Remember when unmasking was all the rage in the Russia, Russia, Russia investigation? Perhaps not, since much of the media didn’t seem quite so enthusiastic about covering a story which might have cast the Obama administration in a bad light. But the story still has legs and members of Congress are looking into it.
One of the biggest players in this particular game turned out to be Samantha Power. That was unusual in and of itself because, while authorized to be involved in such sensitive intelligence questions, the UN Ambassador was rather far down on the list of people you’d expect to be digging into such subjects. And yet Power was not only involved in the unmasking of Americans, she was setting land speed records at it, averaging one per business day for her last year in office.
But now she’s pushing back on the claims which have been made, saying some of them might have been made by other people using her name. Katy bar the door, because an answer like that is going to get very messy very quickly.(Daily Caller)
Someone within the Obama administration’s intelligence apparatus made requests to unmask the identity of Americans named in intelligence reports on behalf of Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
That’s what Power told the House Intelligence Committee last week during a closed-door interview.
South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy revealed in an interview on Fox News on Tuesday that Power was “emphatic” on the point that someone else in the Obama administration made the unmasking requests that have been attributed to her.
Trey Gowdy, from the Intelligence Committee, is all over this question now. (There’s a video of him discussing it on Fox News at the Daily Caller article linked above.) But the number of questions this claim raises are staggering. We’re talking about information which is held to the highest levels. Unmasking the identity of an American citizen who shows up as part of a foreign intelligence sweep is something which is only done with the greatest caution and there aren’t a lot of people with the authority to do it.
Any time such a request is made, wouldn’t you assume that our government has a firm grip on who is doing the asking and why they want to know? So who are these “other people” who are allegedly putting in such requests? If they are authorized to gather such information, why didnt’ they make the request under their own name? And if they aren’t, how in Sam Hill was Samantha Power allowing them to use her clearance to do it?
We’re not getting enough details here which makes what we know of her answers seem a bit on the sketchy side. Gowdy claims that her sworn testimony includes the statement (possibly paraphrased), “they may be under my name, but I did not make those requests.” Are we supposed to take away the idea that she’s saying she doesn’t even know who made the requests using her name? If so, that’s a massive security failure on the part of the Obama administration.
If, on the other hand, she’s just being cagey and knows who wanted the information but she doesn’t want to say, then even more questions arise. As noted above, it’s odd enough that the UN Ambassador needed so many of these details for her normal line of work, but if she was passing that information on to somebody else we obviously need to know who that was. Was it someone else in the intelligence community working on the investigation but without the appropriate level of access? Or was it someone with a more political position? (Power was always a regular on the cable news circuit acting as an administration cheerleader.) Maybe it was the Russians? (Hey… it’s as good a guess as anything else these days.)
If this was some perfectly innocent glitch in the structure of the intelligence apparatus a few quick answers could have cleared it up. But as it is, it sounds like Power is being quite evasive and the public deserves to know why.