CNN on Sept. 9 reported that in “a previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the United States successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government.”
CNN wrote that “knowledge of the Russian covert source’s existence was highly restricted within the US government and intelligence agencies” and that “according to one source, there was ‘no equal alternative’ inside the Russian government, providing both insight and information on Putin.”
The article alleged that the decision to remove the highly placed mole from within the Kremlin was driven, in large part, by concerns that President Donald Trump and those within his administration had mishandled classified intelligence, thereby compromising the source’s safety.
The CNN article cites a May 2017 meeting between Trump, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, claiming that Trump had divulged intelligence provided by Israel regarding ISIS activities in Syria. This meeting came one day after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.
The intelligence shared at the meeting involved an ISIS plot to use bombs hidden in laptops to bring down planes—a matter that the White House believed was appropriate to share with Russia, given the fact it concerned a threat to aviation. Notably, the president has the right to declassify information at any time that he chooses to do so.
The supposed classified information that CNN accused Trump of mishandling during his meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak appears almost identical to what had been publicly reported by CNN over a month previously in an April 1, 2017, article titled “New Terrorist Laptop Bombs May Evade Airport Security, Intel Sources Say.”
The fact that CNN had previously reported on this supposed classified information—the alleged mishandling of which formed the basis of CNN’s reasoning behind the Russian source’s extraction—was not mentioned in CNN’s Sept. 9 article.
In response to questions about the substance of the article, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a press conference on Sept. 10, described the reporting as “egregious” and “materially inaccurate.”
“I’ve seen that reporting. The reporting is materially inaccurate. And you should know, as a former CIA Director, I don’t talk about things like this very often. It is only the occasion when there’s something that I think puts people at risk or the reporting is so egregious as to create enormous risk to the United States of America that I even comment in the way that I just did. And I won’t say anything more about it. I know the CIA put out a statement. Suffice to say, the reporting there is factually wrong,” Pompeo said.
NBC News Outs Source’s General Location
On the same day as the publication of the CNN article, NBC News’ Ken Dilanian disclosed that he had personally gone to the Russian source’s home on Sept. 9. His reporting also confirmed the general location of the source’s whereabouts. read more