By TONIA HILL
John Brennan, outgoing Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), spoke at the University of Chicago (U. of C.) Institute of Politics (IOP) on Thursday night, Jan. 5, at the International House, 1414 E. 59th St.
President Barack Obama appointed Brennan Director in 2013, following three decades of service at the CIA. Brennan provided insight and analysis on the nature of threats and the role of U.S. intelligence in world affairs in a conversation with U. of C. political science professor Robert Pape.
A joint FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report recently linked Russian intelligence services to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta.
Brennan confirmed Russia’s role in the presidential election.
“Russia did interfere in the recent presidential election, and we have good understanding of what it is that they did,” Brennan said. “As an intelligence community it’s our responsibility to understand all the different types of threats to our national security that includes terrorism proliferation, but also a threat to one of the foundational tenants of our democracy free, fair and open election.”
President-elect Donald Trump has publicly criticized intelligence communities in light of the report.
On Tuesday, Jan. 3, he tweeted from his personal account on Twitter and said, “The “Intelligence” briefing on so-called “Russian hacking” was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case.”
Trump will meet with Brennan, FBI Director, James Comey and National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper on Friday, Jan 6 for a briefing on Russian interference in the election.
Brennan gave voice to some of the skepticism from Trump from the intelligence community.
“The president obviously is the first customer of the intel community,” Brennan said.
Brennan added that Trump, “is going to be coming into office being the first president who’s never served in government before at any level and I think is unfamiliar with the intelligence profession and intelligence capabilities.”
Towards the end of the conversation, Brennan said that he is going to give the president-elect the benefit of the doubt.
“Let’s see what happens post-inauguration day when he is going to be the primary customer and he is going to have our national security in his hands,” Brennan said.
On Dec. 29, the Obama administration took action against Russian intelligence services. The administration issued sanctions that included expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats that were suspected of being spies and a total shutdown of two Russian facilities in the U.S.
In a written statement, President Barack Obama said, “These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior.”