On Sunday, U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe announced he would be scaling back in-person election security briefings to Congress in favor of written reports. He said he is doing this due to members selectively leaking classified information for partisan purposes.
Ratcliffe accused some members of leaking the intelligence specifically “To create a narrative that simply isn’t true, that somehow Russia is a greater national security threat than China.”
Fox News reported that Ratcliffe said he had been going above and beyond in briefing “not just the oversight committees but every member of Congress” but will no longer do so. The agenda-driven leaking is creating confusion and undermining the intelligence community’s assessments.
Former Acting DNI Richard Grenell applauded the decision, stating that there is a “crisis with leaks” and this move will help sort it out, reported Fox News.
Grenell added that “The public is being confused here because you’ve got Republicans saying that China is the problem. You’ve got Democrats saying that Russia is the problem. We need to listen to the intelligence community,” Grenell said on Fox News, adding:
The intelligence community says Russian propaganda is a problem. They say that China is a crisis. These are the facts that are faced before us.
Ratcliffe emphasized, “I don’t mean to minimize Russia. They are a serious national security threat, but day in, day out, the threats that we face from China are significantly greater,” Ratcliffe said, according to Fox, “Anyone who says otherwise is just politicizing intelligence for their own narrative.”
But the issue goes beyond identifying and reporting the real threats to the U.S. posed by China and Russia, it is also a matter of preserving the integrity and professionalism of the intelligence community and process.
Fox reported that Grenell argued that Ratfliffe’s move will help career intelligence officials do their jobs, noting that this partisan leaking is a bipartisan crisis. Republicans leaked information under President Barack Obama he noted. Grenell concluded by saying,
This is a problem of Washington, D.C., and politicians. This is not unique to any one party. We need to solve this by having people who come from the outside, who come into Washington with new fresh eyes and change bureaucracies.
Despite media and partisan pushback, this is a real problem, and fixing it is a big part of President Trump’s mission. This latest step by DNI Ratcliffe may help move that mission forward.