James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, expressed doubt on Thursday at former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power’s claims about her role in unmasking Americans’ identities in intelligence reports.
Clapper was asked about Power during an interview on Thursday with political radio host Hugh Hewitt.
It was revealed in October that Power made 260 unmasking requests during her final year in office, a rate that far surpassed her previous rate of unmaskings.
The names of Americans picked up in surveillance are typically redacted from intelligence reports provided to government officials. Certain high-level officials have the authority to request that the names be unredacted in order to better understand the intelligence reports. (RELATED: Obama’s UN Ambassador Claimed Someone Else Made Unmasking Requests Under Her Name)
Power told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in an interview in October that others in government made the unmasking requests under her name.
Asked about Power’s explanation by Hewitt, Clapper suggested that it is cause for concern.
“If that happened, if people usurped the authority to request unmaskings, would that concern you, Director Clapper?” Hewitt asked.
“Yeah, it would,” said Clapper.
“I don’t know quite how that would happen, you know, because the only way you can make an unmasking request is that you have authorized access to the report in question in the first place.”
“So I don’t know how that, quite how that would work,” he added.
Clapper also said he made unmasking requests “every couple of weeks” in order to understand what was being discussed in intelligence reports that landed on his desk.
“I’d come across reports that, and I felt, you know, that it was my duty to understand, my obligation as the director of national intelligence, to understand these interactions when U.S. persons were interacting with valid foreign intelligence targets, particularly Russians, our adversary.”
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