A recent article on Politico mentions a list of names from the Obama administration that was recently sent to Republican senators:
Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell on Wednesday sent top Republican senators a list of former senior Obama administration officials who might have been involved in efforts that “unmasked” former national security adviser Michael Flynn — including former Vice President Joe Biden.
What exactly does "unmasking" entail? I'm asking specifically with regard to Lieutenant General Michael Flynn being the object of many unmasking requests made by senior officials in the Obama administration.
The names of U.S. citizens who are caught on intercepts of foreign officials' communications are typically concealed in intelligence reports, but certain senior officials can request to learn their identities to better understand the information, a process known as "unmasking." According to an annual transparency report released by ODNI in April, the identities of 10,012 U.S. persons were unmasked by the NSA in response to specific requests in 2019.
Unmasking is a routine practice used to identify a U.S. person who is anonymously referred to in an intelligence document, meant to help government officials better understand what they are reading. But conservatives have long seized on Flynn’s unmasking to imply he was treated unfairly by U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials.
(The links within the two paragraphs were in the original articles and have been copied here for completeness)
Never mind that there was ample evidence that the Grenell list has nothing to do with the Kislyak intercept report. Not the least of this evidence was that top FBI and DOJ officials had already testified that the Kislyak report was an FBI product (Grenell’s list was prepared through the NSA) and that in their recollections, Flynn’s name wasn’t concealed, so no “unmasking” was required.