WASHINGTON – Statistics contained within an official government report indicate the Obama administration requested the unmasking of almost three times as many Americans under surveillance during the election year of 2016 than during the year before.
Unmasking is the revealing of names within the intelligence community of U.S. citizens whose communications were monitored during foreign surveillance.
The director of national intelligence released a report at the end of April titled, “Statistical Transparency Report Regarding Use of National Security Authorities.”
It contains a chart that shows the identities of 1,934 Americans were unmasked upon requests made by the Obama administration in 2016. That was nearly triple the number of those unmasked upon request the year before, which was a total of 654.
Writing an analysis of the report in Powerline, attorney John Hinderaker pointed out the significance of an explanatory note that claimed, virtually as a footnote, the sudden jump in unmaskings was due to a change in methodology from 2015 to 2016.
The note claimed the 2015 report “provided the number of approved requests (i.e., 654) for unmasking of U.S. person identities, rather than the number of U.S. person identities that were released. A single request may contain multiple U.S. person identities. This year’s (2016) report provides the number of U.S. person identities referred to by name or title released in response to specific requests to unmask those identities.”
But no explanation is given for why the accounting method should have suddenly changed, or precisely how that change accounted for such a dramatic increase.
The note simply said, “A single request may contain multiple U.S. person identities.” It did not say such requests sought, on average, three separate identities. It also did not provide statistics to prove that, in fact, was the case.
The report was released at the end of April, meaning it was compiled under the Obama administration. Dan Coats became the director of national intelligence on March 16. The report was prepared under his predecessor, James Clapper, who served in that position from August 9, 2010 until January 20, 2017.
That is the same DNI Clapper who lied to Congress in March 2013, by answering, “No,” when asked, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
Revelations made just months later by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden forced Clapper to admit his answer had been untrue.
Another Obama administration official who lied about spying was former National Security Adviser Susan Rice who, during an appearance on PBS on March 22, denied any knowledge of the unmasking of associates of candidate and President-elect Trump, collected in foreign surveillance.
Two weeks later, multiple reports identified Rice as the Obama administration official who requested the unmasking of incoming Trump administration officials on several occasions.
As WND reported, Rice implicitly acknowledged she was not telling the truth when she did not deny the reports in a subsequent interview with NBC.
In his analysis of the 2015 and 2016 DNI reports of unmasking, Hinderaker says the discrepancies “cry out for witness testimony.”
And, “First on that list is Susan Rice, but she has already refused to appear before the Senate subcommittee investigating this matter. That is no surprise; stonewalling was the Obama administration’s invariable response to scandal.”
“Obama and his minions stonewalled successfully for two terms, and there is no reason to doubt that they can keep it up for two more terms – Trump’s,” he added.
Hinderaker points out that the figure citing the number of Americans unmasked by requests in 2015 “was flatly wrong.”
That was why, he said, “The data in these two reports cry out for witness testimony. Only witnesses familiar with the processes described in the reports, and who know which Obama officials requested ‘unmasking’ of American citizens, and why, can shed meaningful light.”
On Wednesday, Rice declined a request from U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to testify before a judiciary subcommittee hearing next week on alleged Russian interference in the presidential election.
Were she to appear, Rice would undoubtedly be asked details about her unmasking of Trump associates and whether it was for political purposes, rather than national security. President Trump has claimed the Obama administration spied on him and his associates.
On Thursday, the president tweeted: “Susan Rice, the former National Security Advisor to President Obama, is refusing to testify before a Senate Subcommittee next week on allegations of unmasking Trump transition officials. Not good!”
Also on Thursday, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said Congress may subpoena Rice to compel her to testify.
Gowdy told Fox News, “There are things called subpoenas. You shouldn’t have to use it with a former national security adviser, but if you do, you do.”
“Members of Congress don’t pick the witnesses. Lawyers don’t pick witnesses. The facts pick the witnesses,” he added. “And whether Ambassador Rice likes it or not, she’s a really important fact witness.”
On Friday, former presidential candidate Sen. Ron Paul, R-Ky, announced he has formally requested the White House and House and Senate intelligence committees provide information on whether the Obama administration spied on him, and any other presidential candidates or members of Congress.
“Did the Obama admin go after presidential candidates, members of Congress, journalists, clergy, lawyers, fed judges?
“Did the Obama admin use warrantless “wiretapping” on other candidates besides @realDonaldTrump?
“I have formally requested from the WH and the Intel Committees info on whether I was surveilled by Obama admin and or the Intel community!”
Also on Friday, Paul told Breitbart that “several sources” had told him that the Obama administration spied on his presidential campaign.
“We’ve had several people come to us and say that it happened. I don’t have access to that information, but I’ve been very concerned that too many Americans’ information is being culled through without a warrant,” he said.
“I don’t have any facts to say it happened,” added the senator. “But numerous sources are coming to us saying it did happen so I want to search through, find out why I wasn’t notified. Was it on purpose?”
“There’s a lot of things to be found out, particularly since we found out that Susan Rice was unmasking people and we need to know was there a political motivation, because one of the real dangers in a free society is if government gets so powerful it’s listening to all of our phone calls, the possibility of extortion, the possibility of blackmail — all of that goes up exponentially.”