Trump orders new guidance on ‘unmasking’ requests
President Trump is ordering the top U.S. intelligence official to come up with a new policy for responding to requests from officials to “unmask” Americans in intelligence reports.
Trump signed a memorandum to Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats on Tuesday directing him to develop and publicly release a policy that requires elements of the intelligence community to develop procedures for responding to such requests from government officials.
Specifically, the memo instructs Coats to within 30 days “issue and release publicly a policy requiring that each element of the Intelligence Community (IC) develop and maintain procedures for responding to requests from Federal, State, local, tribal, or territorial government officials for non-public identity information concerning known unconsenting United States persons that was originally omitted from disseminated intelligence reports.”
The issue of “unmasking” American identities in intelligence reports drew significant attention amid charges from Republican lawmakers last year that identities of members of Trump’s transition team had been improperly unmasked in reports by Obama administration officials.
Those accusations followed the president’s unsubstantiated allegation that President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.
Typically, names of American citizens are redacted in intelligence reports delivered to government officials to protect their privacy. Senior officials can request that names be “unmasked,” or revealed, in order to understand the value of the intelligence.
Reuters reported exclusively in December that Coats was prepared to issue tighter restrictions on the “unmasking” of U.S. individuals during presidential transitions.