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Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Leaks from the intelligence community are a problem

It only took about four weeks for the Trump administration to encounter a scandal. Earlier in the week, Gen. Michael Flynn was forced to resign under questions of whether or not he discussed sanctions with a Russian ambassador.

Was this always coming? Of course it was. Trump has never been great at having an organized campaign or administration. But this is an inherently big deal. Especially because at this point in time, there seems to be no idea what is actually known. 

Timeline of events

There are a lot of rumors swirling around about what happened, so here are the facts of the situation so far: Donald Trump won the presidency on Nov. 8, 2016. Shortly after the election, the accusation appeared that Russia had hacked/influenced the presidential election. This claim was continuously “verified” by those in the intelligence community. Shortly after his election, Trump selected Flynn to be his National Security Adviser.

Then (this is where the issue arises), on Dec. 29, Flynn held calls with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The Justice Department briefed the White House on potential security issues with Flynn. 

Flynn subsequently lied to Vice President Mike Pence and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus about what was discussed on the call. On Feb. 8, Flynn, in an interview with The Washington Post denied that the two had spoken about sanctions on the call. The next day, an aide to Flynn called and backtracked, claiming that Flynn could not say for certain what was discussed. 

Finally, on Feb. 13, Flynn offered his resignation, and Trump accepted it.

Leaks have become the reality

There is a big problem — and possible scandal depending on who knew what, when — that stems from this situation. But there is a bigger problem coming from the Flynn situation: what in the world is going on in the intelligence community. Ever since the email controversy, the intelligence community has released a flood of information to the media about the current affairs of America. And the media has published it, since it’s difficult to verify intelligence information.

Now I’m not advocating for letting Flynn just go. This whole situation needs further investigation to figure out what actually happened. As of now, it seems like Flynn didn’t do anything inherently illegal or treasonous. If he did mention the lessening of Russian sanctions (he can’t be prosecuted if Kislyak mentioned them), then that may or may not violate the Logan Act; whether or not Flynn was a private citizen at the time of the call is up for debate. 

The morning after Flynn’s resignation, Trump tweeted asking why there were so many leaks coming from the intelligence community. And to tell the truth, he’s not wrong. This is a big deal and it really needs to stop.  

It is not a good idea, for the security of a nation, for the intelligence community to continuously be leaking information to the media. Now, if the government is doing something illegal, the intelligence community either needs to do something about it internally, or in the most extreme of cases, talk to the media, but be reputable. But this isn’t whistle-blowing. It’s a blatant disregard for a need for clear information. 

A flood of misinformation

The best example of this intelligence community flood gone haywire is extremely prevalent in the election hacking accusation. The problem with the accusation is that there is no hard evidence that Russia actually did anything. I’m not some crazy conservative trying to legitimize Trump; the intelligence community is not offering any hard evidence. In a released report by the intelligence community, they explain that Russia had the means to carry out the job. They explain that they have high confidence that Russia and Putin wanted Trump to win.

But they never explain the most important point: how?

The same goes for the story that Trump aides were colluding with Russia. The New York Times ran an article explaining the situation, but by the third paragraph, admits that, “The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.”

But, since there are those in the intelligence community commenting these things are correct, the media is running with these accusations. It’s all just speculation; the evidence is lacking in giving these stories credibility.

This is why the intelligence community needs to get its act together; they’re creating a fake narrative. There is no prevailing theory on why these leaks are occurring, but something needs to change. There is a corruption of confidence at the moment, and for a nation trying to heal, misinformation is a terrible thing. 

Assistant opinion editor Jorden Smith is a political science and creative writing junior and can be reached at [email protected]

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