Jonah Bennett on August 23, 2017
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence wants to force the Trump administration to make public intelligence community reports on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The committee passed a bill Friday that would require the intelligence community to release reports on any past and ongoing Russian interference in the U.S. electoral process, among other items, in an effort to circumvent the White House, The Daily Beast reports.
Also included in the bill is an expression of the “sense of Congress” that both WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange “resemble a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors and should be treated as such a service by the United States.” Notably, GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher met with Assange last Wednesday and floated the idea of an exchange, in which Assange would receive a pardon from the U.S. effectively as payment for information on the source behind the Democratic National Committee leaks.
According to Mieke Eoyang, a former staffer on the House Intelligence Committee, the bill’s provision going after WikiLeaks would allow for “the intelligence community to collect against them [WikiLeaks] the same way they collect against al-Qaeda.”
“If you think you’re helping WikiLeaks to aid a transparency organization, the US government fundamentally disagrees with you and you could find yourself on other end of NSA scrutiny,” Eoyang told The Daily Beast.
Eoyang also added that the point of the bill is to “pry out of the intelligence community any assessment of the Russian threat” and to stop “the White House from blocking the intelligence community from telling the committee and the American public what the true Russia threat is.”
If the bill moves forward successfully, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats would have to issue a report in six months on the “intelligence risks of returning the covered compounds to Russian control.” The Obama administration seized Russian diplomatic outposts in New York and Maryland.
It’s unclear what Coats thinks about the Senate bill.
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