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Intelligence Community pushes back against a White House it considers leaky, untruthful and penetrated by the Kremlin

By John R. Schindler

In a recent column, I explained how the still-forming Trump administration is already doing serious harm to America's longstanding global intelligence partnerships. In particular, fears that the White House is too friendly to Moscow are causing close allies to curtail some of their espionage relationships with Washington—a development with grave implications for international security, particularly in the all-important realm of counterterrorism.

Now those concerns are causing problems much closer to home—in fact, inside the Beltway itself. Our Intelligence Community is so worried by the unprecedented problems of the Trump administration—not only do senior officials possess troubling ties to the Kremlin, there are nagging questions about basic competence regarding Team Trump—that it is beginning to withhold intelligence from a White House which our spies do not trust.

That the IC has ample grounds for concern is demonstrated by almost daily revelations of major problems inside the White House, a mere three weeks after the inauguration. The president has repeatedly gone out of his way to antagonize our spies, mocking them and demeaning their work, and Trump's personal national security guru can't seem to keep his story straight on vital issues.

That's Mike Flynn, the retired Army three-star general who now heads the National Security Council. Widely disliked in Washington for his brash personality and preference for conspiracy-theorizing over intelligence facts, Flynn was fired as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency for managerial incompetence and poor judgment—flaws he has brought to the far more powerful and political NSC.

Flynn's problems with the truth have been laid bare by the growing scandal about his dealings with Moscow. Strange ties to the Kremlin, including Vladimir Putin himself, have dogged Flynn since he left DIA, and concerns about his judgment have risen considerably since it was revealed that after the November 8 election, Flynn repeatedly called the Russian embassy in Washington to discuss the transition. The White House has denied that anything substantive came up in conversations between Flynn and Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador.

That was a lie, as confirmed by an extensively sourced bombshell report in TheWashington Post, which makes clear that Flynn grossly misrepresented his numerous conversations with Kislyak—which turn out to have happened before the election too, part of a regular dialogue with the Russian embassy. To call such an arrangement highly unusual in American politics would be very charitable.

In particular, Flynn and Kislyak discussed the possible lifting of the sanctions President Obama placed on Russia and its intelligence services late last year in retaliation for the Kremlin's meddling in our 2016 election. In public, Flynn repeatedly denied that any talk of sanctions occurred during his conversations with Russia's ambassador. Worse, he apparently lied in private too, including to Vice President Mike Pence, who when this scandal broke last month publicly denied that Flynn conducted any sanctions talk with Kislyak. Pence and his staff are reported to be very upset with the national security adviser, who played the vice president for a fool.

It's debatable whether Flynn broke any laws by conducting unofficial diplomacy with Moscow, then lying about it, and he has now adopted the customary Beltway dodge about the affair, ditching his previous denials in favor of professing he has "no recollection of discussing sanctions," adding that he "couldn't be certain that the topic never came up." That's not good enough anymore, since the IC knows exactly what Flynn and Kislyak discussed.

In pretty much every capital worldwide, embassies that provide sanctuary to hostile intelligence services are subject to counterintelligence surveillance, including monitoring phone calls. Our spy services conduct signals intelligence—SIGINT for short—against the Russian embassy in Washington, just as the Russians do against our embassy in Moscow. Ambassadors' calls are always monitored: that's how the SpyWar works, everywhere.

Ambassador Kislyak surely knew his conversations with Flynn were being intercepted, and it's incomprehensible that a career military intelligence officer who once headed a major intelligence agency didn't realize the same. Whether Flynn is monumentally stupid or monumentally arrogant is the big question that hangs over this increasingly strange affair.

Prominent Democrats in Congress are already calling for Flynn to be relieved over this scandal, which at best shows him to be dishonest about important issues. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has bluntly askedfor the national security adviser's ouster. Republicans on the Hill who would prefer that the White House stop lying to the public about its Kremlin links ought to get behind Schiff's initiative before the scandal gets worse.

