Some at CIA wonder whether to share sources and methods with Trump

Donald Trump CIAOfficials at the United States Central Intelligence Agency have questioned whether it is safe for them to reveal the sources of their information about Russia to America’s new President, Donald Trump, according to a report. The implication is that some at the CIA are concerned that Trump’s allegedly close ties with Russian officials may put CIA operations officers in danger. The information was shared on Monday by Mary Louise Kelly, national security correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR). She told the Washington-based station that relations between the CIA and the new American president remain cool, despite the apparent rapprochement between the two sides last Saturday, when Trump gave a speech at the CIA headquarters.

Kelly cited Steve Hall, a former CIA operations officer who retired from the agency in 2015 after three decades in the National Clandestine Service, which is runs intelligence operations around the world. Hall spent time in Europe, Latin America and Central Eurasia, and some believe he was CIA station chief (America’s senior intelligence representative) in Moscow for a number of years. Hall retired as a member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, which consists of the most senior members of the National Clandestine Service. In her report, Kelly identified Hall as the CIA’s former “chief of Russia operations”. She told NPR that Kelly had responded with skepticism to President Trump’s speech at the CIA headquarters last weekend. He wondered, she said, what would happen if the CIA collected “a stellar piece of intelligence that […] puts [Russian President] Vladimir Putin in a bad light?”. Presumably the Agency would have to brief the US leader about the finding. But what if the president inquired about the source? The CIA would have to reveal its methods and sources, because that information cannot be kept from the president. According to Kelly, Hall asked: “How can you say no, we don’t trust you with the sourcing of that information?”. And continued: “[t]hat is a live question today at Langley”, referring to the location of the CIA headquarters in the US state of Virginia.

Last month, Hall wrote a guest column in The Washington Post in which he touched on the importance of sources and methods for the CIA. He wrote that the agency’s collection capabilities “could be rendered useless in one news cycle if disclosure is not handled correctly. [And] if it were human sources that provided the information, they could lose their lives”. Hall went on to argue that, if the CIA revealed its information about Russia’s alleged attempts to influence last November’s US presidential election, additional information would be demanded of it. “Questions like, ‘How exactly did you get that information?’ or ‘Where did that come from?’ and ‘When precisely did you know that?’ will inevitably be asked —and the protection of sources and methods will begin to erode”, wrote the retired CIA operations officer.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 25 January 2017 | Permalink

5 Responses to Some at CIA wonder whether to share sources and methods with Trump

  1. Previous to this, recent presidents (since JFK and Bay of Pigs) appear to have been inclined to take the CIA at its word; I would flip Kelly’s premise… suppose Trump were to ask the CIA questions the agency perhaps would rather not answer for entirely different reasons, such as whether Assange practically stating the recently murdered Seth Rich had been the source of WikiLeaks DNC emails that had both; been pinned on the Russians and damaged Clinton, had been followed up. Had this been vigorously investigated and if not, why not; going so far as to demand it be done with a timely and detailed report. This would not be a far-fetched demand, considering a well connected-informed Tufts University academic stating the following concerning a ‘shadow government’ operating independently of constitutional processes of law.

    “As it happens, Glennon’s friends were an extraordinarily well-informed bunch, mostly seasoned operatives in the CIA, the U.S. State Department and the military. “Look,” he told them. “I’m thinking of writing a book. Tell me if this is wrong.” Every single one responded, “What you have here is exactly right””

    ^ Many past experiences (the Church committee example par excellence) point to a problem with a lawless CIA, perhaps this would be the more important line to follow –

  2. Dr Matthew Crosston says:

    The answer is NO. No it should not. Welcome to Alice in Wonderland.

  3. Jones says:

    Collecting HUMINT intelligence is an extremely risky endeavour and shadow warriors willing to take on dangerous assignments in hostile territories and possibly forfeiting their freedom or life’s in service of country must not be compromised, i.e., must have confidence and trust – for use of a better word – in agencies system(s) and leadership.

    This is particularly critical for agents operating under non official cover. Collecting intelligence in Russia is enormously difficult and dangerous for case officers task to recruit and handle coveted agents like Ogorodnik and Tolkachev, etc., who were unfortunately compromised by traitorous moles inside agencies task with protecting their sources. It is dangerous enough on the outside for clandestine agents without worrying about potential dangers from inside.

  4. Pete says:

    An additional concern is chatter to spouses who just happen to come from Eastern Europe which may extend to confidential matters on matters the spouse may have fresh insights.

    Trump – “Hey Babe. At the office today I heard this hot info about Putin…”

    Just circumstantial, but if you look at the close similarity between the Russian flag and the Slovenian flag this may cause justified worry.

  5. Anonymous says:

    CIA is the most untrustworthy bureaucracy in the US, followed closely by State Policy Planning and I&R. Whose side is the CIA on? Seems like they are looking out for themselves. I’m taking Trump’s side.

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