At the center of the Russiagate scandal is a curious U.S.
intelligence “assessment” that was pulled together in less than a month
and excluded many of the agencies that would normally weigh in on such
an important topic as whether Russia tried to influence the outcome of a
U.S. presidential election.
The Jan. 6 report
and its allegation that Russia “hacked” Democratic emails and
publicized them through WikiLeaks have been treated as gospel by the
mainstream U.S. media and many politicians of both parties, but two
senior Obama administration intelligence officials have provided new
information that raises fresh doubts about the findings.
On Tuesday, former CIA Director John Brennan told the House
Intelligence Committee that only four of the 17 U.S. intelligence
agencies took part in the assessment, relying on analysts from the
Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the
Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the oversight of the Office of
the Director of National Intelligence.
Brennan said the report “followed the general model of how you want to
do something like this with some notable exceptions. It only involved
the FBI, NSA and CIA as well as the Office of the Director of National
Intelligence. It wasn’t a full inter-agency community assessment that
was coordinated among the 17 agencies, and for good reason because of
the nature and the sensitivity of the information trying, once again, to
keep that tightly compartmented.”
But Brennan’s excuse about “tightly compartmented” information was
somewhat disingenuous because other intelligence agencies, such as the
State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), could have
been consulted in a limited fashion, based on their areas of expertise.
For instance, INR could have weighed in on whether Russian President
Vladimir Putin would have taken the risk of trying to sabotage Hillary
Clinton’s campaign, knowing that—if she won as expected and learned of
the operation—she might have sought revenge against him and his country.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former
CIA Director John Brennan at a 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee
hearing. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)