Samantha Power’s failed tenure as the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was thought to have hit its peak when she infamously raised her hand to abstain from a U.N. resolution dismissing Jewish ties to the land of Israel. Instead of using a U.S. veto to protect our greatest Middle East ally, she and the Obama administration fed Israel to the rabid wolves in Turtle Bay.
Others say her worst moment was not a particular instance, but spanned her entire appointment. Critics point to her failure to do or say anything about the ongoing civil war in Syria. Power, who built a reputation as an anti-genocide warrior prior to joining the Obama administration, remained silent when her voice mattered most.
But now, Power has even more trouble on her hands and may have committed the ultimate breach of trust with the American people. The House Intelligence Committee delivered seven subpoenas Wednesday as part of its probe into the Obama administration’s “unmasking” efforts. The subpoenas reportedly seek unmasking information pertaining to three individuals: former U.N. Ambassador Power, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and former CIA Director John Brennan, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Unmasking” is the term in use to describe the unveiling of identities of American citizens whose communications have been intercepted by our intelligence agencies. When the identities of Americans are obtained in foreign intelligence collection operations, their names are supposed to be redacted from intelligence reports. Only in extreme circumstances, such as a national security emergency, should high-ranking officials have the authority to “unmask” these individuals. Reports have come out indicating that the Obama administration abused this authority and violated the privacy of countless Americans who were not suspected of any wrongdoing.
That’s why it’s all the more disturbing and peculiar that Power has been subpoenaed to come before Congress. She was a high-rankig diplomat, someone who did not deal with matters of vital national security. It’s hard to make the case for why she needed to unmask the names of American citizens. John Brennan, the former CIA director who has also reportedly been subpoenaed, at least had a portfolio solely dedicated to intelligence collection. As national security adviser, Susan Rice briefed the president on critical national security issues.
“Ms. Power’s job was diplomacy. Unmaskings are supposed to be rare,” the Wall Street Journal report explained, “and if the mere ambassador to the U.N. could demand them, what privacy protection was the Obama White House really offering U.S. citizens?”
As Andy McCarthy at National Review points out, it’s important not to jump to legal conclusions on the subpoenas. The “fact that a subpoena demanding information is issued does not necessarily mean the information exists.” However, “the issuance of a subpoena implies that the issuer has a good-faith basis to believe it does,” he adds.
The congressional probe may paint a clearer picture of the Obama administration’s potential abuse of authority and possible spying on American citizens. By reviewing the unmasking data records, the House Intelligence Committee may come to understand whether there is truth behind the allegations that the former president weaponized his intelligence agencies and cabinet officials with extrajudicial powers.
Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.
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