In truth, it may already be too late. A new report by CNN indicates that important parts of the infamous spy dossier that professed to shed light on President Trump's shady Moscow ties have been corroborated by communications intercepts. In other words, SIGINT strikes again, providing key evidence that backs up some of the claims made in that 35-page report compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence official with extensive Russia experience.

As I've previously explained, that salacious dossier is raw intelligence, an explosive amalgam of fact and fantasy, including some disinformation planted by the Kremlin to obscure this already murky case. Now SIGINT confirms that some of the non-salacious parts of what Steele reported, in particular how senior Russian officials conspired to assist Trump in last year's election, are substantially based in fact. This is bad news for the White House, which has already lashed out in angry panic, with Press Secretary Sean Spicer stating, "We continue to be disgusted by CNN's fake news reporting."

That is hardly a denial, of course, and I can confirm from my friends still serving in the IC that the SIGINT, which corroborates some of the Steele dossier, is damning for the administration. Our spies have had enough of these shady Russian connections—and they are starting to push back.

There are pervasive concerns that the president simply isn't paying attention to intelligence.

How things are heating up between the White House and the spooks is evidenced by a new report that the CIA has denied a security clearance to one of Flynn's acolytes. Rob Townley, a former Marine intelligence officer selected to head up the NSC's Africa desk, was denied a clearance to see Sensitive Compartmented Information (which is required to have access to SIGINT in particular). Why Townley's SCI was turned down isn't clear—it could be over personal problems or foreign ties—but the CIA's stand has been privately denounced by the White House, which views this as a vendetta against Flynn. That the Townley SCI denial was reportedly endorsed by Mike Pompeo, the new CIA director selected by Trump himself, only adds to the pain.

There is more consequential IC pushback happening, too. Our spies have never liked Trump's lackadaisical attitude toward the President's Daily Brief, the most sensitive of all IC documents, which the new commander-in-chief has received haphazardly. The president has frequently blown off the PDB altogether, tasking Flynn with condensing it into a one-page summary with no more than nine bullet-points. Some in the IC are relieved by this, but there are pervasive concerns that the president simply isn't paying attention to intelligence.

In light of this, and out of worries about the White House's ability to keep secrets, some of our spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office. Why risk your most sensitive information if the president may ignore it anyway? A senior National Security Agency official explained that NSA was systematically holding back some of the "good stuff" from the White House, in an unprecedented move. For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president's eyes only, containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however, NSA has ceased doing this, fearing Trump and his staff cannot keep their best SIGINT secrets.

Since NSA provides something like 80 percent of the actionable intelligence in our government, what's being kept from the White House may be very significant indeed. However, such concerns are widely shared across the IC, and NSA doesn't appear to be the only agency withholding intelligence from the administration out of security fears.

What's going on was explained lucidly by a senior Pentagon intelligence official, who stated that "since January 20, we've assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM," meaning the White House Situation Room, the 5,500 square-foot conference room in the West Wing where the president and his top staffers get intelligence briefings. "There's not much the Russians don't know at this point," the official added in wry frustration.

None of this has happened in Washington before. A White House with unsettling links to Moscow wasn't something anybody in the Pentagon or the Intelligence Community even considered a possibility until a few months ago. Until Team Trump clarifies its strange relationship with the Kremlin, and starts working on its professional honesty, the IC will approach the administration with caution and concern.

I previously warned the Trump administration not to go to war with the nation's spies, and here's why. This is a risky situation, particularly since President Trump is prone to creating crises foreign and domestic with his incautious tweets. In the event of a serious international crisis of the sort which eventually befalls almost every administration, the White House will need the best intelligence possible to prevent war, possibly even nuclear war. It may not get the information it needs in that hour of crisis, and for that it has nobody to blame but itself.

John Schindler is a security expert and former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer. A specialist in espionage and terrorism, he's also been a Navy officer and a War College professor. He's published four books and is on Twitter at @20committee.

