Tim Naftali calls on Obama to declassify US intelligence community's assessment of Russian intentions and activities in the 2016 presidential election

Historians in the News
tags: Russia, Putin, election 2016, Trump, US Intelligence



Tim Naftali was the director of the Nixon Library and is currently a clinical associate professor of history and public service at New York University.

... Presidents have the authority to declassify anything. On rare occasions when they believe it to be necessary, Presidents reveal signals intelligence and other highly sensitive sources. In April 1969, in response to the downing of a US reconnaissance plane off the coast of North Korea, Richard Nixon appeared to reveal that the United States could intercept North Korean radar signals. In April 1986, to pin the blame on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi for a terrorist attack at a discotheque in West Berlin where a US soldier and a Turkish civilian had died and 230 were wounded, President Ronald Reagan disclosed that the US could read confidential Libyan government messages, implying that we had broken their ciphers. 

I believe that we now find ourselves in one of those rare moments in our history when our president may need to risk a foreign source or two for the sake of our country. Although at his press conference Wednesday, for the first time, Mr. Trump acknowledged that Russia hacked during the campaign, his statements to date suggest that, for whatever reason, he is not interested in public understanding of the extent of what Russia did in 2016. The issue is not the legitimacy of his election. It gives too much credit to Moscow that it cracked Hillary Clinton's "blue wall." Nevertheless, Trump's defensiveness about Russian disinformation suggests that his administration will not be forthcoming about any intelligence about Russia come January 20.

As a result, President Obama should consider bridging that gap and declassifying in the remaining days of his presidency some of the intelligence behind the following points from the US intelligence community's assessment of Russian intentions and activities in the 2016 presidential election:

- The statement that "We assess with high confidence that the GRU [Russian military intelligence] relayed material that it acquired from the DNC and senior democratic officials to Wikileaks." The public, those who voted for Mr. Trump even more than those who did not, needs to understand the basis for our intelligence community's belief that Julian Assange was, at the very least, a tool of Russian national security policy. ...




comments powered by Disqus