As the witch hunt in Washington against anyone who has ever spoken to a Russian continues, one CIA veteran tells RT the two countries’ intelligence agencies need to talk to each other more, not less.
Since the 2016 election, President Donald Trump has faced allegations that his campaign colluded with “the Russians” or benefited from Russian “interference” – allegations that have put him at odds with both his political opponents in the Democratic Party and the intelligence and security services, including the FBI.
Amid this tense atmosphere, accusations are being thrown left, right and center. CIA chief Mike Pompeo told a conference last year that Russia “clearly” meddled in the 2016 election, only to be scrutinized by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for himself meeting with Russian officials in January. Pompeo has responded that the meeting was over mutual concerns such as terrorism, returning jihadi fighters, and other threats.
Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a twenty-year veteran of the CIA, told RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze he is “very concerned about the politicization of intelligence.”
“It’s because of the highly politicized nature of our domestic politics right now – between the Republicans and the Democrats, between those who support the president and between those who don’t support the president,” he said, adding that he is himself an independent. “We’ve learned in our history in the past that we should stay out of American politics.”
But if the intelligence agencies have concrete proof that Russians indeed hacked the election, why don’t they show it?
“If they do present the facts, there’s a risk of compromising our sources and methods which would not, of course, be good. So the question is – how much evidence should be provided to the American people. I’m personally – I stress this as my personal view – an advocate of declassifying as much information as possible and presenting it to the American people and the Russian government.”
But regardless of the politicization and the Russia controversy, Rolf thinks it’s important that American intelligence agents keep speaking and sharing information with their Russian counterparts, as Pompeo did in January.
“It’s in American interest to not see any Russians die in terrorist attacks as it is in the Russian interest to prevent any terrorist attacks in the US or elsewhere in the world,” he explained. “If we don’t do this cooperation between one another in the areas of exchanging information and analysis of the terrorist groups and their activities whether this is in Syria, Caucasus, the US or in other parts of the world, we should all be fired.
“In my time at CIA working in counterterrorism I personally instructed my officers to analyze and then provide the Russian government with the information that, I believed, prevented attacks on Russian citizens during my time. So I consider it one of the best days any time we helped one another prevent attacks where people might be killed obviously.”
But while Rolf is happy with these meetings he is less pleased with the Trump administration’s new National Defense Strategy, which prioritizes geopolitical competition with powers like Russia and China over violent extremist groups like al-Qaeda and the remnants of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).