Senator Lindsey Graham appeared on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Friday, and addressed concerns that members of the Obama administration may have “unmasked” American individuals during investigations of foreign operatives. Not only did the South Carolina Republican echo the concerns of other GOP members, he claims that in the past, he had received information from an intelligence source that a member of the Obama administration once requested that Graham’s identity be unmasked. That part of the conversation kicks off at the 1:55 mark of the above video.
When intelligence officials observe the activities of people from other countries, it’s not uncommon for them to come across the names of American citizens who the foreigners were talking to or about, but the identities of the Americans are generally kept hidden. That is, of course, unless their identities are requested to be unmasked, which can be done if the identities of the people would help an investigation.
“I’ve got information to suggest I was incidentally collected, I don’t know if I was unmasked or not,” Graham said, adding that he has asked for the NSA, CIA, and FBI to tell him about any information that was collected on him.
Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice came under fire it became known that she requested the unmasking of Americans who were known associates of then-President-elect Donald Trump. That would be problematic if Rice did it improperly, or for political reasons instead of for the assistance of an ongoing investigation.
Besides people in the Trump camp, former candidate Rand Paul has also expressed concern that the Obama administration may have spied on him or other candidates. In May, Paul said he asked the White House and intelligence officials if they had spied on Americans without warrants. There has yet to be evidence proving that any improper unmasking took place, although the House Intelligence Committee recently issued subpoenas for Rice, former UN ambassador Samantha Power, and former CIA Director John Brennan, as part of an investigation of possible foul play.
The notion of being spied on is upsetting to Graham, not just because the government shouldn’t be spying on its own citizens, but because if it did indeed happen to him, it would be a case of one branch of the federal government spying on another.
“If you’ve got reason to believe that a member of Congress is committing a crime,” Graham said, “then you go get a warrant to follow us around like you would any other citizen.”
[Image via Fox News screengrab]