United States intelligence veterans hope CIA Director Gina Haspel will take steps to discourage the disclosure of the name of the Ukraine whistleblower who is an analyst among her ranks.
Haspel has so far avoided a public confrontation with President Trump as he and his allies rail against the official whose complaint sparked impeachment proceedings. But current and former officials told NBC News she should take a stand for sustaining the anonymity of the whistleblower, with some going so far as to say she should resign if Trump reveals the name.
“It will be incumbent on her to protect the whistleblower — and by extension, the organization — moving forward,” said Marc Polymeropoulos, a senior CIA operations officer who recently retired. “This is a seminal moment for her leadership, and I’m confident she will do the right thing.”
A CIA representative said Haspel would not comment for the report.
Former CIA Director John Brennan took aim at Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who called on the media to report the whistleblower’s identity and told reporters he might at “some point” do it himself.
“Other leaders of the Intelligence Community should privately oppose any attempt to name the whistleblower. Sen. Paul’s appalling call for the naming of the whistleblower by the media should be denounced in the strongest terms possible; a statement signed by the heads of all the intelligence agencies would be most appropriate,” Brennan said.
Brennan, a vociferous Trump critic, also noted, “Since the affiliation of the whistleblower is unacknowledged, it is up to the acting DNI Joe MaGuire to take a firm public and private stance against any effort to expose the whistleblower.”
Maguire has said he is “committed to protecting whistleblowers and ensuring every complaint is handled appropriately.” The whistleblower’s complaint, which shed light on a July 25 phone call in which President Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to conduct investigations that would boost him politically, was found to be credible by the Intelligence Community inspector general.
With impeachment witnesses providing further evidence of a possible quid pro quo, the whistleblower’s defenders say identifying the man behind the complaint is a moot point. His lawyers warn that doing so would create a chilling effect for would-be whistleblowers.
“Identifying any suspected name for the whistleblower will place their family at risk of serious harm. We will not confirm or deny any name that is published or promoted by supporters of the President. Disclosure of any name undermines the integrity of the whistleblower system and will deter any future whistleblowers,” Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid, lawyers for the whistleblower, said in a statement Wednesday. “We will note, however, that publication or promotion of a name shows the desperation to deflect from the substance of the whistleblower complaint. It will not relieve the President of the need to address the substantive allegation, all of which have been substantially proven to be true.”
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