The head of the CIA is warning of a “dangerous overreach” and says he fears that the agency will lose control over the nation’s secrets if it continues to use secret tools that are designed to protect the agency’s “top secrets.”
In a letter to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, John Brennan wrote that the Obama administration “has consistently failed to keep its promises” and has created “a situation in which the CIA may no longer be able to protect its secrets.”
He also warned that “even if the agency were to succeed in protecting those secrets, we would still face serious risks if the public were to become aware of them.”
He cited the leak of a classified CIA assessment last year that said Iran had tested a new ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.
“If we fail to protect those secrets in a way that preserves their integrity and makes them readily available to the public, the CIA’s future as an effective intelligence organization will be in serious jeopardy,” Brennan wrote.
He also said that the CIA could be forced to rely on a “small number of people” to protect it from the public if the leaks were to be exposed.
“Such a scenario is not just highly unlikely, it is extremely likely,” Brennan said.
He added that the “CIA must be vigilant” about protecting its secrets.
Brennan, who is a retired four-star general and is the second-highest-ranking civilian at the CIA, also said he was concerned that “there will be a need for a series of new, highly-classified, high-level and sensitive intelligence briefings for employees, contractors, and other personnel” before the end of the year.
“In my judgment, it would be extremely dangerous for us to allow a system of secrets to continue as it is,” Brennan warned.
“That is the nature of an agency that seeks to be the best of the best.”
Brenan is the third-highest ranking civilian at CIA.
He was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2016.
Biden, who was born in Boston, is a Democrat.
He has a reputation as a hawk who has been highly critical of Iran’s nuclear program.
He is the first president to seek reelection in the United States in more than 50 years and was reelected in 2018.
In an interview with ABC News, Brennan said that he has not given up on trying to rein in the CIA.
“I believe there is a path to a constructive dialogue between the White House and the CIA,” Brennan told ABC News.
“And I’m not going to just say, ‘OK, let’s try to make some concessions, let the CIA do what it needs to do.’
But I think there is some hope for a resolution to this, and I think the administration will be encouraged by the way that they’re responding to this.”
Binney said that if the CIA was to lose control of its secrets, it could “fall back on its past practices of using the cloak of secrecy.”
“If the CIA were to use these methods again, I would not be surprised if they would find ways to get around them, and there would be a very real risk of a situation where they could be the only agency who can protect those secret secrets,” Brennan added.