Monday, February 12, 2018

Intercepted Podcast: Jim Risen Goes Inside the NSA’s Secret Channel to Russia

THE LEGENDARY NATIONAL security reporter James Risen has a fascinating new expose detailing how U.S. intelligence agencies opened a secret communications channel with Russian operatives, who were offering to sell damaging or compromising intelligence on Donald Trump. The discussions have been going on for the past year and, according to Risen, started with an offer from a Russian “intermediary” to give U.S. operatives information on the hacking and theft of NSA files on a wide range of hacking techniques used by the Agency. Those files were allegedly stolen by the hacking group known as Shadow Brokers. Who is behind the group remains a mystery and U.S. intelligence agencies are still trying to determine how much and what specifically was stolen beyond what Shadow Brokers has already made public. Risen reports that soon after the secret negotiations on the hacked materials began, the Russian intermediary soon tried to entice the Americans with offers of compromising intel on Trump — for a price.

The New York Times published its version of this story a few hours after Risen’s was published by The Intercept. The Times concluded that U.S. officials believed the offers were likely Russian disinformation aimed at sowing discord in the U.S. But Risen reports that within the CIA, which is headed by Trump loyalist Mike Pompeo, there has been debate on taking possession of compromising information on Trump because some officials do not want to assist Robert Mueller’s investigation. Risen also reports that there are fears of a backlash from Trump, who is famous for targeting and shaming anyone who challenges him or is perceived as anything other than 100% loyal to him. This is especially true regarding the Russia investigation.

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