John Bolton: Obama Administration’s ‘Politicized Intelligence’ Does ‘Grave Harm’ to Public Confidence in Intel Community

On Thursday, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, discussed with Breitbart News Daily SiriusXM host Alex Marlow the Russian election-hacking story and the possibility that it was a “false flag” operation.

“A ‘false flag’ in intelligence parlance is an operation mounted by a foreign intelligence service where they deliberately leave clues that point to another country,” Bolton explained. “In other words, if you’re, for example, staging a coup d’etat, you leave weapons and uniforms from a country that supports the incumbent regime, to make it look like it’s just an internal battle, rather than the opponents. If it were an American-backed coup, we’d leave AK-47s, in the Cold War days, and Russian uniforms, rather than giving them M-16s and American uniforms. It’s something that’s intended to show that what looks obvious on the surface may not be the case.”

“My question here, which I have not yet heard answered since this first came up over a month before the election, is why the intelligence community – which disagrees on many, many things – is so absolutely certain this is the Russians, rather than somebody else,” he asked. “Look, I fully believe that Vladimir Putin’s Russia is capable and willing to try and disrupt America’s elections. I don’t have any illusions about them. But I don’t see that they’ve established in public yet, the Obama administration, what the proof of it is.”

“If I may just clear up one thing that some in the press deliberately obfuscated, from something I said the other day: I have never believed, never believed, that it was the Obama administration that hacked the DNC, or the RNC, or Podesta. I never said it. I think something I said was confused and distorted, so let me clear that matter up,” Bolton said.

When Marlow proposed that stories about him accusing the Obama administration of running a false flag operation were a prime example of “fake news,” Bolton quipped, “Well, Heaven forbid the media ever engage in that! I just thought it was lazy and incompetent on their part, but you know, I’m just repeating myself. It’s par for the course.”

“The false flag I was asking about was whether it was another foreign service or someone else,” he reiterated. “Now, look, none of us outside the classification system can really say for certain, but I’m just asking why it was so quick in the intelligence services, before the election, not just to leak out, but to say publicly they thought it was the Russians.”

“And so I think this is something that congressional committees should look at,” Bolton advised. “I think that Mike Pompeo, who I certainly hope will be confirmed as CIA director, will look at it inside the CIA. Let’s get this out there because it’s corrupting and politicizing the incredibly important work that all intelligence agencies do. If our people lose confidence in them because of yet another episode, under President Obama, of politicizing intelligence, it’s going to do us grave harm.”

Marlow noted that current media coverage of the election-hacking story acts is completely ignorant of the history of politicized intelligence in the Obama administration, as though such skulduggery were unheard of since 2009.

“Yeah, politicization of the intelligence agencies only takes place in Republican administrations. It never takes place under Democrats,” Bolton said sarcastically. “This is just another example of the hopeless bias of the mainstream media. I’m afraid – as I say because I’ve been, in various government jobs, an avid consumer of intelligence, and I found it incredibly important to enable me to do the various jobs that I’ve had. So the risk of it being politicized is a most serious risk that all Americans should be concerned about.”

Marlow pointed out that no actual evidence for the claim of Russian hacking, intended to benefit Donald Trump in the 2016 election, has yet been presented to the public, and the claims leaked to the media by some intelligence officials have been disputed by others.

“I’m not arguing that, at least in public, any information should be released or declassified that might compromise intelligence sources and methods,” said Bolton. “I think that’s something we need to be a lot more respectful of than the Obama administration ever was. But I do think when you have senior officials in the intelligence community speaking publicly, that just simply taking what they say on faith is not good enough.”

“We had this extraordinary development last night, reported on Fox News, that leaders of four members of the intelligence community had refused to have their surrogates appear at a hearing this morning before the House Intelligence Committee on this subject of Russian hacking,” he noted. “It was, I think, DNI, CIA, FBI, and perhaps one other, just refused to show up – NSA, perhaps – before Devin Nunes’ committee.”

“Maybe they’re too busy preparing to brief the members of the Electoral College, as a lot of Democrats have been asking for, too,” he speculated, with another dash of sarcasm. “I think people should watch how that plays out because it suggests that maybe they don’t entirely have their political act together. All the more reason to have them up to testify.”

“If I may just say one other thing on that, too: I don’t believe intelligence services should put their analyses through a smoothie machine so that they all agree on everything,” Bolton added. “I don’t think members of Congress, policy makers, and the executive branch of the American public should ever be disturbed if different agencies come to different conclusions. I think they should present their evidence and their arguments to policymakers, and policymakers can then make up their mind who’s made the better case.”

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