Politifact: Did 4 or 17 agencies sign off on Russian involement? Who cares!

17 agnecies


06 July 2017 |Lauren Carroll  | Politifact

17 intelligence organizations or 4? Either way, Russia conclusion still valid

President Donald Trump, speaking in Poland July 6, downplayed the strength of the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the election to his benefit.

He justified his doubt by noting that the New York Times and the Associated Pressrecently corrected stories to clarify that four agencies, rather than 17, were directly involved in the January intelligence assessment about Russia’s interference in the election.

“I heard it was 17 agencies. I said, boy, that’s a lot. Do we even have that many intelligence agencies? Right, let’s check that,” Trump told NBC’s Hallie Jackson. “We did some heavy research. It turned out to be three or four. It wasn’t 17. … I agree, I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.”

It’s valid for Trump to criticize news organizations for not being specific enough in their reports (more on that in a bit). But this does not invalidate the report by the CIA, FBI, NSA and Director of National Intelligence, nor their “high confidence” in their judgment that Russia engaged in an influence campaign directed at the election.

Trump asked if the federal government really does have 17 intelligence organizations. Yes, it does.

They are as follows: Air Force Intelligence, Army Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Coast Guard Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency, Energy Department, Homeland Security Department, State Department, Treasury Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Marine Corps Intelligence, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, National Security Agency, Navy Intelligence and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Some of these are large, independent agencies, like the FBI, CIA and NSA. Others are smaller offices within agencies whose main focus is not intelligence, like the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research or the Treasury’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

Four out of the 17 were involved in the January assessment about Russia: CIA, FBI, NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which is an umbrella agency that oversees all 17 organizations.

This doesn’t mean the remaining 13 intelligence organizations disagree with the January assessment, nor does it mean the report was insufficient, according to multiple national security experts.

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