Russia ‘Will Target US Mid-Term Elections’ Says CIA Chief

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Russia 'Will Target US Mid-Term Elections' Says CIA Chief
Russia 'Will Target US Mid-Term Elections' Says CIA Chief

Mike Pompeo told the BBC there had been no significant diminishing of Russian attempts at subversion in Europe and the US.

He also said North Korea may have the ability to strike the US with nuclear missiles “in a handful of months”.

The US intelligence community has said that it believes Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Mr Pompeo, who briefs the president most mornings, dismissed as “drivel” recent claims that US President Donald Trump was not up to the job.

The director’s conference room on the seventh floor of the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, is lined with pictures of former directors and the presidents they served.

And Mr Pompeo is clear about his vision for the CIA under President Trump.

“We are the world’s finest espionage service,” he told the BBC.

“We are going to go out there and do our damnedest to steal secrets on behalf of the American people. And I wanted to get back on our front foot.”

A year into the job, Mr Pompeo says his mission has been to unleash and unburden the CIA.

It is an agency operating in an unpredictable world – one in which intelligence assessments can be the basis not just for military action, but also political controversy.

Even though there has been co-operation in counter-terrorism (the CIA helped stop a plot in St Petersburg last year), Mr Pompeo says he still sees Russia primarily as an adversary, sharing the concerns in many European countries about its subversion. “I haven’t seen a significant decrease in their activity,” he said.

Asked if his concerns extended to the upcoming US mid-term elections in November, he replied: “Of course. I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that, but I’m confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election [and] that we will push back in a way that is sufficiently robust that the impact they have on our election won’t be great.”

Mr Pompeo says the US is engaged in trying to counter Russian subversion. Some of this work was not the mission of the CIA such as helping people validate sources of information.

But the intelligence community was involved in identifying who was behind subversive activity, using technical means to suppress it and trying to deter Russia.

Mr Trump has been dismissive of claims of Russian interference in sharp contrast to the conclusions of the US intelligence community. So does the CIA director have to walk a fine line?

“I don’t do fine lines. I do the truth,” he responds. “We deliver nearly every day personally to the president the most exquisite truth that we know from the CIA.”

Mr Pompeo briefs Mr Trump most days when they are both in Washington DC. The briefing covers current events and strategic issues.

Ahead of visits abroad or meetings with foreign leaders, the briefings aim to provide the president with what is described as “informational advantage”.

“He is very focused in the sense that he is curious about the facts that we present. He is curious in the sense he wants to understand why we believe them.”

Source : BBC