The U.S. is a land of opportunity for many. And as such, many foreign immigrants have called it home for years. Unfortunately, there are also a few who are undocumented and live under the radar of the government. But with the unprecedented win of President Trump last election, all of that is about to change as he signs more immigration policies that are set to reshape the nation that we call home.
If you are an ordinary citizen leading an ordinary life and doing ordinary things, the term “unmasking” won’t have any significant meaning to you. But if you are aware of the country’s immigration policies and spying capabilities, you’d understand pretty well what unmasking means. In a nutshell, here is what you need to know about this much talked about practice.
The investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election — and President Trump’s counterattack against surveillance and leaking — has brought a new term into the American political lexicon.
Until now, the process for revealing information about U.S. citizens in intelligence reports was almost completely obscure outside of the intelligence community.
But the issue has taken on new importance since House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes alleged that the Obama administration may have improperly identified Trump transition officials in classified reports he had access to — reports that later turned out to be provided to him by the Trump White House.
Here’s what we know about the hows and whys of unmasking:
When U.S. spy agencies eavesdrop on terrorists or foreign agents, they often come across information about U.S. citizens who are not the target of their investigation. This “incidental collection” is not illegal or improper, but specially trained intelligence officers are required to go through an established procedure to protect the privacy of U.S. persons, known as “minimization.”
(U.S. persons are defined as U.S. citizens and permanent residents, no matter where they are in the world.)
If the information has no intelligence value, it’s supposed to be immediately destroyed. But even if it might be relevant, identifying information about that person will be excluded in intelligence reports that are distributed throughout the intelligence community, including those that go to the White House. Instead, the reports will refer only to “U.S. Person One,” “U.S. Person Two,” etc.
And considering how close the Presidential fight was, sitting in the office is definitely not a walk in the park for President Trump. Many are watching his every move even before he won and assumed office. Hence, he has to be extra careful with everything he does all the time.
Multiple reports indicate former National Security Adviser Susan Rice was the Obama administration official who requested the unmasking of incoming Trump administration
Mike Cernovich broke the story in an article in Medium on Sunday that said, “The White House Counsel’s office identified Rice as the person responsible for the unmasking after examining Rice’s document log requests.”
Unmasking is the revealing of names within the intelligence community of U.S. citizens whose communications were monitored during foreign surveillance.
According to Fox News, the unmasked names of people associated with Donald Trump were sent widely to top officials in the Obama administration.
That is a potential felony.
The unmasked names were reportedly sent to every member of the National Security Council, former Rice deputy Ben Rhodes, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, then-CIA Director John Brennan and some officials at the Defense Department.
The Trump administration is probably hard at work now trying to uncover these unmasking issues. The President himself even announced quite recently that he had been subject to some serious wiretapping job just right before the election by no other than the former president and his gang. While these are still hot allegations, we are all pretty sure though that Trump won’t be sitting idly and wait for the results, knowing his dynamic personality and hatred for the opposition.
On a lighter note, unmasking would also help the nation identify illegal immigrants who have been so good at avoiding getting detected or suspicious individuals who may or may not be terrorists. It is a great surveillance tool that can benefit the safety and security of the country when done right and for all the right reasons.