The Trump administration is refusing to release a redacted version of a key report President Barack Obama received in January on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, court filings show, Politico reports.
Then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made public an unclassified version of that report, but the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) brought a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit demanding a copy of the classified report given to Obama at the same time.
According to EPIC, the unclassified version omitted “critical technical evidence” that could help the public assess U.S. intelligence agencies claims that Russia did make efforts to affect the outcome of the 2016 race.
However, a top official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Daniel Coats, said in a court declaration filed Monday that releasing the original report with classified information blacked out would be a field day for foreign intelligence operatives, including the very Russians the report accuses of undertaking the interference, Politico adds.
“Release of a redacted report would be of particular assistance to Russian intelligence, which, armed with both the declassified report and a redacted copy of the classified report, would be able to discern the volume of intelligence the U.S. currently possesses with respect to Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election”, Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Intelligence Integration Edward Gistaro wrote.
“This would reveal the maturity of the U.S. intelligence efforts and expose information about the capabilities that could reasonably be expected to cause serious or exceptionally grave danger to U.S. national security”, he added.
The intelligence official argued that a redacted version of the original report would allow a trained eye to assess “comparative weight” of human intelligence and signals intelligence reporting included in the compendium. Release of some of the information the privacy-focused organization wants made public “could prove fatal to U.S. human intelligence sources” Gistaro warned.
“I agree with the National Intelligence Council that a heavily or even fully redacted version of the classified report can not be publicly released without jeopardizing national security information properly classified as SECRET or TOP SECRET”, he wrote.