President Donald Trump’s order on May 23 granting declassification authority to Attorney General William Barr for Russia-related information generated immediate backlash from media pundits and former intelligence community officials, who expressed concern that the directive would jeopardize sources and methods used in the Russia probe.
“The concern is that very, very precious source and methods of the United States intelligence community as well as our partners and allies abroad —those who share this sensitive information with us,” former CIA Director John Brennan said on MSNBC just after Trump announced the decision.
“So I wonder what else is going to be declassified that risks jeopardizing sources and methods,” James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, said on CNN.
As the New York Times and Washington Post point out the spy was offered to be exfiltrated in 2016 due to media interest and was finally pulled due to increased media scrutiny precipitated by the Russia probe.
Those stories appear to be based on leaks of information — likely highly classified — from U.S. government officials with access to information about CIA spy operations. And leaks of those operations began appearing in the press in late 2016, before Trump and Barr obtained access government secrets.