10:07 AM 9/25/2018 – Declassify the Russia investigation documents

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Declassify the Russia investigation documents

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Declassify the Russia investigation documents

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President Donald Trump’s decision to allow the Justice Department’s inspector general to review documents related to the ongoing Russia probe is a smart step toward transparency in this lengthy, opaque investigation.

Mr. Trump announced last week that he planned to unilaterally declassify the documents, including the secret court order to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

That American citizens still know so little about the alleged interference is appalling. The investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election has been going for nearly a year and a half and our country is no closer to the answers it so badly deserves.

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Did the Russian interference have a meaningful impact on the outcome of the election? Did high-level members of either presidential campaign work in coordination with Russian officials? Why did the FBI, under President Barack Obama, monitor members of the Trump campaign without informing candidate Trump his staffers were under investigation?

With the midterm elections looming and the U.S. taxpayers still footing the bill for this lengthy investigation, at least some answers would be expected by now. But average Americans are still in the dark.

Declassifying some of the documents related to the monitoring of Mr. Page might answer some of the most critical, lingering questions. Considering the concerns surrounding the FBI — it would seem the bureau has become dangerously politicized — the court order authorizing the surveillance of Mr. Page could offer citizens the chance to review the evidence and come to their own conclusions.

Mr. Trump was smart to back off his initial, unilateral declaration and entrust the Justice Department’s inspector general with the review. An executive fiat declassifying those documents could only have been interpreted as a raw political move, and the president would be wise to avoid those kind of decisions wherever he can. But the American people deserve the unvarnished truth.

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WASHINGTON — The death of an American diplomat in Madagascar is being investigated by U.S. and local authorities and one person has been taken into custody, the U.S. State Department said Monday. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the foreign service officer was found dead inside their residence in Antananarivo, the capital of the Indian Ocean nation off the East Coast of Africa.

“Diplomatic Security is collaborating with local Malagasy authorities on a joint investigation and a suspect is currently in custody,” Nauert told the Reuters news agency on Monday.

She said the department expressed its “deepest sympathies” to the family of the diplomat but release no details Monday on the officer’s identity or circumstances of the death.

The State Department said the person was found in the overnight hours Friday and that diplomatic security and Malagasy authorities were collaborating on an investigation.

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Still, Haspel emphasized the need for the intelligence agency’s work to remain secret in order to be effective.

“We’re first in, collecting intelligence, moving ahead of the military, going where others can’t go and doing things that no one else can,” Haspel said. “These are the sorts of activities that fall under the heading of ‘covert action.’ Our work requires secrecy, and secrecy in turn requires a profound degree of trust from the American people.”

Haspel made little reference to President Trump, who has at times appeared to clash with the intelligence community as a result of his tepid embrace of its conclusions about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

She did, however, say that she attends Trump’s daily intelligence briefings several times a week, along with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and national security adviser John Bolton.” 

“CIA is a very resilient work force and we tend to be very mission-focused. We tend not to pay attention to the political fray in the capital. We are very focused on events overseas and our collection mission, our analysis mission, and what we can do about the problems that we face overseas,” Haspel said. “I think morale tends to be pretty constant.”

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US Looking to Place More Spies Worldwide

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WASHINGTON —The United States’ premier spy agency is looking to expand its presence around the globe in order to eliminate so-called “intelligence gaps” and take on the growing threat from major powers like Russia and China.

CIA Director Gina Haspel on Monday called the shift from counterterrorism back to more traditional espionage against nation-states “a strategic priority,” saying the need to get better intelligence on current and potential U.S. rivals among “the hardest issues” facing the spy agency.

“We are sharpening our focus on nation-state adversaries,” Haspel told an audience at her alma mater, the University of Louisville, in her first public appearance since being sworn in as CIA director this past May.

Haspel also said she is intent on “increasing the number of officers stationed overseas.”

“Having a larger foreign footprint allows for a robust posture,” she said.

As part of that push, Haspel said the CIA is hoping to recruit more foreign language speakers, including those fluent in Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, French and Spanish.

She also said the spy agency “is working more closely than ever with our allies across the world.”

Haspel’s comments reflect priorities laid out in the broader U.S. National Security Strategy late last year, which calls for countering moves by various adversaries to shift the global balance of power in ways that have been unfavorable to the United States.

China concerns

The CIA director voiced particular concerns about China, which she said was “working to diminish U.S. influence in order to advance their own goals.”

“We do monitor very closely what appears to be an effort to expand their influence beyond their own region, in places like Africa, Latin America, the Pacific islands, South Asia,” she said.

“We are concerned by some of the tactics they use, offering poor countries, investments, and loans that perhaps those countries are not going to be able to repay,” Haspel said. “We want those countries to be aware of their own sovereignty and how foreign investment in their infrastructure and their national security infrastructure can ultimately compromise their sovereignty.”

CIA priorities

Haspel laid out several other priorities, as well:

Diversity: Haspel said that when she was at the CIA in the late 1980s, it “was a thoroughly male-dominated organization.”

“It should come as no surprise that one of my top priorities since becoming director has been to champion diversity and inclusion,” she said. “Our global mission at CIA demands we recruit and retain America’s best and brightest, regardless of gender, race or cultural background.”

Drugs: “CIA is going to invest more heavily in our counternarcotics efforts abroad,” Haspel said, calling the opioid epidemic a threat “that has killed far more Americans than any terrorist group ever has.”

Iran: Haspel called the amount of money Tehran continues to spend on propping up the government on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to expand its influence in Baghdad and to back the Houthis in Yemen, “surprising” given the country’s economic struggles.

“We are we are watching very closely, Iran’s malign activity in the region. And we’d like to push back against that activity, so those countries can carve their own course,” she added.

Transparency: “Nothing is more important to those of us at CIA than our obligation to earn the trust of our fellow citizens,” Haspel said. “There’s not another major intelligence agency in the world subject to oversight authority as comprehensive as our own but that’s as it should be.”

Prior to her confirmation as CIA director, Haspel had been heavily criticized for her role in supervising a secret interrogation center in Thailand and destroying tapes of interrogation sessions.

Morale: “CIA is a very resilient workforce and we tend to be extremely mission-focused,” Haspel said. “We tend not to pay attention to the political fray in the capital.”

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