This Seems Like A Big Deal

Samantha Power claims that all those unmasking requests made 'in her name' weren't made by her. Now these are NSA documents, highly classified, and in several cases the names of the individuals unmasked were leaked to the press (also illegal). So if she's telling the truth, somebody (or multiple somebodies) were filing fraudulent requests to violate high levels of classification at least sometimes for political purposes.

A cop I used to know down here in Georgia once told the story about how a bunch of teenagers camping down by the river had been target shooting beer cans for fun. When he arrived, they tried to explain that the gunshots he'd heard had really just been fireworks they were setting off for fun. Now, in those days, possession of fireworks was illegal -- shooting a .22 on your own property was just fine. So their excuse got them into a kind of trouble that the truth would have avoided, just because it sounded to them like fireworks should be less of an issue than guns.

Maybe Power screwed up in the same way today. Could be she lied about this, not realizing that this claim makes the situation very much worse than if she'd just admitted to unmasking people using her lawful authority to do so.

Or maybe we've just found a rathole. Either way, Power turned this into a story today.


jaed said...

How would that work?

1. Some unknown miscreant files a request for the identity of a surveilled person, in Power's name.
2. The NSA duly sends the information to Power.
3. ???

I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that this isn't done by some sort of automated website request—that a human looks at the request and fulfills it by bringing or sending the desired information to the requestor, with appropriate security controls.

So how does the Unnamed Bad Guy get the info, and how does Power not notice all this information she hasn't requested appearing in her office?

Does anyone here know about the details of the process? Is her claim at all plausible?

Grim said...

It won't show up on her desk, it'd show up in her SCIF.

My guess is that Power had, among the 150 people on her staff, at least a few people that were authorized to make requests in her name. The UN Ambassador is treated as a more important role than it really is, dating to postwar attempts to make the UN into a proto-world-government. The Ambassador to the UN is a full scale Ambassador Plenipotentiary, too.

So probably someone under her, likely a Clinton loyalist, was making these requests and leaking to a friend in the press. But that's still a fraudulent use of these sources, for the purpose of violating classification standards, in order to embarrass political opponents in an election.

If Power had said, "Yeah, that was me, I had legitimate need to know to understand these issues -- and I never leaked anything," you couldn't say more than that she'd had bad judgment. But now we've got cause for a major investigation.

jaed said...

That narrows it down somewhat, then: people on her staff who had that authorization.

So we'll see if Congress starts locating and interviewing that list of people.

But if she genuinely didn't know (or even if she plausibly might not have known), then it sounds like she wasn't notified of the requests made under her credentials. Wearing my computer-security-amateur hat, it seems to me to be a systematic security hole, if the people with such authority don't get a periodic summary. (Scanning that summary is one way to find out about intrusions via misuse of credentials, when the credential-holder notices a bunch of stuff has been logged that they don't remember doing. "Wait, someone logged in as me and did a mass data transfer Tuesday at 3AM??? I was asleep then.")

Grim said...

I mean, I hope that's how it went down, because then the story is just "Heretofore Nameless Clinton Loyalist broke classification law for political advantage." That'll be a bad story for that one person, but it's not unexpected or an unknown security risk. Clinton loyalists do that kind of thing.

But it could be something else; and in any case, now we have to look into it.

jaed said...

I figure that asking Heretofore Nameless Clinton Loyalist some questions—about why they did this, about whether they were aware it was illegal, about whether anyone suggested this course of action, about whether any representations were made to them, about whether any others engaged in similar actions... include your own questions—may yield interesting, useful, and/or horrifying information.

But first someone needs to locate HNCL, or else determine that HNCL doesn't exist and Power was lying.

Ymar Sakar said...

Sounds like something I would have tried to open intel analyze back in 2007, when I was keeping quiet all the troubling predictions and things I had foreseen.

Thinking that the entire world is some kind of conspiracy Deep State by supernatural entities, usually comes later. People are "well" on their way, if only blaming the CIA for "things". No wonder the rest of the world thinks of the CIA as a bogeyman. They see US actions as inconsistent, as there being a shadow government playing the US vs the legitimate authorities like the Senators or President. Only Americans seem surprised by this line of thought.