On CNN Thursday, Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper further debunked the oft-repeated claim that all 17 intelligence agencies concluded Russia was responsible for election meddling.
The false claim has put several media outlets in hot water, including The New York Times and Associated Press, who had to issue corrections after publishing the claim. Nevertheless, it was still repeated by top pundits on CNN and MSNBC.
During a Senate hearing in May, Clapper indicated that a report concluding Russia was responsible election meddling was only conducted by three agencies — the FBI, the NSA, and the CIA — plus the Office of DNI.
He repeated that fact on CNN on Thursday, saying, “how this narrative got out there about 17 components being involved, I don’t know.”
“The report itself makes it clear that three agencies — plus the Office of Director of National Intelligence — put the Intelligence Community assessment together,” he explained.
The 17 agencies claim comes across as even more nefarious when considering that the other 13 agencies don’t even have anything to contribute to the report.
As Clapper explained during the CNN interview, some of those 13 agencies don’t have analytic capabilities. Further, those 13 agencies wouldn’t be privy to the sensitive sources used in the report. That renders them pretty much incapable of reaching any real conclusions independently of the FBI, NSA, and CIA.
“The reason we limited [the report] to those three agencies…was because the three agencies were really the only ones that could contribute,” Clapper said. “And because of the great sensitivity of some of the sources we had depended on to make that assessment.”
The 17 agencies falsehood thus gives undue weight to the 13 intelligence agencies that can’t actually make any consequential assessments about election meddling.