US asked that 1,934 Americans’ names be ‘unmasked’ in intel

US asked that 1,934 Americans' names be 'unmasked' in intel

WASHINGTON — Government officials requested to know the identities of more than 1,900 Americans whose information was swept up in National Security Agency surveillance programs last year, according to a newly-released intelligence report.

The identities of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents were found in 3,914 intelligence reports the NSA distributed last year, said the report released Tuesday. The annual report comes just weeks after President Donald Trump accused former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser of possibly committing a crime when she asked government analysts to disclose the names of Trump associates documented in intelligence reports.

Most names in such intelligence reports are masked to protect privacy, but last year government officials requested that 1,934 identities — not initially revealed in the NSA reports — be unmasked in order to understand the intelligence being conveyed. In 2015, government officials requested the unmasking of 2,232 identities.

Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, has said that neither she nor other Obama officials used secret intelligence reports to spy on Trump associates for political purposes. Rice’s official role would have given her the ability to request that names be revealed for national security purposes.

In interviews, Rice acknowledged that she sometimes asked for the names of Americans referenced in reports. She would not say whether she saw intelligence related to Trump associates or whether she asked for their identities, though she did say that reports related to Russia increased in the final months of the presidential election campaign.

Lawmakers have repeatedly asked U.S. intelligence agencies to tell them how many Americans’ emails and calls are vacuumed up by warrantless government surveillance programs created to collect information on foreign intelligence targets.

“This report provides a small window into the government’s surveillance activities, but it leaves vital questions unanswered,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a statement. “At the top of the list is how many Americans’ communications are being swept up.”

After former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents revealing extensive government surveillance, Congress passed a law that ended bulk collection. But communications companies can collect the data and the NSA still can access it for national security purposes.

The report showed that even under the new law, the NSA still collected more than 151 million records about Americans’ phone calls last year.

Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Victoria street repatriated with proper spelling after a century-long mistake

‘Penwill Street’ was named after a Victoria man, but mistakenly spelled ‘Penwell Street’

Royal Theatre rate hikes on hold for now; user groups remain unhappy

Symphony, Pacific Opera, Dance Victoria call for public consultation on future use of Royal

Spring equinox welcomed by final super moon of 2019

Spring has sprung and did you catch that moon

Colwood, Esquimalt mayors support potential passenger commuter ferry

Mayors Rob Martin and Barb Desjardins hopeful study will continue

The sun streak continues with a high of 18 C today

Showers expected this weekend so enjoy it while it lasts

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Police lock down part of Armstrong after ‘live grenade’ discovered

An ordnance believed to be a grenade found on Smith Drive between Dairy Queen and Anchor Inn Pub

Dutch police question new suspect in deadly tram shooting

Police are looking for additional suspects in the shooting

Starbucks to test recyclable cups, redesign stores in B.C., U.S. cities

The company also said it plans to redesign its stores as it adapts to increasing mobile pick-up and delivery orders

In pre-election budget, Liberals boost infrastructure cash to cities, broadband

The budget document says the Liberals have approved more than 33,000 projects, worth about $19.9 billion in federal financing

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Vancouver Island cougar might have been shot with bow-and-arrow

Conservation officer service looking for animal near Port Alice

Most Read