Incidental Unmasking

Now we know that then-National Security Advisor to then-President Barack Obama (D) Susan Rice asked several times for American names to be unmasked that had been masked since their presence in communications of foreign nationals that were being legitimately monitored was entirely incidental to the communications and the reasons for which those communications were being monitored.

Rice’s requests were strictly legal; the NSA incumbent is one of the Executive Branch officials with the legal authority to ask for, and to receive, the names to be unmasked without having first to go through a court, even the secretive Star Chamber FISA court.

There are a couple of questions, though, that aren’t being answered.  One is why she asked for these unmaskings.  NSA could have entirely legitimate reasons for that, but the names for which she asked seem centered on then-President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign and transition team members.

The other question concerns how long such unmasking, whether by Rice or by others of Obama’s administration, had been going on.

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