Comey: ‘In Some Circumstances’ Obama Political Employee Had Ability to ‘Unmask’ a U.S. Citizen


FBI Director James Comey said on Monday during the House Select Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian influence in the 2016 election that people who were appointed by former President Barack Obama have the power to "unmask" American citizens.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) asked Comey to list the agencies that have the power to unmask Americans.

"NSA, FBI, what other U.S. government agencies have the authority to unmask a U.S. citizen's name?" he asked.

Comey said that "all agencies that collect information" with FISA have that ability.

"Well, I think all agencies that collect information pursuant to FISA have what are called, ‘standard minimization procedures,' which are approved by the FISA court that govern how they will treat U.S. person information," he said.

Gowdy asked if the White House had this authority.

"Alright, so that's four: the NSA, the FBI, CIA, main Justice," he said. "Does the White House have the authority to unmask a U.S. citizen's name?"

Comey said that the "unmasking" power belongs to those who collected the information.

"They don't on their own collect, so they can't on their own unmask," Comey said.

Gowdy asked if James Clapper, the director of national intelligence appointed by former President Barack Obama, would have the power to unmask an American citizen.

"Would he have access to an unmasked name?" he asked.

Comey said it was possible.

"In some circumstances, sure, he was the director of national intelligence," Comey said. "But, I'm not talking about the particular."

Chandler Gill

Chandler Gill   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Chandler Gill is a Media Analyst for the Free Beacon. Before joining the Free Beacon, she interned at the Heritage Foundation. Chandler went to Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied Political Science. She was raised in Wassenaar, The Netherlands. In her free time, Chandler enjoys reading and walking around the D.C. area. Her twitter handle is @chandlergillDC.

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