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Exclusive: Congressional Leaks Threaten National Security, DNI Warns

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Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell warned in a letter sent to a top Democratic Senator that leaks to the media after classified intelligence briefings with lawmakers on foreign election interference have presented serious concerns and mounting challenges for the intelligence community giving “our adversaries unnecessary advantage during a critical time for our nation,” stated a letter exclusively obtained by SaraACarter.com. 

The March 26 letter from Grenell to Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee was in response to a request from Warner ensuring that lawmakers and Congressional committees with the appropriate clearances be given “access to all intelligence reporting under compartments relevant to election interference.”

Warner’s request, however, comes with mounting concern in the intelligence community, as well as the White House, over numerous classified leaks to the media, either from personnel within the agencies or lawmakers, politicizing the leaks to target President Donald Trump. Those increased concerns also reflect the ongoing bureaucratic war between those opposed to the administration’s policies and the intelligence personnel that are scrambling to protect classified information they fear will be misused, distorted and leaked to the media by anti-President Trump employees and lawmakers briefed on the top secret matters, numerous officials told this reporter.

“The misuse of secret intelligence for domestic political purposes is not only illegal, it’s incredibly dangerous,” said a U.S. intelligence official. “It weakens our intelligence services, dishonors the sacrifices of and risks taken by the men and women on the front lines of intelligence, and makes political leaders rightfully distrustful. We have to constantly be on guard against such abuses.”

The letter from Warner, as well as the response from Acting Director Grenell, were obtained by this news site and not only reflect those concerns but also warn that classified security leaks play into the hands of foreign enemies intent on sowing chaos during an election year.

Warner asked the DNI, to “keep Congressional oversight bodies fully and currently informed, including by providing Congressional leadership and the intelligence committees access to all intelligence reporting under compartments relevant to election interference.”

“I reiterate my pledge to protect this information, in order to preserve the sources that are so vital to our insight of foreign powers plans and intentions,” Warner added. “I strongly encourage you to ensure that the congressional leadership and congressional intelligence committees receive regular briefings, at whatever compartment levels are required.” Warner’s letter was cc’d to all the directors of the intelligence apparatus, to include CIA Director Gina Haspel.

Grenell responded to Warner in a formal letter on March 26, saying that he is “committed to maintaining the intelligence community’s work, focusing on the delivery of quality and timely information to policy makers, and protecting the IC’s work from political manipulation, including media leaks that call into question the important IC estimates.”

Grenell also warned Warner, “as you are aware leaks of intelligence information following congressional briefings have damaged our accesses, jeopardized our sources, and continue to give our adversaries unnecessary advantage during a critical time for our nation.”

The growing divide was never more apparent than on Monday, when fired Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson lashed back at President Donald Trump’s decision to fire him Friday. He did so in a statement, first published by The New York Times, asking possible future whistleblowers within the government to report on the administration if they believed they “have learned of or observed unethical, wasteful, or illegal behavior in the federal government.”

Atkinson said in his statement that Americans “are counting on you to use authorized channels to bravely speak up – there is no disgrace in doing so. It is important to remember, as others have said, that the need for secrecy in the United States Intelligence Community is not a grant of power, but a grant of trust.”

But there are growing questions about Atkinson, whose support of an alleged whistleblower led to the House impeachment probe against Trump. The president was acquitted in the Senate on February 5 of all charges stemming from the Ukraine investigation by the House.

Warner rallied to support Atkinson on CNN, saying it was “unconscionable that the president is once again attempting to undermine the integrity of the intelligence community by firing yet another intelligence official simply for doing his job.”

Warner, however, fails to mention that Atkinson has been under investigation by Republican lawmakers for closed door testimony he gave last year regarding the ‘so-called’ whistleblower’s report that led to the House impeachment trial.

The investigations against Atkinson began in January, and were first reported on The Sara Carter Show by ranking House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Devin Nunes.

Nunes said that transcripts of Atkinson’s secret testimony to the House showed that he either lied or he needs to make corrections to his statements given to lawmakers.

Those transcripts have been kept from the public by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-CA, because it is damaging to their “impeachment scam,” said Nunes on the podcast.

Another U.S. official, who spoke to this reporter, stated that Schiff “doesn’t want the public seeing Atkinson’s transcripts because it blows up their case. Those opposed to Trump in the intel community and in Congress want to abuse their access to classified information as a way of targeting the administration and it is dangerous and it has to stop.”

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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