Samantha Power Unmasked
Why would a diplomat need to know the names of Trump officials?
By The Wall Street Journal
Barack Obama in 2014 made a large to-do about his reforms of U.S. surveillance programs to “protect the privacy” of Americans. We may soon learn how that squares with his Administration’s unmasking of political opponents.
The House Intelligence Committee Wednesday issued seven subpoenas as part of its Russia probe. But the three most notable demanded that the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation turn over records related to the Obama Administration’s “unmasking” of Trump transition members.
We know that U.S. intelligence agencies routinely eavesdropped on foreign officials who were talking about or meeting with Trump aides. Much less routine is for political appointees to override privacy protections to “unmask,” or learn the identity of, U.S. citizens listed in a resulting intelligence report.
The new subpoenas seek details of all unmasking requests in 2016 by three people: former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Democrats claim Ms. Rice needed to unmask names to do her job, though this is questionable given that she wasn’t running counterintelligence investigations. They have a better claim with Mr. Brennan.
But Ms. Power’s job was diplomacy. Unmaskings are supposed to be rare, and if the mere ambassador to the U.N. could demand them, what privacy protection was the Obama White House really offering U.S. citizens? The House subpoenas should provide fascinating details about how often Ms. Power and her mates requested unmaskings, on which Trump officials, and with what justification.