that you were employed?
Brennan: No, I was not in the agency on the last day I was employed.
Brennan later corrected the record, confirming he was at CIA headquarters on January 20. “I went there to collect some final personal materials as well as to pay my last respects to a memorial wall. But I was there for a brief period of time and just to take care of some final — final things that were important to me,” Brennan said.” (Read more: Fox News, 9/20/2017)
2016 – 2017: President Obama’s team sought NSA intel on thousands of Americans during the 2016 election
“The Obama administration distributed thousands of intelligence reports with the unredacted names of U.S. residents during the 2016 election.
During his final year in office, President Obama’s team significantly expanded efforts to search National Security Agency intercepts for information about Americans, distributing thousands of intelligence reports across government with the unredacted names of U.S. residents during the midst of a divisive 2016 presidential election.
The data, made available this week by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, provides the clearest evidence to date of how information accidentally collected by the NSA overseas about Americans was subsequently searched and disseminated after President Obama loosened privacy protections to make such sharing easier in 2011 in the name of national security. A court affirmed his order.
The revelations are particularly sensitive since the NSA is legally forbidden from directly spying on Americans and its authority to conduct warrantless searches on foreigners is up for renewal in Congress later this year. And it comes as lawmakers investigate President Trump’s own claims that his privacy was violated by his predecessor during the 2016 election.
(…) “The searches ultimately resulted in 3,134 NSA intelligence reports with unredacted U.S. names being distributed across government in 2016, and another 3,354 reports in 2015. About half the time, U.S. identities were unredacted in the original reports while the other half were unmasked after the fact by special request of Obama administration officials.
Among those whose names were unmasked in 2016 or early 2017 were campaign or transition associates of President Trump as well as members of Congress and their staffers, according to sources with direct knowledge.
The data kept by ODNI is missing some information from one of the largest consumers of NSA intelligence, the FBI, and officials acknowledge the numbers are likely much higher when the FBI’s activity is added.” (Read more: Circa, 5/3/2017)