Former CIA station chief Daniel Hoffman on Tuesday blasted the anonymous U.S. officials who leaked to CNN about a covert operation to extract a Kremlin spy from Russia in 2017.
“I don’t know how those sources can sleep at night knowing that they’ve done this for apparently some political purpose,” Hoffman said in an interview Tuesday on Fox News.
“What really concerns me the most is that fact that there are sources who are revealing classified information to CNN. I don’t know how anyone can be doing that,” added Hoffman, who served 30 years in the CIA, including as station chief in Moscow. (RELATED: Revelations About Kremlin Spy Expose Brennan, Clapper Hypocrisy)
“It’s just disturbing when CIA clandestine operations are run through a political meat grinder, as they’ve been in this case.”
CNN reported Monday that the CIA extracted a longtime Kremlin official from Russia in 2017 in a highly classified operation. Jim Sciutto, the CNN reporter who broke the story, said that five intelligence officials were sources for the report.
The New York Times undercut a key claim in the CNN story that the CIA carried out the exfiltration because of concerns about President Donald Trump’s handling of classified information. According to The Times, the CIA offered to extract the mole in 2016. The agency made the offer again the following year because of media scrutiny of the CIA’s operation.
The Russian source reportedly spied for the U.S. for decades and provided critical intelligence regarding Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
Hoffman said that if the reporting about the extraction effort is accurate, the Kremlin mole now “has a bullseye on his head.”
He noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin has allegedly ordered assassinations of former Russian intelligence officers who have spied for the West.
Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer who defected to the U.K., was poisoned on March 4, 2018 at his home in Salisbury, England.
Former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko died in London on Nov. 23, 2006 after he was poisoned with a radioactive agent.
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