News & Politics

Samantha Power Among Those Scrutinized in Unmasking Probe

Samantha Power Among Those Scrutinized in Unmasking Probe
(Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Why would Samantha Power be involved with the “unmasking” of Americans connected to the Trump campaign and transition? She was President Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, not an intelligence analyst.

Power is one of seven people who have been subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee as it investigates Russian interference in the 2016 election and Team Obama’s potentially illegal surveillance of Americans.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy is “intrigued.” 

“Unmasking” is the revealing in intelligence reports of the identities of Americans whose communications (or information about whom) have been “incidentally” intercepted during foreign-intelligence-collection operations. Of course, the fact that a subpoena demanding information is issued does not necessarily mean the information exists. Nevertheless, the issuance of a subpoena implies that the issuer has a good-faith basis to believe it does.

On that score, it has previously been reported that the committee’s chairman, Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), has reviewed intelligence reporting and detected instances of unmasking. Were there to be information indicating that Ms. Power was involved in unmasking American identities in intelligence reports, significant questions would be raised. As ambassador to the U.N., Power, a long-time Obama adviser, held a diplomatic position. She was not an intelligence analyst. It is not immediately clear why the U.N. ambassador would be involved in the disclosure of American identities in intelligence reports — after the agencies that collected and analyzed the intelligence had decided such identities should be masked.

The Journal report further indicates that committee subpoenas demand any information related to unmasking requests by Susan Rice and John Brennan. Ms. Rice was President Obama’s national-security adviser (a White House staff position), and, as we’ve noted, previous reporting has tied her to unmasking activities. Brennan was Obama’s director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA is in the business of gathering and analyzing foreign intelligence outside the United States.

Four of the seven subpoenas are related to the Russia collusion aspect of the investigation, duplicating information already sought by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The remaining three — Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and John Brennan — pertain to the Obama administration’s unmasking activities.

 The three subpoenas relating to the unmasking aspect of the investigation are directed to the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As the Fox report elaborates, the House committee has claimed that, while the NSA has been cooperative in making voluntary disclosures, the CIA and FBI have been slow to respond. Hence, the subpoena.

Susan Rice has thus far refused to testify before Congress in relation to the Trump/Russia probe.

Which brings me to Trey Gowdy.

When he asked former CIA Director John Brennan if any ambassadors had requested unmasking last week during the House Intelligence Committee hearing, I assumed he meant Susan Rice, who was Obama’s UN ambassador before she was his national security adviser. I assumed wrong.

Watch Brennan squirm as he struggles to answer the question without incriminating himself.

“I don’t — I don’t know…. maybe it’s ringing a vague bell but I’m not — I could not answer with any confidence,” he stammered.

Ace of Spades interprets:

“Yes, I am aware of an ambassador requesting unmaskings, but I’m shocked as hell that you are aware of it, and I’m completely unprepared to give an answer that accomplishes my goal of evasion without exposing me to prosecution, so I’m going to do a word-salad jazz odyssey of non-denial denial and fake a senior moment.”

Sounds about right.