House report finds ‘tradecraft’ failures in Russia assessment by intelligence community

by WorldTribune Staff, May 3, 2018

The conclusion reached by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian President Vladimir Putin interfered on behalf of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election is flawed, according to a majority report by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The CIA conclusion on Russian meddling was written by then-Director John Brennan.

The report said the CIA’s Putin-Trump analysis violated standards, resulting in “tradecraft failings.”

The report said, “CIA analysts and their draft was subjected to an unusually constrained review and coordination process, which deviated from established CIA practice. The Committee is not aware of these problems being prevalent in other CIA, FBI, or NSA products.”

The CIA conclusion on Russian meddling was written by then-Director John Brennan.

“Obama loyalists, such as Brennan and former National Director of Intelligence James Clapper, have suggested that Trump is a Putin agent,” Rowan Scarborough wrote in a May 2 report for The Washington Times.

The committee’s report noted that one of the guidelines that was violated is to “be independent of political considerations.”

The House Republican findings “stand in sharp contrast to the public relations surrounding the intelligence community’s election interference conclusions on Jan. 6, 2017,” Scarborough noted. “Then, the media spin was that all 16 intelligence agencies concurred.”

But the official report, “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” said the number was three: The CIA, FBI and National Security Agency. The report said the CIA and FBI had “high confidence” in describing Putin’s motives; the NSA: “moderate.”

“The Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) judgments on Putin’s strategic intentions did not employ proper analytic tradecraft,” the House committee found.

“While the Committee found that most ICA analysis held up to scrutiny, the investigation also identified significant intelligence tradecraft failings that undermine confidence in the JCA judgments regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategic objectives for disrupting the U.S. election.”

“We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him,” the intel agencies’ report said.

In explaining its methodology, the intelligence community said, “Some of our judgments about Kremlin preferences and intent are drawn from the behavior of Kremlin-loyal political figures, state media and pro-Kremlin social media actors, all of whom the Kremlin either directly uses to convey messages or who are answerable to the Kremlin. The Russian leadership invests significant resources in both foreign and domestic propaganda and places a premium on transmitting what it views as consistent, self-reinforcing narratives regarding its desires and redlines, whether on Ukraine, Syria, or relations with the United States.”

In the report detailing “tradecraft failings,” Intelligence Committee Republicans found holes in that explanation, “but because the work was so highly classified, intelligence agencies refused to let Republicans spell out the supposed flaws in a public report,” Scarborough wrote.

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