Michael Lassiter
Michael Lassiter I don't think this is what you think it is. I think this is a changing of the guard which is well over do. That's why he hired Blackwater. There will be no military or intelligence coupe. If they try it will be seen coming from 100 miles away.

Karen Acosta
Karen Acosta FBI made a public announcement they found NO wrong doing or discussion of sanctions between Flynn & Russia 
This is just another Democratic False narrative 

Bilal Popp
Bilal Popp So is it safe to declare the CIA a rogue agency and thus a threat to national security?

David Lewis
David Lewis I would since they have never worked for you.. they work for the very wealthy to keep them wealthy.

Jordan J. Pingleton
Jordan J. Pingleton It has always been a threat to national security. They do what they want, unchecked, and the pres has no idea for "plausible deniability." They import/export guns and drugs, train people like bin Laden, experiment on US citizens (MK Ultra), wiretap us illegally, assassinate both presidents and foreign nationals...etc. 

Basically, if you're evil and anti-freedom, join the CIA.

John Smith
John Smith National security != Security of presidential ego

Jason Lallo
Jason Lallo I would call the presidency a rogue agency, and a threat to national security.

Bilal Popp
Bilal Popp Jason Lallo The latter maybe. But Trumps presidency was determined by fair democratic election. If youre mad that Trump is president, youre mad at the democratic process and thus mad at democracy for working exactly how its supposed to.

David Lewis
David Lewis Trump just ruined Soros. Check out the news.

Stuart England
Stuart England We are asked to rely on fake news source CNN for wiki's 'truth' now ? Wondering seriously about you wiki now.

David Wallace
David Wallace I wouldn't vouch for this info because it's all above my pay grade. It calls BS on this article, implicitly, when it says "the community" is pushing back, as opposed to a politicized faction that is now on the ropes. But, there is indeed an infowar now raging.

David Wallace
David Wallace Took me a minute to figure out what Wikileaks was saying. Interesting.

Lori Khan
Lori Khan Need to hire Snowden to hack them and find out what the NSA and CIA are up to.

James Conner
James Conner So this is what happens when an outsider disrupts the global initiative.

Johnathan Hunter
Johnathan Hunter The globalist are using political correctness as a weapon. They are the ones to be worried about.

Jim Berlake
Jim Berlake But American Politics having close ties to Israel is absolutly fine.

Robin Olsen
Robin Olsen Well, since the CIA cannot even stage a coup properly anymore... maybe it is time to replace them all?

Gail Lewis Lord
Gail Lewis Lord Hmmm. Sounds to me like the "Observer" is the one publishing some Fake News. And this type of "report" does not fall under the purview of Wikileaks.

Toni Hill
Toni Hill Why don't you stop trying to ruin the world and help it? Pizzagate????

Lela Scott
Lela Scott The intelligence Community assisted in putting Trump in the white house. This is lame and stupid

Matt Ceran
Matt Ceran Shut up Wikileaks. You love Trump! This is all your fuckinh fault

Annie Narrator
Annie Narrator If they don't follow the Commander in Chief, they should be relieved of duty.

Rich Brown
Rich Brown Opinions are like a holes, everyone's got one but in this case the author has 2, he uses one of them to speak with.

Wynn Hartley
Wynn Hartley Oh, get over the Russian infiltration angle. Where's the proof?

Beth Legg-Cannell
Beth Legg-Cannell Definitely Trump needs to watch his surroundings he is infiltrated with moles! He should not trust anyone associated with Obama for sure!

Mary Jane  Bricka
Mary Jane Bricka So Wikileaks was played by the Russians. Feeling any buyer's remorse yet?

Michael Sommersett Vivian Rowan
Michael Sommersett Vivian Rowan Hurray! e need people working for the best interest of the US and humanity.-->M

Michael Panagiotides
Michael Panagiotides Trumps ruining it all on his own and the enemies he has, he created

Fred Cyrus
Fred Cyrus Everyone in government who have their plush jobs and make a lot of money off the working class of America, are shitting bricks in D.C.

