Three CIA veterans said they were shocked by the news either nobody briefed President Donald Trump about intelligence showing Russia paid Taliban militants secret bounties to kill U.S. troops, or if he was briefed, he did nothing about the information.
“Ever since 9/11, any time you get any type of counterterrorism or threat reporting that speaks to whether Americans are going to get killed, that sort of information travels extremely quickly and doesn’t have to be vetted,” Steve Hall, the former chief of Russia operations at the CIA, told Business Insider. “That’s all right, because the outcome could be horrific. You could have Americans killed.”
Hall disputed the White House’s claim Trump knew nothing about the intelligence because it would have been treated differently than other information.
If there are doubts about such intelligence, “you convey that as well, but the one thing you don’t do — and you’re taught this as an intelligence officer from the very beginning — is just write it off,” Hall said.
Rodney Faraon, a former CIA analyst who provided intelligence briefings to President Bill Clinton, told Insider the fact there was dissent about the report made it important enough to raise it to a level of discussion between different agencies, as it would be “flagged as really important, particularly if it came through intelligence channels.”
“Not presenting information to the president of the United States that had direct indications of a threat to US military forces overseas, not bringing that forward, would be a dereliction of duty,” Faraon added.
John Sipher, a former deputy chief of Russia operations at the CIA, commented the intelligence would have been known to people around the president and he finds it “hard to believe” he would not have been briefed.
“Any normal president would want to know the latest intelligence,” he added, but “Trump has never shown any interest in governing. It is possible that very little of consequence is passed to the president until they believe he is ready to hear it.”
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