Trump’s intelligence chief suspends in-person election security briefings

“The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) told Congress that it would no longer deliver in-person election security briefings, a move that’s angered lawmakers as Election Day approaches.

The change could make it more difficult for members of Congress to ask detailed questions about election security or press officials on their findings, a worrisome proposition for oversight in a year when foreign meddling has already been confirmed.”

“Ratcliffe explained to congressional leaders that the move is to prevent “unauthorized disclosures,” a.k.a. leaks, of sensitive information by members of Congress, which he suggested was taking place. (He didn’t explain why verbal briefings would be subject to leaks but written briefings would not.)” 

CNN, citing an ODNI official, reported that other intelligence entities that play a role in election security, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, will continue to brief lawmakers.” 

“This change — with just two months until election day — comes after the National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina confirmed in August that foreign actors were attempting to influence the 2020 election, calling out Russia, China, and Iran. The ODNI acknowledged that “Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden,” but said China and Iran preferred Biden. Some Democrats had urged intelligence officials to release more information publicly so American voters could be on guard against election interference.” 

“The ODNI’s decision to switch to mostly written briefings likely means intelligence officials will get to more tightly control what information is included in those reports. It’s not clear how thorough those briefings will be, and that may limit what details Congress and the public know about election security weeks before the election”

“By all accounts, Russia is at it again — and China and Iran, too, are contemplating strategies to undermine the 2020 election. That’s a national security threat to all Americans, but the public’s understanding of it is increasingly being shaped by partisan divisions. Foreign actors, like Russia, have tried to exploit these very divisions. And that ultimately makes it much easier for those interference activities to succeed in undermining American democracy.”

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