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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

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Judicial Watch Sues for Unmasking Records: Biden, Top Obama Officials ‘Unmasked’ General Flynn

(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) for records of requests by former Vice President Joe Biden and other top Obama administration officials, including President Obama’s chief of staff, to “unmask” Lieutenant General (Retired) Michael Flynn (Judicial Watch v. National Security Agency (No. 1:20-cv-03088)). The term “unmasking” refers to the practice of disclosing to political appointees the identities of U.S. citizens referenced in intelligence surveillance of foreign nationals. U.S. citizens’ names are typically redacted from such reports unless a specific request is made to “unmask” them.

Judicial Watch filed this lawsuit after the NSA failed to respond to two separate September 1, 2020 FOIA requests.

The first request seeks “records about a January 12, 2017, request to ‘unmask’ Lieutenant General Flynn submitted to NSA by or on behalf of then-Vice President Joe Biden.”

The second request asks for “records about requests to ‘unmask’ Lieutenant General Flynn submitted to NSA by or on behalf of the following officials on the dates or date ranges indicated:

Samantha Powers – Nov. 30, 2016 to Jan. 11, 2017

James Clapper – Dec. 2, 2016 to Jan. 7, 2017

Kelly Degnan – Dec. 6, 2016

John R. Phillips – Dec. 6, 2016

John Brennan – Dec. 14 & 15, 2016

Patrick Conlon – Dec. 14, 2016

Jacob Lew – Dec. 14 & 15, 2016

Arthur McGlynn – Dec. 14, 2016

Mike Neufeld – Dec. 14, 2016

Sarah Raskin – Dec. 14, 2016

Nathan Sheets – Dec. 14, 2016

Adam Szubin – Dec. 14, 2016

Robert Bell – Dec. 15, 2016

John Christenson – Dec. 15, 2016

Sarah Raskin – Dec. 15, 2016

Nathan Sheets – Dec. 15, 2016

Adam Szubin – Dec. 15, 2016

Robert Bell – Dec. 15, 2016

John Christenson – Dec. 15, 2016

James Comey – Dec. 15, 2016

Paul Geehreng – Dec. 15, 2016

Douglas Lute – Dec. 15, 2016

James Hursh – Dec. 15, 2016

Lee Litzenberger – Dec. 15, 2016

Scott Parrish – Dec. 15, 2016

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall – Dec. 15, 2016

Tamir Waser – Dec. 15, 2016

John Tefft – Dec. 16, 2016

John Bass – Dec. 28, 2016

Denis McDonough – Jan. 5, 2017

Michael Dempsy – Jan. 7, 2017

Stephanie O’Sullivan – Jan. 7, 2017

The Deputy Assistant Director of the National Media Exploitation Center, whose name was not known – December 15, 2016

The names of officials and dates identified in the FOIA requests were taken directly from a listwhich was declassified on May 8, 2020, by then-Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell and submitted to Senators Charles Grassley and Ron Johnson on May 13.

On May 19, Senator Grassley responded and asked for “the declassification of additional information related to the unmasking of Americans around the time of the 2016 election, but also to expand the scope of our request to include information as early as January 2016. Based on our investigation and recent press reports, we are increasingly concerned that the surveillance of U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump campaign began earlier than the opening of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation in late July 2016.”

“The requests by Joe Biden and President Obama’s chief of staff to unmask the identity of President Trump’s top national security adviser reek of corruption and abuse,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The documents about this illicit spy operation should be released immediately.”

In June 2020, Judicial Watch sued the State Department for records of requests by former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power to “unmask” Flynn.

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