News & Politics

Fox News: Intel Official Who Unmasked Names Is 'Very Well Known and High Up'

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Yesterday’s report in The New York Times alleging that two White House officials played a role in providing Rep. Devin Nunes of California with the intelligence reports that showed President Trump and his associates were “incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by U.S. spy agencies,” isn’t the whole story, according to Fox News reporter Adam Housley, citing multiple anonymous sources.

Fox is reporting that intelligence and House sources with direct knowledge of the situation say those two individuals facilitated Nunes being able to view the documents after agencies allegedly stonewalled his access to the information. Apparently Nunes had found out about the intelligence back in January and it took him until this month to be able to see it. Housley said Nunes’ original information came from sources in the intel agencies who are frustrated with the politics within.

Although Nunes’ visit to the White House executive office building to see the intelligence report without any other committee members spurred a media firestorm, the practice itself is not an unusual occurrence. “I am told that House and Senate intelligence chairmen have regularly gone to White House offices to see raw intelligence in the past,” Housley wrote on Twitter.

The incidental collection during FISA surveillance operations began at some point last year, according to the sources, way before Trump was the nominee and “the person who did the unmasking is very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world and is not in the FBI.”

NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers told the House Intelligence Committee in an open hearing this month that 20 people in his agency have the authority to unmask U.S. names in FISA collection reports. “We use two criteria: the need to know on the person requesting us in the execution of their official duties, and the second part was, is the identification necessary to truly understand the context of the intelligence value that the report is designed to generate?” he said.

Housley said that the collection led to “other surveillance which led to multiple names being unmasked.”

“This had nothing to do with Russia, I’m told or foreign intelligence of any kind,” Housley said. Nunes confirmed when originally discussing the documents that they were not connected to the Russia investigation.

“The main concern here is not only the unmasking of the names, but the spreading of names for political purposes that had nothing to do with national security and everything to do with hurting and embarrassing the Trump transition and his team,” Housley said.

Housley also noted that “Fox also learned that an individual with direct knowledge—that after Nunez had been approached by a source, the agency basically would not allow him in at all.”

There are a couple of agencies involved and a number of private citizens whose names were unmasked, the Fox reporter said. “This is unprecedented.”

Housley fired off  a number of tweets about his report: