The American Center for Law and Justice has filed another lawsuit against the Department of State, this time demanding information about the “unmasking” campaign of then-United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power during the last days of the Obama administration.
The organization earlier had sued over the actions of then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who also played a large role in the former administration’s campaign to reveal the names and identifications of people who were incidentally caught up in various federal surveillance tactics.
That means they were recorded talking on the phone or meeting with someone who was under surveillance by the Obama administration. Normally, the names of American citizens would be withheld but not in the cases involving the Obama administration.
The organization announced Friday it had just filed its fifth lawsuit against the State Department over the “bureaucracy’s failure to turn over records of senior Obama official Samantha Power’s unprecedented unmasking of Americans.”
The group previously submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act, but government employees refused to respond.
The information is needed “so the American people can be informed about the hundreds of ‘unmasking’ requests that were made by former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, including those for names and/or any other personal identifying information of President Trump during his candidacy for president, as well as his family members, staff, transition team members and his family.”
The ACLJ said: “We’ve repeatedly reported that officials within the Obama administration were engaged in the unscrupulous practice of ‘unmasking’ the names of American citizens incidentally caught up in surveillance. That information was then leaked in violation of federal law. As we have asserted before, this was an unprecedented abuse of power that threatens our constitutional republic.
“We already knew from earlier reports that Susan Rice … requested the unmasking of the names of Trump transition officials incidentally caught up in surveillance. Since then we’ve learned that Susan Rice wasn’t the only one making unmasking requests,” the organization reported.
“According to a congressional report, ‘one official, whose position had no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama administration,'” the ACLJ said.
“According to numerous reports, [f]ormer United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power is believed to have made ‘hundreds’ of unmasking requests to identify individuals named in classified intelligence community reports related to Trump and his presidential transition team.”
In fact, the reports reveal she averaged more than one demand for information about individuals for every working day in 2016.
The ACLJ said: “Such abuse of the United States’ intelligence-gathering apparatus is unacceptable. It contravenes the privacy protections enshrined in the Constitution and usurps the proper role of the intelligence gathering services. The rampant unmasking of American citizens for partisan political purposes must be immediately halted and those responsible must be held accountable.”
In August, Power was identified as the anonymous official who demanded “hundreds” of unmasking orders.
It was in July when the ACLJ sued for records of the unmasking by Susan Rice.
“This is not our first time we’ve taken the NSA to federal court,” ACLJ explained at that time. “We filed a lawsuit earlier this year to force the NSA to produce government records that could expose the people and purposes behind the Obama administration’s eleventh hour rule change that dramatically expanded access to raw signal intelligence – signed by the Obama administration officials on their way out the door.
“It was these changes that have [led] to an unprecedented avalanche of dangerous national security leaks,” the group explained.
“The deep state shadow government bureaucracy must not be allowed to endanger the national security of the American people as it carries out a vicious vendetta against the current administration.”
Back in April, WND reported Rice, speaking to MSNBC, did not deny unmasking the names of Trump associates.
She implicitly acknowledged and explicitly defended unmasking: “It was not uncommon. It was necessary at times to make those requests.”
But weeks earlier, speaking to PBS, Rice denied any knowledge of such unmasking after it was revealed by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif.
She told PBS, “I know nothing about this” and, “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.”