What the House Subpoenas of Rice, Brennan, and Power in the 'Unmasking' Probe Mean
It's Not All About Russia
By Andrew C. McCarthy, The National Review
The House Intelligence Committee has reportedly issued seven subpoenas in connection with its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and of the Obama administration’s potentially illegal use of the government’s foreign-intelligence-collection power for the purpose of monitoring Americans — in particular, Americans connected to the Trump campaign and transition.
The news was broken Wednesday afternoon by the Wall Street Journal. The most intriguing detail of the subpoenas is the demand for any information related to requests for unmasking by Samantha Power, President Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations.
“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.