« Grilled Sword filet tonight | Main | Is Mike Garcia's election an omen? »

14 May 2020


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I know nothing of this subject, which will soon become very apparent, and I would like to understand it better. Who can make a request to NSA for such information, do they need a certain clearance level? Is a warrant required? How readily does NSA provide such information?
As someone who does not work within this sector it is unclear to me how often something like this occurs and how irregular this set of circumstances is. I appreciate all the work you've done on the Flynn saga.


Thank you very much; this is a great aid to understanding.

Keith Harbaugh

Thanks for the explanation.
Also, Sundance says unmasking applies to reports from the FBI as well as those from NSA (and presumably CIA):

The suggestion is that the FBI was specifically monitoring Flynn. There was nothing "incidental" about that intercept.

JP Billen


According to the DNI, NSA received these amounts of SIGINT "unmasking" requests per year:

2016: 9200
2017: 9500
2018: 17000
2019: 10000

These are totals for all not just Flynn.

blue peacock

Andrea Mitchell (aka Mrs. Greenspan) has been furiously tweeting that over 9,000 unmaskings take place every year and that this was all routine. Nothing to see here.

That's the defense!

Considering that the Kislyak call was leaked to David Ignatius whose story put the spotlight on Pence and Trump who promptly threw Flynn under the bus, it would be useful to read the transcript of the call.


I thought Amb to UN would report to Sec of State but from looking at wikipedia it seems that it would be the President instead. It's been a on again/off again Cabinet level position. It's current status is unclear as the last wiki entry indicated the Trump admin was planning to downgrade the position but nothing after that. So, if Samantha Powers requested unmasking could that perhaps be at the request of Obama? Could H Clinton come out of this clean?

Larry, thanks again, much appreciate your efforts.

scott s.

I'm curious that I assume all the individuals by virtue of their
positions need at least TS level of clearance. But I wonder about "need to know"?


Jim Clapper sez unmasking routine. This serial perjurer should be made an example of.


JP Billen

Larry -

Why were so many Treasury officials involved in the unmasking?

Grennell's list as posted by Colonel Lang shows that Jacob Lew the Secretary, plus five others from Treasury (Arthur McGlynn, Mike Neufeld, Sarah Raskin, Nathan Sheets, and Adam Szubin) requested the unmasking.

Were they even authorized to request unmasking?

Barbara Ann

Great explanation, thanks Larry. The date range of Grenell's request covering the period to the end of January looks an awful lot like he is sending a clear message; that he wants the perp(s) to see the missing requests between December 29th and January 2nd and come to the same conclusion you have re possibility # 2.

I wonder whether the wording of Nakasone's memo (included in Robt. Willmann's last post) is also significant. He describes the follow-up list from Grenell as including the dates, not just the names, as originally requested. This seems redundant, given that Grenell presumably specified the format he wanted - unless again it is to send a similar message.

The anguish aboard the Raft of the Medusa is palpable, who will be the first to turn on his erstwhile shipmates?


Even if routine, there needs to be a stated reason to request the unmasking. Collectively it would be interesting to see those express and documented predicated "reasons". That way, we could see what the government considers "routine".

The Twisted Genius

We don't know the subjects of these NSA intercepts that prompted this wide range of officials to seek unmasking of the unidentified "US Person" or "USP#1" in the reports. However, the reports were of such import that these officials made proper requests for unmasking with legitimate justifications according to Nakasone's list. It's important to reiterate that the requesters didn't seek to unmask Flynn. They sought to identify the unidentified US person who appeared in those NSA reports. The same reports that caused those requesters such legitimate concern.

Terence Gore

Mike Rogers explaining unmasking protocols


James W. Lung

Might it be that the multiple unmasking attempts were simply done to make it impossible to identify the leaker?

Keith Harbaugh

Andrew McCarthy gives a detailed look at the unmasking issue in general and, in particular, how it might apply to Flynn:

McCarthy writes:

I hypothesize, then, that Flynn was not unmasked in connection with the December 29 Kislyak call. Either the CIA monitored the call directly or a friendly foreign intelligence service — whether subtly tasked by U.S. intelligence or knowing that U.S. intelligence would be very interested — intercepted the call and passed it along, probably to the CIA.

This sounds strikingly like what Larry said back in 2017, for which he was roasted in the media as a "conspiracy theorist".


Speculated elsewhere - was Samatha Powers "hundreds of unmasking requests" used to feed her author and Bloomberg reporter husband Cass Sunstein, who in turn who wrote some very interesting books:

..."On July 4, 2008, Sunstein married Samantha Power, professor of public policy at Harvard, and (now) former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, whom he met when they both worked as campaign advisors to Barack Obama.

Sunstein also developed, according to WIKI, the "nudge theory" about getting things done - who "nudged" Obama to greenlight Russiagate?

(Book) Sunstein, Cass R. (2009). On Rumors: How Falsehoods Spread, Why We Believe Them, What Can Be Done. Princeton University Press.

September 10, 2009 – August 21, 2012: United States Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. (Applied his Nudge Theory to the selling of ACA.)

(Book) Sunstein, Cass R. (2017). Impeachment: A Citizen's Guide. Harvard University Press.

Keith Harbaugh

Update: Sundance has written a post on the McCarthy article mentioned above, with some additional information:

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad