Unmasking Samantha Power

The WSJ.  1/25/21.

Samantha Power in 2016.

Presidents deserve the advisers they choose absent significant cause. In the case of Joe Biden’s choice to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development, Samantha Power, one question to ask is how honest she was about her role in snooping on Michael Flynn.

In late 2016 Mr. Flynn was the incoming national security adviser for Donald Trump. Mr. Flynn’s conversation with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. was recorded by U.S. spooks, and his name leaked after being “unmasked” by several figures in the Obama Administration. Who did the leaking—a felony—has never been solved. But the leak fed the media fires over Mr. Trump’s alleged collusion with the Russians, and Mr. Flynn was unjustly prosecuted.

At the time Ms. Power was U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. She was a political appointee and not an intelligence professional. Yet Congress looked into it and found that over her last year in office Ms. Power had unmasked nearly 300 people, without any concrete explanation of why she needed this information.

During an Oct. 13, 2017, appearance before the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) asked her directly about the unmasking and leaking of Gen. Flynn’s name. “I did want to get you on the record,” he told her. Ms. Power categorically denied she leaked his name—or any classified information.

She was fuzzier about unmasking. “I have no recollection of making a request related to General Flynn,” she replied. Then again, maybe she had reason to be fuzzy.

Three years later, in May 2020, Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson released a declassified list of Obama Administration officials who had “unmasked” Mr. Flynn. The list showed that between Nov. 30, 2016, and Jan. 17, 2017, 39 separate officials made unmasking demands for that information. Ms. Power made seven requests.

Ms. Power did this in her last days in office. Before the Senate confirms her for a job that Mr. Biden says will include a seat on the National Security Council, she owes the American people a full explanation of what she did during the last presidential transition.



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