U.S. National security adviser Robert O’Brien said that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has requested the Justice Department to look into the leak of classified intelligence related to the alleged plot by a Russian spy unit paying bounties to Afghan militants to kill American troops in the country.
O’Brien condemned the leak of information that the current administration argues has hampered the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to get to the truth.
“Some leaker, whoever it is, and I understand that there has been a crimes report filed by the CIA with the Department of Justice — some leaker took it upon themselves in an effort to attack the president or maybe promote some policy agenda to leak allegations that now make it almost impossible to find out what happened,” he said.
Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence officials also revealed that they had intercepted electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by the Russian military intelligence unit to a Taliban-linked account, The New York Times reported.
The intercepted data was corroborated by intelligence gleaned from interrogations of captured Afghan militants and criminals, the publication said.
The article also said that Afghan officials said that several businessmen who transfer money through the informal “hawala” system were arrested in the country over the past six months and were suspected of being part of a ring of middlemen who operated between the Russian intelligence unit and Taliban-linked militants.
The arrests were made in “sweeping raids in the north of Afghanistan as well as in Kabul,” officials told the publication.
It’s unclear why the administration did not tell lawmakers at Monday’s White House briefing about the financial evidence reportedly intercepted by U.S. officials.
However, the national security adviser underscored the meeting with the information that the intelligence was not clear cut.
O’Brien also defended a senior CIA officer who made the decision to not tell President Donald Trump about the Russian intelligence report, because she lacked confidence in its accuracy.
“The president’s career CIA briefer decided not to brief him because it was unverified intelligence,” O’Brien said in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday.
“We get raw intelligence and tactical intelligence every day, hundreds of pieces of intelligence come in every day, thousands of pieces of intelligence come in a week,” he said. “She made that call and, you know what, I think she made the right call, so I’m not going to criticize her. And knowing the facts that I know now, I stand behind that call.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said that the U.S. handled reported intelligence “correctly,” in terms of the protection of their troops.
“The president has been consistently aware of the challenges that Russia presents to us. And he is aware of the risk in Afghanistan,” Pompeo said during Wednesday’s White House briefing.
“The fact that the Russians are engaged in Afghanistan in a way that’s adverse to the United States is nothing new,” he added.
Taliban and Russia have rejected the allegations till now while calls increase in the U.S to call for an inquiry.