CIA di­rec­tor slams WikiLeaks as ‘hos­tile in­tel­li­gence ser­vice.’

CIA chief says site acts much like Rus­sian agen­cies

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAN BOY­LAN

Jump­ing head­first into the fake news de­bate, CIA Di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo warned Amer­i­cans about the dan­gers of “false nar­ra­tives” and blasted the self-de­scribed trans­parency or­ga­ni­za­tion WikiLeaks, com­par­ing it to “a hos­tile in­tel­li­gence ser­vice” that he said ac­tively worked with Rus­sia to un­der­mine Amer­i­can democ­racy.

“It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it re­ally is,” Mr. Pom­peo, a for­mer Kansas con­gress­man, said in his first ex­tended pub­lic re­marks since be­ing tapped by Pres­i­dent Trump to lead the na­tion’s top spy agency. “WikiLeaks walks like a hos­tile in­tel­li­gence ser­vice and talks like a hos­tile in­tel­li­gence ser­vice,” ad­ding that Rus­sia’s GRU in­tel­li­gence ser­vice had used the group to dis­trib­ute hacked ma­te­rial dur­ing the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

The new CIA di­rec­tor also crit­i­cized other high-pro­file leak­ers — in­clud­ing for­mer Army Pri­vate Chelsea Man­ning and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency leaker Ed­ward Snow­den. Mr. Pom­peo said Mr. Snow­den wasn’t in­ter­ested in grand con­cepts of free­dom and trans­parency, “but sim­ply his own celebrity.”

While Mr. Trump praised WikiLeaks’ rev­e­la­tions dur­ing the cam­paign, Wash­ing­ton’s top in­tel­li­gence an­a­lysts in Jan­uary con­cluded the Krem­lin used hack­ers to try and un­der­mine Amer­i­cans’ faith in the 2016 elec­tion and to try and help elect Mr. Trump. WikiLeaks and Rus­sia’s state-spon­sored news agency, Rus­sia To­day, were both in­stru­men­tal in the hack­ing, the Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence re­ported.

Mr. Pom­peo had another rea­son to tear into the group: Last month WikiLeaks also trig­gered what was be­lieved to be the largest leak of CIA doc­u­ments in his­tory when it pub­lished thou­sands of files de­tail­ing what it de­scribed as the agency’s hack­ing abil­i­ties, in­clud­ing tools it said the U.S. gov­ern­ment used to break into com­put­ers, mo­bile phones and even smart TVs.

Mr. Pom­peo de­nounced the leaks and said WikiLeaks over­whelm­ingly tar­gets the U.S. and ac­tu­ally en­cour­ages peo­ple to join the CIA to steal in­tel­li­gence. He then ham­mered its founder, Ju­lian As­sange, who cur­rently lives in the Ecuado­ran Em­bassy in Lon­don, where he was granted po­lit­i­cal asy­lum in 2012. While not for­mally charged in the U.S., Mr. As­sange has said he fears he’ll be ar­rested and tried for es­pi­onage if he leaves his diplo­matic refuge.

On Wed­nes­day Mr. Pom­peo called Mr. As­sange a “nar­cis­sis­tic fraud and cow­ard who hides be­hind a screen,” while warn­ing that the threat to U.S. cy­ber­se­cu­rity is only grow­ing.

Mr. Pom­peo pointed out that the Chi­nese and Ira­nian gov­ern­ments in­vested sig­nif­i­cant amounts in the types of tech­nolo­gies and in­for­ma­tion war­fare tools that the Rus­sians have de­ployed with such suc­cess.

Mr. Pom­peo also ad­dressed the un­usual na­ture of his re­marks — CIA di­rec­tors rarely speak in pub­lic and, even more rarely, just a few months into their ten­ure — by jok­ing that he’d ac­tu­ally planned his first pub­lic speech for the spring of 2018.

The room at the Wash­ing­ton think tank host­ing him, the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, was so crowded, the head spy be­gan his re­marks 15 min­utes early and de­liv­ered his words with a noted ur­gency. “Our gov­ern­ment has not done enough look­ing at this new risk,” he said, “Our de­fense will not be static. We need to be as clever and in­no­va­tive as the en­e­mies we face.”

The roughly 20-minute speech and a Q&A ses­sion cov­ered a wide range of top­ics, in­clud­ing the new pres­i­dent’s per­ceived rift with the broader U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity. Mr. Pom­peo said Mr. Trump dis­played “ev­ery con­fi­dence” in Amer­ica’s in­tel­li­gence ser­vices, and that he and new Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Dan Coats brief the pres­i­dent al­most ev­ery morn­ing.

When asked how Mr. Trump con­sumes the in­tel­li­gence re­ports, by video, pic­tures or word, Mr. Pom­peo joked that “this is­sue con­sumes Wash­ing­ton.”

Mr. Pom­peo said North Korea and Iran re­mained atop the agency’s list of top pri­or­i­ties, and that China and Tur­key had re­cently been more co­op­er­a­tive as­sist­ing Wash­ing­ton with is­sues in their re­spec­tive re­gions.

Re­gard­ing the sweep­ing re­or­ga­ni­za­tion pro­posal of John Brennan, his pre­de­ces­sor at the spy agency, Mr. Pom­peo said he wel­comed the changes.

“A once-a-decade scrub of [the] in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity seems like a good thing to me,” he said, but added that he was un­sure of fu­ture White House plans.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

CIA Di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo tore into WikiLeaks for leak­ing troves of CIA doc­u­ments de­tail­ing the agency’s hack­ing abil­i­ties, call­ing the site “hos­tile.”

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