“A senior U.S. intelligence official assured NBC News that cybersecurity and the Russian government’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election have been briefed to, and discussed extensively with, both parties’ candidates, surrogates and leadership, since mid-August. “To profess not to know at this point is willful misrepresentation,” said the official. “The intelligence community has walked a very thin line in not taking sides, but both candidates have all the information they need to be crystal clear.”
For all my grumbles about the US Intelligence Community, I take for granted that it has matchless sources for the information it produces. In addition to the sources that are secret, it has access to all public information. That means that what it says it knows is likely to be true, subject only to some very sophisticated states or people who know how to deceive it. I suspect there are few who can.
I take what it reports, even when it falls short of a full-throated assertion, to be as close to the truth as I am going to find.
Why not use the IC to check facts and correct the record of campaign statements?
Sounds attractive. None of the fact-checking sites and sources can compete with it. So why not, at last, know as much of the story behind any campaign statements as we can know to make an informed choice?
This is a bad leak and, as it reads, likely a high-level leak, designed to defend its briefings against any charge that they were insufficient, untimely, or lacking authority. That’s not an acceptable position for a largely secret community to take. I understand it, maybe better in this election than I would have in past ones which weren’t as “fact-free” as this one seems to be. But we can’t have it.
The IC is not there for domestic political use, however useful it might be. Its purposes are governmental. We have an interest in truthful campaign assertions; we have an even greater interest in governmental organizations not charged with electoral responsibilities staying out of them. Preserving their independence of electoral politics is absolutely essential to preserving their value to us no matter who holds public office.
The role of the IC is a part of the government’s role in defense (external and internal) of the nation; neither it nor we are well-served when it publicly defends itself.