White House considers barring Donald Trump from receiving intelligence briefings

Joe BidenUNITED STATES PRESIDENT JOE Biden and his senior aides are “reviewing” the possibility of preventing his predecessor, Donald Trump, from receiving briefings containing classified information. Such an eventuality would constitute a dramatic break from the longstanding tradition of providing intelligence briefings to former American presidents, who wish to continue to receive them after leaving office.

The reasoning behind granting former American presidents access to classified information, even after leaving office, is that they usually maintain a visible diplomatic presence with worldwide influence. Many keep a busy schedule that involves regular meetings with foreign dignitaries, in which affairs of state are discussed. Intelligence briefings can therefore be useful in allowing them to speak with authority on various matters of domestic and international policy.

But Trump may not be granted that ability, according to reports in several American media. The reports were sparked by an answer given by White House press secretary Jen Psaki to a question asked by NBC reporter Geoff Bennett on Monday. Bennett asked Psaki if the Biden administration had decided whether Trump should continue to have access to classified information. Psaki responded by telling Bennett he had asked “a good question”, and added that the issue was “obviously under review”. However, “no determination” had been made yet, said Psaki.

Psaki’s confirmation that the matter is under review follows comments by the incoming White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, who said last month that the new president would make a decision following recommendations by his intelligence advisors. Some former senior security and intelligence officials have come out strongly in support of barring Trump from having access to intelligence. Among them are former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, as well as Susan M. Gordon, former principal deputy director of national intelligence, who briefed Trump regularly for two years. Gordon argued in an a Washington Post op-ed last month that Trump’s foreign liabilities and close associations with “foreign entities” render him a “potential national security risk”.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 02 February 2021 | Permalink

US denies it offered to release American who spied for Israel

Jonathan PollardBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
United States officials have denied reports in the Israeli media that Washington has offered to release an American serving a life sentence for spying for Israel. The Israel Army Radio, which is operated by the Israel Defense Forces, said on Wednesday that the administration of US President Barack Obama had offered to release Jonathan Jay Pollard, a former US Navy analyst who has so far served 28 years of a life sentence in a US prison, for spying on the US for Israel. Many in US counterintelligence consider Pollard, who acquired Israeli citizenship in 1995, one of the most damaging double spies in American history. But he is widely viewed as a hero in Israel, and many conservative Israelis, as well as pro-Israel Americans, are actively pressuring the US administration of President Barack Obama to release him. According to Israel Army Radio, the offer was placed on the negotiation table last week during Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to Washington. Allegedly, the offer to release Pollard is part of an attempt by President Obama to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, which have stalled in recent months. The original US-brokered talks between the two sides included an agreement by Israel to release 104 Palestinian prisoners in four separate groups. The first three groups were released in 2013; but Israel is currently refusing to release the fourth and final group, originally scheduled to be freed this month, arguing that the prisoners in that group are all Israeli citizens and have no connection to the Palestinian National Authority. According to Israel Army Radio, Washington has offered to release Pollard in return for Israel’s release of the last batch of Palestinian prisoners, providing that the Palestinian National Authority will then return to the negotiation table. Late on Wednesday, however, US Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that Washington had “no plans to release Jonathan Pollard”. Read more of this post

High-level US-Russia meeting to go ahead despite Snowden row

Edward SnowdenBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Senior United States officials will hold high-level talks with their Russian counterparts later this week, despite Moscow’s decision to grant asylum to an American intelligence defector. For many weeks, Washington pressured the Russian government to extradite Edward Snowden, a former computer expert for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA). But Snowden, who had sought refuge at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, was granted temporary asylum by Russian authorities last week, prompting angry responses from the American side. According to reports, US President Barack Obama has been considering whether to cancel his attendance of a prearranged summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in September [20:00 GMT update: meeting has been cancelled] . But on Tuesday, the US Department of State confirmed an earlier report by news agency Reuters, which claimed that a series of meetings between American and Russian officials would still take place this week, despite the Snowden imbroglio. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told journalists that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry would meet, as planned, with their Russian counterparts, in Washington on Friday. The Russian delegation will be visiting the US capital to discuss “pressing bilateral and global issues”, including Iran and Syria, Psaki said. In response to a question by reporters, the State Department spokeswoman said that the two sides would discuss the Snowden case. Read more of this post