By John Kanelis
Surely, I am not the only observer who sees the irony in Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe's decision to forgo direct briefings to Congress on foreign government election interference.
Ratcliffe, who formerly represented a Northeast Texas congressional district once served by the late, great Rep. Sam Rayburn, has declared that from now on all briefings will be submitted to Congress in written form. Ratcliffe said he wants to prevent leaks. Hah! As if they won't occur anyway?
There will be no interaction between the DNI and House Intelligence Committee members, most of whom I should add are Democrats.
Why the irony? Well, when Ratcliffe served in Congress he was none too bashful about grilling those who appeared before the Intel panel, particularly those who were critical of Donald Trump, for whom Ratcliffe often carried a lot of water in defense of his policies. Furthermore, Ratcliffe took a limited amount of national security experience into this new gig as the nation’s top spook. He inflated his role as a federal prosecutor in East Texas in rooting out terrorists and became a loud and occasionally obnoxious ally of Donald Trump while serving in the House of Representatives.
Now that he's a member of the executive branch of government, Ratcliffe is trying to shield information about Russian interference in our 2020 election, or so it appears.
This is absurd. It's ridiculous. It's also stupid.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff issued a statement that said, in part, according to National Public Radio:
"This is a shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed, and a betrayal of the public's right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy," Pelosi and Schiff said in the statement.
"This intelligence belongs to the American people, not the agencies which are its custodian. And the American people have both the right and the need to know that another nation, Russia, is trying to help decide who their president should be," they said.
Americans deserve to know the whole truth in real time and they need the DNI to provide the public with the knowledge they must have about the security and sanctity of our cherished right of citizenship: our ability to elect a president without foreign hostile government interference.
Providing written answers to Congress, without allowing our elected representatives to question the content – or the context – of those answers disserves the public that has a right to know all the details about whether a hostile foreign power is interfering yet again in our national election.
I feel confident in asserting that wherever he is at this moment, the late great Rep. Sam Rayburn is wishing he could shout his support for the role of public oversight of our federal government. We aren’t getting it from the current director of national intelligence.
John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.
Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.