Top Obama Officials, Including Biden And Clapper, Unmasked Flynn

15 Mai, 2020, 00:32 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Top Obama Officials, Including Biden And Clapper, Unmasked Flynn

The National Security Agency received and approved requests on behalf of more than three dozen Obama administration officials, including then-Vice President Joe Biden, to "unmask" a US citizen mentioned in classified foreign intelligence reports, revealing the identity of Michael Flynn.

Grenell, a fierce Trump loyalist, requested earlier this month that NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone produce a list of individuals who made unmasking requests that could have identified Flynn between November 8, 2016, and January 31, 2017. Mr. Flynn resigned just weeks into his tenure as Mr. Trump's first national security adviser over his conflicting statements about his contacts with Russian officials before the inauguration.

In addition to Biden, the document shows that then-DNI James Clapper made three unmasking requests about Flynn, CIA Director John Brennan made two, and FBI Director James Comey made one. USA citizens have their names blacked out in such reports, although certain officials have the authority to unseal the information. The memo released by the Republican senators this week notes that it was approved through the NSA's "standard process".

Flynn's calls with former Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak got picked up by U.S. intelligence intercepts during the transition.

The release is expected to fuel a partisan battle that has been waged since the 2016 election.

'This is all about diverting attention from the frightful way in which he has acted, ' Biden said of President Trump. While Trump casts unmasking as sinister, his administration has used the process more frequently than Obama's.

"I knew nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn, ' Biden said when asked about Flynn's prosecution on ABC's 'This Week" Sunday.

The Biden campaign didn't respond a request for comment immediately. Rather than reveal any actual wrongdoing, the release of the information by the president's allies seems designed to create suspicion around Biden and other senior Democrats as the November election approaches.

Unmasking U.S. identities in intelligence reports occurs thousands of times annually, according to statistics maintained by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The unmasking requests are a routine part of intelligence work, and there's no evidence that the requests were made for political purposes. The list includes top Obama officials and former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee whom Trump's critics have increasingly tied to the Flynn investigation in recent days. Charles Grassley and Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc. He has recently begun calling the alleged plot "Obamagate".

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USA privacy laws and intelligence regulations require that Americans' names picked up in foreign communications intercepts be concealed unless senior officials ask that they be disclosed, or "unmasked", for intelligence or law enforcement purposes. Obama and Biden, according to congressional testimony from former FBI Director James Comey. Certain authorized U.S. officials have the authority to request the names of those individuals if they have a justifiable reason.

"What this indicates is he was in communication with people who were foreign intelligence targets", said April Doss, a former National Security Agency lawyer and a partner at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP. Many continue to question the motives behind the investigation and the Obama administration's role in it, especially Biden's. He has repeatedly pronounced Flynn "exonerated" and pushed a loosely defined "Obamagate" allegation that the previous administration tried to undermine him during the presidential transition.

The list came within a day of Sens.

"And then it gets released today that he was a big unmasker", Trump said of Biden.

Surveillance of Russia's ambassador to the USA revealed he had interacted with an unnamed American who may have been undercutting efforts to pressure Vladimir Putin's government.

Flynn's conversation with Kislyak about USA sanctions against Russia was on December 29, 2016, after Obama suddenly announced the mass expulsion of Russian diplomats and seizure of two diplomatic properties, citing Moscow's alleged "meddling" in the presidential election.

Flynn was a central figure in the investigation.

Earlier this year, Mr. Flynn asked to withdraw his previous guilty plea for lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and argued he had been set up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and entrapped by agents.

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