Samantha Power Unmasked Americans at a Freakishly Rapid Pace in Obama's Last Year
Samantha Power was unmasking United States citizens at an astonishing rate in the final months of the Obama administration, Fox News reported Wednesday evening.
The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations unmasked at such a rapid pace that she ended up "averaging more than one request for every working day in 2016," multiple sources said to Fox. And she continued to seek identifying information about Americans caught up in incidental surveillance right up to President Trump’s inauguration:
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."
That one official is widely believed to be Power.
Her lawyer, David Pressman, had no comment on this story, but in a previous statement said:
While serving as our Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Power was also a member of the National Security Council responsible for advising the President on the full-range of threats confronting the United States. Any insinuation that Ambassador Power was involved in leaking classified information is absolutely false.
But nobody accused her of leaking classified information. (Not that there aren't suspicions.) All she's being accused of doing is seeking a freakishly large number of unmaskings for someone in her position.
It is not unprecedented for a UN ambassador to make an unmasking request, but according to Fox's sources, the number is normally in the low double digits. Power allegedly requested over 260 unmaskings in Obama's last year.
During congressional testimony since the unmasking controversy began, National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers has explained that unmasking is handled by the intelligence community in an independent review.
"We [the NSA] apply two criteria in response to their request: number one, you must make the request in writing. Number two, the request must be made on the basis of your official duties, not the fact that you just find this report really interesting and you're just curious,” he said in June. “It has to tie to your job and finally, I said two but there's a third criteria, and is the basis of the request must be that you need this identity to understand the intelligence you're reading."