NSA Dissented From Others On Russia’s Threat To U.S. Troops
The National Security Agency differed from other intelligence agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, about the intelligence that Russia’s GRU intelligence agency paid bounties for the killing of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The White House said that the Russian bounty information wasn’t verified and that intelligence officials didn’t agree on it.
The White House said President Trump was never personally briefed on the threat, but according to a Republican lawmaker, the assessment was included in Trump’s written daily intelligence briefing.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas) said that the intelligence was included in the President’s Daily Brief prepared for the president every day.
While there has been no clear reason for the NSA dissent, experts and former officials noted that such dissents are relatively common due to the institutional differences.
The NSA focuses on electronic eavesdropping such as phone conversations and texts, while the CIA focuses on human intelligence.
The NSA has held more conservative assessments on past analysis. For the intelligence assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the CIA and Federal Bureau of Investigation reported “high confidence” of that interference, but the NSA only had “moderate confidence” of that finding.
The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee stated in April that the disagreement between NSA and others was “reasonable, transparent, and openly debated among the agencies and analysts, with analysts, managers, and agency heads on both sides of the confidence level reasonably justifying their positions.”
Both the NSA and the CIA declined to comment on the Russian bounty issue. The CIA Director Gina Haspel late Monday said that analysis of the threat to U.S. troops is ongoing.
Pentagon officials late Monday commented on it, saying “to date, DOD has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports.”
Republicans and Democrats lawmakers were briefed by the White House on Monday and Tuesday respectively.
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Rep. Adam Smith (D., Wash.) after a White House briefing Tuesday said that White House officials outlined evidence of Russian wrongdoing.
“They did not dispute that there is some intelligence that supports the conclusion, but they insisted there is other intelligence that disputes the conclusion,” said Smith. “There is certainly enough there to factor this into the relationship with Putin and Russia.”