Shannon Hannah
Shannon Hannah Edward snowjob is a joke. Nothing more than a cia shill.

Kathy Laskowski
Kathy Laskowski Fire them - or arrest them for sedition- they work for the entire country not just the globalist democrats

Michael Powell
Michael Powell The Republic has fallen! It is now a corporation and that corporation is in the process of selling Europe to Russia.

Jerry Damon
Jerry Damon What they never teach among a lot of things in American, progressive, Prussian educational caste system public schools, If it weren't for the Russians we could of ended up British and French colonies.

Almas Farmhouse
Almas Farmhouse Absurd Trump is a narcissist but a covert Russian conspirator Give me a break!

Rob Layton
Rob Layton So much corruption in the FBI CIA some good people some bad people. Trying to drain the swamp is difficult.

Jo Maloof VanCurler
Jo Maloof VanCurler Whistleblowers are a good thing! Right is right and truth is truth!

Kathy Ann
Kathy Ann Every day some NEW FAKE NEWS and CONSPIRACY by #RottenEggNebula of DEMS SOROS and those who wanted Hillary at any cost who did not vote for her in 2008 or 2012 but resent others who did not vote for her in 2016 #ShinyStarDies Hubble Telescope observes and leave behind #DustandGas to Resist with Shadow Government Barry with his 2012 database and his OFA offices (Obama Fights America) crews across the country and Eric Holder doing the same in California and Hollywood and Celebrity and CEO's in Silicon Valley and CEO's of Retail and Songbirds and Sports Icons...who HATE TO LOSE and cannot accept the differing opinion of Others. They Scream with Vulgar Obscenities and Gestures and Costumes and Signs and have Lawyers and Cameras Ready at all record their Lunatic Behavior and those wearing hoodies and masked bandanas covering their face... who throw stones and set fires and leave their trash behind.. return home to mom and dad's house at night pick up their weekly paycheck from those Organizing the Movement...and wait until told where they will be shipped by bus and provided signs and protest next.... Praying for those Bitter instead of Making America Better.

Robert Johnston
Robert Johnston So Trump is working with the Russians and Russia offers to hand over Snowden? Trump is an aimless desperado and Putin is a fool.

Akshay Yadav
Akshay Yadav and lifting sanctions from Russia will be return gift to Putin

Diana Shepherd Wynn
Diana Shepherd Wynn Trump and his administration needs to go through the whole complex and fire anyone connected to obama and Hillary. They will never be worth a dam to any one else.

Jeffrey Wayne
Jeffrey Wayne This is cia ran since internet was cut to the embassy. This site is #fakenews

George Hayduke
George Hayduke Internet is back on for a while. Still CIA ran?

Tracey Jean
Tracey Jean the CIA is so corrupt that it has no room for this crap......they need to be gutted and new people put into place...

Jim Thomas
Jim Thomas The Intelligence Community is about to learn a very harsh lesson: who they work for.

Jana Dickey
Jana Dickey Go Trump! We are behind you.

Dirk Lance
Dirk Lance CIA is full of Neo Bolsheviks.

Karen Fronterhouse
Karen Fronterhouse Globalist still trying

Mohd Sahrum
Mohd Sahrum Ok Wikileaks, now its time to leak everything ...

Donna Phillips

Paul Murchie
Paul Murchie it is to be hoped that spook-ubiquity-central won't play the same distraction game as the zombie ... for the next eight years ... oh, well, it's probably not like they've got anything better to do ... PFFF ...

Juan Sanz
Juan Sanz You are the CIA.

