- John Ratcliffe has said that there will no longer be in-person security briefings.
- The unexpected decision has agitated some Democrats.
- He has cited information leaks as a major problem.
The Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, has said that he will be halting in-person security briefings to Congress. The security chief has asserted that it is best to pause these meetings because they cause leakage of sensitive information to the press. His statement comes less than ten weeks to the US presidential elections.
He also cited undue politicization of national security matters as one of the main reasons behind the change. Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, he said that sensitive information has at times, been leaked just minutes after briefings. He also mentioned an instance where the narrative was changed to support a political agenda.
He gave the example of the most recent Russia election interference story that was leaked by lawmakers. The leaked version claimed that Russia is currently a bigger security threat than China. The security chief declared that this was false.
“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. Anyone who says otherwise is just politicizing intelligence for their own narrative,” he said.
Sen. Angus King (I-ME) has hit back at the latest development. According to the lawmaker, withholding information related to foreign threats, especially pertaining to US elections, is outrageous. Sen. King, who is a member of the intelligence committee, issued a bellicose statement in the wake of the announcement.
“America’s election – indeed, our foundation of democracy itself – is under threat as we face weaponized disinformation from global foes around the planet. To stifle and limit the American peoples’ awareness of this fact cannot be explained – or allowed.”
Ratcliffe has already sent letters to House leadership members, the Senate, and intelligence committees, informing them of the unexpected decision. US President Donald Trump has backed his resolution to stop the briefings. According to the President, Ratcliffe got tired of the information leaks and now prefers handling matters in a different way.
On Saturday, a collective of Democratic leaders denounced the decision by the ODNI to cease in-person briefings. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Head of the House Intelligence Committee, issued a joint statement arguing that it is the right of every American to know what’s going on in the country, and the current security threats.
Going by their statement, Russia is making moves to help Trump secure another election victory.
“This is a shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed, and a betrayal of the public’s right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy. This intelligence belongs to the American people, not the agencies which are its custodian.”
Democrats contend that ending the in-person briefings allows intelligence officials to avoid important questions regarding national security matters.