The Trump surveillance scandal has evolved into something much larger and nastier than either side could have predicted.
In a July 27th letter, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes referenced an official who “made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama Administration” even though that person’s “position had no apparent intelligence-related function.”
This person is widely believed to be former UN Ambassador Samantha Power. According to anonymous sources, Power made over 260 unmasking requests in the year 2016, continuing to make requests on almost a daily basis right up to the presidential election.
As Fox News’ Rob Schmitt points out, the motive behind the unmasking is everything. “The unmasking is one thing, but why it was done is going to be really what we want to find out.”
Power, who has little evidence that such requests were necessary, has been accused of trying to expose then-candidate Trump’s associates just days before his inauguration. She did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
“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,” argues David Pressman, Power’s lawyer. “Any insinuation that Ambassador Power was involved in leaking classified information is absolutely false.”
Along with former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Power has been accused of abusing the government’s unmasking procedure (a procedure designed to be used only by the intelligence community) in order to expose the names of people involved in the Trump campaign. In May, intelligence agencies received subpoenas naming Rice, Power, and former CIA director John Brennan.
Power has agreed to testify before the Senate and House intelligence committees next month as part of the Russia probe.
“The anonymously sourced reports about Ambassador Power’s intelligence requests are false,” asserts a Power spokesman. “Ambassador Power looks forward to engaging the bipartisan Committee in the appropriate classified forum.”
An unmasking request seeks to reveal the identity of a person whose name is blacked out in a foreign intelligence report. According to NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers, the agency applies three rules to unmasking requests:
• The request must be made in writing
• The request must be related to your official duties, not pure curiosity
• The names are needed in order for the reader to understand the information
It is not strange for an ambassador to make an unmasking request, but it is strange for that number to exceed 20 or 30. Power reportedly made more than 260 such requests.
As FrontPageMag’s Daniel Greenfield points out, these unmasking requests are part of a larger spying operation that also included FISA orders and policies that made it easier to share raw information between agencies.
“If any of Trump’s people were talking to non-Americans, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) could be used to spy on them. And then the redacted names of the Americans could be unmasked by Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and other Obama allies. It was a technically legal Watergate.”
The spying operation began in order to defeat Trump and put Hillary Clinton in the White House. After Trump won the election, the spying operation continued in an effort to bring him down.
“When the individual acts of surveillance are described as legal, that’s irrelevant. It’s the collective pattern of surveillance of the political opposition that exposes the criminal motive for them,” writes Greenfield. “Each individual pretext might be technically defensible. But together they add up to the crime of the century.”
Author’s Note: One of the most basic principles among our spy agencies is that they do not spy on American citizens. That duty is restricted to the FBI and only for criminal investigations.
American citizens are not supposed to be reported on within intelligence channels. In this case, Obama officials were unmasking Trump’s people as “incidental” intelligence that was supposed to be aimed at legitimate intelligence targets. This is a complete corruption of the system. At this point it seems likely they just made up the “legitimate” operations so that Trump’s people would be accessible.