The no-shame train continues chugging along as CBS News reports that some analysts in the FBI, CIA, and NSA could see U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election as potentially “chilling” and undertaken solely for political reasons.
To be clear: the Russia collusion investigation, which we now know was a politically-motivated smear campaign by team Clinton, is being investigated for exactly that reason. Part of that general investigation is looking at the conclusions made in the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) that was commissioned by Barack Obama and subsequently“Some” intelligence analysts, according to CBS, think that questioning the ICA report — specifically “that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign to boost then-candidate Trump’s electability” — is politically motivated, and may be an attempt to even a score with former CIA head John Brennan, who has been critical of Trump.
It seems clear at this point they’ve dug so far into this hole that they’ve no choice but to keep digging.
Interestingly, the FBI and CIA had “high confidence” in the ICA report, while the NSA held only “moderate confidence at the time of its release. The following year in March 2018, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee criticized the report’s “judgment on Putin’s strategic objectives” saying that judgment failed to meet analytic standards.
CBS News’ own national security reporter offered the opinion that this kind of assessment of analytic standards was a bridge too far and — hilariously — suggested that Durham’s team might find the standard lacking, but only because a law enforcement standard is a much higher bar than an intelligence community standard (if that’s true, then the intelligence community should probably tighten up).
“I see no problem with a DOJ review of whether the CIA and other intelligence community agencies lived up to their legal and regulatory responsibilities related to how they handled any information related to U.S. persons – U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals,” said Michael Morell, a former CIA deputy director who is a CBS News senior national security contributor. “Having said that, I see a DOJ review of whether or not the intelligence analysts made the right call as wholly inappropriate. I cannot ever remember a DOJ review of analysis.”
“[Durham] and his team have no experience with, or knowledge of, the process of intelligence analysis,” Morell said. “He and his team could well impose a law enforcement standard in coming to a conclusion — a much higher bar than exists in the intelligence community for analytic judgments.”
You may remember a few days ago that House Intelligence Committee’s Democratic chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (CA) was complaining that his committee had not been given information about Durham’s probe, even after he asked very nicely.
I guess priming the pump with speculation that the investigations are pure politics is about the only defense he, and many other legacy employees in the intelligence communities, have left as a defense should the report be damning.
Based on the pre-judgment of its findings from Democrats, there’s every reason to think it might be.