WASHINGTON - In response to statements by the Executive Branch that it may be weeks before new information is released to the public about Russian interference in the U.S. election, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Friday the American people cannot wait that long to get the facts.
“This is a national crisis that must be fully explained to the American people right now,” Wyden said. “When a foreign nation interferes in our election, delays and closed-door investigations are not good enough. We cannot continue to sweep this under the rug or to wait until just before Inauguration Day before leveling with the public.”
The intelligence community last declassified information about the Russian Government and the U.S. election on October 7. On November 30, 2016,Wyden and other members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence urged the President to declassify and release to the public specific information concerning the Russian Government and the U.S. election.
“American democracy, and its independence from foreign interference, is at stake,” Wyden said. “History will not forgive those who kept the facts from the American people.”
Immediate declassification and public release is necessary, he said, for the following reasons:
· Given intense and ongoing public interest in Russian Government interference in the U.S. election, it is critical that the public discussion be informed by facts and the best analysis of the Intelligence Community and the FBI. The longer reliable information is withheld from the American people, the more opportunity there is for misinformation to be disseminated without correction.
· Transparency demonstrates to our friends and allies, as well as to our adversaries, how a democracy deals with a threat like this and sends a message of strength and resilience.
· Declassification and public release will allow for open congressional hearings in the weeks ahead. These hearings will allow for a full airing of the threat and its implications.
· Transparency about the threat from Russia is required if the public and its representatives in Congress are to assess the incoming administration, its policies and personnel, and consider the nominations of its top officials.
· Transparency about the threat posed by Russia is necessary if there is to be public support for a response. Even if that response is secret, policymakers need to know that it is consistent with and proportional to the public’s understanding of the threat.
· Declassification facilitates U.S. cooperation with allies who are rightly concerned about similar attacks on their democratic institutions.
· Transparency allows Americans – from political officials to everyday citizens – to protect themselves from these kinds of cyber intrusions.
· The country cannot accept a one-time only public release just before inauguration day. Given the president-elect’s dismissal of the Intelligence Community’s assessments, and his transition team’s attempts to discredit the IC, there is a real concern that the incoming administration will either withhold information from the public or release information that differs from IC assessments. These statements also raise concerns about the politicization of IC assessments and political pressure or retribution against analysts.