Samantha Power Denied Unmasking Individuals in 2016: ‘It’s False’

Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc

Then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power denied unmasking people in 2016, but recently released documents show that she unmasked former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn at least five times that year.

In October 2019, journalist Nicholas Ballasy asked Power after an event she was speaking at why she decided to unmask “so many individuals” in 2016.

She responded, “It’s false…completely false.”

She then began ignoring his questions, even as he walked down a hallway following her.

However, Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell recently unclassified names of former Obama officials who requested the unmasking of the name of a U.S. person in an intelligence document that revealed Flynn’s name.

Power requested unmaskings five times in 2016 and one time in 2017 just before the Obama administration left office.

The names were released as Republicans continue to investigate who illegally leaked Flynn’s name and his conversation with then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak to the Washington Post.

Unmasking refers to requesting the identity of a U.S. person swept up in surveillance of foreign targets. For instance, if Flynn had a conversation with a foreign official whose conversations were being surveilled, he would show up in an intelligence report as “U.S. person.”

Certain authorized national security officials could then request to know who the “U.S. person” was. The intelligence report is still classified and not to be shared.

After Flynn, as incoming national security advisor, spoke with Kislyak on December 29, 2016, that call was illegally leaked to the Post and led to Flynn’s resignation.


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