Tere Galligan
Tere Galligan Hope Trump cleans house

Renaud Be
Renaud Be A LOT OF Anti-Snowden FAKE NEWS GOING ON IS CORPORATE MEDIAS ABOUT THIS ONE, even Fox News, which I had to remind them of. MAYBE IT'S TIME FOR TRUMP TO GO TO RUSSIA, shake Putin's hand and paid a visit to Snowden, and MAKE AN OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT about protecting and pardoning whistle-blowers who denounced corruption.

Goran Stal
Goran Stal One mafia against another mafia!

David Lingi
David Lingi The classical fake news site

CR Moreno
CR Moreno But, they'd have been fine with a Clinton White House penetrated by the Saudis?

Kelly Rushing
Kelly Rushing WikiLeaks needs to help take down this cabal!!

Daniel Black
Daniel Black But they gave Hillary a pass? Clean out the swamp.

Mark Drury
Mark Drury Left wing hack piece Unbecoming of WikiLeaks
Like · Reply · 2 hrs · Edited
Steve Native
Steve Native He's dicing with fire now
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Danielle Mascio Kraemer
Danielle Mascio Kraemer Fire everyone
Like · Reply · 1 hr
DG Francis
DG Francis Ok this isn't Wikileaks anymore. Unfollow.
Like · Reply · 1 hr
J.D. Shane
J.D. Shane This is nothing but a propaganda hit piece...Nice try.
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Sal Young
Sal Young Schindler's column
Like · Reply · 1 hr
John Smith
John Smith "Anti-Snowden conspiracy theorist " <---- Unsupported supposition
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Andrei Andronescu
Andrei Andronescu Hahaha, look at the orange supporters. 

Like · Reply · 1 hr
Stewart Jackson
Stewart Jackson Trump is setting up traps he is very smart
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Brian Hough
Brian Hough Good, get rid of Trump as soon as possible.
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Cheryl Marks
Cheryl Marks I hate the color orange!
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Jarno A. de Courcy
Jarno A. de Courcy No Vault#7 today??
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Toni Sweikert
Toni Sweikert His from the ones who have not done a thing ABOUT HILLARY!!!
Like · Reply · 57 mins
Chelsea Vuchinich
Chelsea Vuchinich Why share and vaguely discredit at the same time?
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Trent Witsaman
Trent Witsaman Fuuuuuuuuck Trump!!'
Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs
Jacqueline Dollard
Like · Reply · 28 mins
Don Huntingdon
Don Huntingdon There's the motive - there's the narrative.
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Robert A. Diaz
Robert A. Diaz 'Conspiracy Theorist'. 'Nuff said.
Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
Eric May
Eric May Only a month in office and already the GREATEST PRESIDENT EVER!
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Daz Tomlinson
Daz Tomlinson time to drop the 9/11 truth bomb yet?
Like · Reply · 1 · 1 hr
Zane Stahl
Zane Stahl Why right! Wiki is turning up the fake news now Huh? Idiots
Like · Reply · 3 · 2 hrs
Dylan Scott
Dylan Scott Cool I'm gonna need that help
Like · Reply · 2 hrs
Leonard Haggstrom
Leonard Haggstrom Better to be penetrated by the Kremlin than the CIA
Like · Reply · 7 mins
Guy Masterleigh
Guy Masterleigh It has to be done.
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Bradley Fried
Bradley Fried Wikileaks for Prison
Like · Reply · 2 hrs
Michael Elliott
Michael Elliott Fake News
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Elsbeth Rogers
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Jacob Kramer
Jacob Kramer No one cares
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Tomica Plandi
Like · Reply · 2 hrs
Robert A. Diaz
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Jeff Fields
Jeff Fields in other words Mossad assets are worried
Like · Reply · 2 · 2 hrs
Frank Rubi
Frank Rubi What?
Like · Reply · 2 hrs
Robert A. Diaz
Robert A. Diaz Jeffy is a Hitler sympathizer. Most Liberals are.
Like · Reply · 1 hr
Jeff Fields
Jeff Fields Nah I'm kinda like Hoppe
Like · Reply · 1 hr

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